Lake MXZ303 Winter Boots
Lake MXZ303 Winter Boots
By Gary Stanesby
Preview of the Lake MXZ303 Winter Boots ahead of a full review
“Don’t you just love the smell of leather in the morning!” In preparation for ‘full on’ winter riding, we received the Lake MXZ303 Winter boots. These are proper, fully waterproofed, cycling specific, winter boots and are most welcome for me personally, having recently consigned twelve pairs of ragged overshoes, shredded trying to protect lightweight ‘summer’ cycling shoes over winter, to landfill somewhere in South-east England; testament to kit not really fit for purpose, or maybe my riding choices..?
As a rider I really suffer from cold feet in the winter and overshoes have never quite cut it for me, which was why these boots where featured in the Christmas Presents for Cyclists feature, in hope of curing my misery. First impressions are that these boots are serious and at £180 they should be. There’s a whole host of features designed to keep you warm.
The boots feature a Pittards WR100 full-grain leather upper which, Lake promise, is ‘fully water-resistant, breathable and form fitting’. The Vibram Mountain V Rubber outsole is for SPDs which suits most of my riding and makes a lot of sense for a broad appeal boot, ideal for winter commuting. I’m using standard SPDs in this test on two bikes, my winter road and my full sus mountain bike. The caution note on each sole for the extra protection required for Crank Brother pedals shows attention to detail by LAKE; these boots aren’t cheap and to have the soles unnecessarily damaged would be an expensive lesson to learn.
The Outlast Temperature regulating heel and tongue liner and the 3M Thinsulate lining in toe box should keep my feet warm. Further warmth comes from the Thermosol composite, insulation insole, which acts as an air trap keeping the cold from penetrating through the bottom through the fibreglass-injected, nylon outsole.
I instantly liked the fact that there are no fussy laces or buckles. The BOA locking system tightens uniformly. I’ve tried them with and without my orthotic insoles and either way there’s enough room in them to get the boots fitting tight and snug. The boots are big but very simple and quick to get on and off for that all important stop off for supplies mid-ride, in the local shop or pub, that won’t have the locals cursing you for the muddy trail left on their floors.
The Z last is specifically shaped for cold weather and has a unique upper profile that allows the foot to stay warm whilst providing room for additional insulation; it comes in wide fitting as well should you need it. The upper neoprene ankle strap is a nice touch too, as I’ve got skinny shins and these fit snugly. They don’t flap around like a pair of wellies and a soft Outlast wrap around inner structure will hopefully avoid any rubbing.
The Lake MXZ303s are no lightweights, at nearly 750g each. In contrast my summer shoes weigh around 400g, so it’s a big jump up, but for warm toes it will be well worth it. I have never been one for counting the kilos and in return for the extra weight during winter, I’m banking on some calculated improvements come the spring. With multi-panelled, thicker winter socks the boots are comfortable to walk in, something that I imagine I will be thankful for should things ever get too muddy to cycle-up, along with the two studs fitted at the front of the boot. Looks wise, the black and silver has mass appeal whilst the bold LAKE and the 303 logos aid side visibility.
As a rule I always try and start a ride with warm feet and hands in winter by putting the kit on 5 minutes before I leave. Otherwise it’s just miserable from the off. Leaving the house I did feel a bit Neil Armstrong with my by gravity boots on but once on the bike they clipped in perfectly. No odd alignment issues that sometimes niggle you with new shoes. The snug fit really worked well on the first climb out of the saddle and 20-minutes into the ride with frost still covering the fields and cars, my feet were toastie which is a really good sign. Adjusting the tension on the fly is really simple too; I’d over tightened my left foot and being able to release this quickly at a set of lights was a real plus.
After a good hour my feet were still warm. There was no rubbing at all and I actually had the feeling of having many miles still left in the legs without being grumpy about my frozen feet. On the return home, my toes and feet were still warm, I was in a good mood, and my average speed was up. Could this be a sign?
As far as waterproofing goes, I haven’t really tested them fully at the time of writing this Preview, but with the South-east of England already having had 125% of our typical rainfall just halfway through the winter, and the ground still saturated, a blast around the Surrey Hills on the mountain bike should thoroughly test that. These boots are also a perfectly good reason to suggest to the wife a visit to the in-laws for a proper test in the Peak District…
Not wanting to jump to any conclusions after one ride but I think these boots have the makings of a winter-riding, life-changer. The snow hasn’t arrived yet and there’s a lot of mud to get through, but it’s a good start when compared to my usual overshoes. Maybe it’s true that there’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong kit.
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