Despite common consensus, cycling through the winter can be fun. But spending too much time getting dressed for it is not. Neither are cold feet. Taking cycling booties out of the equation and running a shoe built for cold weather, like the Pearl Izumi Barrier GTX, is one of the best upgrades a winter pedaler can make.
I’ve been riding with the Barrier GTX shoes, which retail for $250, for the past month in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in temps ranging from the single digits to the 40s. Putting these winterized shoes on is a breeze. An inner sock-like area with a speed lacing system let’s you slide them right on. A diagonal zipper on the outer bootie then seals off the inner shoe. In functionality and in appearance, they are similar to XC ski boots.
Wearing a summer-weight sock, the shoes, which are built with 3M Thinsulate insulation inside, keep my feet warm when temps are around freezing. But once it dips into the teens, my feet get a little cool.
Featuring a GORE–TEX lining, the boots kept my lower digits dry even when stomping through deep or wet snow. An integrated gaiter prevents snow from sneaking in from the top.
The sole is firm, and walking around in them is no problem at all. They come complete with removable cleats for added traction.
One sizing issue: They run a wee bit small. My old Pearl Izumi mtb shoes are 44s and fit well. But my Barrier GTXs are 44.5 and they are oddly a bit smaller than the aforementioned 44s. This is important. Try them on before buying if you can. One reason: If you ride in extremely cold temps, you should err on the side of a larger shoe to accommodate thicker socks or even chemical heat packets by the toes.
If you do a significant amount of cold-weather riding, I’d suggest these Pearl Izumi shoes. They are not made for deep winter rides where the temps dredge to 10 degrees or below. But for commuting in the winter and for long rides in moderate winter temps, they are solid performers.
One of the quickest ways to take some fun out of a ride is cold feet. These shoes help with that. Another bonus? Unlike booties, the Barrier GTX shoes don’t rub against the crank on every revolution, letting you pedal fast and unencumbered on the cold, empty roads as the snow flies. www.pearlizumi.com