I have had the pleasure of using the 45NRTH Wolvhammer boots for the past 3 winter seasons. The original version for two years, and the updated version for this winter season. In that time I have biked in countless negative (fahrenheit) degree days, through whiteout conditions, mud and slush, over extended periods of time and simple day rides. They have been my feet keepers. I have been pleased with the original version, and I am also very happy with how the new design has performed.
First, I want to discuss the fit. I am typically a men’s size 11.5. The sizing for the 45NRTH Wolvhammer boots is a little different which I explain further below. My first pair of Wolvhammers were a 47. After using updated sizing chart on their website, a 48 was recommended. I went with a 47 in the new design and was happy I did so. It still has plenty of room to layer socks, but I don’t feel like they are too big. I was, however, on the verge of a 47 anyways, so I felt comfortable going with the smaller size.
In their size calculations they already account for large socks and extra room. This is important because when your foot gets tight in any area blood flow is restricted, which inhibits warmth. That has happened to many of us, and that is the number one reason why you should go with a larger boot size for winter cycling. When in doubt, head to a 45NRTH local retailer to try them on.
The exterior part of the boot is also revamped. The cord lock is now exposed to the elements which has not been an issue as far as keeping the foot warm or dry. The exterior body is a full leather and ballistic nylon shell with a beefy rubber toe that repels water and snow very well. The base of the shoe also got a update in the tread pattern, but 45NRTH continued with the well-regarded Vibram sole material.
Over the course of the winter months I have put these boots through a good test. At first glance I was a bit surprised with the look and feel of the boots. I initially felt like they were a downgrade to the original version, but that first impression did not last very long. After trying them on for the first time I was extremely happy with the ease of throwing the boot on and taking it off. No more dealing with that annoying zipper and over bootie. While my foot was in the boot, I noticed more room on the top of my foot as well as in the toe box – another benefit when talking about helping blood flow.
When I ride with these boots I typically wear a thin liner sock and a thick wool sock. On cold day rides (below zero F), I’ll add some toe warmers. Even with some extremely thick wool socks I never had the issue of cut off circulation, even when I cinched down the cord straps as tight as they would go.
For day rides, the moisture build up was very minimal and they would dry very fast after I took them off. For longer rides, such as racing the Fat Pursuit this year, it was clear that no boot can wick every bit of moisture away. When I took off my boot after I finished the race there was a significant buildup of moisture. I did not realize this until the boot was off as my feet remained warm the whole time. In attempt to avoid this situation in the future, I am going to focus some time on developing a good vapor barrier system, where the moisture stays within a barrier inside your shoe, and not in the shoe insulation itself.
Another stand out feature is the hike-ability of these boots, and I can say the same for the old version too. Between the flex of the sole, and deep and appropriately spaced tread pattern, I have had plenty of comfortable miles hiking my bike in soft snow. Even when i’m done riding I don’t mind keeping them on while I clean up my bike.
If you are one that is looking for an extremely stiff boot, you are not too far off, but it does have some flex. While the Wolvhammers may not be as stiff as some shoes, they certainly do a good job of transferring power while maintaining good hike-ability. With the updated tread pattern 45NRTH decided to remove the front two metal studs, which I never actually used anyways and likely resulted in some heat loss. The SPD cleat fits very well and does not interfere when walking, and if you don’t use clipless pedals, keep the bolted in cleat cover in place, as they don’t sell a non clipless version like they did in the past.
The Wolvhammer boots have held up through plenty of abuse, but snow tends to be a bit easier on shoes than dirt and rocks. The boot shows no significant wear other than the cord marks and a heal bend. If you are looking for an extremely comfortable and warm all-winter cycling boot, the Wolvhammer should be on your list.