Winter is a beautiful season when trees are lined with snow and solid new trails emerge from their usually liquid state. The Lake MXZ303 is a winter boot which has been in their line up for ages, but it just keeps getting better with more reinforcement, a new Boa, and Gaiter hooks. But the basic concept is the same – layers of warm insulation and high-end waterproof materials to keep the elements out.

Lake MXZ303

Building a winter boot

Lake built their MXZ303 boots with Pittard’s WR100 leather which does a great job keeping water out – but since the boot is technically open around the Boa closure, water will still get in if full submerged. The new BOA IP1 system stitches the top flap closed by applying even pressure across the top of the foot. Internally, the boots have a large toebox lined with 3M’s Thinsulate and Outlast thermal liner. Together they help keep the air around the foot warm even while wearing thick wool socks.

Lake MXZ303

Below deck is a robust Vibram Mountain V sole with optional cleat inserts for extra traction on loose terrain. Lake’s spike kit can be picked up on their site for an additional $20.

Lake MXZ303

Adjustable velcro straps wrap around the back securing the cuff buckles. Plus, a stiff heel cups prevent foot movement and thus blisters. The MXZ303s reminded me of climbing shoes when initially sliding my foot in; even with the Boa fully opened and the buckle undone. But once inside there is plenty of room and space for the Boa to sinch in on. Winter boots can be a tricky thing to get right in terms of pedaling, and it’s something Lake does very well.

Lake MXZ303

New for 2018 are loops on top of the toe box which serve as anchors for gaiters. They’re not needed all the time but do come in handy when facing deep snow and sloppy wet conditions.

Lake MXZ303

There’s enough space under the arch of the foot to loop a gaiter strap without feeling them on flat surfaces. The pair weighs in at 1628g with cleats which is hefty compared to standard shoes but speaks volumes of the build quality and durability. The $300 boots range in sizes from 36-50 – skipping 49 – in a regular width only.

Taking on winter

Lake MXZ303

Lake’s MXZ303 winter boots are a great upgrade from regular mountain shoes with thermal covers. Plowing through partially frozen creeks is super fun and the waterproofing you get takes all the worries out of (quickly) dunking your feet. Obviously, they won’t protect against a full submersion though.

Lake MXZ303

The lowest temperature I can remember riding in has been around -2ºF (-18.8ºC) and even then I didn’t have an issue with cold feet. I felt some cold creeping in at the end of some rides, but insulation is done in layers and a pair of thicker socks or even a pair to change into helps. Compared to your standard shoe they’re rather heavy but they give much more than they take from the winter experience. Ultimately, for me winter boots have become a necessity for this go anywhere kind of riding. And Lake’s MXZ303 winter boot is an still an excellent option to consider.

PS. If you haven’t tried riding on frozen creeks, give it a shot sometime. However, proper winter gear and studded tires are a must.


  1. I can’t tell what the construction is like, but it seems like a simple gusset between the top cover and what looks like a neoprene layer would be enough to make it water proof. Just my 2c.

    • That sounds kinda like what the 145s have. Maybe my ankles are skinny, but that just kinda folds over and gets annoying. I don’t usually wear my 303s above freezing so water isn’t an issue.

      Other areas get different depths/kinds of snow, so YMMV

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