Winterproof boots ideal that are comfortable, compact & stylish. Not cheap though.

Northwave makes snowboard and cycling kit, including these very nice Extreme Winter GTX boots. Despite being billed as suitable for mountain biking, their relatively compact profile, non-aggressive styling and very neat fastening make them excellent for winter conditions on the road. They'll keep your feet warm and dry, although (as with any cycling footwear) their protection is limited in the event of major storm or total emersion.

The Extreme Winter GTX boots are part of a wider range of winter footwear from Northwave. The GTX in the name stands for Gore-tex, and the uppers are made from fabric incorporating the waterproof and breathable membrane. This means it keeps big drops of water, like rain, on the outside, while letting water vapour (sweat) escape from the inside, so your feet stay dry and don't get clammy.

These boots are also waterproof because the cleat screw holes do not go right though to the insole, and so don't let in water from below.

So far, so good. The boot itself is fully waterproof, but that doesn't mean you'll always have dry feet inside. Just as with any cycling shoe or boot, if you ride through a ford or deep puddle, then water will of course come over the top of the boot and your feet will get wet. And because the boots don't have holes in the soles, there's no way for the water to drain out. But if you want boots that are fully waterproof, that's part of the deal. You can't have it both ways.

By the same token, if it's pouring with rain, and your cycling tights get soaking wet, then water will track down into your boots, and... you get the picture.

So, with the obvious caveat that winter cycling boots aren't going to be 100% waterproof unless you also wear waterproof leggings (or unless your shoes are something like fishing waders), the Northwave Extreme GTXes perform very well.

I've used them on some cold, wet rides, and they've certainly kept my feet warmer and dryer than my usual winter options – which include some old-skool mountain bike boots, heavy duty touring shoes or normal cycling shoes with neoprene shoe covers.

As well as testing the Extreme GTXes in the real world by riding around in the rain for a few hours, I also examined their waterproofing in the road.cc lab, first by placing them in about 30mm of water for several hours (to emulate wet roads), then by wearing them while standing in about 80mm of water for 10 minutes (to emulate a big puddle, and especially test the area where the upper is joined to the sole – often a point in many types of shoe). In both cases the boots stayed dry inside.

On temperature specifically, I used the Extremes on a couple of training rides with pre-dawn starts. In air temperature of around five degrees my feet were cosy. Down to about three degrees, my toes got slightly cold, but were still fine. In both conditions there was a bit of wind, which I'd guess turned the 'feels like' temperature down by another degree. Based on this, I'd reckon at about one or two degrees I'll be nippy around the tootsies in these boots, but not uncomfortable. For the record, I was wearing very thin socks, because there's no room in the boots for thicker ones.

Which brings me to sizing. The shoes sent to road.cc for testing were size 43. While some manufacturers' sizes may err on the big or small side, these Northwaves felt just right, and fitted as well as all my size 43 summer cycling shoes (Shimano, Specialised and dhb). In an ideal world, I might have gone for a size 44 so I could fit in a thicker sock. For this reason, when buying any winter footwear it's worth considering going up to the next size.

As mentioned above, the Extremes are part of a wider range of winter footwear within the Northwave portfolio, which includes the Celsius (a dedicated mountain bike boot) and the Fahrenheit (a dedicated road boot). The Extreme combines the best of both, and also has additional features such as the BOA fastening system, which is essentially a wire 'lace' across the upper part of the boot tightened via a pair of ratchet dials.

The Extreme GTXes take two-bolt cleats, the Shimano SPD style, common on mountain bikes and touring bikes, with a recess in the sole so you can walk around without damaging your cleats. This is more convenient and saves cleat wear if you're a commuter or are likely to be in situations where you get off your bike, for example to mend a puncture, walk up a hill, or just go into the cafe half-way through a winter club run without waddling like a penguin.

The Extremes are also ideal for all those cyclists that combine road riding with the occasional off-road foray, or those that enjoy the modern world of cyclo-cross sportives or the ancient and venerable art of rough-stuffing. And if your off-road forays tend towards the muddy side, there are optional studs under the toes.

As with many brands of winter cycling footwear, these boots have a high 'cuff' that wraps around the leg above the ankle, and is held in place with Velcro. This cuff is soft and flexible, and does not chafe your skin on each pedal stroke (as some boots with stiffer ankle sections can do).

The only downside I encountered with these boots was on the upper foot. For some reason, the boots have two tongues. This might be for extra protection from road spray, but in practice, while the inner tongue is soft and comfortable, the outer tongue gets in the way of the cuff around the ankle and prevents the Velcro tabs from fastening neatly.

But this is not a major problem, and overall these boots are ideal for winter riding on the road (and occasionally off the road as well). At a recommended retail price a penny under £220, they can't be called a bargain, but with discounts at the usual on-line stores making them just under £200 it might be a price you're prepared to pay this winter to keep your feet as warm and dry as possible.


Waterproof and windproof cycling boots, ideal for cycling on the road (and occasionally off-road) in winter. Comfortable, compact and stylish. Not cheap though.

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Northwave Extreme Winter GTX Boots

Size tested: 43 Black

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

This product is a pair of winter cycling boots. Although aimed primarily at off-road enthusiasts, the Extreme Winter GTX is ideal for cycling on the road in cold and wet conditions.

The Northwave website highlights the Extremes' "revolutionary Double Shield Construction (DSC). The overlap of two different uppers, anatamically integrated with each others and designed to work together, ensure an absolute protection agaist water and cold. The outer layer blocks the weather while the inner works by creating a microclimate ideal for the foot. All the benefits of a shoecover, none of the weakness of a shoecover"

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The Northwave website also highlights the boots' Speedlight 3D Sole: "The nylon chassis is filled with fiberglass and co-injected to the outer polished TPU shell."

Of the BOA fasteners, the site says: "The double BOA® closure allows a differential adjustement along the neck of the foot and the lower area, so as to avoid uncomfortable hotspots and provide a super enveloping fit. In addition, the BOA system stands out as one of the fastest and effective systems on the market"

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Construction seems very good. A key point of weakness on many shoes is the area where the sole is joined to the upper. On the Extremes this seems bomb-proof. Well, waterproof.

Rate the product for performance:

These boots kept my feet warm and dry in winter conditions, so on that basis they performed very well indeed.

It's too early to say for certain, but these bbots sem very well-made and have anti-abrasion strips on the outer edges of the uppers, so the portents for longevity are good.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Comfort is very good. The sizing is correct length-ways (in that these boots are size 43, and I take size 43 in other cycling shoes), and also width-ways (I have wide feet, and there was no pinching).

With a recommended retail price around £220, and even with discounts bringing it nearer £200, the Extreme Winter GTX boots can't be called a bargain. Similar products in Northwaves's range include the road-focussed Fahrenheit boot (flat sole, three-bolt cleat fitting) and the off-road-specific Celsius boot (treaded sole, two-bolt cleat fitting), both at £149.99 full price, although neither have the BOA fastening system. Similar boots, mainly mountain bike specific, from other brands include the Shimano MW81 (around £150), the Diadora Polaris 2 (around £80) and the Lake MX2303 (also with BOA fastening) for around £200.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, these boots peformed very well for their designed purpose, in that they kept my feet warm and dry in winter, and in a mix of road and off-road conditions.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Comfort, weather protection, fastening system, style.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The double tongue is a bit odd, but not a ddeal-breaker.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

These boots performed very well, in that they kept my feet warm and dry in winter conditions, and were ideal for winter cycling on the road, with occasional off-road use as well, and on that basis they'd score 9. However, the price is on the steep side and the double tongue a slight oddity, together knocking a point off, giving an overall score of 8.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 51  Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm  Weight: 11 stone / 70kg

I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic  My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Trail riding - aka rough-stuff (off road on a road bike)



Martin Thomas [384 posts] 5 years ago

Standing in a puddle for ten minutes... You road.cc guys know how to have a good time don't you?  3

alotronic [526 posts] 5 years ago

Ah winter boots! Love them! My previous winter boots were Celcius GTX in a 43 and I can echo the sizing comments - they are exactly a 43. This was good most of the time but in really cold weather I could have done with a 44 for the width (I am a wiiiide foot though) and the room for a thicker sock. Always had good experience with Nothwave shoes...

VeloPeo [353 posts] 5 years ago

I've got the Celcius which are the cheaper versionand come in two versions - 2 bolt and 3 bolt. I'm running SPDs on my winter bike and so have the 2 bolt version.

They're absolutely fantastic for both cold and wet conditions and very comfortable. Best purchase of last winter for me.

Mombee [84 posts] 5 years ago

I have a pair of the similar Northwave Celsius boots and they're a revelation for winter cycling. For years I've been under the impression that Shimano shoes, a veriety of sock layers and some neoprene overshoes were OK for cold, wet rides... but that invariably meant having damp feet that succumbed to the cold gradually during a ride and I'd been considering an upgrade to a 'proper' winter boot for some time. Fortuitously, at last month's JoleRider bike jumble, I found a pair of spotless shop-returned Northwave boots in my side and, after several rides (including a four-hour XC race), I agree with everything that David says above.
The boots are well-made and provide a secure, but comfortable, fit - with no rubbing from day one. The lacing system works suprisingly well, although there's always a fair bit of 'loose' lace to hide away under the collars.
The only time that I've ended up with wet feet was during a really wet training ride when, over two hours, the water poured down my legs and straight into the boots... fortunately it was a warm-ish day, so I didn't really feel the effects.
Would I pay full price for a pair of these right now? You can get the Celsius version for around £150... it seems like a lot, but I reckon that if we have similar winters to recent years, and these boots get me out on more rides, then it will be money very well spent.

Note - I should add that, apologies for the admission on this forum, most of these rides have been on a muddy knobbly wheeled machine... but the principles apply on a road bike... might have to put SPDs on my Cannondale.  1

mrchrispy [491 posts] 5 years ago

Ive a pair of the Artics (same as the Celcius but a little warmer), 2nd year with them now and they are awesome. had them down below zero (it can get pretty chilly if you include the wind factor) and feet ramined perfectly comfortable, they also remain dry in everything but biblical downpours.

much less hassle then squeezing into over shoes and multiple socks.

I'm a big fan and will replace like for like when they finally die (showing no signs yet)

Sniffer [425 posts] 5 years ago

Go for winter boots. You will never look back. I now have two pairs of Northwaves - Fahrenheit and Celcius. Only difference is the 2 or 3 bolt fixings. I have gone for a bigger size and can wear two pairs of socks etc.

I was lucky and bought both pairs in the Spring and got them much cheaper.

nowasps [519 posts] 5 years ago

I have a 5? yr old pair of Goretex boots from Northwave. They started leaking a couple of years ago, but they're well-made and tough as old… well they're tough as you might expect.

Dr_Lex [454 posts] 5 years ago

As per the above posts, a revelation for cold or wet winter riding, plus the extra exercise of rotating them. Couldn't justify the expense of the 45Nrth boots.
Watch that you keep the toe studs tight (or remove them)- lost one before I thought to check them. Like all footwear, need to watch for gravity feed of water through the top.

Mr. Rossi [36 posts] 5 years ago

Any word on a full road version in the works? SPDs are no good for me.

bendertherobot [1453 posts] 5 years ago
Mr. Rossi wrote:

Any word on a full road version in the works? SPDs are no good for me.

Why not? A pair of Shimano PD520 pedals and cleats are less than £20. Just stick them on your road bike in the winter.

Aesthetically pleasing? Probably not, but, if your in such conditions as to require this sort of footwear then being able to potentially walk properly is also important.

I do all my commuting, 20 miles each way, and winter long rides on SPD. For the summer I use SPD-SL.

Even if you only have one bike swapping over takes minutes.

tourdelound [169 posts] 5 years ago

I managed to pick up a pair of Celsius GTX boots for £105, (£160 RRP I believe), a few weeks back on the net. Used them four times so far, and they seem to have been a good investment. Good fit, and very comfortable.

Like several others, I use SPD's on my winter bike. If you want to use SPD SL's, buy the Farenheit version, they have the three bolt fixing.  1

Mr. Rossi [36 posts] 5 years ago

All very good and correct points, Bender, but I train with with Garmin Vectors, hence SPDs are no good. I've tried the standard Northwave Fahrenheits but I hate the lacing system, it's fiddly and you're left with an ridiculous excess of lacing once you've tightened them up, it's a terrible design. I like the ratchet system on these, much more sensible.

Sidi Hydro's it is then...

David Else [99 posts] 5 years ago
Martin Thomas wrote:

Standing in a puddle for ten minutes... You road.cc guys know how to have a good time don't you?  3

You should see us testing the waterproof hats. It's a riot.

Thanks for all the other feedback, folks.

Quick update: I've used the boots in two more winter events recently - the Saxon CX Sportive near Salisbury, and the Performance Cycles minisportive in the Cotswolds. For both rides, conditions were cold, wet and muddy, but these boots kept my feet warm and dry throughout.

Mombee [84 posts] 5 years ago

I've been using my Northwave Celsius boots on my Cannondale road bike for the past month and they've been comfy and toasty through all that horrible cold wet weather. I used to think that an extra layer of socks and my Shimano neoprene overshoes were fine, but they don't come close to the Northwave boots. If you can get a pair of these for £100 or less, then I reckon that they are excellent value for money, and will make your '4th' season cycling way more pleasant.