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The Northwave Celsius R Arctic GTX winter shoes are warm, extremely comfortable and impressively water resistant, while their carbon-reinforced soles are stiff enough for decent pedalling and, perhaps more importantly, well insulated and plush. If your feet, like mine, average the same temperatures as an ice cream on Pluto, you'll love them.
While you can shield your regular shoes with all kinds of overshoes and covers, even the best essentially stick a plaster over the real problem. These Northwave boots outperform them by being designed appropriately in the first place: there are no vents in the sole to block up, and no holes or gaps in the upper, either – just a big, smooth flap for water to run straight off.
There are small perforations across the sides and top, but these clearly only lead to a breathable – but waterproof – layer, as nothing seeps in.
The neoprene collar is a good height for significant extra warmth around your ankles, and there's a Gore-Tex Rattler membrane inside to stop water and wind getting through. I found the collars completely unrestrictive for pedalling – an advantage, beyond the aesthetic ones, of the shoe-style construction.
Obviously, nothing (bar waterproof trousers that reach your midfoot, or perhaps surgically implanted ankle guttering) can stop that pesky gravity sending water down your legs, through your socks and into your riding shoes, but that's really its only route in.
Northwave has closed off most routes for heat to leave by, too. The Arctic 4Layer insole is both effective and plushly soft, though not so soft that it compromises pedalling feel or leads to movement inside the shoe. The fleecy lining all around the sides is similarly cosseting.
Northwave rates these down to -10°C, and while it hasn't been meaningfully below zero during this test, it has been grim at times. Nevertheless, my feet have never felt less than warm – and at times actively cosy – despite a) deliberately wearing thin socks to test them and b) the bloodless flippers I call feet being so reliably cold they grow snowcaps, without fail, every September.
At first I found the Celsius Rs hard to get on, thanks to that tight(ish) collar, but once you get the knack they slip right on. It's a very obvious knack – poke your foot in at the easiest angle (90 degrees to the correct one, where the collar's widest), grab a big pull tab in each hand and just twist them straight on.
The tabs are big loops and feel very strongly attached.
The heel cup is very well judged – I could probably ride with these unlaced – and these boots feel instantly secure. The SLW2 dial works very well to cinch them up, too, as pulling up on the (metal) lever releases the cord completely to allow room to get in.
Once dialled tight, pushing the lever down releases tension a single ratchet click at a time, but I never found it particularly critical – in fact, I never once stopped either to loosen them for comfort or tighten them for security. Fit and sizing, for me, are spot on.
I personally really like the style, especially in this reflective Anthracite grey (black is also available), though that matt finish can polish your cranks pretty aggressively if you don't get your cleat adjustment quite right.
The stitches on the panels and the seams along the soles are impressively neat and feel strong – this, and the well-armoured toe box, bodes well should icy conditions get the better of you.
At £209.99, these shoes are a considerable investment, but if you'd rather get outside despite the winter than hole up with a turbo trainer, it's a worthy one for the extra warmth, comfort and ease of use over regular shoes and overshoes.
Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Thermo shoes are a little cheaper at £199, but unless you can guarantee it won't rain they're hard to recommend as the waterproofing is extremely weak.
Northwave's own Flash Arctic GTX winter boots, which Dave tested last winter, are similar (if flashier looking) for exactly the same price (£209.99), though they do have vents in the soles.
For a lot less you could take a look at the Shimano RW5 Dryshield SPD-SL shoes. They're £129.99, but their waterproofing is less successful than Northwave's.
The Celsius R Arctic GTX shoes are cosy, extremely comfortable, very well made and as waterproof as anything's likely to be when attached to a tight-covered leg that guides water inexorably down inside. If cold feet are a problem, these are a proper touch of luxury.
Warm, very comfortable and very well made – excellent winter footwear
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Celsius R Arctic GTX shoes
Size tested: 44
Tell us what the product is for
Northwave doesn't really sum these up, so I'll do it instead: they're winter shoes.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NRG Air carbon reinforced sole (8 stiffness index)
Reinforced toe area with anti-abrasion technology.
SLW2 closure system.
Easyfit Climaflex collar with Gore-Tex Rattler® membrane.
Arctic 4layer insole.
360 ° visibility.
Very solidly constructed, so no obvious worries.
Supportive and comfortable.
Actually pretty light for what they are.
Cheaper than many high-end road shoes, but fit for (winter) purpose.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Rain still gets in eventually...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Mavic's Ksyrium Pro Thermo shoes are a similar price at £199, though the waterproofing is weak. Northwave's own Flash Arctic GTX winter boots are similar (if flashier looking) for exactly the same price (£209.99). Shimano's RW5 Dryshield SPD-SL shoes are a lot less at £129.99, but their waterproofing is less successful than the Northwaves'.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are exceptionally good in every area, with no weak spots. They're about as waterproof as you're seriously likely to get, and I think that lifts them to a 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,