MTB Defroster Winter Shoe Review

MTB Defroster Winter Shoe Review

We had our first frost this week so I thought it’s a great time to revisit a review I did this spring.

Staying warm and dry on BC trails has its challenges. Yes, I know we don’t have the cold weather of Ontario or Alberta, but you know what they say it’s not the cold, it’s the humidity! BC gets it’s fair share of damp wet days and if you’re going to ride through winter, a warm and waterproof shoe is extremely important.

Defroster MTB Shoe updated for 2012

Last year I tried neoprene booties, which caused issues clipping into my spd’s, and various different wool socks, which kept my feet warm for short rides. Both ways I left with cold feet that took hours to warm up.

The Shimano MW80 all weather shoes have been a popular choice locally, but I haven’t found Shimano a good fit for me. I’ve worn Specialized shoes for many years and on recommendation of our local dealer, ordered the new updated MTB Defrosters. Fit is very close to the Specialized standard, so I chose the same size as my older MTB Comp’s and my new MTB Pro’s.

Updated for 2012

Locations for threads but no inserts

Specialized went back to the drawing board this year. The Defroster benefits from more insulation, a new super adjustable Boa enclosure, full lace covering and a neoprene gusset around the ankle. Gone are the forefoot Velcro straps. Also missing are toe spike threads. Previous models had this extra traction, and there are molding impressions as if removing the threads was an afterthought. I hope they return these for future years.

The shoes arrived just in time, as the cool wet weather has arrived bringing snow to our upper trails. Fit was great and overall they were comfortable with just a single pair of wool socks.

I’ve worn the shoes for two rides so far, happy to report warm feet. Temps were approx 5 degrees Celsius on both rides so I actually found some sweating in my shoes. I hope cooler temps will be fine too. I haven’t throughly tested the waterproofness yet but I’m sure a rainy ride is just around the corner.

Update – I used these all winter and long into the spring. Dry and warm feet make for a much more enjoyable winter riding season! On a few really cold rides I added some toe warmer packets to the shoes which easily had enough room for this addition.

First Generation MTB Defrosters

Cleat engagement is standard with no booties to get caught. Traction on slippery ground was adequate, (not much works on slimy rock in BC). In comparison to my summer mtb shoes they do feel slightly more bulky, but much less than hiking boots and flat pedals. The Boa system is very easy to adjust and readjust on the go, even with the lace cover in place. The initial fit of the lace cover could be better but I’ll let the shoes stretch before I make final judgement.

Initial impressions are positive, and I look forward to extended rides and cooler weather. I would recommend trying a pair if you want to ride through wet and cold winter weather.

You can find the Defrosters at your local Specialized retailer for approx $239

MTB Defrosters in their element!



Warm and dry

Comfortable fit

Boa system offers easy adjustment


Lace cover may be tight for tall feet.

Loss of toe spike threads


  • Lightweight injection composite sole with sturdy co-molded lugs for traction in the nastiest conditions: 5.0 stiffness index
  • Performance-enhancing BG contours in the outsole and footbed
  • Waterproof and seam-sealed upper with low profile waterproof cover to lock out cold and moisture
  • Lightweight Boa® L4 rotary closure for dynamic fit and on-the-fly tunability
  • 400 gram full-shoe insulation for added warmth
  • Thermal fleece-lined BG footbed uses a reflective metallic barrier to trap heat around the foot
  • Reflective heel accent for visibility on dark training rides
  • Snug-fitting neoprene collar forms a gusset to lock out cold and moisture
  • Compatible with all major MTB pedals
  • Approximate weight: 400g (1/2 pair #42)
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