Kit review: Louis Garneau 0 Degree LS-100 cycling boots
The quest for warm feet while cycling in winter has brought me to all-enclosed, neoprene mountain biking boots, such as the Louis Garneau 0 Degree LS-100 Shoes.
A few cycling friends have changed to these for winter riding because they say they offer the best solution for dry and warm feet. However, these are not a lightweight option. They are bigger and heavier than most road cycling shoes, even when you then add neoprene covers, and they are not cheap.
But I get cold feet when cycling and it puts me off going out so I needed to try something new.
Life before MTB winter boots
Until now I have tried keeping my feet warm with neoprene overshoes, by wearing two pairs of socks inside my cycling shoes and also wearing plastic bags over my socks and inside my cycling shoes. Nothing really works.
When road cycling your feet stay in a static-ish position and they face the full front of cold wind and wet roads. The wet also gets inside cycling shoes from the bottom and top. Wet, cold feet make me miserable.
The benefits of mountain biking boots
Mountain biking boots, the kind that look like these: Louis Garneau 0 Degree LS-100 Shoes, are an almost fully enclosed and sealed unit, apart from the hole in the top where you put your foot in.
The boots boast:
- Fully seam-sealed water-resistant 3 mm neoprene
- Thermoplastic toe protection, for extra protection and warmth
- Waterproof membrane coated lining
- A double flap with Velcro, for full (more?) protection.
- A lined interior
- Insulated inner sole
- A base of 4 mm foam insulation.
That sounds like a lot of warm and waterproofing and the boots do look very sealed and highly waterproofed. They remind me of neoprene diving boots but in a cycling shoe construction.
In addition, they feature a ratchet tightening lacing system, similar to the one I have in my snowboard boots. When you turn a dial on the side a thin nylon lace tightens evenly from lower down your foot to close to the ankle.
To release the lacing you simply pull out the dial and pull out your foot. It is also easy to turn the dial to tighten the boots while wearing winter cycling gloves so this is a great system.
The lacing system does offer a really neat fit. My only quibble is that because I have narrow feet and thin ankles, the lacing doesn’t keep my feet firmly in the heel of the shoe. I find I have a little heel lift. I expect this wouldn’t be the same for people with wider feet.
Note: I have a women’s size UK8. Most women would be in smaller boots that would fit more closely. Most UK8 boots would have male feet in them, that are naturally wider!
My solution to this was to add a thin footbed liner. This worked a treat.
And there’s “Dual Density crampons” for “rigidity and traction and to allow better mud evacuation”. I am not quite sure what these are but they are there, apparently.
Plus, like most bike kit these days, the boots have reflectivity detailing on the heels.
Because these are mountain biking boots they have moulded outer soles that give good grip when walking on muddy ground. They would be great for cyclocross events, for example, and also have two screw holes at the toe underside for fitting extra studs.
Test one: Road cycling in Louis Garneau MTB boots
The boots feel heavier than my road cycling shoes but after a couple of miles I forgot to worry about this.
The conditions for the first test day were wet roads and light rain. It was a chilly day with some wind.
In these conditions I would normally expect to have cold feet within half an hour. Within an hour I would have wet feet from road spray. With road cycling shoes and rain covers the wet form the road sprays up into the shoes.
The Louis Garneau mountain bike boots did not let in any wet at all. I wore a single pair of thick-ish socks and I am delighted to tell you that my feet remained warm.
I was out for two hours in mild winter conditions and my feet were the warmest they have ever been on a bike in winter.
Test two: Heavy rain on the road
I cycled for an hour in heavy rain. It wasn’t too cold but it was very wet. To start with my feet stayed dry but then the rain began to seep in at the top of the boots.
Although I had tightened the Velcro fastener neatly around my ankles the rain dripped down my legs (I wore cycling tights) and into the boots. I can’t think how any shoe manufacturer can get around this problem.
The only way to stop water running down into the boots would be to wear gaiters or to have cycling trousers with ankles that go over the boots. (Who would wear these though?!).
Some reviewers suggested wearing cycling tights over the ankles of the boots but I don’t think this would work that well in heavy rain. The rain will still penetrate the tights if it’s heavy and prolonged.
Yet, despite having damp feet after an hour of cycling, they remained warm.
Test three: Rain and lots of mud
I wore the boots for a very wet and muddy mountain biking outing. After all, this is what the boots are designed for.
For the first half hour my feet stayed dry. The trails were wet and muddy and there were lots of puddles but the water stayed out of the boots.
However, when it then started to rain I experienced the same problem as when I cycled on roads in the rain. The wet started to drip down the top of the boots.
I stopped to check I had the boots tightly sealed around my ankles and I did. Although I do have skinny calves and ankles so maybe they seal wasn’t quite tight enough. But again, I have to say, I can’t see any way to stop some water getting in.
The problem is that once the water starts to get in it doesn’t stop. After this, when riding through some deeper puddles the rain also found its way in the top of the boots.
The good news is that despite wet feet they remained warm.
In conclusion, the Louis Garneau 0 Degree LS-100 Shoes are the best solution I have found for winter warm feet. They do not solve wet in heavy rain or on very wet trails but if you are riding in light rain they do a great job of keeping feet mostly dry.
I have been wearing the boots as my first choice for riding in winter.
*Some of the reviews suggest going up a size because the boots are smaller than normal but I disagree. I am a UK8 and the 42s are a good fit in the length. If in doubt, pop into Evans Cycles and try them on.
Buy Louis Garneau 0 Degree LS-100 Shoes from Evans Cycles priced £129.99.