Best Mountain Biking Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Some of us live for adrenaline. A pounding heart, burning veins, and racing mind are all we need to reach the pinnacle of excitement. Adrenaline junkies can always find their way to a thrill. Whether it is snowboarding, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, cliff jumping or some other intense activity, they will find a way.
However, there is one sport that stands out from the rest, and that is mountain biking. Why? Because extreme sports have made their mark on the world of thrill seekers, and taking a bike down mountainous terrain certainly is no easy task. There is a certain freedom that comes with pushing yourself past your limits. Riding alongside towering trees and off of makeshift jumps is sometimes all you need.
- Five Ten Freerider
- BMX Style
- Casual Choice
- Shimano Commuter
- EVA Foam
- Sude Upper
- Teva Pivot
- Absorbs Shock
- Gentle On Joints
In order to enjoy this thrilling activity, however, you need the proper gear. From head-to-toe, there is a lot that goes into mountain biking that you might not think of. Sure, it’s pretty obvious that you would want a good helmet, perhaps other protective gear like elbow and or knee pads, and no doubt you need the mountain bike itself. However, things like mountain biking shoes might not be an item that immediately comes to mind.
Still, having the right footwear is important for biking mountain-side. Not only do they protect your feet, but they can enhance performance as well. They offer safety and still manage to look cool, too. Some pairs might not look any different than your other exercise footwear or everyday shoes.
In this guide, you will find a list of the top 10 mountain biking shoes that we found. We will walk you through the ups and downs of each pair and then point you where to find them. Enjoy!
10 Best Mountain Biking Shoes
1. Five Ten Freerider
If you’ve ever been a fan of BMX then you’ll love the style this sneaker has to offer. While it is traditionally made for mountainous adventures it remains true to the “sister sport”: motorbike racing. This is great for anybody who prefers a grittier, skater-inspired style that brings a fresh perspective to this sport. It also makes the transition from one sport to the other pretty easy, since they’re stylistically so similar. There’s nothing better than a product that appeals to wide audiences, and Five Ten understands that entirely. They brought a unique design to the table, and it has done exceptionally well on the open market.
The Ultimate In Style
Worried about spending a fortune on a design that is only appropriate for the sport itself? Then you’ve found the design for you. As we’ve already mentioned this is designed in the same vein as BMX products, as well as skater-inspired footwear. This means that you can strut your stuff in these bad boys almost anywhere. It is a decidedly casual sneaker that could be used with almost any outfit you have. It blends seamlessly into whatever clothing you pair it with, and nobody will ever know what it’s actually for. This dual-purpose design is great for anybody who might not be able to afford dedicated cycling footwear.
Cost and Value
This pair made the top of our list for a reason. Between their sleek style, ease of wear, and casual nature, we give this sneaker a high rating for value. The dual-purpose design is a huge win since it means you can use this on a daily basis, as well as out in the thick of it. Often you’ll find that styles in this category are fairly out there in terms of looks. It’s nice that there is an option for absolutely anybody, which is what we always aim to bring to our product breakdowns. This design is a great balance of practicality and style that you just can’t ignore. If you need a model that will never let you down, and you can wear anywhere, then this is the one for you.
- Grips pedals firmly
- Sticky Stealth S1 Outsole
- Excellent comfort
- Real leather details
- Unconventional design
2. Shimano Commuter
Some of these styles can do a number on tired feet. Hours of peddling can leave you sore and sick at the thought of walking. Unfortunately, sometimes walking is a necessary evil when you come across parts of a trail you can’t get across on a bike. Think of water crossings, for example. This means getting off, and finding a way to safely navigate the slippery terrain. Of course, first you have to investigate the area to find out if there’s even a possible way to cross. Luckily these come with an EVA midsole that is shock absorbing, giving your weary feet a rest.
A Stiffer Style
Shimano provides a hidden inner shank plate which provides extra stiffness and support. This works in perfect tandem with the EVA midsole. This match made in heaven means they’re able to give you a more powerful boost of support while remaining comfortable. It’s true that some models are seriously lacking in support, but this is not so with the Shimano Commuter line. Their effortless design is partially in thanks to the fact that these shank plates are a hidden addition. So, there you have it! You’ll find the power you need to propel forward all day when you slip these on and hit the road.
Cost and Value
Although this model does provide a great deal of features, it is also quite expensive. We definitely have more affordable designs on this list! If you don’t want to spend a pretty penny then this is not the right fit for you. However, a more experienced biker who needs a better set, such as an advanced novice, will find a great deal here. The ability to stay comfortable all day is crucial to this sport, especially during more grueling rides. Shimano gives their customers an easier ride by providing the stiffness needed to transfer power between the pedal and you. So, if you are on the market for your first shoe, we recommend a different pair. Perhaps the next one on the list (our highest value sneaker).
- EVA foam
- Suede upper
- Optimized for SPD
- Lightweight material
3. Teva Pivot
As you can imagine there are a lot of places where you've jostled around when riding a bike on rough terrain. This can be especially hard on your joints, which are susceptible to damage. If you have any previous injuries in your knees or ankles it is imperative that you invest in shock absorbing sneakers. Even if you’ve never had an injury of that sort it’s still a good idea. After all, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. This makes them phenomenally comfortable, too! It’s smooth riding when you’re able to enjoy yourself and not get caught up bracing for impact.
There is nothing better than a dual-purpose product. We’re big believers in them here at Gear Hunt! After all, the value provided by items that can be used for multiple purposes is unbelievable. It’s killing two birds with one stone (or two dollar signs!). This is not only a versatile choice but an incredibly comfortable one. It features padding in the upper, which grants the wearer an extra level of protection against sore feet. This is because it can also be used as streetwear! So, if you don’t get too dirty on the trail, you can easily go out for drinks without having to change out of them afterward!
Cost and Value
The Teva The Links sneaker is absolutely the best value on this list. It blew us away with its effortless style, multiple uses, and the level of comfort provided. You’ll step out in style with ease! The price absolutely can’t be beaten. Most of these models are fairly pricey, which can be expected of any sport. Professional gear can run into the hundreds. Teva opened up the sport as a whole to a different type of consumer by providing this model. So, no sore feet and no sore wallet! What else could you want? The value is unparalleled to any of the picks on this list. If you’re a beginner then this is the best option for you.
- Padded upper
- Synthetic material
- Spider365 outsole
- Casual style
- Questionable Durability
4. Shimano SH-M088
Some of these models have a pretty set silhouette. They hug your foot tightly, leaving little wiggle room. Still, others have a stiff shape which doesn’t allow for much flexibility. Shimano took care of these design flaws. They’ve truly created a sleek, effortlessly athletic model that will have you riding in style. You’ll be able to find your perfect fit with the micro-adjust buckle, after firmly securing them with the velcro straps. There is also a wider toe box to accommodate your foot more comfortably. All of these features combine into a truly customizable fit that will hug every curve of your foot with ease.
Made Better With Leather
Tired of suede models that can’t put up with exposure to moisture? We are, too! They’re great, don’t get us wrong, but sometimes you just need something a little more resistant to water. After all, water crossings happen and so does rain. Chances are that you’re going to run into water sooner or later. Be prepared with Shimano! They’ve crafted this model out of synthetic leather that is durable, slick, and a much better choice for water exposure. This synthetic leather is also stretch-resistant, meaning it won’t wear out before it’s time.
Cost and Value
We cannot recommend this model as a great value, but it is a great product nonetheless. The value is absolutely inflated by the pure genius of this design. There are also quite a few satisfied customers that have left great feedback. Few models can compete with the compelling features Shimano has packed into this smart, little package. The mesh patches placed strategically across this design add-in breathability with a stylish flair. At the end of the day whether this purchase is worth it is up to our readers. While the product is unparalleled in design, we also recognize that price is a huge factor, and they lose major points in this category.
- Synthetic leather
- Micro-adjust buckle
- Streamlined silhouette
- Doesn’t pinch feet
- Thoroughly breathable
- Awkward fit
5. Gavin Mountain MTB
This is another dual-purpose sneaker on the list. It can easily go from a pedal to a restaurant if you’re in the mood for some food. After all, this style of bike riding can definitely work up quite the appetite for you! They’re also comfortable enough to be worn outside during the day for errands or even work. Whatever you need to do you can rest assured that they’ll help you do it with a chic look you’ll love. This really makes them a sneaker with a purpose! No matter what you’re doing you can take the MTB sneaker along with you!
Built For Breathability
Gavin built this sneaker out of synthetic microfiber leather. It also features a breathable mesh which allows moisture to escape from your sneaker. It’s no secret that sweating is a huge concern among people who ride long distances. You use far more muscles on mountainous terrain than you would on the street. This extra effort translates into some extra sweat, which leads to excess moisture. The build-up of sweat in your socks and shoe can provide an encouraging environment for blisters. Your skin weakens when it is exposed to close contact with water over a period of time. Combine this with the rubbing of thick socks from all the turning and lurching you’ll do and you have a recipe for disaster. Or, even worse, big ol’ blisters.
Cost and Value
This model was a top contender for the highest value. Not only does it have excellent reviews, but it also won’t put a strain on your monthly budget. If you’re a savvy shopper who isn’t a fan of the BMX style models, then this might be the best choice for you. They’re effortlessly stylish and look just like a normal sneaker. Even so, they make an excellent choice for navigating trails and keeping your feet comfortable while doing so. If you have a wide foot these might also be a good option since their fit is far more accommodating than a classically designed model. So, in terms of price and looks, the MTB sneaker really blew us away!
Wide foot friendly
Best for short rides
6. Gavin Off-Road
So far we haven’t really looked at any classic silhouettes. Well, we’re finally here! The Gavin Off-Road Cycling model offers you the first taste of a true-to-sport design. It might look a little clunky, but this is because of the safety it provides. The bottom of the shoe is made out of a nylon fiberglass material that is stiff enough to resist undue flexing. This keeps you moving forward quickly and efficiently. The shoe is topped off with a black midsole and upper, along with red and silver highlights. These are fairly classic colors in this type of footwear.
Adjust WIth Ease
You won’t always be riding in good weather! It is crucial that you find a model which can be easily adjusted depending on the socks you need to wear. Don’t worry about having to squish your poor foot into a tight-fitting model that doesn’t have as much ability to adjust. The velcro straps will give you control over how tight, or loose, you need your pair to be. Bitingly cold outside? Or even just a brisk, snappy morning? Slip into some wool socks and give yourself protection against the cold. Improper insulation can result in numb feet, which are useless to you out in the wilderness.
Cost and Value
These are another pair that are easily afforded by most people. There are a few features you lose because of the price range, but overall they provide an excellent value. The ability to have complete control over their fit is a huge plus. On top of this, the sole is ultra-resistant to flexing which gives you better power transfer. They may have a clunky design, but it’s the performance they provide that really counts. After all, you know what they say: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Or, in this case, a Gavin design!
- Flex resistant
- Non-slip bottom
- Nylon fiberglass sole
- Rugged design
- Runs small
- Clunky design
7. Giro Treble II
Giro really made sure to offer a style for all audiences. The Treble II is provided in two classic color choices. The black version is effortlessly chic and provides you with footwear to match your entire cycling wardrobe. On the other hand, if you’re looking for extra pizazz, you can opt for the second style offered. This alternative choice is mostly neon yellow on the front half of the shoe and a black cap on the back. It will add a serious pop of color to anything you wear! Both are fantastic and equally as desirable. It’s up to you which one fits your personality better!
This is a unique feature that we’re fairly impressed by. Giro went through the process of adding an Aegis antimicrobial treatment. Essentially, they made sure these would be resistant to bacteria that can sometimes accrue in athletic footwear. This is important because of the fact that sometimes your chosen pair can become a breeding ground for bacteria. It’s warm, dark, and damp with sweat. This is partially what causes your footwear to smell terrible! So, they stay fresher longer and are wonderfully stink resistant!
Cost and Value
Somewhat pricier, the Treble II still gets a solid spot on this list. We were blown away by the obvious care they take in their designs, and how much thought is put into the process. Few companies have the same taste for big, loud designs. After all, this style can be pretty hit or miss! They took a chance and they made it work. These are truly a fan favorite with rave reviews that show just how successful this model is. Between the snazzy color choices and high-quality build materials, Giro is presenting a strong face for the industry with this addition.
- Universal cleat mount
- EVA foam footbed
- Injected nylon outsole
- Clips in/out easily
- Wide foot friendly
- Low durability
8. Pearl iZUMi X-ALP
Some of the styles on the market are lacking in texture. While this may seem like a silly criterion, it’s actually super important. Nobody wants to step out in a style they hate. While we understand that practicality is a top concern, we also want to look our best. It’s simply human nature! The texture is an incredibly important part of any design since it breaks up the monotony. This is especially important for footwear that is used athletically. Some designs are clunky, and they need to be offset by an interesting combination of textures. Izumi crafted a chic sneaker that is as breathable as it is stylish. Now, that’s one helluva product!
EVA Outsole And Midsole
Sore feet got you down? We mean that literally, by the way. Having painful feet can really distract you from your ride… however, it can also keep you from riding at all. Give yourself a design that will blow you away in terms of comfort. There is no better pair to keep you comfortable all day long! This dual-padding system will make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud- or, as close to it as you can with an athletic, practical sneaker. Izumi wants you to be comfortable as much as you do, and that means a helluva lot to most consumers.
Cost and Value
You might expect that this design would run you up into the hundreds. This is not so! Izumi puts a price on this sneaker that really can’t be beaten by many others. There are absolutely more affordable models out there, but not by much. Even more than that, they provide you with a comfortable style and a phenomenal amount of pain relief. Your days of cursing your footwear for causing you so much distress are over! Step into style, and step into relief. Just step into Izumi and see what all the fuss is about!
- Synthetic sole
- Light, comfortable fit
- SPD compatible
- Efficient power transfer
- Sizing runs small
9. Venzo Mountain
No pedals? No problem! Even if you don’t have a pair of compatible pedals you can still order this model with confidence. Venzo went the extra mile so that you can, as well! They include a pair of compatible pedals in this package. This really makes them a steal! Truly, it’s a helluva deal. On top of this, they have cleats included, as well. Venzo wants to make sure that their customers are thoroughly taken care of. This is evident in the design of their products, as well as the extra measures they take. The bonus pedals are just another example of how Venzo treats their customers.
A Rugged Twist
Tired of feminine, dainty models that just aren’t you? Well, look no further, because we found a match. These have a rather loud pattern that will surely steal the show no matter where you go! They come in a red, black, and silver triad of colors that combine into a sleek pattern. Venzo appeals to an entirely different market with this design, and it’s really working out for them. Men and women alike are a fan of this aggressive pair of cycling sneakers. If you need a pair that screams “ready for it” and “here I come”, then... ding! Ding! Ding! We found you a winner.
Cost and Value
These are neither the most expensive, nor the best deal. Venzo definitely chose the middle ground for their design in this case. While they might not be top quality, they are certainly a step above the lower priced models and provide a more professional experience. If you can afford to spend a little more you might be surprised at how much you end up liking this design. Many people have fallen in love with it, and with good reason! There are so many great features packed into a rugged package that just “in your face” enough.
- Removable sockliner
- Dries out quickly
- Flexible forefoot
- Beveled heel
- Award winning
- Sizing runs small
10. Gavin Elite
This is a fairly unique feature that you won’t find in many places. Gavin included vents in the sole for an extra level of breathability. This is crucial in any sport where you’re going to sweat a lot. Designs made for extreme cycling need to be able to air out properly, especially while in use. Failure to do so can cause a host of problems. The most common is blisters, and nobody wants those! We go to pretty extreme lengths to avoid them, actually. Gavin makes doing so easy, as well as keeping your foot feeling fresh and comfortable.
Low Weight, High Performance
Bulky designs can weigh you down, and pile seconds onto your time. A lightweight, breathable model that fits perfectly to your foot is the best way to go. Gavin put forth this design with that in mind! They took a few chances, but those chances ended up paying off a great deal. You’ll feel light as a feather, and comfortable to boot. The synthetic microfiber leather provides freedom from heavier materials, while the stiff sole keeps them sturdy and supportive. Add in the mesh panels on the upper and your feet are in for an absolute treat.
Cost and Value
We actually think these may be the pair that is worst on value on the list. Although the design is great in theory, it seems as though they’ve missed a few crucial steps. They have quite a few cult-like followers who swear by them, but many have also voiced complaints about their durability, and usability. Some report that the shoe does not release from the pedal easily, which can be a huge problem. They also are said to scuff easily, and so regular wear and tear will take a toll on them. Even so, they offer a unique twist on a classic design that some absolutely adore. This pair might be the last pair on the list, but they certainly still have a lot to offer!
Excellent customer service
That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there is a range of equipment necessary to make all of this possible. It’s one thing to seek out the adrenaline high you crave. It’s entirely another thing to purposefully put yourself in danger. Putting your bike to the test out in the wild is great fun, but it should be handled responsibly. The first thing you need to worry about is your choice of footwear. The right model can make or break your overall experience, and decide how safe you really are. Today, we’re going to name off the top ten designs available currently, and go over what makes them unique from the other models available. By the end of this guide to the best of the best, you should find the perfect pair for your needs. If by some chance you don’t you need to keep reading! We’ll talk about the criteria used to available each one, and what you need to look for if you’re on the market for this necessary equipment.
Criteria Used in Choosing the
Best Mountain Biking Shoes
As you might have guessed it is crucial for athletic footwear to be durable. These styles are constantly put to the test out on the field. You may be able to get away with having casual designs that are only brought out for the occasional outing. However, when you’re out on the trail, you need to know that your footwear will stand up to the challenge. There are a couple of different topics we took into account when thinking about durability. Of course, this is specific to these styles, so definitely keep these two pieces of criteria in mind when you’re on the search!
It is essential that moisture will not make your feet susceptible to blisters. On top of this, footwear that is not at least partially waterproofed will wear out quickly. When you’re out riding across muddy terrain you’ll be putting your cycling sneakers through the ultimate test. They’re in serious danger of water damage if they can’t hold up.
The overall make of the design is hugely important, as well. Manufacturers have different reputations for quality. Look for great reviews, as well as customer testimonials. You want to see people writing at least a paragraph about their experience, whether good or bad. Also, make sure you look at the materials used in creating the style. Some materials are definitely better than others! For more on materials, and which ones to watch out for, keep reading.
As we mentioned above, materials are a large part of what makes a style successful. The material will determine many factors, such as ease of usage. They also help decide breathability, and sustainability, among other important criteria.
- Synthetic leather
This is probably one of the best materials to look for. Synthetic leather is fairly water resistant and is a much more ethical choice for leather. Whether you’re choosing it for its durability, or out of your love of animals, this is a contender in the test of “best of”.
Unfortunately, suede looks better than it is. Sure, it adds a stylish twist on an otherwise stereotypical style that can be too rugged for some. But when it comes to usability suede is fairly bad at resisting damage. It scuffs easily, and it won’t hold up against moisture.
If you’re on the market for a hardy, stiff material that is great on tough terrain, then this is it! Some soles are made of a nylon fiberglass blend which prevents excess bending. This means more support when you need it most. It’s also a great choice for durability overall.
Nobody wants to deal with a soggy sock. It’s uncomfortable, weakens your skin, and creates a breeding ground for blisters and bacteria. Being stinky is especially a worry in athletic footwear because of the duration of wear as well as the intensity of activity. Mesh will allow your feet to breathe easy, and give you a more comfortable experience overall.
Some pairs might pinch due to excessive tightness. You want to look for a style that won’t be too narrow for your foot. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these styles, most of them do run a little narrow. We suggest trying a model that is crafted more like a sneaker since they’re friendlier for wide feet.
- Overall Tightness
On the other side of the coin, overall tightness means quite a bit to functionality. While a style that is too tight can cause pinching, a style that is too loose won’t provide enough support. Having too much wiggle room can lead to rubbing, which can cause raw spots after a long day of cycling. Look to see whether a style runs small or large, and then work from there.
This is also important for a reason you may not have thought of: socks. If you’re riding in cold weather you want a thicker, wool-based sock on your foot to protect you from the cold. If a style is too tight you’ll have a hard time squeezing in with a thick pair.
Think about your feet, their shape, and which silhouette would be comfortable for you. There is such a wide variety of styles available that it should be a breeze to determine which fit is right for you. There are a number of things that go into figuring out fit. We aren’t just talking about how the style fits the curves of your feet, either. Some things to take into account while thinking about fit are as follows:
– Room in the toebox
– Heel-to-toe drop
– Whether a material is stretchy
– Do you have wide feet or flat feet?
If you follow these steps and keep all of this information in mind you’ll find the right style in no time. It just takes a little thought and a lot of patience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is there a silhouette that is better than the rest?
A: Nope! It really has to do with how your feet are shaped, and what is most comfortable for you. Of course, there are reasons professionals tend to wear the more classic style. That doesn’t mean they’re right for you! After all, if you’re uncomfortable on the trail you aren’t going to have a good time. Skip being miserable, and slip into a pair that truly fits your feet.
Q: What socks are best for cycling?
A: This depends on the weather. There are a few different types that are recommendable.
- Silk: This is a self-cooling, smooth material that can slip into even the tightest of styles. Many people love how luxurious silk feels on their feet! This material is only good for cool weather, and sometimes warm.
- Wool: While wool can be comfortable it really only does well in cold conditions. After all, you don’t want such a thick, insulated material causing excess sweating in the summer.
- Cotton: A fan favorite all around! Most socks are made out of a cotton blend, and so this is the fall back all year round. Cotton is great because it’s breathable, light, and rugged.
Q: Do I really need a cycling-specific pair?
A: Absolutely! This is imperative for your safety, as we mentioned earlier in this article. There is also an issue with pedals, which clip into shoes.
Q: Why are certain pedals incompatible with certain styles?
A: This is a great question! It’s because of the way that the shoes clip into the pedal. This is for your safety and ensures a more secure ride.
Q: How can I care for blisters if I get them?
A: Unfortunately, blisters are always going to be a challenge. There are a few things you can do to prevent them from forming, however. They can be fairly incapacitating if they’re large and painful enough! We recommend draining large ones before they pop, and putting a band-aid with disinfectant ointment over them. This will help them heal more quickly, and get you back out on the trail.
Q: How do I make sure my pair is compatible with my pedals?
A: This can cause a lot of confusion among newcomers to the sport. We’re going to try and clear it up for you! It’s imperative that you factor in the compatibility. Generally speaking, there are some brands that are fairly compatible with many styles. If you take a gander at the specific details of a product you’ll easily spot which pedals they go with. On the other hand, Venzo puts out a couple pairs that include the pedals if you want to skip the process of figuring it out.