By PATRICK MURPHY
If 45Nrth has its way, the phrase “It’s too cold to ride today” is going to become irrelevant. The Minneapolis-based brand, a division of bike conglomerate QBP, is hell-bent on delivering specialty products that cater to the growing legion of diehard winter cyclists.
Adding to its line of snow tires, 45Nrth announced today the impending arrival of a cold-weather bike boot. The Wölvhammer, a SPD-compatible boot, is unlike anything else in the cold weather bike footwear realm.
In addition to a badass name, the Wölvhammer boasts impressive features that stem from a unique design approach. According to David Gabrys, a 45Nrth brand manager, the Wölvhammer draws influence more from mountain sports than from the bike world.
“We started by taking what works well in mountaineering boots and made a cycling shoe — rather than taking a cycling shoe and trying to make it warm.”
What makes it different than something like a Lake MXZ302 winter biking boot? Gabrys said the 45Nrth model is unique in its “true two-piece construction.” Meaning there’s an insulated inner bootie and a durable Cordura nylon outer that has a waterproof-breathable membrane.
To keep cold from seeping through the SPD cleat, 45Nrth added small panels of Aerogel in the midsole. This insulating material is the same stuff used by NASA in space suits.
Further, the Wölvhammer boots have a wider toe-box than normal bike shoes, letting body heat work more efficiently to keep your toes warm. Gabrys said his designers made the boot with a sized-up outsole “to create more space in the toe-box.” He continued, “For example, a size 46 boot has a size 47 outsole — this spreads out the upper material and creates even more width for the foot to sit in.”
Weight of a single Wölvhammer boot (in a Euro size 44) is about 27.5 ounces. Not exactly lightweight, but the added insulation should make a difference when it comes to keeping your toes toasty.
The boot has no official “warmth rating,” but Gabrys said he has rode in 10-degree temps without getting cold feet. (It’s officially marketed as a boot for “below freezing” temps.)
Gabrys said foot warmth will depend on too many factors to ascribe an exact rating. For example, if someone buys a large size and wears layers of insulated socks, they could ride for several hours in 10- to 15-degree temps.
“Some people will be warm well below zero,” he said. “Others who use the boot for commuting and wear a light wool sock, will stay warm in this same temp range for the duration of their commute.”
The Wölvhammer is scheduled for release in bike shops on December 1. It will cost a healthy $325. But for cyclists who don’t put their bike away when the snow falls, warm feet and an efficient, clipped-in ride might be worth the tall price to pay.
—Patrick Murphy is assistant editor at GearJunkie.