"The path to an enlightened sole is traveled in comfortable shoes"
-The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama didn't really say that, but I bet he was thinking it. Maybe?
Happy feet make for a happy rider, and with the Winter's chill happy feet can be found within Shimano MW 81 Winter cycling boots.
I started wearing these in October when the the temperature began dipping into the upper 30's on my commute. As the weather has gotten more "challenging" they have proven themselves time and time again.
The Gore Tex liner works well to to keep moisture out while breathing enough to keep my feet from over heating. Yet even on the coldest rides this year the fleecy lining has kept my feet indifferent to temperature. The comfort range I've experienced so far from has been sub 20's to mid 40's.
The Velcro closures seem to be some sort of Super Velcro fastening the boots securely from the neoprene ankle wrap to the toe strap. The sole is stiff enough for efficient power transfer, while the widely spaced lugs offer plenty of traction for off the bike excursions.
I'm skeptical of any claims of water resistance (or waterPROOF), but when a friend trying to be helpful sprayed me with the hose after a muddy ride, they remained impervious to the blast.
You might be asking yourself "Self, sure Winter mtb boots might be great for Charlie, he mountain bikes, why would I need such a boot?"
First I've worn them more on my daily commute than offroad, and if Winter comfort isn't good enough for you they offer convenience. A booty can provide you adequate protection from the elements (MW 81's are warmer), but if you are riding every day it is so much easier to put on a boot, than put on your cycling shoes then a booty.
There is also the cheapskate factor. Cheapskate? At $230?
They are the best constructed Winter boots I have come across, so they are an investment in the future. Quality booties run about $100, and are great if you are just going to be wearing them on the weekends. If you are riding more often even the best booties will wear out. Once you've gotten a few seasons out of the MW 81's that $230 starts looking pretty cheap.
Heck, I've only got 4 months on mine, and I already think they are one of the best cycling investments I've made in the past year.