The release of the XM7 and XM9 from Shimano couldn’t have happened at a better time. With months of wet weather ahead of us, a waterproof shoe can really open up the possibilities for winter riding. Until now, the waterproof shoe selection has been pretty limited. It seems that Shimano wants to put an end to that with these two models aimed directly our way. The XM7 and XM9 share a good deal in common, namely the Gore Tex inners, nubuck leather, and Vibram soles; all very solid features. This being Shimano, both models are SPD compatible. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been wearing both models for different types of adventures. I am excited to report that each performs well in their own way, although I’ll be doing a long term review of these once I’ve put them through a winter of service. That being said, here’s how they stack up so far: XM9 Until now, I’ve never planned too many trips in the winter. Comfort on and off the bike is largely dependent on how warm and dry my feet are, and that’s never quite easy. With the introduction of the XM9, the options for winter adventures have multiplied. It’s rare to see a product tackle two problems so handedly, but so far the XM9 has performed splendidly on and off the bike. The padded ankle offers a good deal of support without interfering with my pedal stroke, and the Vibram sole gives the boot a confident grip on uneven terrain. I’ll be reporting back at the end of the winter on how these boots hold up. So far things are looking great. XM7 The XM7 fits more like a shoe, albeit a slightly large one. The shoe feels bigger than it is, but is still comfortable on and off the bike. This model feels more at home on quasi-urban adventures than serious bikepacking adventures. The cut is slightly higher than most shoes, but doesn’t offer the same amount of support that the XM9 does. On a recent bike trip to BC, the XM7s kept me warm and dry through a variety of conditions. Days spent exploring the city, scrambling up rocks, and riding trails with friends were as comfortable as one could expect when riding in the elements. The XM7 has become my go-to shoe for day trips and adventures in and out of town. My only gripe is purely aesthetic, which I can’t overlook. Whereas the XM9 looks like a hiking boot, the XM7 doesn’t really fit with any of my daily wear. I would prefer a solid color or more subdued combination, but this won’t affect too much of my daily decision. Conclusion Winter is right around the corner, and with it comes plenty of opportunities to put these shoes to the test. If my initial feelings are right, both models are going to become riding essentials.