If you are one of those timid folks who rides your bike on a trainer in the basement on snowy days you are welcome to skip this article—but please come in a couple of days for other product reviews. However, if you look forward to riding your fat bike in the snow like a little kid waiting for Santa Claus, then grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk about winter footwear.
I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and during most of the winter I wear Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots—these shoes are SPD-compatible and keep my feet warm down to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a few other companies that make winter cycling boots, but Lake is the only one that makes a wide boot (and I have wide feet). 45NRTH allegedly has a new winter boot, the Wölvhammer. 45NRTH is a new company that wants to specialize in products for cold weather cyclists, but they have quickly become my least-favorite cycling company in the world. A lot of their products are like leprechauns—I would like to believe they exist, some people say they have actually seen them, but I can’t find anyone who has actually been able to get their hands on one. If you would like to buy a pair of the Wölvhammer winter boots you are out of luck—they are already “sold out for 2013.” I had the same problem with the 45NRTH Dillinger studded fat-bike tire—a few of them made it into the warehouse but immediately they were sold out (probably inside sales to the guys at Quality Bike Products) and the next availability date is next summer.
When the temperature drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit I wear the Columbia Sportswear Men’s Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot. Since this boot is not SPD-compatible I use a wide flat pedal with metal pins for a good grip. Last year I used the Odyssey JCPC Pedal, but this year I am using the Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals (one of 45NRTH’s products that actually made it into bike shops).
Thanks to Columbia’s exclusive Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology, the Bugaboot is rated for temperatures down to -25 degrees—while I’ve not had a chance to use them in temperatures that low, I have no doubt that they would hold up well in that temperature. This waterproof boot has 200 grams of insulation (Thinsulate) and they have kept my feet warm and dry every time I’ve worn them—these are the best pair of winter boots I’ve ever owned. My size 12 Bugaboot measures 10 inches tall and weight a bit over three pounds (for the pair). This boot appears to be true-to-size.
The standard width Bugaboot is available in three color combinations: Grill/Sanguine, Black/Gunmetal, and Dune/Bombay Brown. The wide Bugaboot only comes in two color combinations: Black/Gunmetal and Turkish Coffee/Golden Glow (see photo above). Color selection also varies depending on the size of boot you wear. I would have liked a solid black boot, but the only Bugaboot the store I went to could get their hands on was the Turkish Coffee.
The Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot retails for $120, but Amazon.com has it for as low as $73 (depending on color and size). I bought my Bugaboots from a brick-and-motor Rogan’s Shoes store, but they are also available at sporting goods stores like Gander Mountain. These boots are also available in sizes and styles for both women and children.