Mid winter can be pretty tough. It’s tough on kit, tough on your body and tough to stay motivated to ride. So when I’m staring down the barrel of 35 days of MTB guiding in the first three months of the year my toes start to twitch with the anticipation of the cold that is to come.
After years of guiding and riding in mid winter I’ve learnt that my hands and feet both suffer from the cold, so my feet really do appreciate a good set of merino wool socks beneath a pair of knee length sealskin socks.
This year with 20 days guiding in the Highlands and an entry for the Strathpuffer race in late January I decided enough was enough and it was time I actually bought some winter riding shoe. Having tried to keep half an eye on what’s on the market over the last few years (I have been promising myself a set of winter riding boots for the last 8 winters!) I knew there were a few ‘options’ but only one real contender for keeping my toes REALLY warm and comfy, so I gave Charlie the Bikemonger a call and in no time at all had a set of 45 Nrth Wolvhammer boots winging their way to me.
10 days later the boots have done 100km around the Strathpuffer circuit (in temperatures down to as low as -11 I’m told?) and 6 days of guiding, so while this is a rather short term review, my feet are rather wondering why the hell I didn’t buy these boots 8 years ago!
These boots are pretty substantial, they have a super stiff sole unit to them and plenty of space around the toes to allow you some wiggle room if you do manage to push the lower limits of their thermal ratings (although to be honest if it’s that cold, you REALLY should go home and drink beer beside a log fire!). The cleat installation is easy although the thought of stripping a bolt and having to drill it out does terrify me, so if you run those super soft crank brothers cleats I’d be paying VERY careful attention to the life of your bolt heads. I bought a EU46, which is the same size as I take in Saloman walking boots, these come up a smidge larger and while I do wonder if I should have gone for the EU45, I’m pretty sure that if I had I would have sacrificed the toe wiggle room. If I were being super picky I would like the heal cup to hold the back of my foot a little tighter BUT I do have a pretty skinny set of heals and do find it really hard to find any footwear that REALLY holds my heals. All in all my feet are very happy with the purchase and with 35 days of use lined up before Easter (when surely it’ll be warm enough to put them away for the summer?) I’m happy that on a ‘cost per ride’ basis these are well worth the investment, and that’s before I get anywhere near winter 2017/18.
So there we have it folks, if you ride bikes, in the winter, and want to keep your toes warm, tell your wallet to shhh because your feet have needs to and get yourself a pair of these beauties this winter, instead of waiting til next winter and wishing you’d done it sooner!
Carbon-Monkey are a specialist MTB skills course provider who run mountainbike courses in North Wales,
the Lake District, Peak District, Scotland and on Cannock Chase. We grew up riding the trails of
Snowdonia and MTB all over North Wales. From Jumps and Drops courses to multi day MTB expeditions,
at Carbon-Monkey we are ready to welcome you on a MTB skills course that will provide real improvement
to your riding. MTB skills are our passion and Bikepacking adventure expeditions our escapism, when will you join us?