Cooler temps and increased precipitation are synonymous with the end of riding season for many, but fortunately there are plenty of pieces of gear that can keep you out on the bike and overall pretty comfortable if you're willing to brave the cold and your local trails hold up to riding in the wet.
Mavic are well known for their wheels and helmets, and their softgoods line is quite stout as well. In addition to standard "fair weather" gear, Mavic have a few options for more inclement conditions, including shoes. The XA Pro H2O GTX shoe is a mid-top insulated Gore-Tex shoe that I would consider more of a boot. It's designed for clipless pedal use and has a rugged sole on the bottom with copious amounts of tread and increased ankle support up top.
XA Pro H2O GTX Details
• Riding/Hiking SPD shoe
• Sizes: USM 6-13.5
• Gore-Tex upper
• Contagrip sole
• Ortholite insole
• Lace closure with velcro support strap
• Ankle support
• MSRP: $200 USD
The boot has a lace closure with a velcro strap to both hold the laces down and out of the way and also increase the support of the boot. It comes in a very wide range of sizes and sells for $200 USD.
Lots of tread for traction in varied conditions.Construction
The XA Pro H2O GTX is designed with a robust Contagrip tread mated to what Mavic calls their Energy Grip Terra outsole. The tread gives traction while the outsole is designed to help power go to the pedals. If Contagrip sounds familiar, it could be because Salomon uses it in several of their shoe models - with the same parent company, both brands can enjoy sharing technology.
The upper part of the shoe is an insulated Gore-Tex. It's designed to keep your feet dry from incoming moisture and it's breathable so your feet ideally won't sweat themselves cold. There's a lace closure and then a support strap to cinch everything down. The strap also covers the laces and can help tuck them out of the way and prevent them from inadvertently coming untied.
The shoe is built slightly wide in order to provide room for thicker winter socks and has an Ortholine insole, another carry-over from the Salomon brand, for support and comfort. The shoes also come with a two-year warranty.
Cool and wet season hell raisers. These things have more traction than just about any bike tire and make you feel like you can walk up a muddy wall.Performance
I'm going into my second season of wearing the XA Pro H2O GTX and they've become one of my staples for cool and wet days where I may be off the bike doing a little bit of hiking in addition to riding.
The outsole provides more than an ample amount of grip in most conditions. If my tires are sliding and I can't get traction to get up wet or muddy terrain, I can jump off of the bike with plenty of confidence that I'm not going to end up face down in the mud from slipping on foot as well. The rubber grips wet rocks well, confidence inspiring for me when hopping across creeks in near-freezing temps.
In addition to providing a plenty of grip, the boots are comfortable, easy to walk in, and provide a lot of ankle support. With a narrower foot and collapsed arches, they the XA Pros worked really well for me right out of the box, and I don't have the discomfort issues that many other shoes bring me.
The boots are also good at getting the power down to the pedals, that is, after all, their primary purpose. While they're in no way an XC race shoe with uber-stiff carbon sole, they don't noticeably flex when you're getting on the pedals which I find is a common theme in a lot of footwear designed for a dual purpose.Issues
I don't have any complaints with this boot, which is rare with footwear for me. One thing that some riders may want to beware of is how tight the interface between pedals and the boot is. I notice with pedals that have a platform, such as Shimano's XTR Trail, the tread on the sole will rest firmly on the body of the pedal which makes getting into the pedals a little more of a push. I personally don't mind this, however, some people may need to either run a shim or file some of the tread down around that interface area. Neither of these are a big deal, just something to be conscious of before getting frustrated that you can't clip in. Pinkbike's Take