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Old 02-17-06, 03:35 PM   #1
Portis
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LAKE MXZ 300 Review:

I have been riding for a few winters simply using insulated hiking boots and platforms for my foot/pedal choice in extreme cold temps. I have never had any foot coldness at all, but longed to be able to use my clipless pedals in any conditions. Before I had to switch to platforms when it got below freezing.

Last month i saw a good ebay deal on a pair of used Lake MXZ 300 winter boots. They were just like new and i only paid $75. Then the warm weather hit and i really haven't had a good chance to wear them in any real cold temps. Prior to today, the coldest i had ridden in was 20 F.

Today the mercury dipped down to 11 F with a very strong 20 mph North wind that was gusting much higher. Windchills were well below zero. I was cautious about wearing the boots because i had felt mild discomfort at 20 F and i knew today's conditions were much worse. Still I wanted to test them out.

So i headed out and the weather did not disappoint. The strong North wind was particulary fierce today. I think the warm weather we have had made it even harder to take. However, I quickly got pretty comfortable on the bike and rode on. About 1 hour into the ride, my toes started to ache a little. I knew that the ache would quickly intensify, because i have been at this winter cycling deal for a few years and hundreds of rides by now.

The pain grew worse as expected and i spent the last hour of my ride mainly thinking about how much my toes hurt and how poorly designed these shoes are. They really did a LOT of things wrong when they made these "Winter" cycling shoes.

What i think they did wrong"

1. Tried to make a cycling shoe into a winter boot. I think they should find a warm winter boot and try and make it into a cycling shoe. In other words, find a warm winter boot, stiffen the sole, and attach a cleat to it.

2. Pretty much relates to number one, but the shoe is simply cut too narrow. I bought a shoe that was two sizes too big because i had read similar complaints from others. They too said the shoe was too narrow in the toe box. In fact it is pretty much too narrow everywhere. It is said that the new model of this shoe is wider, but i wonder how much.

I have lots of room at the end of my toes but there is still some constriction on the other parts of the foot. Especially the top and bottom of the toes. Just because i have room on the end doesn't mean i have enough on the sides and top, and bottom. I don't.

It might be worth mentioning that i have a pretty narrow foot. I am 6'2" and 150 lbs so pretty much everything on me is narrow.

3. Price. These shoes are WAY to costly for what you get. I can't imagine if i had spent $200 or more on these as is suggested retail. I would likely be very upset. These shoes are just a little bit better than my normal oversized high top Shimano Mountain bike shoes and I spent $30 for them.

Bottom Line: This shoe is overpriced and is too narrow and constricted to be considered a good cycling shoe at very cold temps. The key to warm feet is room. LOTS OF IT! Many people claim that they wear just sandals in the winter with warm wool socks. I believe that it can be done although i have never tried. Sandals are very roomy and not constricting.

I read all sorts of threads on the internet where people are butchering these shoes trying to make them roomier. Some people tear out the seems and try and sew more in. Some lenghten the straps, some stretch the heck out of them. That is a lot of fuss for shoes that cost over $200. It also shows that they don't work great for extreme cold.

Strengths: These shoes are good in temps below freezing down to about 20 or so. Maybe a little lower if the wind isn't high. Also there is a real cool Star Wars factor with these shoes. They have a cool little flame emblem on the side and a piece that wraps around your ankles. (I've never had cold ankles!)

Last edited by Portis; 02-18-06 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 02-17-06, 07:15 PM   #2
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I'm with you about the width.. I had the 301's for a day and they were the narrowest shoe I have ever seen... It just amazed me how narrow they were.. and all in all, they didnt look that much warmer than a decent wool sock with cycling shoe/bootie setup... I am thinking about modifying my own pair of boots to add a cleat for those extreme days(if they come back next winter 8-) and will just stick with shoe/bootie for not so extreme times. I really would like to have a boot with a removeable inner liner so I could dry them out faster too.. anyway I look at it, I'll be on my own implementing something before MFGers will make us something that really fits the bill and is worth the money..
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Old 02-17-06, 07:18 PM   #3
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I can't comment on the 300's

But the 301's are designed with a slightly larger toe box (so they say)
301's work great for me (size 48), I wear wool socks until the temp gets below 0 (F)
Then I put a silk sock liner undeneath. The shoes work great for me.
These are the only thing for me in the winter. I wear them all the time in the winter, even when it gets warmer (50's) but the best protection for my feet yet when it drops below 0.
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Old 02-17-06, 08:00 PM   #4
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Well said, that pretty much sums up my opionion after almost a complete winter with them - and I wish I had run into a review like this before buying them.

I now have a pair of $150 shoes that are perfect for temps between 20 and 50 degrees F. I was expecting better.

Below that, I go with the sandals, lots of socks and a sealskinz sock as an outer layer. I've been pretty pleased with this approach, although it is a bit more time consuming than just throwing on the boots.

But if you do go the sandals route make sure that the straps expand enough to handle multi sock layers. On days when I go with 4 socks (below 0) I find that the small front strap on my Lake sandals has barely enough velcro to hang on, and I have to cinch them uncomfortably tight. 5 layers of socks would simply not fit.
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Old 02-18-06, 03:07 AM   #5
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Wow I am glad I read this. I was thinking about saving for a pair of these for next winter, but now I'm not! I have wide feet so these are definitely out of the question. Time to engineer something to make my boots into clipless boots
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Old 02-18-06, 08:07 AM   #6
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Another perspective: I have the 301's, and I pretty much agree with every criticism -- the fit is curious, they're not super warm, they're expensive -- and I'll add a few more, that the cleat placement is not right for me and they're difficult to walk in. However, for the riding I do -- commuting in the winter -- they are the best thing I've been able to find. I probably ride a 100 days a year when the weather is in the sweet spot for this shoe, between 20 and 50. I've tried booties, I've ruined boots by trying to mount cleats on them, I've tried power grips and toe clips and Winwoods and platforms with boots. Lake boots are the only solution where I can ride for any distance in comfort.

It reminds me of what Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." These boots are the worst form of footwear, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time!
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Old 02-18-06, 02:17 PM   #7
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I'll have to disagree. I've been using my Lake 300s for the past two winters and have been very happy with them.

I sized my MXZ300s the same as my other Lake shoes. But I bought em for both really cold weather and for the water resistance during oursloppy wet fall and spring (25-35F) when wearing wool socks would be overkill (for me). I can get away with an ordinary athletic sock till around 10-15F, at which point I pull out that super thick insole and replace it with a thinner type. Then I can do the thick wool socks and with a combo of plastic bags and booties, I'm good to down below -20F.
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Old 02-18-06, 09:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobber
at which point I pull out that super thick insole and replace it with a thinner type. Then I can do the thick wool socks and with a combo of plastic bags and booties, I'm good to down below -20F.
Again, more fuss.

-20 F? If you say so.
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Old 02-19-06, 12:33 AM   #9
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the website for lake says they're good for 10 to 50 dergees. some people dont have cold sensitive feet & can handle 10 degrees with the lakes. then there are people like me whose feet freeze on the bike when the temp drops below 45 degrees. i tried wool socks, plastic bags, booties, & toe covers on my regular road shoes when the temp dropped below 45 and after 20 minutes my toes would be numb from the cold. i purchased a pair of the lake cxz301 winter road shoes in november of last year and they have been a godsend. i hate the cold weather with a passion and wont go outside on my bike if its below 32 degrees. i'd just as soon sit on the trainer for an hour or so. but if its above 32 degrees out i go and the lakes are the only thing that keep my feet warm. there are a lot of days during the fall/winter that hover between 32 & 45 degrees where i am so i've used them a lot and it has been money well spent. i bought them new online from a lake distributor with the understanding that i could return them if they didnt fit right. my suggestion would be to do the same.
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Old 02-19-06, 10:39 AM   #10
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Above 32 F, I am fine with just a regular pair of Shimano mountain bike shoes with two pairs of wool socks underneath. I bought them oversized to accomadate the socks. The Lake's will take me down about 12-15 more degrees.

So in essence, one could possibly be spending $200 or more to just gain a 15 degree range in temps. THat's not too great. I just got back from an hour and 45 minute ride. It was 17 when i left. I wore the Lake's and they were mostly comfortable. Temp was 20 by the time i got home. I firmly believe 20 F to be the low end of comfort for these shoes for me.

I have a great pair of winter cycling shoes. They are size 12 Wolverine hiking boots that are insulated with Thinsulate. I paid $40 for them on ebay a few years ago. I have worn them below zero many times without even a tinge of discomfort. They are always toasty warm.

It's just that i can't use them for clipless. Seems like somebody could easily design a warmer shoe, fashioned after something like my Wolverine hiking boots. I think the problem is that companys like Lake realize that nobody would buy them. They aren't "sexy" enough. They figure that most cyclists are looking for a shoe that looks and fits similar to their normal cycling foot wear. Trouble is that don't work. There winter shoes prove it.
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Old 02-20-06, 08:30 AM   #11
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It's boils down to what you like....

I personally think the Lake 301's are perfect for myself.
When the temps drop below 32ish I put on thicker wool socks.
When the temps drop below 0 I wear a sock liner under the Wool sock.

Never have a problem with the cold.

Walking in them is not a problem.

Cleats work great.

I am sure there are going to be some people this shoe will not work for, but for my WIDE size 13.5 foot, this shoe works great!

Last edited by Walkafire; 02-20-06 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 02-20-06, 10:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by specq
But if you do go the sandals route make sure that the straps expand enough to handle multi sock layers. On days when I go with 4 socks (below 0) I find that the small front strap on my Lake sandals has barely enough velcro to hang on, and I have to cinch them uncomfortably tight. 5 layers of socks would simply not fit.
Specq, I also go the sandal route, i use shimano's, and they have the same problem, the toe strap expands to allow up to about 4 layers of socks/sealskinz.

If you need to go more, id suggest a different route. I use a Sugoi Resistor bootie and less socks, its a fleece lined rubber bootie, a lot thinner than neoprene, and stops all wind. Without wind, I can use 2 layers of wool and be comfy.

The other method is using a vapor barrior sock between 2 wool socks. I have not tried this, but then It doesnt get too cold here. If it got well below freezing I would.

Using either of the above you shouldnt need to go with 5 layers of socks.

Heres some links of the ones I mention :

http://www.teamestrogen.com/products.asp?pID=15587

http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1140451930040
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Old 02-20-06, 10:42 AM   #13
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Despite the review these might actually work well for me. I really like clipless shoes but below 45F my feet start getting cold with two sock layers and my MTB shoes. With a water proof sock over a wool sock I can get down to the upper 30s. Below that I wear a road shoe with a good shoe cover. This is decent down to about 20 with two layers of socks, But its cumbersome to put on 4 layers and the covers are the most cumbersome with the combo still not very walkable (but better than straight road shoes). In Cleveland we don't have too many days below 20 but lots in the 20 to 40 range. If heavy wool socks and a single shoe would keep me warm and dry between 20 and 40 I would be in pretty good shape.
The Lakes seem to be in the $170 range at discount stores (and my LBS) but a good road or MTB shoe is over $100 and covers are $30-$40 so the difference isn't that great. Considering that I would probably wear these from Thanksgiving to past St. Patricks it maybe an investment worth making.
Still I think the feed back to Lake to make these shoe wider with removable liners is a good thing. They probably won't change the design for a few years but hopefully they can incorporate the suggestions into the next iteration.
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Old 02-20-06, 01:36 PM   #14
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The Lake 300s fit me just fine. With a layer or 2 of wool socks, I am fine at least down to 0. Despite the drawbacks, in conjunction with warm socks, to my knowledge, this is the warmest solution that is still compatible with clipless.
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Old 02-20-06, 08:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBBaron
Despite the review these might actually work well for me. I really like clipless shoes but below 45F my feet start getting cold with two sock layers and my MTB shoes. With a water proof sock over a wool sock I can get down to the upper 30s. Below that I wear a road shoe with a good shoe cover. This is decent down to about 20 with two layers of socks, But its cumbersome to put on 4 layers and the covers are the most cumbersome with the combo still not very walkable (but better than straight road shoes). In Cleveland we don't have too many days below 20 but lots in the 20 to 40 range. If heavy wool socks and a single shoe would keep me warm and dry between 20 and 40 I would be in pretty good shape.
The Lakes seem to be in the $170 range at discount stores (and my LBS) but a good road or MTB shoe is over $100 and covers are $30-$40 so the difference isn't that great. Considering that I would probably wear these from Thanksgiving to past St. Patricks it maybe an investment worth making.
Still I think the feed back to Lake to make these shoe wider with removable liners is a good thing. They probably won't change the design for a few years but hopefully they can incorporate the suggestions into the next iteration.
Craig

they would do well for you. in the 32-45 degree range all i wear is one pair of woolie boolie socks and cold toes never factor into my rides anymore. a huge plus is with the boa lacing it only takes seconds to put them on instead of wrestling with all the covers & zippers & such that are needed when wearing regular cycling shoes.
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Old 02-21-06, 07:45 AM   #16
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I have to agree that they Lakes run narrow, but other than that, I love them! I find them easy to walk in. I also think that if you're feet are sensitive to cold, it's difficult to find anything to keep them warm. My ski boots are ridiculously cold, and they have a lot more insulation than the Lakes! I recently changed my inner soles to winter Superfeets, and that helps a lot along with toe warmers. I think I'm going to try that next winter, and that should keep me nice and toasty!
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Old 02-21-06, 09:09 AM   #17
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I love my MXZ 300's. I've been using them for the last five winters without any complaints. I do agree with your two main issues: yes they are cut narrow, but not too narrow for me...yes, I found that they are most comfortable in temps between 15-45 F. I always have used my summer time socks with the Lakes. I could probably wear thicker socks for more warmth. If the boots were any warmer, I wouldn't be able to use them as much.

The things that you claim are faulty are actually design choices that work well for some people. Perhaps you should have tried them on first before making a blind ebay purchase. I would never buy shoes, gloves, or helmets online without trying them on first.
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Old 02-21-06, 09:20 AM   #18
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I have used the 300's for the past two winters. I find they are suitable to -9 C, but below that the toe box is cold if the wind kicks up. Still, they are the best solution for messy, cold riding. Try the plastic baggy route for temperatures below -9 and you should be fine. I would still recommend these shoes.
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Old 02-21-06, 10:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
Again, more fuss.

-20 F? If you say so.
What fuss, I'm putting on my socks and boots, its an extra 30 seconds. A little up front planning in ones life works wonders.

I say so. Why doubt me, everybodys different. I happen to have a very high tolerance to cold, I typically ride in just shorts till the mid-teens.
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Old 02-21-06, 08:21 PM   #20
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So, after rereading my post, I think I sounded unecessarily harsh.

I want to stress that I don't regret owning them - my wife, who seems to have have latched on to frostbite as her #1 worry, when I showed her the website, said "you have to buy those!" I pretended to do so under protest, but as you can imagine, I didn't need a whole lot of convincing...

I think my big disappointment was that the first time I tried them in what I would consider really cold temps (below zero F) my feet were the only ***** in my armor. Ever since then I've experimented with electric socks, chemical heat packs, plastic bags and finally hit upon my sandals and lots of socks strategy.

After posting that review, I decided I needed to give the Lakes another chance at temps <20F. Mother nature, always the obliging sort, gave me 10F with 10mph headwinds for my morning commute the past two days. I was wearing a pair of smartwool-type merino socks as an under layer, with a sandwich bag over the top, with a hunting type wool sock over that.

A couple of observations: My Lakes have stretched out since I first got them in the fall. My feet didn't feel cramped and I actually had a bit of wriggle room for my toes. While I can't say that I had the same toasty feet as I would have had with my sandals, I never felt like they were going to fall off at any moment. They never really progressed beyond the "a bit chilly" stage. I would chalk that up to a combination of improved room, and probably some cold adaptation over the course of the winter.

The convenience of just slipping on the boots and getting on the road has made me rethink the temp range for my Lakes. I think I'll be wearing them between 5 and 50 from now on (but that would have to be a calm 5)

The other observation I would make is that, obviously, duration has something to do with how comfortable you'll find these boots. I commute 20 miles each way, which, during the worst winter weather can easily put me upwards of 90 minutes on the bike. The first 45 minutes are almost never a problem. It's those last 45 that make me wish my feet had never been born...So those of you with shorter commutes may never really tax their limits.

Ultimately, I like them. They're certainly comfortable. They're mostly water resistant. They're a lot more convenient than throwing on all sorts of different layers and devices on the feet. I think my biggest disappointment was due to my own expectations. I was expecting the Sorrell of biking shoes. These aren't that. If you live in a MN type climate, and bike for more than 45 minutes at a time, you're going to need another solution for the really cold stuff.

And I still wish I had bought them just one size larger...

Last edited by specq; 02-21-06 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 02-21-06, 09:39 PM   #21
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You raise a good point that i forgot to mention. Something happens around the one hour mark in cold weather riding for me. I did mention in the review that i didn't have trouble until one hour into the ride but i don't think i emphasized that enough.

This is a common time element for many items. I have had gloves, shoes, etc. that were fine for one hour and then things started to hurt. These shoes are the same Perhaps some that are posting that they are fine in very cold temps with them, don't ride as long.

When i claim that an item is good down to zero or some other extreme temp, i am saying that they are good for well over one hour with no discomfort.
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Old 02-22-06, 09:37 AM   #22
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Just to add my 2 cents-

Lake MXZ30x winter riding shoes alone are a little minimalist IMO for temps under 25-30 degrees F. Remember they're a cycling shoe first and winter shoe second; these are not your fathers Sorels. I'm not saying some guys aren't fine without toe warmers below those temps but I need additional warmth for my toes to stay comfortable especially when the temps are in the 10-20 degree F range and the rides are 3-4 hours minimum.

For those COLD training days I have custom insoles with Hotronic 3.5 footbed heaters. I've ridden many times in the teens for 3+ hours and my feet have always been comfortable.

Also- staying warm in the winter is more than just a good pair of shoes or mitts, it's about keeping your core warm too. If you're completely under-dressed a good pair of shoes and gloves will not keep you warm.
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Old 03-16-06, 12:22 PM   #23
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I like my MXZ300's, but I'm sure glad to know it isn't just me who find them a little chillier than expected, as well as being a bit on the narrow side. At 25 degrees, my feet will stay warm for about half an hour, which is too short even for a winter commute. But with vapor barrier liner socks inside my wool socks, and with a cheapo pair of SideTrack neoprene shoe covers over the MXZ's, my feet stay warm indefinitely temps down to the low teens (haven't tried lower). My summer mountain bike shoes are still too drafty to do this, even inside the SideTracks.
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Old 03-19-06, 09:26 AM   #24
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I bought a pair of the 301's earlier this winter and have been very happy with them. I use a single wool sock down to 10 degrees F. Below this I add another sock. The coldest temp. I rode in was 6 degrees F. with a wind chill well below 0. My feet were warm and comfy. I normally wear a size 43 shoe but bought these in size 45. I was tired of the summer shoe and booty routine. I had much difficulty clipping in if cleat area was compacted with snow.
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