Review: 45Nrth's Ragnarök Shoes - Made for Riding in the Rain

Apr 22, 2020
by Sarah Moore  
Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding


45Nrth is best-known for their sub-zero cycling boots, studded fat bike tires, and technical apparel made for riding in the deep mid-winter in their home state of Minnesota and wherever winter hits hardest. They aim to get you outside and as comfortable as possible in the most frigid of temperatures.

Being based in the Pacific Northwest, where more often than not we're able to ride year-round without bundling up the same way that people do on the eastern side of the continent, I mistakenly thought that their line-up didn't include anything that would be appropriate for milder winter rides.

Ragnarök Reflective Details
• Side-mounted BOA IP1 reel and lacing system
• Adjustable ankle diameter
• Wind and water-resistant
• Works with 2-bolt mountain compatible cleats
• Anti-slip microglass rubber sole
• Suggested temp: 25ºF+ / -3ºC
• Size: 36–50 (no size 49), full sizes only
• MSRP: $235 USD
45nrth.com

45Nrth's Ragnarök shoes, however, are designed specifically for cool and wet conditions. For parts of the world that get a "real" snowy winter, they're a spring or fall option. For the PNW, they're an all-winter option, as torrential rain and temperatures hovering around freezing are common. Offered in 14 sizes, 45Nrth has designed them to be worn down to 25ºF+ / -3ºC. They have an adjustable velcroed neoprene ankle, a BOA closure and work with 2-bolt mountain compatible cleats.

The sole is made of a rubber compound with microscopic glass fibers in it to help with traction on slippery surfaces such as ice, wet wood, wet linoleum, and wet metal. In addition, instead of offering a completely waterproof shoe, 45Nrth uses an ultra-thin sheet of microporous material behind a textile shell. This is designed to help with moisture regulation so that the waterproof, breathable membrane stops liquid from the outside, but releases vapor from the inside.

The 45Nrth Ragnarök Reflective shoe that I tested is $235 USD, while the non-reflective version comes in at $195 USD.


Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding

Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding
The reflective option is great if you have to ride along a road to get to the trails and for night riding.
Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding
I tested the 45Nrth Ragnarök Reflective shoe in a size 39, which is what I wear most consistently across brands.



Performance

I've been using the 45Nrth for the last four months, and they've been my go-to in cooler and wet temperatures when the the waterproof apparel comes out. They fit true to size and feel like a mountain bike shoe, despite their commuter-like appearances. I usually wear a size 39 or women's size 8 shoe, and that is what fits me in the Ragnarök. They're on the tighter side so I mostly wore them with thinner merino socks and didn't pull out my extra-thick winter socks, but I think the fact that they were secure on my feet made them feel more like a regular mountain bike shoe and not like a boot. I was able to forget entirely what shoes I was wearing on my feet on a couple of rides, which I take as a positive indication that they were comfortable and doing their job.

I preferred wearing the Ragnarök shoes with pants, since it looks like you're wearing ankle socks when you combine shorts with the velcro neoprene cuff, but the functionality is good no matter what you choose to wear on your legs - that cuff does help keep the water from coming in over the top. And you know what they say, "function over fashion."

When the time came to walk over slippery patches of ice or greasy green wooden trail features (did I mention we live in a rainforest?), the Ragnaröks had good traction. I'm not going to say that it was better than a regular mountain bike shoe on slippery log features. though, because I try to keep a wide berth from those when they're wet. On dirt, I would say they have superior traction to my usual mountain bike shoes. The sole is more pointed than your typical mountain bike shoe, more like an XC sole than an all-mountain shoe or a flat pedal shoe, which means it digs into the ground better, while not being as stiff and difficult to walk in as a cross-country shoe.

I did think that the 25ºF+ / -3ºC rating on these was overly optimistic - my feet started getting cold once temperatures dropped below 40ºF / 4.4ºC. That being said, I have notoriously bad circulation in my feet, and it's possible going up a size and wearing thicker socks could have helped. Remember, these aren't insulated shoes designed for Arctic excursions. The difference was that my feet were dry when I came inside and stayed a lot more comfortable since they weren't wet and clammy during the ride. The shoe does breathe really well. Usually, my feet get sweaty in shoes, but not in the Ragnaröks.


Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding
Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding

Durability

I had my initial concerns about the Boa closure on the Ragnaröks, but I haven't had any issues with them, despite some muddy rides. The slippery outside material helps keep them in good working order since it makes it easy to get the bulk of the mud and grime off the shoes with a rag before you head inside. After a couple dozen rides, the 45Nrth shoes are holding up very well with barely any scratches and no seam failures. The velcro ankle strap is still grippy without any frayed stitching, and the loop for pulling them on to your feet is still secure despite wrenching on it to get my feet in with thicker socks. The sole of the shoe has also remained intact, although I will admit that I did not do an extensive amount of hike-a-biking in them.


Winter Riding Kits 2020. PNW Winter Riding

How Do They Compare?

Pros
+ Secure, comfortable fit
+ Waterproof and breathable membrane keeps feet dry
+ Good durability

Cons
- Not as warm as 25ºF+ / -3ºC rating implied
- Looks like a commuter shoe
- Reflective version is $40 USD more than the black version



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe 45Nrth Ragnarök Reflective shoes will keep your feet much drier than regular mountain bike shoes and are a great option for mountain bikers who want to ride in wet conditions. The waterproof yet breathable membrane will wick sweat away from your feet while keeping your feet dry when you ride through puddles. That being said, they are not an insulated shoe and so don't expect them to keep you warm if you have bad circulation. Sarah Moore



69 Comments

  • 31 0
 Now make proper waterproof flats!
  • 6 1
 Fiveten freeride ELC are pretty impervious. Given that off road, the problem is mud rather than rain, I find them pretty good. And with waterproof socks, I've been happy down to freezing but wet. A high top version would be better, as would less garish colours. And they don't take toooo long to dry, mainly as they don't get so saturated as normal fivetens.
  • 5 0
 @mountainsofsussex: Vaude Moab mid is a decent offering
  • 3 0
 Bought these some months ago for 120EUR: www.vaude.com/en-INT/Products/Shoes/Bike-Shoes/32947/AM-Moab-Mid-STX
Massive upgrade from my previous Five Ten Mid Freeriders as now my feet are warm and dry. Comfort is same/better, grip slightly worse. In general very happy with them.
  • 2 0
 @Hillar-Taun: ah, the eternal compromise between fiveten and everything else - grip or something better in pretty much every way. How hard can it be to make grippy rubber?...
  • 3 0
 @PB-J: That is strange that they named their waterproof model after a town in the desert.
  • 1 0
 Fiveten EPS and ELC are very good wet and cold flat shoes.
  • 2 0
 @Ajorda:
The problem I have always had with FiveTen's(and pretty much any cycling shoe) is that it is incredibly narrow around the ball of the foot area and in the toebox. With FiveTen's though it was quite vice like in the forefoot, with significant discomfort within a minute of having them on, but at the same time my heel was just floating freely around the shoe.

Are there any shoes for flats options out there that have a better footshape for someone that has kinda narrow heels and mid foot, but more width in the fore foot and toe box. I seem to be recomended wide shoes pretty often when I ask this, but that is not what fits, as I nearly lace regular width shoes together and on most regular width clipin shoes that I wear I perhaps have 1 or 2 clicks left on the ratchet before it is bottomed out. One of the reasons that I have never rode MTB's with flats is because almost every shoe that I have tried just fit so terrible. I remember trying on some Teva's right before they left the bike scene, and I recall them fitting pretty well.
  • 1 0
 @MeloBikeCO: interesting - I find both my pairs of fivetens (freerider canvas and ELC) almost excessively wide in the toe. I have flat wide feet with quite a narrow heel and I ended up putting ski boot foot beds in the canvas 510s to stop them flopping about, and stiffen them up, as the felt like havianas to me.
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex:
My feet at the arch area and back are pretty small I guess. I have normal to high arches but not much volume in that area. My forefoot is wide but low volume, and my toes like to have room to move, after spending years in shoes that are foot shaped, like Altra's, Lems, Keens and other shoes that have larger toe boxes. I had to move to shoes like that as I was having terrible plantar faciitus problems.

Perhaps FiveTen have changed the shape of their shoes in recent years, I tried on their shoes in 2017 the most recent time. They were just so far from fitting I have never tried them again. I am actually really needing to find new cycling shoes anyway as after a winter of not riding nearly enough my clip in shoes were pretty uncomfortable, due to my feet having relaxed a bit. Looking at probably to try Bont's as not really anyone makes wide toebox shoes.
  • 1 0
 @MeloBikeCO: maybe your feet will remain dry like the red rock? Who knows what those crazy Germans were thinking
  • 9 0
 Been waiting forever for a mountainbike shoe that offers proper grip on wet linoleum
  • 1 0
 Why do you use linoleum on your pedals? Big Grin
  • 6 0
 I've had them for a year. My review:
Good, light(ish), comfy, not very warm, and NOT waterproof
The boots are very comfortable in cool weather as they are wider than most cycling shoes and can easily fit thicker socks. The catch is that they are NOT waterproof. In any decent rain the water came in very easily between the tongue and the shoe upper - no matter how much I tightened them. I am a size 11 (45) in Sidi, 46 in Shimano. Size 45 was too small for me in the Ragnarok. Size 46 was perfect. I get cold feet easily. My feet were quite cold after about 30min at about +3 celsius in these boots (with med. thick merino wool socks on). Definitely not winter boots. I actually love the boots for spring / fall, but I think I'll return them because of the fact that they let the water in so easily. My forefeet were soaked after just a few minutes in the rain.
  • 7 0
 So... $195 to $235 for a rain shoe that is not waterproof....
And BOA closure?
I'll stick to my $10 wool socks. Keep me plenty warm, even when they get wet.
  • 1 0
 I can see water getting in through the vent holes. You pretty much can't have breathability and be waterproof as well. They contradict themselves.
  • 3 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: I keep using two free bread bags...
  • 1 0
 @tacklingdummy: What about gortex socks? not perfect but definitely on the spectrum of one-way vapour flow
  • 2 0
 @plyawn: Goretex socks are awful. If your feet sweat (mine do), then your socks are filled with your own sweat. Not so much fun.
  • 1 0
 What, no bellows tongue? Instant fail for a waterproof shoe...
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: They're actually not made that way. They are basically a normal shoe (no tongue gusset) with a sewn-in waterproof bootie inside it. That bootie covers about as much territory as a low-top shoe, and has the ankle-covering velcro thing sewn to its top.

I find mine to be plenty waterproof up to the top of the waterproof bootie. The ankle wrap isn't totally waterproof, so if you're in a really drenching rain or wade through deep water it'll let in some water. All in all I've been pretty happy with these for PNW riding, as they're pretty waterproof but not insulated like so many winter boots. Really don't feel very different from a normal MTB shoe, though I do find the sole annoying thick; I have to change my saddle height slightly to compensate when using these.
  • 2 0
 @plyawn: I haven't used goretex socks yet, but had a few goretex jackets. They have good water resistance, but not the best breathability. I have yet to find a jacket that is both waterproof and breathable. Your body gives off a ton of moisture in any high intensity activity and in any temperature. Moisture builds up in jackets a lot. Managing the body moisture/sweat is the toughest thing to do in winter activity.
  • 7 2
 How far into quarantine are we? Those shoes need a mad max vehicle to go with them.
  • 4 1
 the grim donut maybe?
  • 2 0
 @K1maxX: or the "grim shoe" for that stretched out feel...
  • 2 0
 I've got a pair with two seasons on them, and I like them. They're comfortable, and work well for long miles on the road or the dirt. I agree with the assessment that they're not as warm as advertised, but as long as you don't push them too hard they're a great transition season shoe/boot, as advertised. They're water resistance, not water proof...so don't submerge them.

Not super warm, not waterproof...makes them sound like a major compromise, but they're really not. A normal cycling shoe is so light and vented that and a real winter, fatbike style boot is so massive and heavy that these occupy a huge space between nice weather and the worst weather; I wondered if they'd get much use when I bought them, but I wear them all time - from the first chilly fall days to the last days before it gets really cold, then again as spring kicks in. They got A LOT more time than my big fatbike boots this winter, and I'm in Chicago where it is COLD.

I do have some criticism - the shape of the bottom of the shoe works fine for walking or hiking a bit, not a walking shoe by any stretch but fine to walk a bike through downtown or push up something if needed in the woods, but has the magic property of making me miss my clip in, especially right as I'm setting out. I always seem to get hung up, then the shoe slips forward and I fall off the pedal. Not a big deal, but annoying. The other almost issue is the gaiter that goes around the ankle... 2 years in, my is wearing visibly. Still intact, but if this shoe fails it's going to be because the gaiter rips out of the upper.
  • 2 0
 I've really enjoyed these shoes in our typical Pacific Northwest wet-season weather (45F, drizzling) since buying them back in December. I use them for both mountain and road. Yes, not 100% waterproof, but they strike a really good balance between weight, warmth, water protection, breathability, and overall clunkiness.

PSA for fellow PB denizens: The only issue I've had with these shoes--and one that's really my fault--is that the cleat stance, when the cleat is centered between the two 'tracks', is noticeably wider than the stance, with the cleat apparently in the same position, of my March-October riding shoes (Giro Empire Knit). Because I didn't bother to check the actual stance width of my new Ragnaroks against my other shoes, this seems to have contributed to my developing an IT band issue that took me off the bike completely in January-February. Once I noticed this issue, though, I narrowed the stance on my Ragnaroks and the problem resolved quickly (with some time spent in PT as well)! Lesson learned. Maybe other people are smarter than me and would have assumed that q-factor can change between shoes... But thought I would put this out there.
  • 3 0
 I had looked at these, but ended up going with the Shimano MW7's last fall and not looking back! Nice to have a lace cover even with the BOA closure
  • 3 0
 Last time it was -3 and wet I went out in 5:10 s and 2 pairs of socks. The day warmed up to 4 I think but those puddles stayed cold. My feet were fine.
  • 3 0
 Holy shit. Size 50? These actually have a chance of fitting on my canal barges. Need to find the money to order and hope they fit, otherwise its a sad return delivery.
  • 1 0
 I'm with you my ski footed friend!!
  • 1 0
 @bigtim: it's one of those, Google it and it says size 15 UK, but my size 15 merrells are 51. And my steel toe boots are a 16 UK. So I'm a little dubious tbh.
  • 1 0
 Hell yeah, I've got 45nth winter boots and a pair of these, in 50 and 48; a 49 would be perfect but I'm just happy to be able to buy cycling shoes that fit, vs. cram my feet into size 13 Five10s like it did for so long...
  • 1 0
 I have these shoes. I agree with the review. I have small ankles and wish the cuff was more secure. I have had no issues with the temperature range but alas most manufacturers will get sherpas to test the boots for comfort in cold weather.
  • 1 0
 Forgot to mention the most important feature of these boots. They have the same clearance as my regular mtb shoes. A full on winter boot may require wider axles for some. That is my experience. These do not. Likely the warmth compromise. Would buy them again.
  • 1 0
 "The sole is made of a rubber compound with microscopic glass fibers in it to help with traction on slippery surfaces such as ice, wet wood, wet linoleum, and wet metal."

Why glass fibers? I have 2 folding knives with glass fibers supposedly in the handle and neither are very grippy.
  • 1 0
 “I had my initial concerns about the Boa closure on the Ragnaröks“
I think it’s time that we park our concerts over Boa closure durability. They have been flawless for me over the years. I live in New England and whether it was mountain bike shoes in the spring mud or wading boots for fishing the beaches, I have never had an issue.
  • 1 0
 Hi Sarah, could you speak a little to the cleat placement on the shoe I.e. was it possible to run the cleat relatively far back on the slots or were you committed to riding forward on your toes like XC shoes? On the Shimano MW7 you can to nearly flat pedal like positioning.
  • 1 0
 Taking your favorite dry weather riding shoe. Get another size 1/2 size larger. Get a quality pair of waterproof socks (Seal Skinz, Showers Pass etc...) and your feet will be happier than any option of waterprrof/weatherproof/winter riding shoe that has been attempted in the past two decades. Truth, but socks aren't visible out on the trails so only the secret dry warm feet society knows the benefits.
  • 4 0
 Spring is here! Let’s buy cold weather shoes!
  • 7 0
 Some of us live further north than Netherlands.
Here we have 1 meter (~3 feet for burgers) of snow still, probably 2-3 weeks until any trails are rideable, and might be in need of cold weather gear until June or so.
  • 2 0
 Fall is here for the other half of the world
  • 1 0
 @ChrisNJ: True. You have a point there!
  • 1 0
 @Losvar: Wow man.... Still a meter in late April.... :-(
  • 3 0
 Commuting must be different in the PNW. That looks nothing like what I would consider a commuter shoe.
  • 2 0
 The only problem is when I´m gonna need them... I won´t remember the name....
  • 1 0
 you will end up bying a thor movie
  • 3 0
 If your feet are cold at 40°F the shoes are on too tight.
  • 1 0
 These shoes are not waterproof and 45Nrth does not claim that they are. A buddy has a pair and the pull tabs pulled off after a a moderate amount of use.
  • 2 0
 I'd buy these just for the name
  • 1 0
 I’d buy it if they named it The Seattle.
  • 1 0
 Did anyone else read it as 44 North? It's my wife's favorite brand of vodka.
  • 1 0
 Even if they did support the claimed -3 C, that's not really winter in much of the frozen north. Maybe Vancouver...
  • 1 0
 Geography check.
Minnesota is in the MIDWEST, not the Pacific North West. Looking for added credibility I guess?
  • 1 0
 'Based in the Pacific Northwest...'

$+75 to price tag
  • 1 0
 It was a bit confusing in the article, but the manufacture is based in Minnesota. The based in the PNW is for PB.
  • 1 1
 @45Nrth you missed out the "o". Was that to save on costs or a failed attempt to be more "hip"?
  • 1 0
 Finally, Pinkbike admit that the real winter exists elsewhere ...
  • 1 0
 Love these boots! Super comfy and warm enough for spring/fall riding
  • 1 0
 No size 49? Damn
  • 1 0
 Alright show off Wink
  • 1 1
 They told me sasquatch wasn't real. Now I'm just glad I'm on a different continent, where there's no dangerous megafauna.
  • 1 1
 Okay, not attractive shoes but they definitely win best name of all time.
  • 1 0
 + sounds like Thor wears them...
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