Best winter cycling shoes 2022: Keep your feet warm with winter-specific footwear

Fizik winter shoes
(Image credit: Fizik)

On long winter rides, the best winter cycling shoes can often help keep your feet nice and warm. After a while, the cold can often set in and will attack the extremities first. If your feet and toes get cold and go numb it can often prevent you from enjoying your riding and means either suffering for hours needlessly, potentially damaging your feet, or cutting your ride short to go home and warm up. Good overshoes will certainly help but the winter-specific cycling shoes on the market are designed specifically to protect your feet from the worst of the elements and the cold. 

Winter cycling shoes are available for on and off-road applications and are still available with various cleat fit options, whether that be two or three-bolt drillings. Most shoes feature a more sturdy construction than lightweight summer shoes and often feature a high-cut ankle to offer increased protection from the elements and road spray as well as increasing warmth. Shoes will feature thicker, insulated construction, often in the form of water or windproof fabric, as well as thicker linings inside. Winter shoes will generally always be heavier than best cycling shoes but with their focus being on warmth and protection during winter, this extra weight is a sacrifice worth making.

Winter cycling shoes may be considered unnecessary by some. If you live in a warmer part of the world where winters are mild, your normal road shoes and a pair of the best cycling overshoes may be the right option for you, but if you live in a part of the world where the mercury rarely rises above zero for months on end, winter shoes are definitely going to help keep you comfortable. It's also worth mentioning that winter cycling shoes can also just be a warm, sturdy option for the grotty months to save your favourite road shoes from unnecessary wear and tear. Road debris, puddles, road spray and mud will all make their mark on those sparkly white road shoes and their glossy carbon fibre soles.

If this guide leaves you scratching your head then keep scrolling to the bottom of the page for our guide on how to choose the right pair for you. We have collectively covered thousands of wet, cold miles here at Cyclingnews and just want you to have as warm a pair of feet as we have when things turn grim outside. 

Black Friday is here and you can enjoy exploring and taking advantage of a range of great cycling deals in the sale. This includes clothing and cycling kit deals from multiple retailers. Black Friday deals and prices change over the weekend but you can head to our Black Friday bike deals to stay on top of all the best Black Friday deals. And if you are on the lookout for cycling clothing or winter kit and overshoes specifically we would recommend taking a look at the Wiggle Black Friday hub which has clothing with up to 60% off.

Best winter cycling shoes available today

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Fizik Artica R5 Winter Cycling Boot

(Image credit: Robin Wilmott)
Best waterproof winter cycling shoes for road riders

Specifications

Closure: Speedlace, zip
Cleat compatibility: Three-bolt
Sole material: Carbon reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Waterproof membrane
+
Mylar insulation

Reasons to avoid

-
High cuff can feel restrictive

Like the X5 above, the Fizik Artica R5 sandwiches a fully waterproof membrane between the Microtex exterior shell and the plush fleece-lined interior to keep the rain out and also allow your feet to breathe. There's also the same layer of foil insulation to keep the cold from infiltrating the shoe without much bulk.

Underneath the waterproof zipper is a speed lace system that's adjusted with a tug and distributes pressure evenly over your entire foot. The mid-top ankle section is made from neoprene and comprises a Velcro closure to create a rainproof seal.

It features a carbo-reinforced nylon outsole. It's not hyper-stiff like a pure carbon plate, but it's solid enough for base miles and does well to mute road vibrations too. As a result, it's our pick as the best winter shoe for road-only use. 

Sidi Gore 2 winter road road shoes in black

(Image credit: sidi )

Sidi Zero Gore 2

Best winter cycling shoes for narrower feet

Specifications

Closure : Velcro strap, tecno 3 closure system
Cleat compatibility : Three bolt only
Sole material : Nylon / carbon injected

Reasons to buy

+
Gore-Tex water-repellent lining 
+
Replaceable heel pad
+
Fleecy lining 

Reasons to avoid

-
Mesh uppers may be hard to clean when dirty
-
Size up small and slightly narrow 

The Sidi Zero Gore 2's are the road-specific version of the frost mtb shoes. They feature the Millennium 5 sole; a carbon-injected nylon mix with a replaceable rubber heel tab. The uppers are Microfibre Microtech mesh and inside there's a Gore-Tex liner which is slightly fleecy as is the Sidi insole which should help keep things toasty. 

Shoe closure is taken care of by a front Velcro strap, Sidi Tecno 3 closure system with replaceable dial and the top of the ankle (which sits a little taller than the Arctica GTX) has a wide neoprene/Velcro strap.  Like the Zero Frost winter versions, at the back is Sidi's trademark reinforced heel cup to prevent heel lift. Finally, there's a reflective patch on the rear of the heel which should aid visibility in gloomy winter conditions. Sidi shoes tend to come up a little small size-wise and are narrower than some brands so make you check the size guide when buying.

Gaerne G. Ice Storm GoreTex winter shoes in black

(Image credit: Gaerne)

Gaerne G. Ice Storm GoreTex

Best winter shoes for internal heat retention

Specifications

Closure: Boa IP1
Cleat compatibility: Three-bolt
Sole material: Carbon reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Gore-Tex
+
Low stack height
+
Waterproof, breathable, warm

Reasons to avoid

-
They size up small
-
All-around neoprene gaitor can be tough to get on

Gaerne's G. Ice Storm GoreTex shoes are available in both MTB and road versions, sharing the same Gore-Tex upper and ankle cuff. The Gore-Tex Duratherm membrane locks the warmth in and the wet out, while the Gore-Tex Rattler ankle collar seals the weather away while remaining flexible enough to pedal. The shoes also feature an aluminium-lined insole to help reflect heat back to your feet as you ride.

Up top, the thermal upper is cinched closed using a Boa IP1 dial and a speed lace system, while the carbon composite sole has an 8/12 stiffness rating, keeping a performance focus and offering decent power transfer without creating discomfort after hours on the bike. 

A pair of Fizik Artica X5 shoes on a muddy surface

(Image credit: Fizik Artica X5 shoes)
Best winter shoes for gravel and MTB riding

Specifications

Closure: Speedlace, zip
Cleat compatibility: Two-bolt
Sole material: Carbon reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek aesthetics
+
Easy to get on and off
+
Sole is completely protected

Reasons to avoid

-
Tight tread pattern isn't as grippy as we'd like
-
Speedlace system hangs loose inside the zip

The Fizik Artica X5 is the brand's best winter cycling shoe for anyone looking to head off the beaten path. At the bottom, there's a carbon-reinforced nylon outsole, with treaded rubber lugs for grip, the option for toe spikes for extra grip, and two-bolt cleat compatibility. 

On top, a sleek-looking upper material that Fizik calls a 'Microtex reinforced upper' covers the entire front and sides of the foot, save for a weatherproof zipper that runs up the centre. Beneath this zipper, Fizik employs a speed lace system, which allows quick and comfortable tightening. Once that's tightened and the zipper is closed, a Velcro strap seals the neoprene ankle cuff to keep the water from seeping down into your socks. Inside, the base of the insole is reflective silver, adding a modern twist to the old-school tin foil trick, and the rest of the interior is fleece lined for extra wintery warmth. 

We'd like to see the rubber lugs spaced a little more for extra grip, and there's no neat way to tuck in the speed lace system, but overall, these are some of the best winter cycling shoes we've used. 

For a more detailed look, check out our Fizik Artica X5 review. 

A front-outside angled view of the right 45NRTH Ragnarok shoe, which is black, reflective silver and yellow

(Image credit: 45NRTH)

45NRTH Ragnarok

Beat winter cycling shoes for off road grip

Specifications

Closure: Boa, Velcro
Cleat compatibility: Two-bolt
Sole material: Fibreglass-injected nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Reflective rubberised upper
+
Grippy high-tech sole

Reasons to avoid

-
Boa struggles when lace guides get dirty
-
No second cover over the lace area

Based out of Bloomington, Minnesota, where temperatures as low as -60F/-51C have occurred during winter, it is safe to say that 45NRTH knows a thing or two about riding in the cold. 

With a 3/4 height waterproof membrane, the shoes have a rubberised shell to resist water and abrasion, and a neoprene wrap-over ankle gusset to keep your feet warm and dry. Compatible with two-hole cleats only, 45NRTH has used a special 'microglass' rubber compound which uses glass fibres embedded in the rubber to create abrasive protruding shards for purchase on slippery surfaces.

Retention is performed with a single Boa dial, and the wrap-over ankle strap is held in place with velcro, so while the snug fit will be a given, be prepared for this area to lose its secure hold over the years. 

The Ragnarok boots feature reflective detailing dotted around the black upper, or for those who regularly ride in low-light conditions, a fully reflective version is also available. 

Northwave Celsius R Arctic GTX shoe against a white background

(Image credit: Northwave)

Northwave Celsius R Arctic GTX

Best winter cycling shoes for power transfer and stiffness

Specifications

Closure: SWL2 reel
Cleat compatibility: Two-bolt, three-bolt
Sole material: Carbon reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Stiff carbon outsole
+
Precision adjustment

Reasons to avoid

-
All-around Neoprene ankle gaiter makes them harder to put on and get off
-
The vented outsole will let in the elements

Looking at its Celsius R Arctic GTX winter boot, Northwave is making a statement that keeping your toes toasty and warm should not come at the expense of power transfer and performance. With the brand’s NRG Air Carbon reinforced outsole that rates 8/15 on Northwave’s stiffness scale, and its Arctic 4Layer insole providing heavy-duty thermal insulation, it’s clear that these winter cycling shoes mean business.

The synthetic leather upper and aerodynamic overlap tongue cinches together using the brand’s SLW2 dial, which offers minute adjustments to achieve a precise fit.

Northwave has combined the extreme flexibility of a Gore-Tex Rattler membrane with the superior thermal insulation of Neoprene to create the ankle cuff, though this does make these shoes pretty tricky to wrestle onto your feet, especially if you're late for a group ride. 

lake cx146 winter cycling shoe in black

(Image credit: lake )

Lake CX 146

Best winter cycling shoes for wider feet

Specifications

Closure: Single BOA
Cleat compatibility: Three bolt
Sole material: Fibreglass-injected nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Boa closure makes for fast on-the-fly adjustment
+
DWR outer coating 
+
Thinsulate 200g insulation 

Reasons to avoid

-
Loses the 2-bolt mounting option 
-
You will need to reapply the DWR 

The Lake CX146 shoes succeed the CX145 winter cycling shoes with a few notable changes. The CX146 are now three-bolt mount cleats only, and lose a BOA dial. They also have a microfibre upper with DWR waterproof outer coating to keep your feet dry and Thinsulate 200g internal insulation. Lake does recommend you reapply the DWR coating at least once a year and more regularly if you are commuting or riding in the wet multiple days a week. Using the Boa dial to cinch the shoe tight, including the ankle cuff, adjustments on the fly can be done even with cold fingers.

The sole is made from Lake's Competition fibreglass-injected nylon sole. It's plenty stiff enough for pedalling but does well to absorb buzz and features both heel and toe bumpers.

Lake offers this shoe in regular and wide-fit versions and there are separate lasts for men, women, and wide feet. 

Fizik tempo artica gtx winter cycling shoes in white

(Image credit: fizik )

Fizik Tempo Arctica GTX

Best winter cycling shoes for the style conscious

Specifications

Closure : Single boa and velrco strap
Cleat compatibility : Three bolt
Sole material : Nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to wipe uppers 
+
Fully waterproof Gore-Tex Koala membrane
+
Brushed fleece lining for warmth 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heel and toe pads non replaceable 

The Fizik Tempo Arctica GTX is a new release from Fizik and is available in the standard black and in a somewhat surprising move for a dedicated winter shoe a bright white option. The Arctica GTX has a nylon sole with a three-bolt cleat drilling and no vents to prevent water ingress. The sole features moulded nylon heel and toe tabs that are non-replaceable, if you do some walking in your shoes keep this in mind. Uppers feature a single L6 Boa dial and ankle closure velcro strap which helps things feel secure. The outers feature a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and are claimed to be fully waterproof. Inside there is a brushed fleece lining which should help keep feet snug. 

A white option may seem unnecessary but it may be perfect for some riders who want a lighter-coloured shoe, it's nice to see a winter shoe in a colour other than black. 

Side on view of a pair of Sidi Frost Gore 2 winter cycling shoes, which are black in colour

(Image credit: Future)

Sidi Frost Gore 2

The best winter shoes for off road ankle protection

Specifications

Closure: Tecno-3 dial, Twin Velcro
Cleat compatibility: Two-bolt
Sole material: Nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Gore-Tex membrane
+
Three points of adjustment
+
Reinforced heel

Reasons to avoid

-
Lugs not replaceable

The Sidi Frost Gore MTB/gravel shoes look a bit like some of the brand's moto boots. The upper is made from a mix of synthetic leather and microfibre mesh, but don't worry, there's a Gore-Tex membrane underneath to keep the rain from soaking through. With a tall neoprene ankle cuff secured by Velcro at the top, the shoes also feature a Tecno-3 dial over the forefoot and a Velcro strap to cinch the toe box. 

The sole is the brand's Millennium 5 Carbon Composite sole, which Sidi says allows the plate to provide efficient power transfer and is unaffected by significant temperature gradients. At the back is Sidi's trademark reinforced heel cup to prevent heel lift. 

While this shoe comes in a road version too (the Sidi Zero Gore 2), we like the off-road Frost Gore 2 for added versatility, and greatly appreciate the added traction on offer from the aggressive lugs, we just wish they were replaceable. 

It does mean you'll need mountain bike pedals, but for a winter commuter or gravel grinder, that's not too big a price to pay for toasty toes. 

How to choose the best winter cycling shoes for you

When looking to buy the best winter cycling shoes, there will be a number of things you'll need to consider to ensure you get the correct pair for you. 

Number one should be: Will the amount of time you'll spend in the shoes justify the potential investment? If you're commuting during winter regardless of the weather or love stacking up the winter miles on long training rides, a dedicated winter shoe may be ideal for you. If you do a lot more indoor training with the occasional outdoor ride then you may find regular shoes and a good overshoe will fit the bill.

Finally, we can all sometimes struggle to get out of the door when it's cold and gloomy. Investing in the right kit can boost morale and make us feel much more inclined to get outdoors and ride our bikes, some cosy winter shoes may be just the ticket to unlocking your winter riding. 

Do I need winter cycling shoes?

Before you add a pair of burly winter kicks to your shopping cart, take a look at what else you're wearing, because if you keep your core warm, your extremities will stay warmer. Make sure you've looked at the best cycling base layers, you've got a quality winter cycling jacket, and you've swapped your shorts for some winter bib tights. Don't forget to warm your hands with some of the best winter cycling gloves too.

Finally, look at your overshoes, are they wind and waterproof? For those that live in an area where wet-weather riding is a given, the best cycling overshoes will feature a waterproof membrane or something made from neoprene for maximum protection and warmth. You can also add a little extra warmth with the best winter cycling socks.

If you've ticked these boxes and your feet are still cold, then it's time to look into a pair of the best winter cycling shoes.

How should my winter cycling shoes fit?

Should you size up to allow room for thicker socks, or does their fit account for that already?

Firstly, and most importantly, is to find a shoe that fits. It seems obvious, but bear with us. A shoe that hurts your feet at room temperature is going to be exponentially worse in the cold, so it's absolutely essential to find a pair that fits comfortably. 

When investing in a pair of winter cycling shoes, you might be tempted to size up so that you can throw on a second pair of socks underneath, but this should be avoided at all costs. The thinking is that more layers means additional warmth, but the outer pair of socks will inevitably wrinkle or bind, causing hot spots, cutting off circulation and making for cold feet. You're much better off with a single pair of winter socks. 

What's more, the best winter cycling shoes are designed specifically to keep out the colder weather, and as such, there's rarely a need for a second pair of socks anyway. If you think your feet need extra protection over and above that offered by the shoes, add a pair of overshoes. 

Should I get road cleats or mountain bike cleats?

Your choice of cleat compatibility will need to match your pedals, so assuming you already own pedals, this decision will have already been made. 

The best cycling shoes for road cycling are traditionally based around a three-bolt cleat, or four if you swing for Wahoo Speedplay (although they are still three-bolt compatible with an adaptor). These cleats are large, plastic, protrude from the sole of the shoe, and while they offer a great amount of stability and power transfer, they feature little in the way of grip for walking. 

Meanwhile, mountain bike shoes are based around a two-bolt cleat, which is smaller, metal, more durable, and often recessed into the sole and surrounded by rubber lugs so that walking isn't affected. 

When it comes to the best winter cycling shoes, both types are available — and both have their merits — but for most users, the balance will swing slightly in favour of soles with a two-bolt cleat interface. 

Road shoes can be slippery at the best of times, and we've all had a heart-stopping moment when trying to walk into a café or convenience store. Add in rain, puddles or even snow and that slipperiness could get worse, so for that reason, even road cyclists might consider mountain bike pedals and cleats on their road bike in winter. 

Mountain bike cleats also clear the mud, snow and slush you're likely to encounter during the winter months considerably better than road cleats and pedals. These days there aren't many compromises with mountain bike shoes, bar the slight lack of pedalling platform stability and a minor weight penalty. Although if your shoes already have neoprene panels, an extended cuff and insulation, you probably aren't stressing over grams. 

However, if you're riding for multiple hours and the only walking will involve walking to the garage and back again at each end of your ride, then the improved pedalling platform of a road cleat will still be the preferred option. 

Of course, as we mentioned at the start of this question, if you already have a bike with one type of pedal, then the cheaper solution will most likely be sticking with what you have already. 

Do I need a carbon fibre sole for winter cycling shoes?

During the winter months, any ride you choose to wear winter cycling shoes is likely going to be where you're commuting, riding for leisure, or logging base miles, not racing criteriums, so a super-stiff sole isn't necessary. Plus, a less rigid sole won't be quite so hard on your feet. 

Brands understand this so for the most part winter cycling shoes are made with nylon or fibre-reinforced soles. There are carbon-soled winter cycling shoes out there but expect to pay through the nose for a pair.

Of course, there is cyclo-cross, which might require winter protection alongside the requirement for maximum power transfer, but with the added material involved, a lack of stiffness is rarely an issue in the best winter cycling shoes.

How tall should my winter cycling shoes be?

Nearly all of the best winter cycling shoes have an extended ankle that's either mid- or high-top. Our recommendation is that you look for shoes with an ankle and adjustable cuff that will overlap your tights or leg warmers. This gusset needs to fit tightly and track your leg as you pedal to help keep cold, rain and road spray from creeping into your boots. If you can, wear your tights over the ankle of your boots, so that any water that lands on the fabric covering your lower legs doesn't just seep downwards into your socks. 

If rain is a serious concern, adding a pair of waterproof trousers might be a solution to consider. 

Which cycling shoe retention system is best?

Among the best winter cycling shoes, you'll find Boa dials, and Velcro and some even have the fast lace system commonly found in MTB shoes.  

For wet weather riding, we like the fast lace closures because they usually have a flap that covers the laces adding an extra layer of weather protection, but the preference is yours. 

If you find that you regularly return home with frozen fingers, then short of upgrading your gloves, be mindful to choose something that is easy to loosen when you arrive home. 

Tech writer

Tom joined the Cyclingnews team in late 2022 as tech writer. Tom has over 10 years experience as a qualified mechanic with 5 or so of those being spent running an independent workshop. Tom has ridden and raced bikes from an early age up to a national level on the road and track and has ridden and competed in most disciplines, even the odd bit of bike polo. Tom is as happy tinkering away in the garage as he is out on the road bike exploring the Worcestershire lanes.