This review started with a locked up ratchet strap and scarred heels. Both the Land Run and Dirty Kanza were mud fests with miles of walking through slop. After not learning my lesson in the Land Run about the incompatibility of ratchet buckles and mud, I wore the same shoes in Kansas with the same results. During both races, after trudging through the mud and the muck, my ratchet adjustment strap seized, and I was unable to loosen my shoes even after washing them in a creek crossing. This resulted in severe blisters that led to scars which are still visible. After Kanza, I started a search for a gravel/bikepacking shoe that did not have a ratchet strap closure system. During that search, and while speaking with a rep for Lake, I was made aware of their MX175 shoe. This shoe is great overall and has performed splendidly for both aggressive, high-intensity gravel rides and lower-paced all day (and multi-day) adventures. The Lake MX175s exhibit a bit of a split-personality that has surprised me. Making assumptions about the performance of the shoe based on early rides was later proven to be a mistake. Some of my first rides with these were shorter gravel loops and aggressive lunch-rides. Putting the power down while seated or standing and mashing really lets one feel how stiff and efficient the fiberglass-injected nylon sole is. That said, I totally expected these to be both uncomfortable and a bit precarious while walking or after hours of pedaling. However, bikepacking, creek crossings, and even some ‘cross practice bike-runs showed that the sole is flexible enough to be appropriate and comfortable for these disciplines. The rubber outsole cushions the foot while walking, grips wet rocks well, and won’t mar the hardwood floor of your local pub. The thick-sole sometimes makes clipping in more of a chore, but this is a compromise I am okay with as this should mean a longer-lasting sole. I received the MX175 in the hottest time of the year here. The shoe breathes very well keeping it cool on summer rides. With that in mind, I predicted this to translate to a colder shoe in winter, but it seems the extra space in the toe-box prevents compression of winter socks allowing them to better retain warmth keeping the feet happy when the temperature drops. The wider toe-box is also great for the feet swelling that can happen on long-distance rides and multi-day rides. The wide toe-box doesn’t mean this shoe is inappropriate for people with narrow feet. I myself am one. My feet are long and narrow, so every cycling shoe I have ever worn requires me to tighten the forefoot to or near the maximum tightness allowed by the shoe. The BOA system on the Lakes allows much more even pressure across the top of the foot meaning I can leave the shoe a bit looser without compromising performance. The BOA seems to be a very good closure system with a wide-range of adjustment. The BOA’s micro-adjustment and even pressure has kept hot spots at bay. And so far, I have yet to have it lock up on me, no matter the conditions. However, I have noticed that when I really tighten the closure, I sometimes have to use my fingers to first spread the eye-stays apart a bit before the BOA will release. The Lake MX175 also features their action leather which is a split-leather with a surface treatment. The action leather is claimed to have increased water resistance over their full-leather uppers, making them better-suited for the rides more common to us in the bikepacking community. In yet another surprise, this upper actually reduces the price of the shoe when compared to those with the full leather upper. That’s winning (and doesn’t carry an HIV risk). The Lake MX175 is available in sizes ranging from 36-48 and size 50. As a note on sizing, Lake is the first road or mountain shoe which I have worn over the past 5 years that I do not wear a 45.5 in them as I usually would. The size 45 fits me great. Some internet and forum research has shown that others also wear a half-size smaller in the Lakes. Internet browsing is also showing some incredible deals on these shoes well under the original $229 retail. At the prices I am seeing, it’s easy to emphatically recommend these shoes.