When it comes to winter mountain biking, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad shoes. Or something like that. Fingers and toes tend to be the body parts that get cold first, which means a good pair of winter MTB gloves and winter mountain bike shoes are the key to staying on the trail year ’round.
We’ve reviewed about a dozen pairs of mountain bike shoes that work well for winter riding over the past few seasons. Some are purpose-built for cold and wet weather, while others surprised us at their versatility thanks to minimal ventilation and thick padding. The latter can be a great choice for year round riding, and to save some cash.
If you’re looking to save even more dough, scroll down to get tips for adapting your regular MTB shoes for winter rides, for as little as zero dollars.
Winter mountain bike shoes
These are roughly ordered by most warm and weatherproof to least. In general the warmest winter mountain bike shoes tend to come with the highest price tags.
45NRTH Wolvhammer Winter Boots
If the temperature is above 25°F (4C), don’t bother with the 45NRTH Wolvhammer shoes. They’ll be too warm!
These mountain bike shoes are appropriately categorized as boots, and as Helena noted in her Wolvhammer shoe review, they’re an excellent choice for fat biking in snow. The latest version of the Wolvhammer boots feature a BOA ratcheting lace system and a removable liner for quicker drying after icy rides.
Northwave Himalaya Winter MTB Shoes
The Northwave Himalaya mountain bike shoes feature four layers of insulation on the insole, including a thin sheet of aluminum designed to reflect heat back to the foot. At the heel there’s Thinsulate insulation and a high ankle cover for keeping heat in and cold out. Even the lace closure system has a cover for maximum protection. Read Matt’s full review of the Northwave Himalaya winter MTB shoes.
- Price: $279.99
- Clipless: yes
- Buy from Backcountry.
Fizik Terra Artica X2 MTB Shoes
The Fizik Terra Artica X2 winter mountain bike shoe features a neoprene sleeve to keep the snow and cold temperatures outside where they belong. The thick, heavy-duty Vibram sole is designed to provide traction in hike-a-bike situations when you’re not clipped into the pedals. And the BOA lace system is simple to operate with gloved hands. Read Matt’s full review of the Fizik Terra Artica X2 shoes here and look for a review of the newer Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes soon.
- Price: $299.99
- Clipless: yes
- Buy from Amazon.
Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex Waterproof MTB Shoes
The Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex is one of the few truly waterproof mountain bike shoes available, with a velcro ankle cuff keeps feet extra dry. Because these flat pedal shoes feature Gore-Tex your feet won’t sweat right away, and as we all know, dry feet are warm feet. There’s not a lot of insulation here so consider ordering a half size bigger if you plan to pair them with thicker winter socks. Get Gerow’s full review of the Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex shoes here.
- Price: $220
- Clipless: no
- Buy from Five Ten.
Shimano MW7 Winter Mountain Bike Shoes
The Shimano MW7 is the brand’s top-end winter mountain bike shoe featuring a BOA lace system, a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex liner, and a neoprene cuff covering the ankle and laces. The insole is fleece-lined for added warmth while the Michelin rubber outsole is designed to punch through snow and mud for traction off the bike. Read the a full review of the Shimano MW7 winter cycling shoe.
The Shimano MW5 shoes drop $100 off the price without the Gore-Tex liner or BOA ratcheting dial.
Five Ten Hellcat Pro Shoe
Starting at this point in the list you’ll find shoes that aren’t necessarily marketed as winter shoes, but we’ve found they work pretty well, especially in places with mild, though potentially wet, climates.
The Five Ten Hellcats don’t offer a lot of ventilation aside from a few laser-cut holes on the toe which is a good thing when trying to keep cold breezes at bay. A decent amount of padding throughout the uppers keeps feet insulated, and the generous toe box accommodates thicker winter socks. Read our full Five Ten Hellcat Pro review.
- Price: $180
- Clipless: yes
- Buy from Five Ten
Leatt 3.0 Flat Pedal MTB Shoes
The Leatt 3.0 mountain bike shoe is designed for enduro and gravity riding, and Grace found they are a pretty good choice for riding in cold, wet weather as well. The synthetic uppers won’t soak through, and there’s also a neoprene ankle collar that insulates even when it’s wet. The inner liner wicks moisture to keep feet dry-ish which is the key to toasty toes. Read the full Leatt 3.0 shoe review.
Bontrager Rally Mountain Bike Shoe
The Bontrager Rally shoes feature a tough, synthetic leather upper material that offers good protection from rock strikes and the weather too. Priced under $150, these are some of the least expensive on our list, plus they easily pull summer duty if you don’t mind the lack of ventilation. Get the full Bontrager Rally shoe review here.
- Price: $149.99
- Clipless: yes
- Buy from Bontrager.
Ride Concepts Tallac MTB Shoe
The Ride Concepts Tallac mountain bike shoes look like a pair of classic winter hiking boots, and the feature set isn’t too far off. A stiff sole and tacky rubber makes for good grip on the pedals and the trail while the Cordura uppers offer a decent amount of insulation for cold weather riding. The fully gusseted tongue keeps debris out of the shoe and there’s even a mud guard for the sloppiest rides of the year. Read our reviews of the Ride Concepts Tallac clipless and flat pedal shoes.
- Price: $160 (flat), $180 (clipless)
- Clipless: yes and/or no
- Buy from Backcounty (flats) and Amazon (clipless).
Cold weather MTB shoes on a budget
Maybe you don’t have a lot of money to spend, or you don’t do a lot of cold weather riding. In that case, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy a pair of dedicated winter bike shoes, but you can modify and accessorize your regular summer shoes to get the job done. Here are some options.
1. Duct tape and/or shopping bags (free)
We’ve used this trick on more than one occasion, and it’s especially useful for those days when the weather forecast shifts colder at the last minute. Most mountain bike shoes feature vented toes, and sealing the fabric and/or laser-cut holes with duct tape keeps warmth in and cold wind out. (We’ve also tried duct taping chemical warmers AKA ‘Hot Hands’ to the top of our shoes, but it doesn’t work great.)
For cold and wet rides, slipping a shopping bag over feet before putting on shoes can work in a pinch. Pull the ends of the bag up above your ankles and duct tape the excess to keep the ends tight and out of your drivetrain.
2. Winter boots (free if you already own them)
Who says you need to wear bike-specific shoes all the time? For flat pedal riding, many winter boots will work just fine. Experiment to see how much grip your winter boots offer, and whether the sole is stiff enough for pedaling.
3. Thicker socks (less than $20)
This one is probably pretty obvious but there are a couple notes to share. One: tight-fitting, XC-style shoes don’t work well with thicker socks. If your bike shoes are a tight fit, the sock just gets compressed and loses a lot of its insulating value. Flat-pedal style shoes tend to have roomier toe boxes that work well with winter socks.
When looking for a pair of warm socks for cycling, wool is usually a good bet because it keeps much of its insulating value even when damp or wet.
4. Shoe covers ($20-30)
Shoe covers are fairly common in road biking, but not so much on the trails. In part, that’s because most toe covers aren’t very rugged and get torn easily. Worse, few work well off the bike for technical dismounts. A sturdy pair of shoe covers should work fine if you only plan to do a few easy trail rides during the winter. Beyond that, seek another solution.
5. Waterproof socks ($50+)
Waterproof socks do a good job keeping feet warm and dry, so much so that you’ll find them to be too hot for most rides! The socks tend to be a little bulky so again, they work best with looser-fitting MTB shoes. Sealskinz waterproof socks like the ones pictured above are available at Backcountry and Amazon.
And if you’ve STILL got cold feet, check out our tips for keeping feet warm for winter biking.