The Northwave Flash Arctic winter boots provide plenty of insulation against the damp and cold, making for more comfortable winter rides. But heel support is not very effective, leading to inefficient pedalling.
Fully enclosed winter boot
Good level of insulation
Heel slips around when pedalling
Quite difficult to get on
As their name suggests, the Northwave Flash Arctic cycling shoes are insulated and designed for riding in cold conditions. They also include a GoreTex waterproof membrane, so they keep out damp from wet roads.
There are definite advantages in having the insulation and waterproofing built into a shoe which you will ride in through winter. The alternative of an overshoe with a lighter weight shoe doesn’t provide such efficient insulation and will not be as waterproof, so you’ll end up with wet feet if it rains, as water will get in through the cleat holes.
And overshoes aren’t cheap, aren’t durable and are usually a faff to put on over your shoes.
Having said that, we’ve not yet found a pair of high cuff winter cycling boots which really give you effective pedalling. Unfortunately, the Northwave Flash Arctic boots are not an exception.
You can open the uppers quite wide to get your foot in. It can be a bit of a fight to get past the cuff, which is made of loop of insulated foam, although this does mean that your foot is protected from draughts and damp effectively once in place. There’s a Gore-Tex membrane built into the cuff, so that your ankles will stay dry.
Closure of the wrap-over upper uses a single Northwave SLW2 dial and a zigzag nylon lace. It’s effective and you can tighten the upper down without tight spots, which can lead to cold feet. The dial is a bit tricky to tighten when on the move and wearing gloves though. It feels as if the release button is a bit in the way and the dial a bit low profile on its base to be easy to turn.
The ratchet release is useful when you want to loosen the upper though. You can push down on it to slacken it off one click at a time, or pull it up to release the dial completely when you want to take the shoe off.
The uppers have an array of small perforations, to help with moisture transfer from the interior through the built-in membrane.
Inside this, there’s a fleecy lining for extra thermal insulation. This does help keep feet nice and warm. But there’s not a lot of heel support and I found the rear of my foot was slipping around too much for efficient pedalling. The extra bulk of the insulation meant that the inside edge of the shoe had a tendency to rub against the pedal too.
The Northwave Flash TH winter cycling shoe, which we’ve also reviewed, has a grippy inner surface to the heel cup, which aids heel retention, but the Northwave Flash Arctic boot just has fleecy insulation here, explaining the difference in heel retention.
On the bottom of the Northwave Flash Arctic is the same carbon reinforced sole as on the Flash TH shoes. It’s made of four layers, with small vent holes in the bottom and a built in waterproof membrane and insulation. Although it’s pretty stiff, the lack of heel support in the upper makes it feel less effective in the Northwave Flash Arctic than in the Flash TH.
The Northwave Flash Arctic boots come in bright yellow. It’s good for winter visibility, but does show dirt from the road. There are reflective elements built in too. Size-wise, the Northwave Flash Arctic is available from 37 up to 49, with half sizes between 39 and 46.
So the Northwave Flash Arctic GTX shoes provide an effective solution if you suffer from cold feet when riding in the winter. But you pay for it with less foot support than with the option of a lighter shoe and overshoe.
Given that you’re probably not going to be able to pedal as effectively as in a summer shoe, it might be worth considering the Northwave Raptor Arctic GTX boot. This has a two bolt cleat fixing, but benefits from extra tread on the sole, so it’s a lot better for walking around on tiled floors when you reach your coffee stop.
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Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.
He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.
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