Gear Review: 45NRTH Fasterkatt

Anyone who has spent much time in the UK will know that it rains — a lot. During just about every ride, at any time of the year, an unexpected deluge is a distinct possibility. While this isn’t too much of an issue in the summer months, it can make winter rides a nightmare.

45NRTH Fasterkatts: fresh out of the box

45NRTH Fasterkatts: fresh out of the box

Great rain jackets and gloves are relatively easy to come by, but wet feet have long been an issue I haven’t been able to crack — one of my least favorite moments during any wet, cold ride is the water finally permeating my overshoes and knowing that I won’t have warm feet again until I get home. While I’ve tried numerous solutions to this problem, from off the shelf overshoes to putting sandwich bags over my feet, nothing has been a foolproof solution.

I’ve considered buying a pair of winter specific shoes before, and even had the chance to test a few pairs, but I’ve found that for a UK based rider most winter cycling boots come up short. The trouble is, they’re designed for far colder temperatures than we get here — climates where snow is a much bigger problem than moisture management. The net result is a shoe that is too warm, and not good enough at keeping the water out.

So, when I heard that 45NRTH had released a winter shoe that was specifically designed for ‘transition’ climates (read wet and near freezing), I had to give it a try.

On test

The Fasterkatts feature an insulated inner 'shoe' and an outer rubberized cover.

The Fasterkatts feature an insulated inner ‘shoe’ and an outer rubberized cover.

First impressions of the Fasterkatts were good — they seemed excellently constructed, easy to take on and off, and well thought out. The shoes have an inner and an outer layer — the inner resembles a regular mountain bike shoe with less ventilation, while the outer is an integrated, rubberized, overshoe. The cleat pocket in the sole is sealed, so no moisture or dirt can seep in — a great idea as I’ve found this to be a weak spot on other shoes. However, I didn’t buy them to look at — it was their performance in the wet I was interested in.

Two days after arriving back in the UK from North Carolina, I had an opportunity to thoroughly put the Fasterkatts to the test: a five-hour ride in torrential rain. It was a catastrophe — my feet were soaked within an hour. I spent the next four hours sloshing around with what felt like a liter of water in each shoe. I had made a rookie error: the boots were waterproof, but the rain had soaked through my leg warmers and wicked into my shoes and socks — the shoes, being waterproof, didn’t drain.

Since then, I’ve started wearing waterproof tights and trousers on any rainy ride; this solved the problem immediately and I haven’t had wet feet in the hundreds of miles I’ve ridden since. The Faterkatts also do a great job of temperature regulation. I haven’t had a chance to try them below their suggested temperature range yet (-3°C – 7°C), but I’ve found that they’re comfortable from around 10°C. While they themselves don’t have a huge amount of built in insulation, varying the thickness of my socks lets me tailor them to the weather — much better than the ‘boil-in-the-bag’ sensation common with warmer winter shoes. (N.B. I have narrow feet, some might find that they don’t have room for winter weight socks as the shoes are constructed on a narrow ‘performance’ last).

I’ve had my feet in the ‘Katts for up to 100 miles at a time and have found them to be very comfortable — there’s slight flex in the sole, but nothing too noticeable, and the cord lace closure system does a great job at gripping my foot. If I had one minor issue in terms of fit, it’s that I can’t get the neoprene collar at the top of the shoe tight enough (although I have fairly thin ankles; most might find that this isn’t a problem). The shoes take a two-bolt MTB cleat; something I prefer during winter, even on the road, as that design affords better grip at traffic lights / café stops — plus, lets face it, there’s not much need for the performance gains of a road cleat on a long training ride.

Conclusion 

After a few weeks wearing the Fasterkatts, I think I’ve solved my winter footwear dialema. 45NRTH billed them as being the product that would kill the overshoe and for me they’ve achieved that goal. I don’t know why I’d ever go back. I can see that other shoes would be a better bet in much colder climates, but for the British winter these hit the mark. Highly recommended.

N.B I am in no way affiliated with 45NRTH — I purchased the Fasterkatts myself, if I thought they were rubbish I’d tell you!

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7 thoughts on “Gear Review: 45NRTH Fasterkatt

  1. Hi. Fancy a pair of these and was wondering about sizing. I am 45 in sidi dominator 5’s, Would you recommend going up a size. You mentioned they were slightly narrow in your review. Tho I don’t have broad feet either so may not be a problem. Can you advise? Cheers

    • Hi,

      Cheers for checking out the website. I found the size guide for these to be pretty accurate — all my shoes are 46 and the 46 Fasterkatts fit me perfectly. Unlike a lot of winter cycling shoes, the Fasterkatts are built using a performance last similar to that used for normal summer shoes. So if you don’t have wide feet, or you don’t intend to wear very thick socks, go for the size you normally take. If you think you’ll wear really thick socks think about sizing up. If there’s one part of the shoe that could fail under stress I think it’s the zip — try to cram too much volume into the shoe and over time it could fail.

      Hope that helps,

      Ed

  2. Hi
    I am excited for 6/7/14. I am looking to chat w other riders and m b hook up and share hotel expenses w if mileage is compatible. I hope to do 120-140 mile/ day. Also will I have a loaded bike or a credit card? A road or a touring bike? I have not used booties of any type in 15 yrs and hope there will not be unfavorable conditions that continue for more that 1 or 2 days
    Email text or call
    Eric Fishbein
    805 459-5588
    Ericsel@charter.net

    • Hi Eric,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’m planning a daily milage more in the 200+ region, so I don’t think our pace will be too similar, but it would be great to catch up in Astoria! It sounds like you’ve got a few gear decisions to make — if you have any specific questions then let me know.

      As for the loaded / credit card approach, I think there will be competitors going for both — only time will tell which is the faster. I’m going to carry a sleeping bag and a bivy, purely because I like having the flexibility to stop whenever / wherever.

      I think the conditions on route have the potential to be quite nasty, particularly in the first half of the race. I’m expecting a lot of rain in the Pacific North West and sub-zero nights in Colorado.

      Hope that helps,

      Ed

  3. Hi Ed

    enjoyed your review as I have been looking at getting pair of these for myself.

    Have you had any issues with the main front zip leaking water? Do you know if the zip design is sold as “waterproof” or “water resistant”?

    Do you find the boot seals high enough up around your leg to allow a good overlap between boot top and trouser? Just wondering if you get any kind of gap between the top of the boot and your trousers or tights when you are pedaling?

    regards

    Graham

    • Hi Graham,

      Thanks for getting in touch! I definitely think the zip is the weak part on these boots. I know that 45NRTH have extended the warranty to three years on all Fasterkatts purchased in 2013 because there have been reports of zip failures. This would seem to suggest that 45NRTH recognize the zip as being a weakness in the design of the boot and I would expect to see it improved when the next model is released. The zips on my boots are looking a bit worse for wear after a winter’s use and I’ve tried to maintain it as best as possible (regular lubing with chain oil).

      As for the length of the boot’s ankle, it’s high enough for there to be a comfortable overlap between the boot and my tights (Endura Steathlites) — so no gap at all.

      Hope that helps!

      Ed

      • Ed

        thanks for the feedback. I am going to take a look at these boots at a local dealer soon.

        Maybe a completely waterproof “Tizip” version would be a suitable upgrade for 45NRTH to develop?

        Not sure if Tizip make a zip small and flexible enough for the boot application but worth considering.

        regards

        Graham

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