6 Best Mountain Bike Shoes in 2020 Compared & Reviewed

Whether you are just getting started with mountain biking, or are an experienced rider, you know the importance of proper equipment. Just like you need the proper bike for the terrain, you need the right shoes to optimize your performance and give you the best results.

Product Comparison Table

Our best pick for the best mountain bike shoe is the Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa.

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What To Know Before Buying Mountain Bike Shoes

You should never buy mountain bike shoes simply based on the price or appearance. Different features in mountain biking shoes impacts performance and you need to understand how they will help or hinder your performance.

Check The Pedal Compatibility

If you want to use a clip in pedal system, it is important to make sure that the clips are compatible with your shoes. There is not a universal clip system, so you should know what your bike uses and make sure that you purchase shoes that match up. 

If you would rather go with a clipless system you need to go with a flat shoe.

Check The Sole

Just like with any other type of shoe, the sole should always be inspected. For quality mountain biking shoes, it is typical to see either nylon or carbon fiber used on the sole. Shoes with nylon soles will provide greater flexibility, making them easy to wear while not pedaling. 

Carbon fiber soles will be stiffer and allow for greater power transfer as you pedal. Other materials used for soles are not ideal for mountain biking and can be more of a hinderance than a help.

Decide On A Shoe Closure

The closure on your mountain biking shoes isn’t just about convenience, but making sure that your shoes are secure enough to handle the task at hand. Shoes coming loose or closures getting caught in the bike can be dangerous and lead to serious injury.

Laces

Laces are a standard closure for shoes of all kinds. But when it comes to biking, the loose strings can be less than ideal. Laces are great for customizing the overall fit and tightness of your shoes, but it is time consuming and difficult to change on the go. 

It is also crucial that you keep your laces tight and tucked in, avoiding any dangling parts that could get snagged.

Velcro

Velcro is a very simple, yet efficient way to fasten your mountain biking shoes. They can be opened and closed very easily, making it easy to take them on and off on the go, and are secured down to prevent any loose bits like laces would. 

While Velcro can be incredibly strong and durable in the beginning, over time it can lose some of its strength and have a harder time holding in place.

Ratchet

Ratchets are paired with buckles to provide you with a closing mechanism that will hold for long periods of time without issue. It is easy to tighten or loosen your shoes as needed and the closure will stay in place until you choose to adjust them. 

While they are one of the best options for mountain biking shoes in terms of durability and security, it is also one of the bulkiest.

Boa

One of the newest closure options on the market, BOAs are designed to provide you with security comparable to ratchet and buckle closures, but without all of the bulk. Wire laces are used and threaded through the shoes to prevent any dangling parts. 

These wires are tightened and loosened through dials, making it easy to adjust them just where you need it. This is far more time efficient than regular laces, and will hold far better as well.

Ventilation

Even in cooler temperatures or short distance rides, proper ventilation in your shoes is a must. Just like with your clothing, helmet, and seat, you need to allow air to flow through to provide breathability. 

Without this, you can build up heat without any way to let it out, leading to excess sweating and increasing your chances of rashes and other unpleasant foot conditions. 

Ventilation is also important when mountain biking to prevent blood pooling in your feet over long periods of time and making you feel lightheaded.

Check Other Features

Other things you may want to consider when looking for mountain biking shoes include added protection and support. For example, if you will be biking in areas that will require you to go through mud or water, you may want shoes that will prevent moisture from soaking in. 

Proper insulation, coupled with ventilation can make it easy to go anywhere without creating issues for your feet.

Footbeds provide you with support similar to an insole, making sure you have the proper arch support for your feet. This will help prevent pain and cramping while pedaling, while also reducing your risk of discomfort after the ride.

Toe caps give you protection similar to a steel- toed bot, but without the added weight. This will prevent injuring yourself on rocks, tree roots, or any other obstacles that may come your way.

Heel cups are designed to provide you with a more secure fit on your pedals and prevent slipping as you go. This is important for performance, as well as to prevent injury.

The color of your shoes may seem purely for aesthetic purposes, but can actually play an important safety role. Bright colored shoes or shoes with reflective features allow greater visibility to others as you go and make it easier to spot you in nearly any weather condition. 

This is important not only to prevent riders from running into one another, but also make you easier to spot if you get lost or injured.

Weight is also an important factor to consider because of the added strain heavier shoes will put on you. The more your shoes weigh, the more energy it will take to pedal with them and the more effort you will need to go up hill or to make turns. 

Look for something lightweight, while still providing durability and protection to your feet. This will give you a more efficient ride and keep you going longer.

Versatility is often overlooked when you are looking for a mountain bike shoe because you want to make sure it will work with your bike. But it is worth considering the overall design to see if the shoes will work well with other bike models or in other situations. This includes casual bike rides, urban cycling and even using them as walking shoes.

6 Best Shoes For Mountain Biking Reviewed

1. Pearl Izumi Men’s X-Alp Seek VI Cycling Shoe

Key Features

  • Quick drying
  • Composite fiber injected nylon plates
  • EVA outsoles
  • Low cut design
  • Heel pad

While the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek VI may look more like running shoes than biking shoes, you will be pleasantly surprised by all the features included. The sleek, low cut black design is used to make them easily transferable so you can use them for cycling or running. 

This is helpful for those who do not have time to stop and switch shoes before or after a ride.

The soles include clip in slots, making is compatible with most mountain bikes. The compound rubber outsoles are also included to create deep lugs and beveled heals. This makes them high in traction for biking, as well as enhancing a stepping motion while walking. 

EVA midsoles and outsoles are dual-density, making them much denser, creating greater shock absorption and cushioning both on and off your bike.

Composite fiber injected nylon plates provide greater stiffness for more efficient power transference when pedaling, and extra support on your heel pads make them more comfortable for long periods of wear. You also get breathable, quick drying mesh and synthetic leather uppers for durability and to protect you from excess sweating.  

Pros

  • Clip in compatible
  • Works for cycling or running
  • Breathable mesh

Con

  • Lace up closure

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Mavic Crossmax SL Ultimate Cycling Shoe- Men’s

Key Features

  • 2 bolt cleat compatible
  • Ergo 3D tongue
  • Ergo Fit 3D+ Orthorite footbed
  • Innovative grip design
  • 2 year manufacturer’s warranty

If you are looking for an ultra- lightweight shoe that will still provide support, Mavic has you covered. While they are very well known for their running shoes, the Crossmax SL mountain biking shoes have easily earned themselves a place on this list. 

This is in large part due to the incorporation of Mavic’s own technology to provide you with a superior experience that is backed up with a two year manufacturer’s warranty.

The Energy Grip Terra Carbon SL outsole is durable, yet still lightweight, and the Dual Ergo Dials form a BOA closure to keep the shoes secured and comfortable. The Contagrip rubber lugs create greater traction, while a reinforced tow cap provides greater protection. 

An Ergo 3D tongue includes mesh to allow air to flow and prevent sweating, and Ergo Fit 3D+ OrthoLite insoles provide you greater support.

This prevents the need to buy insoles if you have problem arches. While it is two bolt cleat compatible, these shoes work well with flat pedals as well because of the Energy Lock Carbon Comp. The Ergo Bonded upper also provides support to your ankles as you pedal without being too stiff.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • BOA closure
  • Ergonomic inserts included

Cons

  • Fits small

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa Men’s Mountain Bike Shoe

Key Features

  • EVA midsole
  • Water resistant
  • Ortholite Footbed
  • All weather compatible
  • Toe caps

The Kestrel Pro by Five Ten may be one of the best overall mountain bike shoes to ever hit the market. This is because the shoes incorporate the best features to have for mountain biking, while still being extremely lightweight. They are all weather compatible because of the breathable mesh upper and water resistant exterior.

The BOA closures provide greater security while not being bulky, and is clip in compatible with many types of mountain bikes. If you prefer a flat pedal, the dual-density rubber Stealth outsoles have you covered with superior traction and grip. 

The toes are reinforced with rubber to prevent injury and increase durability, and the carbon-infused shanks provide greater pedal efficiency.

The footbed is made of Ortholite to provide greater foot support, and an EVA midsole for added comfort. The midsoles are also made of Hydrophobic foam to prevent water or sweat from being soaked in. while there isn’t much for reflectivity on the shoes, you can add it easily enough with paint or strips.

Pros

  • BOA closure
  • Breathable
  • Clip in compatible

Cons

  • Not reflective

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Giro Rumble Vr MTB Shoes

Key Features

  • EVA footbed and midsole
  • Urban cycling approved
  • Vibram rubber outsoles
  • Lace holder
  • Mesh upper

If you are looking for shoes that can work for mountain biking, as well as urban cycling and walking around, Giro’s Rumble Vr are perfect. They are clip in compatible, making it easy to use with many types of bikes, while also having Vibram rubber outsoles for greater tread and traction. 

This makes them ideal for those who don’t want to have to switch their shoes between cycling and walking. These shoes are designed to provide you with an EVA footbed and midsole, as well as a mesh upper for breathability and support. 

The bright orange laces and heel on the otherwise black shoes provide you with greater visibility at night for additional safety, and look sleek enough to wear around town without anyone batting an eye. The shoes weigh less than a pound each and lace holders will prevent them from getting caught in your bike.

 Pros

  • Clip in compatible
  • Bright orange incorporated for visibility
  • Street friendly

Cons

  • Lace up closure

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Giro Terraduro Mid MTB Shoes

Key Features

  • Vibram lugged outsoles
  • EVA footbed
  • Breathable mesh and microfiber
  • Reinforced heel and toe
  • Aegis antimicrobial treated
  • Asymmetrical cuff

While lace up shoes are not always desirable for mountain biking or cycling of any kind, Giro has come up with a great solution with their Terraduro shoes. This is because they feature an asymmetrical cuff that crosses over the shoe’s laces to secure them inside and avoid any loose parts getting out. 

They also repel moisture and muck, making it easy to pedal through anything without being weighed down by wet shoes or cold feet. The mesh and microfiber upper allow for greater breathability, and the inside of the shoes have been treated with Aegis antimicrobial to prevent odors and bacteria growth.

The shoes are clip in compatible, as well as having a Vibram lugged outsole to provide greater traction. The asymmetrical cuff will help to keep your ankle supported and rubber  heel and toe reinforcements prevent injuries.  

Pros

  • Clip in compatible
  • Lightweight
  • Repels moisture

Cons

  • Lace up closure

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Shimano SH-AM7 Bike Shoes Mens

Key Features

  • Pedal channel
  • Molded toe cap
  • Ultra-grip rubber sole
  • Synthetic leather/ mesh upper
  • Vibram Outsole

Rounding out the list is Shimano’s SH-AM7 bike shoe. These shoes work well as mountain biking shoes because of their ability to absorb the impact of harder landings, as well as their efficient power transfer. This is in part due to the ultra-grip rubber sole and Vibram outsole. 

There is also a molded toe cap to protect them as you go and avoid injuries from unwanted contact with roots or rocks. A synthetic leather and mesh upper allows breathability, while still keeping your ankles supported.

A pedal channel is included to not only allow you to clip in, but get better grip on flat pedals. This means that no matter what kind of bike you are using, you will get added security to hold your feet where they need to be. While these are lace up shoes, there is a cross strap to help prevent any loose pieces from getting out and getting tangled or caught.

Pros

  • Reflective features
  • Asymmetrical padded collar
  • Cross strap

Cons

  • Lace up closure

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Top Pick

While all six shoes provide you with a lightweight and secure ride, there is one shoe that stands above the others. The Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa Mens Mountain Bike Shoe is our favorite because of the all weather design and superior closure mechanism. The color is both sleek and bold, making it perfect for those who don’t want a flashy shoe, and the water resistant material allows you to go anywhere.

The Kestrel Pro will cost you more than some of the other options, but the shoes are well worth the price when you consider everything you get from them. 

You also will be able to wear them year round, making it unnecessary to get a different pair of shoes for different weather circumstances. Not to mention the durability and superior grip these shoes provide. That means you will have these shoes for years and will continue to see high quality performance from them.

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perry
Perry
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.