Got my new Northwave Husky winter road shoes a couple weeks ago and it got cold enough to test them out at the beginning of this week.
Last winter, my first cycling, I used my Shimano shoes with various combinations of socks, booties, and chemical toe warmers in a semi-successful effort to keep my feet warm. This got to be a terrible nuisance, especially when combined with all the other clothing requirements for winter riding. It sort of reminds me of the scene in "A Christmas Story" where the little brother is so bundled up for the snow that when he falls down, he can't get up again.
I am happy to report that the Northwave shoes are all that I hoped. I went out on a 30 degree early morning ride with just a pair of thin socks and the shoes and came home with happy feet. I did buy them 1/2 size larger than normal, though, so I can get a pair of heavy wool socks and a toe warmer in without feeling cramped.
The shoes have a neoprene front and sides. The sole is also sealed off from the elements, but they still breathe well, since there is a mesh liner down along the sides of the tongue. The top of the tongue is made from some sort of windproof material, which in turn is covered by a zippered flap. The shoes use laces, not velcro, since the layered construction makes the use of velcro impossible. It can be a little difficult to lace the shoes tightly because of the overlying flap, but it is not impossible. The shoes are pretty stiff, but the cleat mounting system leaves more distance between my foot and the pedal than my Shimanos. This feels different when I clip in, but doesn't seem to create any problem when I am riding.
Every time I put the shoes on, I feel compelled to sing "Elmo got new shoes. Elmo got new shoes.".