The Sidi Hydro GTX winter boots are made specifically for cold, wet winter conditions, but just how effective are they?
The Hydro GTX boots' main barrier against the elements is a Gore-Tex membrane. This surrounds the foot up to ankle height and includes the tongue, which is joined to the shoe to prevent water from sneaking in.
The outer lacks ventilation holes, further protecting your feet from the wet. This absence of ventilation and the use of Gore-Tex makes it sound as if these could get sweaty, but these really are designed for more extreme conditions and we haven't found it to be an issue.
The boots themselves aren't that heavily insulated. Sidi has left room inside for you to wear thicker socks instead, the extra volume preventing the constriction of blood flow to your toes. On days when it's wet but not too cold, this does mean your feet can move about a fair bit, but on colder days when you're wearing thicker socks, the fit is good, with a secure heel hold preventing your heel from lifting.
The shoe is secured by three standard velcro straps, with the top neoprene section held by a fourth, wider Velcro strap. But we found it difficult to close this top strap fully around our ankles. During really wet conditions, the tops of our socks started to absorb water, which then made its way into the shoe. If the neoprene bootie was taller, it would be easier to tuck under tights, or create a proper seal around your lower legs.
The sole is the Sidi Millenium 3, which is made of nylon with carbon fibre for extra stiffness and has a three-point cleat fixing. It isn't as rigid as a proper race shoe, but for winter use it's more than adequate. Only the heel piece is rubberised, though a matching rubberised toe section would also help when setting off.
After a month's use the heel piece is starting to wear, but spares are available and they're easy to replace. The insole itself is fully sealed, preventing any water entering the shoes through the cleat bolt holes.