That’s one heck of a long name for the winter boot from shoe and cycling accessory company Fizik, they say it’ll keep you cycling through winter months but will they only keep your feet warm and dry for as long as it takes to say the long title? Read on to find out.
I tested Fizik’s Terra Atlas shoe a few months ago and was impressed, they became my shoe of choice through the late spring, summer and autumn, you can read that review here. The Artica shoe is based on that Atlas design. At first glance it looks like Fizik has just stitched a neoprene cuff onto the top of an Atlas shoe but there’s a few more things going on under the surface than that.
For a start the shoe has that magic coupling of words written on it, “Gore-Tex” this at the very least reassures you that good quality components have been used and that Fizik hasn’t just come up with their own new waterproof membrane to save costs. The fact that they use Gore-tex indicates to me they want this shoe to do everything they claim it can. The actual membrane is called “Koala” and is not only meant to be waterproof, it’s supposed to be breathable too. This is quite possibly more important. Unbreathable shoes make your feet sweat, your socks get damp and then that damp gets cold and soon after so do your feet. So a water proof and breathable membrane is perfect for a shoe that will face low temperatures, water and have to cope with you exercising and producing perspiration. I’ll be honest, to cope with all that is a big ask and I was sceptical that Fizik’s claims might be a bit out there.
Inside the shoe is a fluffy lining that adds more insulation and feels really comfortable to the touch.
The exterior is made of Polyurethane and it shrugs off knocks and scrapes well. It also cleans off really easily with a sponge and after a few months wear, when I do bother to clean them (who has time for that anyway?) they come up looking almost like new. There’s a velcro strap around the ankle to cozy the collar around your leg and the excellent Boa dial that allows micro fit adjustment and quick release exit. This has the added bonus of not having laces or velcro to get caked in mud that inevitably gets all over your gloves or hands when it come time to take them off and tip toe through the house to the shower. The sole is again the same as on the Fizik Atlas shoe and is grippy in mud and rocks (no material on earth unless it has sharp claws/spikes is grippy on UK winter slime covered tree roots). There is provision for two toe studs per shoe for hike-a-bike duties or running up grass banks in a CX race
Waterproofness is the biggy really, it’s a bold claim to make and I have to say Fizik and Gore-tex’s can shout that claim to whoever they like as I have found these boots to be reliably waterproof. I have stood in streams, ridden through deep floods (see the video below) and my feet and socks have stayed dry. You do have to take into account that there’s a big hole in the top of the shoe though, otherwise you’d not get your feet in them. this means any water going in through that hole will stay there until you empty the shoe,… it’s waterproof from the inside out too you see. I got stuck in an absolute deluge and water spray from the front wheel (and the sky) rolled down my leg and into the boots so they were pretty squelchy but the important thing was my feet stayed warm! Normal road spray, puddle and stream splashes don’t bother these boots at all. I’m still scratching my head over the fact that they can be this waterproof yet still have a perforated outer surface!
Fit is arguably the most important part of any shoe, many “winter” shoes I’ve tried in the past say “go one size up” if you want to wear thick socks or waterproof socks but I always then suffered as i found the cleat pocket on the sole didn’t allow the cleat back far enough and I ended up pedalling with the pedal too far forward producing fatigue and pain.
So, when it comes to the Artica shoe, if you are a person who doesn’t suffer unduly from frozen feet in winter and will wear normal socks, go for your usual size. I wear a 44 usually and the demo boots are a 44 and fit very comfortably with a normal sock. If I wear thick socks (I do suffer from prematurely cold feet on rides) I would have liked to go at least half a size bigger. You can do this with these boots as the cleat pocket is very generous so having a bigger size to accommodate thicker socks will not be a problem when it comes to foot on pedal position. The boots aren’t even a struggle to get on and off, the Boa gives lots of adjustment to allow your foot in and there’s a pull tab at the heel to further aid getting them on.
The Fizik Terra Artica X5 GTX Winter Boot does exactly what it claims to do, keeps your feet dry and keeps them warm. I think there’s some sort of magic going on but dry feet confirm the claims. If you’re looking for a non bulky, well made boot with good fit and in my opinion, good looks there’s not many, if any other boots I’d look at.
For another view and footage of me riding through a flood wearing the boots, check out the UK Gravel Collective youtube channel below in a special section I’m calling The Complete S*** Show please don’t forget to subscribe!