It's been asked a million times, but I want to hear evolved thoughts and, of course, specific input on my particular situation.
So, the shoes I'm considering are the Northwave, the Answer Kashmir and the Lake. My foot is a size 9 EEEE, so I need the one that accomodates. Sidi is out because if I'm going to spend the money I'd just as soon get the Lake.
Money is an issue. If the Lake ends up being the best option I'm going to have to wait til next season. I can spring for the Answer now as long as the local REI can get it through QBP.
Currently I am using some old Answer MTB high tops with PI AmFib booties over. I hate the booties. They take forever to put on and they started falling apart before I even used them. If I wear two pairs of thick socks, put chemical warmers in, tie the shoes loosely and use the booties I am good to 5 degF with only a hint that my toes are cold. The PITA of the booties and the cold factor has me annoyed.
Living in Denver we have pretty cold winter mornings for a good 3-4 months a year all told starting in October and ending in March. I say 3-4 months because many of those early and late winter mornings get the "Colorado" effect where out of nowhere it's bluebird with a high of 50 for the day! Those mornings are usually still right around freezing, but much more easily tolerable though still a PITA with the booties. We also get the freak December and March mornings where it's 40degF and the booties are negligible.
To recap: I want booties now, but I want them to fit. I also want them to be warm enough. This whole week my commute was (or would have been if it weren't for extenuating circumstances) at anywhere from -25degF with windchill to 5degF without, but no warmer. I KNOW the Lakes will be the warmest, but will the Answers be warm enough? Will they be wide enough? If the consensus is that, yes, they will be both warm enough AND wide enough then I'm on that train like white on rice.
So, specific reports are helpful...how many have used both? Do you tend to have warm or cold feet? I am warm blooded and can be happy outside in very extreme cold. I sleep under a sheet only all winter long while my wife (typical) is bundled under two comforters with a heated mattress pad. I say this because many chime in that even the Lake isn't warm enough and I'd have to call BS. I KNOW the Lakes will be warm enough for my purposes. I KNOW I will never get cold with the right sock selection in them. But I can't afford them and, as I mentioned, I'm getting impatient with the booties.
Go forth and bring me wisdom thy website of wonder! Your perspective is duly appreciated.
This is my first year of all-weather riding. I started the year with PI AmFib mtn booties and some specialized shoes sized for summer socks. I found that setup w/ smartwool medium weight socks and polypro liners could only get me down to ~15 deg F at 1 hour (anything colder or longer left me in pain...). I then tried grabber toe warmers which but there just wasn't enough room.
I looked for alternatives and settled on the Lakes MXZ302, sized one euro size up. My first ride (same sock setup, no booties) was a 2 hr ride at ~0 deg F. The shoes worked well for ~1.5hrs but I suffered the last few miles home. This wasn't unexpected but now I have room for toe warmers and that setup now works beautifully for me
I was able to look at the Answers Kashmirs but not in my size. They aren't as substantial as the Lakes but I got the sense I could use them at ~0 deg F with booties and toe warmers. I too have issues with booties disintegrating (also, the toes flip off when hike-a-biking) so I considered the cost of regularly replacing them (and the toe flip off annoyance) when deciding to go with the Lakes.
I wanted to try the Northware Celcius J but couldn't find a pair to look at.
Another year-round biker and I share the locker room in our office building. He as having issues and had decided he wanted a better foot solution. I compiled this list for him yesterday based on my searches, he needed a size 47 so the list is biased towards online vendors claiming to have that size in stock (01.23.2008):
9 EEEE? I don't think you have any options other than warm boots with platform pedals. I have a narrow foot and that's what i do with temps below 15 F or so. I have a pair of Lake's but they aren't warm enough nor wide enough for my narrow foot.