Updated on May 25, 2020

One of the very best ways to level up your bikepacking game is with a pair of bikepacking shoes. If you’ve never used them before, they will truly change your world! Bikepacking shoes have the ability to take you to the next level because they effectively double your rotational power. They do this by capturing the energy you put out not only on the downstroke, but on the upstroke, too. We’ve compiled this list of the best bikepacking shoes so you can get geared up with an Adventure-Junkie-Approved pair of shoes in no time.

If you’re new to bike shoes, there are a few things you need to know before you dive in. First of all, these are shoes that actually lock your foot on to your pedal, which can be a bit of an adjustment if you’re not used to it. We suggest looking for a softer, 2-hole cleat design to start. We explain more about this at the end of the article, so be sure to check that out if you want more information. Happy trails!

For more of our top bikepacking gear recommendations, check out the Best Bikepacking Bags.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Bikepacking Shoes

  1. Shimano RP4
  2. PEARL iZUMi Quest
  3. Bontrager Circuit
  4. Sidi Genius SR7 Shadow
  5. PEARL iZUMi Tour

 

Comparison Table - Best Bikepacking Shoes

PictureNameClosureWeightCleat TypePriceRating
Shimano RP4Ratcheting Cable Lace1 lb. 2 oz. (Pair)3-Hole$$4.5
PEARL iZUMi QuestVelcro StrapN/A3-Hole And 2-Hole$4.7
Bontrager CircuitRatcheting Cable LaceN/A3-Hole, Additional Purchase Needed For 2-Hole Compatibility$$4.8
Sidi Genius SR7 ShadowBuckle And Strap System1 lb. 8 oz. (Pair)3-Hole$$$4.9
PEARL iZUMi TourLace-Up1 lb. 3 oz. (Men’s); 1 lb. (Women’s)3-Hole, 2-hole$$4.6
PictureNameClosureWeightCleat TypePriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Shoes for Bikepacking

Shimano RP4


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Ratcheting Cable Lace
  • Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz. (Pair)
  • Upper: Leather/Polyurethane
  • Outsole: Nylon
  • Cleat Type: 3-Hole
  • Footbed Material: Compressed Foam
Features
  • Expertly Placed Straps Help Relieve Tension In High Pressure Spots On The Foot
  • Lightweight Soles Aid In Power Efficiency
  • Wide Heel Base Makes It Easy To Walk Off Bike

BEST OFF-THE-BIKE SHOES

Wait, what? Did we just say off-the-bike bike shoes? Yes, yes we did. If you’ve ever used bikepacking shoes before (or you’ve seen someone using them), then you know that while they make riding your bike easier, they sure make walking more difficult! This particular pair of bikepacking shoes helps remedy that drawback. 

From the original creator of the clipless style of riding comes the Shimano RP4’s. These bikepacking shoes feature a wide heel base so that walking is that much easier. If you’re someone who really likes to enjoy your bikepacking trips, who gets off the bike frequently to explore a historical site, a local coffee shop, and everything in between, then these shoes may be a great fit for you!

PEARL iZUMi Quest


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Strap
  • Weight: N/A
  • Upper: Rubber And Plastic
  • Outsole: Nylon And Plastic
  • Cleat Type: 3-Hole And 2-Hole
  • Footbed Material: N/A
Features
  • Seamless Outer Material Built For All Day Comfort And Performance
  • Reflective Details Increase Visibility In Low Light
  • Lightweight, Yet Stiff And Durable Soles Designed To Reduce Foot Fatigue

BEST BUDGET SHOES 

If you’re looking to up your bikepacking game, but you are not looking to spend all the money in your bank account, read on. We have a great low budget option for you in the Quest bike shoes from Pearl iZUMi. 

These beauties feature a comfy outer layer that strikes the perfect balance between strong, durable fabric  and breathability. They also feature carbon fiber inserts that aid in performance and the reduction of foot fatigue. Plus, they have reflective details that will keep you visible in low light, and their easy-to-adjust velcro straps are unlikely to need repair. These bikepacking shoes aren’t super fancy, but they do have all the basics covered at a high level.

Bontrager Circuit


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Ratcheting Cable Lace
  • Weight: N/A
  • Upper: Polyurethane And Nylon
  • Outsole: Nylon And Fiberglass
  • Cleat Type: 3-Hole, Additional Purchase Needed For 2-Hole Compatibility
  • Footbed Material: N/A
Features
  • Designed For A Spacious, Comfortable Fit
  • Trademarked BOA Lace System Allows For Precision Closure And Fit
  • Medium Stiffness Is Great For Bikepackers Of Varying Levels

BEST WIDE SHOE

I speak from personal experience when I say it’s tough to have wide feet! When shoe-shopping, those of us with this problem often find ourselves limited in our options, especially when it comes to bike shoes, which are built for aerodynamics and performance. That’s why the Bontrager Circuit Road (men’s) and Sonic (women’s) models are so exciting! They’re made for a roomier feel and are sure to appease even us wide-footed bike enthusiasts. 

In addition to their spacious fit, these bikepacking shoes are awesome for a number of other reasons. Their high-tech closure system allows you to close the shoe with a precision that is just right for your foot. They’re also compatible with both 2 and 3-hole cleats, though you will need to purchase an additional plate for 2-hole compatibility. They have a medium stiffness that is suitable for ambitious beginners and intermediates alike. And to top it all off, their price tag is super reasonable for such a high-quality shoe.

Sidi Genius SR7 Shadow

Specs
  • Closure: Buckle And Strap System
  • Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz. (Pair)
  • Upper: Microtech Microfiber
  • Outsole: Carbon Composite
  • Cleat Type: 3-Hole
  • Footbed Material: N/A
Features
  • Bigger Than Average Width Is Great For Those With Wider Than Average Feet
  • Two-Way Ratchet Closure Makes On-The-Bike Adjustments Simple
  • Heel Pads Are Replaceable So Your Shoes Can Last Longer

BEST IN SHOE…UH, I MEAN SHOW

If you’re looking for an all-around high performing bikepacking shoe (and are willing to pay the cost that comes along with it), we’ve got just the product for you. Introducing the super comfortable, ultralight, and remarkably durable Genius SR7 Shadow Mega Bike shoes from Sidi. Wow, try saying that ten times fast!

This shoe’s intense name is only fitting for such an intense bikepacking shoe! For starters, its closure system is more involved than most. It combines a strap and ratchet system to provide the ultimate precision fit. It also has replaceable heel pads which provide coverage and protection, aid in comfort and performance, and increase the longevity of the shoe itself. 

Like we mentioned above, these shoes do come at a significantly higher cost than most other bikepacking shoes, but if you’re serious about the sport and want to have the best gear on the market, this is it.

PEARL iZUMi Tour


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz. (Men’s); 1 lb. (Women’s)
  • Upper: Rubber And Plastic
  • Outsole: Nylon And Carbon Fiber
  • Cleat Type: 3-Hole, 2-hole
  • Footbed Material: Compressed Foam
Features
  • Traditional Lacing System Complete With Cubby For Extra Lace Length
  • Special Outer Layer Molds To Your Unique Foot Shape Over Time
  • Vent And Drain Technology Keeps Your Feet Dry And Cool While Riding

BEST LACE UP SHOE

Some intense cyclists view lace up style bike shoes as low-tech and outdated. However, there are actually some significant benefits to this O.G. closure system. With laces, it’s easy to create a custom fit. They can be done and redone until they feel just right. They’re also super easy to replace in the middle of a ride if something goes wrong. And as far as lace up bikepacking shoes go, we think the Pearl iZUMi Tour (men’s) and Sugar (women’s) shoes are where it’s at.

In addition to their familiar yet reliable closure system, these bikepacking shoes incorporate cutting edge sole technology to keep you feeling light on the pedals and ready to keep on rolling. They’re one of the only bike shoes out there that has integrated ventilation and drainage technology that pushes out hot air and moisture to keep you cool and comfortable. Plus, their unique outer layer molds to your foot over time so you don’t have to worry about any uncomfortable pressure points.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING BIKEPACKING SHOES

CLOSURE TYPE

There are three main bikepacking shoe closure types: lace up, velcro strap, and ratchet or cable lace. There are some key differences between the three. Read on.

Lace up closure systems are probably quite familiar. They work just like your sneaker does. Laces do wear out and sometimes break, but the good news is that fixing them is as easy as carrying a spare pair of laces in your pack. This is a major benefit of lace up style closure systems, since fixing strap or ratchet cables can sometimes require tools or bike shop maintenance.

Velcro strap closure systems are a happy medium between the low-tech quality of the lace ups and the high tech, but more involved nature of the ratchet/cable systems. Velcro straps aren’t likely to break suddenly and they are probably the easiest to adjust; you can even do it while you’re pedaling! One downside of the velcro strap is that it doesn’t always stay in place as well as the other systems.

Ratchet or cable lace systems are the most technologically advanced bike shoe closure system. They involve a two-way adjustable cog that holds itself in place once tightened. They’re great for precision fitting and can usually be adjusted easily on the go. The downside to this type of closure system is that it can be tricky to fix on your own and may require a visit to the bike shop.

 

CLEAT TYPE

There are two main bicycle cleat types: 2-hole and 3-hole, and there are a few key differences between the two types. The cleat type you choose is totally up to you, but you must make sure that whichever you choose, your pedal is compatible. 2-hole or 3-hole will always be listed in a product’s specs.

2-hole cleats were originally developed for trail and mountain biking. Here’s what else you need to know:

  • They still work well for road biking
  • They’re the most common cleat type and most rental bikes will employ pedals that are compatible with this type of shoe
  • Easiest to walk in
  • Easiest to clip in and out of
  • Ever so slightly reduced power (in comparison to 3-hole cleats)

3-hole cleats are considered “higher end” cleats because they are built for superior power and performance. Here’s what else you need to know:

  • They are made for road cycling enthusiasts
  • Three points of contact means a more efficient stroke
  • More difficult to walk in
  • More difficult to clip in and out of, but with the benefit of more security while pedaling

Still want to know more about cleat/pedal compatibility? Check out this helpful article that gives an overview of cycling cleats and pedal basics.

 

WEIGHT

There’s no big secret to this important consideration. With lighter bikepacking shoes comes slightly higher cost and better performance. Alternatively, with heavier bikepacking shoes comes lower cost and slightly reduced performance.

 

MATERIALS

There are three main parts of any bikepacking shoe: the upper, footbed, and outsole (see below for a description of each). There are many materials bikepacking shoes can be made of. For an in-depth guide, check out this article that explains various common materials and the part of the bike shoe they’re used for.

 

STIFFNESS

Stiffness comes down to a matter of personal preference. Stiff shoes are built for high performance, but you’ll have to sacrifice some comfort. Some bike shoes give a stiffness rating (usually 1-14), while others describe stiffness in the product description. If you’re new to bikepacking, you’ll probably want to seek out a softer shoe until you master the clipless style.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

FOOTBED/SOLE

The lower internal part of the shoe, where your foot sits.

OUTSOLE

The bottom part of the shoe that contacts the ground.

UPPER

The outermost layer on the top part of the shoe.

READ MORE

For more of our top bicycle touring gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Growing up on her family’s Massachusetts tree farm sparked Liza’s love for the great outdoors. An avid hiker, biker, and skier, she is always looking for the next adventure! Her greatest pursuit was a 3,600 mile bike ride across America, which she completed in 2016. She spends her winters in the mountains and her summers as a guide in Grand Tetons and Yellowstone national parks. You can find her health, happiness, and adventure blog at https://www.flower-force.com or https://www.facebook.com/flowerpowerblog. She is also on instagram as @lizab__.

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