Winter has officially started, the New Year is about to be rung in, and for a lot of us – it’s cold. For me, a good pair of winter boots has always been one of the most important pieces of Winter equipment. If your feet are cold, you’ll be cold. Not to mention that even when our trails are frozen, the stream crossings are often still wet. Keeping your feet dry and warm is critical for end of the ride comfort.
No stranger to winter boots, Lake has been making SPD compatible shoes to handle the cold for years. Stepping in at the latest and greatest, the MXZ303 is Lake’s true Winter boot. Rated to temperatures below zero (f), water resistant, and fitted with a chunky Vibram outsole, the MXZ303 looks ready for snow business.
At the same time both sleek and chunky looking, the 303 uses a Pittards WR100 Full grain leather upper which Lake calls water resistant. From the looks of the boots you would have to stand in a stream for a while before water made its way through the dual layer construction, but that’s something we’ll test in the long term. From the side the boots look a bit bulky, but looking at the boot from behind you notice how slim the profile is which should help with pedaling.
Lake has become a big fan of the Boa retention system and the 303 makes use of a single 30A closure to cinch up the lower part of the outer tongue. Instead of a second Boa like the MX145, the 303 uses a quick release buckle that is easily adjusted with the velcro strap on the back. The neoprene cuff makes a pretty effective barrier to keep snow out of your boots, while the generous leather pull tab makes it easy to pull them on. Due to the design of each it’s pretty easy to adjust the fit of the 303s even when wearing heavy gloves.
While the Pittards WR100 provides protection from the elements, inside there is a second layer of Outlast and 3M Thinsulate lining. The temperature regulating Outlast material is found in the heel and tongue liners with the toe box insulated with Thinsulate to keep your toes toasty.
Built on Lake’s Z last which is shaped specifically for Winter riding, I find the fit to be very similar to the MX145s. This meant that while I normally wear a 41.5 in Lake shoes, I went with a 42 for the 303s which is the right size. The boots are offered in wide sizes from 39-50, but I found the wides to be too wide when I tried on the MX145 Wides. Obviously everyone will be different, so you may need to try on a few pairs before you find the right size.
Instead of the HyperGrip Ice Lock outsole found on the MX145s, the 303 opts for a more aggressive Vibram Mountain V rubber outsole. SPD compatible, the boot uses a fiberglass injected nylon midsole for a boot that can be pedaled but still is plenty walkable. The 303s do not ship with any toe spikes, but the sole does have two replaceable studs per shoe which will probably be useful down the line.
As one last barrier from the cold, the insoles are a 3 layer design with Thermosol composite insulation in the middle. Think of it like an air bubble between your foot and the bottom of the shoe. Air is one of the best insulators, so if you can keep a pocket of air between the contact points it should work quite well. We’ll see how well these hold up over the Winter. The insoles also use a heat reflective material on both sides to help cold out and the heat in.
Likely owing to the amount of material and glue holding these things together, the boots have a 12g difference between the two, though we’re guessing you won’t notice the difference. Compared to the MX145s which are actually pretty light, the 303s are just over 100g more per boot.
Available through Stage Race Distribution, the MXZ303 boots retail for $299 which if they perform as advertised – should be totally worth it.