DISCLAIMER: I’m not promoting a shoe company, just promoting winter cycling footwear. Anything you read below is ATMO or observation. These are shoes, you need to try them on in-store and find what works for your feet!
ALSO: I’m not writing about winter shoe covers. They exist, and I believe winter cycling shoes are worlds better than shoe covers in freezing situations.
I inspected and/or tried on a number of shoes where sizes were available. Also, Some Rippers emailed me their thoughts on what they have. Some I only saw on the Innerwebs.
I really only looked at mountain bike cleat compatible shoes because I ride with those systems in the winter. Most of these shoes come in a road version. Snow in shimano road cleats is an awful situation, difficult to remove and soils your gloves in the process. Now on to the shoes!
Fondled these. Wind/Water resistant. Velcro clasps. These have some insulation, but not the inner boot/outer boot like other offerings. Mainly they have a neoprene ankle warmer ( like a gator ) and gortex. I think primarily they would keep out wind and water spray while riding. They also make a road cleat specific one.
I tried these on. Wind/Water resistant. Inner/outer boot. All synthetic for low
maintenance. Snowboard boot style cinch up. You pull up on the string and it tightens the inner boot down the middle. Then you fold the flap over and go. There is a ring on the toe for attaching gaiters to keep out snow melt. These things are billed as fat biking boots, I imagine because with gators they would keep snow out the best of all of them. The low maintenance of being synthetic was interesting. Vibram soles.
I tried these on. Wind/Water resistant. Inner/outer boot. They do have leather outers that require maintenance to endure the salt and what not. Vibram soles, I’m told a newer version of the vibram sole in the Wolvhammer, but who cares? They use an external wire cincher called BOA ( http://www.boatechnology.com/why-boa/#/how-it-works), kind of like snowboard boots but on the outside. You turn a knob to tighten, pull it out to undo. They pull the top of the boot OVER your foot. I think this makes for a more snug feeling for cycling.
Probably look the coolest. Comes in mountain and road form, is more light duty than the MXZ303, more like the Mavic Frost/Drift. Slick BOA cinching system mentioned above. No inner / outer boot. Leather and water resistant requires maintenance.
Ripper David B. has these and says they are reasonably warm for two to three hours down to 25 degrees or so.
Northwave Arctic G.T.X. ( $230ish )
Wind/Water resistant. Inner/outer boot. Uses the snow boot style cinch string on the inside boot. I have not seen these in a store. Ripper David B. owns these for colder conditions. He says they are more water resistant and substantially warmer down to 25F than the Lake CX145s he also has.
These are roughly the equivalent of my first solution only with clipless cleats. If you own hiking boots, then I think you know what these are like. I checked them out back before the winter season and liked them for a chilly commuting scenario. What you see is what you get, lace up hiking boots with a cleat mount. This belongs in that category of cycling gear you show up to dinner at a decent restaurant wearing, and that is cool in my book.
I didn’t see these in the wilds. Velcro straps. Gore-tex. Optional toe spikes for ice dogging in the tundral plains. Ripper Craig M. has these and uses a sole insert to increase the insulation. They look about on par with the Mavic or Lake CX145 for insulation. They are Sidi so you know… Sidi.
MCR Safety Toasty Feet ( $20ish )
Ripper Craig M. likes these to add additional warmth to your shoe. Interesting idea!
Toasti Toes Toe Warmers ( 72 pair for $56 )
Last but not least, no winter shoe would be complete without toe warmers. These adhesive version of the hand warmers will stay in your shoe, under your toes, and deliver a campfire like warmth for several hours.
Keep Your Shoes On Top Of The Water Heater ( Free )
Might as well start the ride warm, eh? That is where I keep mine as it is on the way to my bike and the warmest place in the house at 5:30am. Assuming your water heater or ( hot water closet ) isn’t a rubber melting temperature, this is a nice way to start the ride. Maybe just in the vicinity of the water heater or boiler…