Testing the Wolvhammers
Just finished my first ride in the shoes. About an hour and a half of effort. Temps were 18 degrees with a wind chill rating of 11, so definitely chilly. To test things out, I wore only a sock liner and a very old compressed light weight wool trekking sock. This is definitely not the combination of layers that I would normally wear for these conditions.
The shoes felt great, with good support at the pedal and very easy to walk in. With that setup, there was still a good bit of movement by my feet, but the internal boot and cinching mechanism certainly helps snug everything down. The inner boot has a very comfortable feel to it against the foot.
My feet and toes felt fine at the end of the ride, with only the smallest sensation of cold in the toe box. I took the shoes off, and stuck my hands in them and you could feel the trapped heat throughout the boot. The exception was up at the end of the toe box where the the cold radiates in ever so slightly through the reinforced outer rand. I don't think this will be an issue at all once I have on the appropriate layers.
Obviously these are just initial impressions, and since my goal was to see if I could get my toes cold, which did NOT happen, I am very pleased. Given the sizing of the shoes, and the bulk of the RBH VBL socks, I am going to concentrate on using the Reed Chillcheater socks as my VBL. I have some more testing to do with them, but so far I am very pleased. I had planned on the combination of: sock liner | RBH VBL | Expedition Wool, but that is an extremely bulky combination. I will now look at using: sock liner | Reed Chillcheater | Reed Transpire Fleece | Mid weight wool.
The challenge with both approaches is not in the toe box of the shoes, where there is plenty of room, but instead from the ankle up. The boot is cut snug here, so these multiple layers up that portion of my leg make it difficult to zip the boots closed. Since it is this area that is at issue, sizing up one more size would most likely not help the situation at all. I will have to experiment with a couple of different options and report back when I figure it out. All in all, for the first day, I am pretty stoked about the shoes.
There should be no issues with these shoes down into the negative temps. How far down I I can comfortably go, I don't know.