Best winter cycling shoes 2024: Keep your feet warm with winter-specific footwear

The best winter cycling shoes can add extra protection and warmth on colder and wet rides, especially in the depths of winter, and are a cornerstone of how to keep your feet warm along with the best winter cycling socks. Low temperatures and rain or road spray can leave you with cold feet, but winter-specific cycling shoes have specific designs and features to help improve foot protection on the bike. 

Winter cycling shoes are available in on and off-road versions. They are generally a little bulkier than the best cycling shoes, especially in the 'boot style' with a higher ankle for extra protection. However, there are a couple of lower bulk options in the guide if you want a racier shoe or something similar to what's on offer our guide to the best cycling shoes or the best gravel shoes guides

If you are doing a lot of outdoor winter riding or commuting and just want a pair of do-it-all all shoes to take the brunt of the abuse save your road shoes for best. Picking up a pair of winter-specific shoes may not be a bad idea either. There are several options in this guide to choose from if you are thinking of investing.

My pick of the bunch is the Northwave Magma R Rock shoes. Insulated cycling shoes that contain Primaloft Gold insulation. They have less bulk than some of the other shoes in the guide and pair really well with a range of overshoes if you want even more protection. Which suits my riding really well. They are also about the cheapest shoes in the guide. What's not to like?  

Opinions seem to be generally split between using winter-specific cycling shoes or regular road shoes with a set of the best cycling overshoes. There are pros and cons to both and luckily we are blessed with a lot of choices when it comes to kit in the cycling world. 

Head to the bottom of the page for our guide on how to choose the right pair for you. There is also a lot of useful additional information we didn't have room for here.

QUICK LIST

Unique bootie design

DMT WKR1

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)

1. DMT WKR1

One piece shoe and outer layer bootie

Specifications

Weight: 316.5 grams - Size 43
Closure system : BOA Li2
Cleat Compatability: Three bolt
Size Range : 37-47
Sole : Nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish 
+
Low bulk and racy silhouette 
+
Woven shoe is comfy 

Reasons to avoid

-
Ankle cuff could be a little tighter fitting

Some winter cycling shoes can feel a little bulky and don't leave you feeling very fleet of foot on a ride. 

If you are looking for something that's a little racier and has a silhouette that's similar to a regular road shoe whilst still adding protection you may want to have a look at the DMT WKR1. 

Built around a three-bolt, nylon sole (there is a 2 bolts MTB version as well) the WKR1 is comprised of a woven 'inner' cycling shoe just like a regular road shoe you would see in the summer. But that is permanently attached to the soft shell outer layer of the shoe you can see. So you're getting a double layer of protection and essentially a thin incorporated overshoe. 

The inner shoe which is bright orange, uses a single BOA Li2 dial for foot retention and the woven upper is comfortable and soft. The outer booty then zips up around it using a zip straight down the middle. You can even add an overshoe over the top if you want to. 

I found the ankles a little loose but just tucked them under my bibtights which helps prevent water ingress. They kept my feet dry over a horrid two-hour ride in the wet. I would recommend sizing up as the WKR1s do run a little narrow, and you'll probably want a bit more wiggle room for thicker socks in winter.

For deep winter

Northwave Flagship R GTX

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)

2. Northwave Flagship R GTX

Premium winter shoes with loads of tech

Specifications

Weight : 440 grams - Size 43.5
Closure System : Northwave SLW3 dials
Cleat compatability : Three bolt and Speedplay
Size Range : 36-48
Sole : Carbon Fibre

Reasons to buy

+
Feel unbulky on foot
+
Top-level carbon fibre sole 
+
Gore-Tex Duratherm Kelvin membrane 

Reasons to avoid

-
No compromise construction means a premium price 
-
Slightly loose ankle fit 

The clue's in the name with the Flagship R GTX from Northwave, and the brand's range-topping winter shoe is a bit of a beast. 

Winter shoes sometimes omit more performance-focused design features such as carbon soles. But this isn't the case here, and the R GTX benefits from Northwave's PowerShape carbon sole with a stiffness rating of 15, the top level on the brand's stiffness rating.

There's also a Gore-Tex Duratherm Kelvin membrane. In simple terms, this is the heavy-duty Gore-Tex liner used inside the shoe. Northwave says it's good for down to -15 Celcius. 

On the feet the shoes are really comfortable and Northwave sizing is on the generous side of things I would say, though the shoes also don't feel that bulky which I liked. I tested an EU 43.5 which equates to a UK 9.75 with Northwave and it felt just right for a winter shoe. You could also get an overshoe on over the shoes if you wanted and the right pair would create a really formidable combo. 

They feel comfy and snug inside and the neoprene ankle gaiter is soft. The last time I rode in them was on a single-digit, showery day after a period of intense rain had left lots of puddles and some flooded roads. Crossing one deep flooded section meant water coming into the shoes via the 'Easyfit collar' ankle openings, but they dealt with it well and my feet did stay comfortable. A tighter ankle fitting would help prevent water ingress here and is something I think I would prefer, but I don't ride through floods very often. Water didn't penetrate the outers at all really and my hose test didn't bother them, (read more on this in the how to section below.)

All this tech does come at a cost though and the shoes are more expensive than the Veloce Extreme top-end road shoes we reviewed last year. But if you want a top-end pair of winter shoes with a load of tech, step this way.

Best overall

Northwave Magma R

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)

3. Northwave Magma R Rock

Affordable winter shoes with added insulation

Specifications

Weight: 327 grams - Size 43.5
Closure system: Northwave SLW2 dial
Cleat Compatability: Three bolt
Size Range: 37-49
Sole: Carbon reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish with low bulk 
+
Primaloft insulation
+
Easy overshoe compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
Will need pairing with an overshoe for max water protection

A bit like the DMT WKR1 above, if a higher ankle, cuff and general added bulk of a full-on winter boot aren't what you need then the Northwave Magma R Rock shoe looks just like a regular cycling shoe but packs extra Primaloft Gold insulation and protection within the shoe to add warmth and comfort. Essentially, the shoes have built-in thermal insulation. 

Unlike the Flagship R GTX above which gets the kitchen sink thrown at it, the Magma uses a nylon, three-bolt sole, and won't accept Speedplay four-bolt cleats. The shoes use a single SLW2 dial to tighten things down and there's a small red Primaloft tag near the tongue that hints at the extra insulation. The toe box is also a lot rounder and wider than some of the pointer ones here such as the Gaerne's so factor this in if it's a key point for you. 

There are, however, cleverly added thermal features for not very much more weight. There's a thicker than average Northwave arctic insole which is soft and a sort of additional undersole beneath this which should aid warmth. 

Inside the shoe is soft and cosy and I'd say the majority of the insulation is in the forefoot area and you can feel the extra plushness of the added material in a few areas. 

On foot, they feel like regular cycling shoes so if you want things to feel a bit more nimble they are a strong option. They do feel warmer though in cold weather and were impervious to spray on my hose test where they got subjected to a soaking. 

They also crucially will pair really well with overshoes and with a good pair will leave you with really warm feet. You can also pick them up for a little less money than a lot of the other shoes in this guide. 

Boots with colour options

Fizik Tempo Artica

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)

4. Fizik Tempo Arctica GTX

A fleecy winter shoe available in black or white

Specifications

Weight: 343 grams - Size 43.5
Closure system: Single BOA and Velcro strap
Cleat compatibility : Three bolt
Size Range: 36-48
Sole : Fibre reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Heel and toe pads non replaceable
-
Velcro strap doesn't do much 

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. We aren't aware of any other white winter boots, and if white shoes are your thing or you just want to feel a bit faster during the winter months, the white version may be the one to go for.

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. There is also a small pull tab on the heel to help you get them on easily.

The shoes make use of a single L6 Boa dial and ankle closure Velcro strap, which helps things feel secure. Though the L6 Boa doesn't offer quite the same level of fine adjustability that the Li2 unit on the Gaerne shoes offers. The outers feature a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and are claimed to be fully waterproof. Inside, there is a brushed fleece lining which extends down under the insole, which should help keep feet snug. The insoles themselves are also slightly fleecy which is a nice touch and the shoes feel cosier when you first put them on than the other winter shoes in the test.

The Arctica GTX feel closer to regular road shoes than a lot of more traditional winter boots and if you don't want to go the whole hog their slimmer silhouette might be a nice middle ground whilst still offering great winter protection. Don't be fooled into thinking Fizik have just glorified road shoes though - these are warm, comfortable winter boots. 

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

Boots for wider feet

Lake CX146

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)
A quality winter boot that's great for wide feet

Specifications

Weight: 465 Grams - Size 44
Closure system: BOA M4 dial / Velcro closure
Cleat compatibility: Three bolt
Size Range : 36-50
Sole material: Fibreglass-injected nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Quality construction
+
DWR outer coating 
+
BOA M4 dial is large and easy to use 

Reasons to avoid

-
DWR coating will need to be reapplied every few years 

The Lake CX146 is a hefty winter road cycling boot that's rated for use down to -4 degrees. Lake also offers it in a two-bolt MTB version, and it sits below the -20 rated MXZ400 in the temperature ratings, but that is a really specific deep winter shoe in the Lake winter range. 

The CX146 is available in regular and wide options and the brand is well known for accommodating wider feet and focusing on fit and foot sizing. If you have really wide feet then you may want to take a look at the CX146. 

The shoes have DWR coating microfibre uppers, which feel like leather. Use a large front velcro flap which closes over most of the single-dial BOA M4 closure system. There's some prominent reflective detailing and good-sized rear heel pull tab to help you pull them on. 

The CX146 is the only shoe in the guide to use the burly BOA M4 dial, easily the largest BOA here and with a big textured gripper to make adjustments with cold or gloved hands easily. 

The shoes have a walking boot feel about them, pulling them on makes you feel really protected and ready to face the elements. And though they won't be the best option for faster riding, for that look to the DMT or Northwave Magma options. If you want a quality option for the worst of the winter weather for a range of riding the CX146 will do well.

A mid weight boot

Sidi Gore Zero

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)

6. Sidi Zero Gore 2

Italian boots with a gore tex lining and velcro ankle

Specifications

Weight: 406 Grams - Size 44 (UK9)
Closure Sytem: Velcro strap, tecno 3 closure system
Cleat compatibility : Three bolt only
Size Range : 39-50
Sole : Nylon / carbon injected

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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

The Sidi Zero Gore 2 shoes 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 made of microfiber Microtech mesh and inside there's a Gore-Tex liner, which is the same as the one found on the Gaerne Ice Storm. The liner is slightly fleecy, as is the Sidi insole, which should help keep things toasty. Sidi also offers a wide range of spares for their shoes, which is handy if they are taking some abuse in the winter.

Shoe closure is taken care of by a front Velcro strap, Sidi Tecno 3 closure system with a replaceable dial, and the top of the ankle (which sits a little taller than the Arctica GTX) has a wide neoprene/Velcro strap. There isn't a heel pull tab to help you get the shoes on, but a section of neoprene right at the top of the heel lets you get a good grip and use this to pull each shoe on.

The Zero shoes have quite a slim, slender profile, in keeping with the classic Sidi styling, and they do size up a little small, so it's worth checking the size guide in case you need to size up, as I did. The shoes are warm and comfortable in cold conditions, and the less bulky ankle creates less of an opening in this area compared to some other shoes. This lack of bulk and slimmer ankle, in particular, means the Sidi's will pair well with overshoes if you're looking for maximum protection in the winter months.

A boot for narrower feet

Sidi Gore Zero

(Image credit: Future / Tom Wieckowski)

7. Gaerne G. Ice Storm GoreTex

Narrower boots with heavy duty tongue protection

Specifications

Weight: 381 Grams - Size 43
Closure system: BOA IP1
Cleat compatibility: Three-bolt
Size Range: 39-48
Sole material: Carbon reinforced nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Gore-Tex Duratherm membrane 
+
Easy-to-clean uppers 
+
Waterproof, breathable, warm

Reasons to avoid

-
They size up small
-
The narrow and pointy toe box 
-
Velcro ankle may be a weak point

Gaerne's G. Ice Storm 1.0 Gore-Tex winter shoes are available in both MTB and road versions, sharing the same Gore-Tex upper and ankle cuff, but I tested the two-bolt road versions this winter. The shoes are built around a carbon composite sole which Gaerne rates as an 8 out of 12 on their stiffness scale. It uses a Gore-Tex Duratherm membrane which locks in warmth and keeps out the wet, while the Gore-Tex Rattler ankle Velcro strap collar closes the shoes at the ankles.

The Ice Storm shoes feel solid and dependable on the feet. A large pull tab on the heel helps you pull them on in seconds. There's something of a double tongue on the shoes, which really adds to the feeling of protection from the winter elements. The inner membrane has a tongue that folds over your foot, but the outer of the shoe has a second that then covers this. The Boa wires also run through this.

Interestingly, the Gaerne shoes have five fairly large sole vents to offer some breathability, which is something neither the Sidi or Fizik Artica GTX shoes have. If you are not sweating excessively or riding slowly in cold weather, this could contribute to your feet becoming cold more quickly.

This tongue design will definitely offer some extra protection, and I found I had to get used to tightening the Boa down more than I thought I needed to cinch the plush tongue down enough to achieve a snug fit. The shoes were warm and comfortable and didn't feel hugely bulky. I did use them on one sub-zero night when the temperature was around -3C/27F, and my feet did feel cold after around an hour. This may have been partly due to the narrow and slightly pointy toe box. The Gaernes represent a solid winter boot if you are in the market for a pair, but at or around freezing conditions, you may want to consider adding overshoes or thermal socks into the mix to keep your feet warm. If you also have a wider foot or prefer wider shoes, you may want to size up or choose a wider offering.

How to choose

Do I need winter cycling shoes?

Winter shoes are a nice bit of kit to have in your winter arsenal. If you fancy a pair to wear in grotty or cold weather go for it. 

However, if you have other priorities and cycling kit to spend your money on, you can always go for regular shoes paired with good-quality overshoes. The money you save could be spent on next year's summer tyres. 

If you want some winter-specific shoes but don't have an unlimited budget, check out the Northwave Magma's you may be able to get a deal on them and they are quality shoes that do add warmth and comfort. 

At the other end of the scale, if you have cash to splash and want a top-end winter shoe, go for it. They will prove useful in the deep winter and boost morale. 

Are winter cycling shoes worth it?

Full disclosure, if you're doing a lot of outdoor cycling in cold conditions and maybe a bit of commuting too, winter shoes are probably going to be worth it for you. 

If your not logging tonnes of miles outside, live in a warmer place or tend to ride at a higher intensity which generates more heat and places an emphasis on lighter kit your going to be just fine in road shoes and overshoes for when it's cold and wet. 

How can you keep your feet warm when cycling in winter?

Ah, the classic question!

There are a few different things you can do to help ensure your feet stay comfortable during cold winter riding and we cover some of them in our best cycling overshoes guide

Let's start before you leave the house, ensure your feet are warm and you are wearing some warm socks. Padding around in the garage barefoot and getting ready won't help. Also, warm up your shoes before you ride. Leaving them in a cold garage or porch the night before etc won't help as they will be chilly when you pull them on. 

Use some quality overshoes or winter cycling shoes as we've been discussing here will also help hugely during the ride. 

You can also use things like windproof socks, and embrocation on your feet and leaving your shoes a little looser should also promote airflow. 

How should my winter cycling shoes fit?

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 essential to find a pair that fits comfortably and that isn't too narrow.

Like shopping for a road shoe, it's important to find some shoes that fit your feet properly. After all, everyone's feet are different. It's a good idea to try shoes before you buy at a local shop but if you can't do this use the brand's sizing guide and even send them an email to enquire about sizing if you aren't sure. 

If you do want to allow for a bit of extra room for airflow and or heavier-weight socks then you could always leave your shoes a little looser. A whole size difference may affect the ability to achieve optimal cleat positioning. 

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

You don't need a carbon fibre sole for winter shoes and the majority of shoes in this guide don't have one. It would result in an even more expensive shoe for a start.

If you want a stiffer shoe or still ride hard in the winter on chain gangs etc then a carbon sole may be preferable for you, such as the one on the Northwave Flagship model. 

How tall should my winter cycling shoes be?

This is a tricky one and in my opinion, ankle designs and openings are the closest thing winter shoes have to an Achilles heel. 

If a boot-type overshoe has a higher ankle collar that is a little more open, that may make it more vulnerable to water penetrating the shoe in that area. Either from rain or spray or water from soaked tights running down into your shoes. Potentially leaving you with cold, wet feet. A bulkier ankle area also makes fitting an overshoe difficult or unsightly at times. Yet the overshoe is the very thing that could help seal this area and aid waterproofing. 

There is a range of shoes in the guide from the Northwave Magma shoe to the Sidi 'boot' style option. In general, I'd recommend going for shoes with a more fitted ankle opening. It's also worth bearing in mind whether you want to pair overshoes with the shoes or not and how easy this will be to do. 

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.  

Every shoe in this test has a Boa or wire closure system and some shoes like the Fizik's pair this with a velcro strap or closure, typically around the heel. A boa system allows you to generally achieve a more comfortable fit and achieve it very quickly. Laces on a winter shoe would not work as well the same can be said for velcro. 

How do we test?

I have researched each shoe in the guide, sending any technical questions I have had to the brand representatives themselves. 

I've inspected, weighed and photographed each shoe and then ridden in them in a range of conditions. Deliberately trying to go for cold, wet or rainy conditions to test their capabilities. 

I've also subjected them to a garden hose shower test to put their water resistance to the test. If your wearing a winter shoe without an overshoe which is feasible. It's good to know how they stand up to spray and rain. I used a light 'shower' hose setting to try and replicate rain and spray and not just blast them like a pressure washer etc. 

Tom Wieckowski
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.