A great addition to the winter wardrobe, Northwave Arctic Commuter R GTX shoes keep out the cold and wet in all but the most foul conditions.
At this time of year your choice of footwear whether you commute or ride at the weekends can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of the ride. The last thing you want to endure is either cold or wet feet or worse still both. There will always be that wet ride of biblical proportions that will soak through any footwear but you can keep them drier or if it only happens to be freezing then warm by the time you reach your destination.
Overshoes can certainly assist in keeping the elements at bay but it also becomes one of several additional layers you need to don just to get out of the door. More recently cycling manufacturers have branched out into winter footwear. Jackets and other clothing items have been around for a while but shoes took slightly longer to arrive.
The Italian brand, Northwave have been making cycling footwear for 20 years and some the sport's top names are on their client list so they know a thing or two. They produce several winter variants including the Artic Commuter GTX Road Boot.
The Commuter ticks a number of boxes for those looking for a sturdy boot during the more inclement time of the year. It combines the solidity of a boot with additional safety features. The bright colour will not appeal to everyone but it is designed for high visibility in all light conditions. There is a reflective logo on the forefoot and another on the heel.
The fit can be snug so if you are planning on wearing thicker socks as most people do during the colder months, then it is worth moving a size up over your normal fit.
Even though this is a winter shoe the sole used on the Artic GTX is the same stiff, carbon reinforced platform you'll find in Northwave's race shoes. You won't suffer any loss of power through them.
More importantly for those riding on cold days, the uppers are made with an exclusive Koala Gore-Tex membrane. This membrane is available on the entire Artic range and marketed as offering maximum protection from wind, rain and snow. Given the drop in temperatures they have worked well down to a single degree so far and there is nothing to suggest they won't work effectively when the mercury drops further. My feet have remained pretty toasty, making a big difference to my enjoyment.
Rather than straps or velcro the Artics use a Speed Lace system. It is very easy to pull the single clasp to secure the boot, keeping the closure as tight as you need and just as straight forward to undo. Once you've got the boot on snug, there are two velcro straps that assist in keeping your feet warm and dry.
The added bonus is you won't have to struggle with overshoes either. The Gore fabric allows the boot to function well in regards to keeping the elements out but makes it very easy to wipe clean.
In all but the filthiest of conditions the GTX boots have done a great job of keeping my feet warm and mostly dry. The only time they failed was one very wet commute where the standing water resembled small paddling pools. Water was able to wash over the top of the boots and seep through around the ankle. If you have your tights/leggings tucked into your boots then the water can find a way in. The flip side of the effectiveness of the membrane is that water has no where to go and your feet remain soaked.
From a price perspective, they are not at the top price of other winter boots but they are still the top side of £150. If you want a long term commuter/riding boot for cold, bitter riding then these will fit the bill. Just be a little more prepared if the forecast shows heavy rain.
They have proven to be a great addition to the winter wardrobe.
If you're fed up with faffing around with overshoes or you want one winter shoe to rule them all then the Northwave Artic Commuter GTX boots fit the bill.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Arctic Commuter R GTX shoes
Size tested: 42 (UK 8.5) Yellow
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?
Designed for those riders who want to keep going during the deepest, darkest months with suffering with their extremities. Removes the need for overshoes and keeps those digits warm and mostly dry.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Built on the same platform as their race shoes you'll find the soles of the Arctic Commuters stiff but comfortable. The closure is secured with a Speed Lace system, easy to get on or off and topped off with two velcro straps. The colours chosen provide plenty of additional visibility with reflective logos at the front and rear of the shoe.
Carbon sole combined with a Gore-Tex Koala membrane ensure the elements are kept out so you can enjoy your riding.
Apart from one particularly wet ride the Arctic Commuters have done exactly as they are supposed to.
The uppers feel strong and resilient and the speed lace system is pretty simple to use. This has the additional benefit of having less to go wrong. The upper membrane is tough but easy to wipe clean.
As you'd expect, this protection doesn't come lightly but you are getting a solid pair of boots that will last all winter.
The Arctic Commuters have kept my feet warm and dry without making my feet uncomfortable.
You may baulk at the price but then you are paying for a well made, durable boot to keep you riding during the winter. The boot is likely to last longer than your resolve.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Toasty digits are always a plus on winter rides. The Northwave Arctic Commuters deliver this on pretty much every ride. The cold has been kept at bay and most of the rain too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The simplicity of the speed lace system is great, even with cold fingers you can easily get them off.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Having said how easy the speed lace system is, the length of lace left once you've done them up means you have to tuck the surplus under the velcro. Not ideal.
Did you enjoy using the product? Great for winter riding.
Would you consider buying the product? I would.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Perfect for winter riding and likely to last longer than your resolve.
About the tester
Age: 44 Height: 178cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: Currently riding a Pinnacle Evaporite Three My best bike is: As above
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, sportives, mtb, Not yet but looking to dip my toe in the world of TT