Northwave Extreme XCM 2 GTX Shoes: Checkpoint

Northwave Extreme XCM 2 GTX Shoes: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted

It has now been several weeks since I introduced the Northwave Extreme XCM 2 GTX shoes. They have seen wet weather, mud, dust, and- of course- gravel roads. Just in case you missed what these boots are all about, you can catch up by hitting the link here for our “Getting Rolling” post. Now let’s take a look and see how these boots are to use and ride in.

The Northwave shoes have been ridden in many different conditions but are holding up well.

A Note On Fit And Function: In my initial posting on these shoes I mentioned that it wasn’t immediately apparent how to get your foot into the Extreme XCM 2 GTX’s, but after I figured it out, it was more or less like pulling on a pair of socks, it went well. These might be the easiest shoes of their type to put on. Slip your foot in, dial up the correct tension with the SLW2 dial. and walk out the door. I can put these on faster than I can my street shoes, which have laces as a closure system.

The overall fit is definitely generous for my skinny feet. I’ll get into this a bit more in the Ride Performance part of the review, but I could easily layer socks and wear thick wool socks. The SLW2 dial has a good range of tightening which allowed me to adjust for varying thicknesses of layers. Be advised- my feet are on the narrow side of the spectrum, but I feel even a wider foot could find some room for thicker socks in the Extreme XCM 2 GTX shoes.

The neoprene collar at the top of the shoe, which was very snug to begin with, has loosened up a noticeable amount, but hasn’t lost its ability to seal out the wind. I will be careful to watch for any further stretching before the final review. So far, so good on that point for now. Other than that, the materials, seams, and places where different materials meet show no signs of wear or failure. 100% score on that front. Finally, I omitted the price for these in my first post. It seems that prices range from $250.00-$270.00 for a pair of these if you search online.

On a chilly day in November wearing the Northwave Extreme XCM 2 GTX shoes. My feet stayed warm and dry.

Ride Performance: Now of course, everyone wants to know if these shoes can keep your feet warm. The short answer is: Yes. They do a great job, but there is a bit more to this story here. As I mentioned above, these shoes have a generous amount of room and range of adjustment.  That made  it possible for me to use various types of socks, and even multiple socks if I wanted to. This actually, in my opinion, is a must to learn how to do to make these shoes work for you. While the Extreme XCM 2 GTX shoes do have some insulation, your range of use will be limited unless you figure out a system of socks and vapor barriers to keep your feet warm.

I tried wearing a thin pair of wool socks, which is what I am typically relegated to using in similar footwear I own from another company, and the Northwave shoes performed about as I suspected. My feet ended up getting “chilly” in the span of about an hour at sub-freezing temperatures. Same as with my other shoes. However; on one occasion it was in the teens and I used a thin sock and a thicker, wool sock, and that kept me toasty. Likewise, I was able to use some Smartwool XC skiing socks which are wool and very thick, which was nice to be able to do with these boots. Finally, I feel that with a vapor barrier I could easily do one to two hour rides in the single digits above zero. So, the bottom line here is that if you know how to layer and use a vapor barrier for your feet, these shoes could be used in a far wider range of temperatures than most similar boots on the market. The roomy toe box and range of adjustment here is key. A wide foot may not allow for as many layering options, but I feel these boots are better than most in this regard. (Is it okay if I call them boots?)

Despite getting packed with mud on one occasion and debris during a single track ride, I had no issues clipping in.

Let’s see…..other points to make here worth mentioning would be that the soles of the Northwave Extreme XCM 2 GTX have a good feel under pedaling pressure. I felt like I was not wasting energy and that the sole has very little, if any, flex. It’s not as efficient and stiff as, say the Bont shoes I reviewed, but these are up there in terms of feel in that regard. Definitely no slouch.

Also noteworthy was the ability to clip in despite the soles being packed in with mud, or a combination of dirt and debris. That was pretty impressive. I will say that, for whatever reason, these shoes caused me to “miss the mark” while attempting to clip in more than once. That had nothing to do with mud or debris, as this would happen even if the cleat area was perfectly clear. It may be just unfamiliarity, or …….I don’t know. It’s probably me, but I thought I’d mention it as it was something I haven’t had an issue with before these shoes came in for testing. I’ll update this in the final review.

I had no issues with walk-abilty with the Extreme XCM 2 GTX’s even in uneven Level B road situations where ruts, mud, tall grass, and water had to be negotiated. They were comfortable and gave me a sensation of sure footedness every time I had to hike-a-bike it. I  think I ended up walking a half a mile of Level B one day and it was not a problem, so I give these shoes high marks in this area.

At the end of a ride these boots……there I go again- okay, shoes! Well, they are easy to take off. The SLW2 lever never gave me any problems with releasing and the shoes, while requiring a bit of effort to pull off, were fairly simple to get out of. It doesn’t take long to get out of them either. That’s good because when you are chilly and tired the last thing you want to do is wrestle with a pair of shoes trying to get them off.

So Far…… These shoes are impressive as they are well constructed, easy to get on and off, and offer a wide range of adjustability. I found them to have a generously large toe box and I could layer socks, or use thicker socks with no issues with fit for my admittedly narrow feet. Wind is kept at bay quite nicely and the neoprene collar doesn’t get in the way when you pedal, or have to walk, while on a ride. The ability to use layers or a vapor barrier should extend the use of these shoes down into colder temps than similar footwear from the competition. Stay tuned for our “At The Finish” post coming in a few weeks where I hope to see how these hold up in colder temperatures.

Note: Northwave sent over the Extreme XCM2 GTX shoes for test and review at no charge to We are not being paid, nor bribed, for these posts and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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2 thoughts on “Northwave Extreme XCM 2 GTX Shoes: Checkpoint

  1. I bought a new pair of shoes and found I was having a lot of mis-clips. After comparing the soles of the new and old pair, I noticed there was a lot more space between the lugs and cleats on the old pair, and in front of the cleats, the lugs were much smaller. I took a knife to the new shoes and created a bit more space around the sides of the cleats and cut the lugs to the front, down a bit. I’ve had very few problems clipping in since.

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