Updated on August 25, 2020

Whether you like to ride for the sheer enjoyment or you like to push the boundaries for an adrenaline rush, mountain biking can check all of the boxes. Some shoes are designed for a specific type of riding and can often help enhance the experience for a day on the trails. Biking shoes are designed with the rider in mind, but we know that selecting the best mountain biking shoes can seem like a daunting task. 

Don’t stomp your feet out of frustration. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we pride ourselves in helping you pick the best gear for your next biking adventure. In this guide, we’ll break down the barriers to help you decide which mountain bike shoes are the best so you’ll be ready the next time you hop in the saddle.

For more of our top mountain bike gear recommendations, check out the Best MTB Shorts.

 

Quick Answer - The Best Mountain Biking Shoes

  1. Five Ten Freerider Pro
  2. Giro Terraduro Mid
  3. Sidi Dominator 7 SR
  4. Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit
  5. Giro Cylinder
  6. Shimano SH-ME5
  7. Specialized S-Works Recon
  8. Five Ten Hellcat Pro
  9. Specialized 2FO Cliplite
  10. Five Ten Kestrel Pro BOA

 

Comparison Table - Best Mountain Biking Shoes

PictureNameClosurePedal CompatibilityUpperPriceRating
Five Ten Freerider ProFive Ten Freerider ProLace-UpFlatSynthetic$4.8
Giro Terraduro MidBuckleCleatSynthetic$$4.5
Sidi Dominator 7 SRSidi Dominator 7 SRBuckleCleatSynthetic$$$$4.9
Pearl Izumi X-Alp SummitPearl Izumi X-Alp SummitVelcro StrapCleatSynthetic/Textile$4.6
Giro CylinderGiro CylinderBOA Dial / Velcro StrapCleatSynthetic$4.6
Shimano SH-ME5Shimano SH-ME5BOA Dial / Velcro StrapCleatSynthetic$$4.7
Specialized S-Works ReconSpecialized S-Works ReconBOA DialCleatSynthetic$$$$4.9
Five Ten Hellcat ProFive Ten Hellcat ProLace And Velcro StrapCleatSynthetic$$4.7
Specialized 2FO ClipliteSpecialized 2FO ClipliteBOA DialCleatSynthetic$$4.7
Five Ten Kestrel Pro BOAFive Ten Kestrel Pro BOABOA DialCleatSynthetic$$$4.7
PictureNameClosurePedal CompatibilityUpperPriceRating
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 Mountain Biking

Five Ten Freerider Pro

Specs
  • Closure: Lace-Up
  • Weight: 1lb 8oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Flat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: No
Features
  • Impact-Resistant Toe Box
  • Removable Molded Sock Liner
  • Proprietary Rubber Sole
Five Ten Freerider Pro

BEST FOR: DOWNHILL RIDING

Drawing its DNA from the Freerider mountain bike shoe, this completely updated model contains many of the features that Five Ten customers have come to expect. And so many more. Founded in 1985 as an approach shoe company, the proprietary Stealth Rubber has become synonymous with grip. Since those early beginnings, the brand was purchased by Adidas who has since utilized the rubber compound with other brands under the company’s umbrella. This is the only true flat shoe in this guide and thanks to the grippy rubber sole, you can be assured that your shoes will remain connected to the pedal regardless of the terrain.

Giro Terraduro Mid

Specs
  • Closure: Buckle
  • Weight: 14.8oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Flexible Forefoot Region For Walking
  • Rubber Toe Cap
  • Lugged Outsole For Traction

BEST FOR: ALL-MOUNTAIN RIDING

Founded more than 30 years ago, Giro was started to meet the growing needs of cyclists. Over the last three decades, the name has become a world leader in creating products across an array of categories including helmets, apparel, goggles, and of course, shoes. And while many performance racing shoes feature the stiff pedaling platform, Giro took the design of the Terraduro Mid to the next level by adding grippy rubber outsoles for those hike-a-bike sections. A low profile buckle allows for fine tuning the fit while twin straps ensure a secure feel on the trail. The reinforced toe box will provide extra protection against trail obstacles.

Sidi Dominator 7 SR

Specs
  • Closure: Buckle
  • Weight: 1lb 8oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Compatible With Toe Spikes For Additional Traction
  • Reinforced Heel Keeps Foot In Optimal Position
  • Carbon Composite Sole
Sidi Dominator 7 SR

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND MOUNTAIN BIKING

The name says it all! The Dominator truly lives up to its name on the trail. This may be one of the less budget friendly options in this guide but it’s definitely a premium shoe and worth the premium price. Even while utilizing some of the features found in higher end Sidi shoes and incorporating less materials to achieve the same level of performance and design, Sidi still managed to price this shoe on the lower end of the spectrum. The upper is made with a synthetic fabric that is designed to breathe well while shedding water. The shoe is also available in a wide version to accommodate wider feet.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1lb 14oz
  • Upper: Synthetic/Textile
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Breathable Upper
  • Outsoles Provide Traction On Wet And Dry Surfaces
  • Low-Cut Design Feels Comfortable And Looks Cool
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit

BEST FOR: MOUNTAIN BIKING ON A BUDGET

Pearl Izumi has been a household name in the cycling realm for more than sixty years. This shoe was designed from the ground up. The lugged outsoles feature a grippy rubber that is comfortable and ideal for those hike-a-bike sections. The 3-layer seamless upper is designed to breathe well while providing all-day comfort. The buckle closure allows the tension to be cranked down to the desired fit while the dual Velcro straps allow for customizing fit across the top of the foot. Aside from the obvious features that are designed for cycling, this shoe could easily be mistaken for a hiking shoe at first glance (especially if you aren’t standing with or near a bike).

Giro Cylinder

Specs
  • Closure: BOA Dial / Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 11.5oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Sole Accommodates Toe Spikes To Provide Additional Traction While Riding Rough Trails
  • Mid-Foot Scuff Guard Increases Durability And Lifespan Of The Shoes
  • Reinforced In The Heel And Toe For Extra Protection On Rugged Trails
Giro Cylinder

BEST FOR: TRAIL RIDING

Since 1985, Giro has been serving the cycling community by creating products that enhance the experience every time you saddle up. This entry level cycling shoe features the convenience of the BOA lacing system that allows the rider to find the perfect fit each time with a convenient dial. And with a quick pull of the dial, the tension is released and the shoe can easily be removed. The outsole is created using a combination of nylon and rubber to enhance traction when off the bike. Additionally, the outsole accommodates steel toe spikes for additional traction. Riding trails can often be rough on shoes and the Cylinder has a mid-foot scuff guard to increase durability and increase the lifespan of the shoes.

Shimano SH-ME5

Specs
  • Closure: BOA Dial / Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1lb 11oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Breathable Upper Keeps Feet Cool
  • Durable Rubber Soles Provide Excellent Traction
  • Reinforced Midsoles Enhance Power Transfer
Shimano SH-ME5

BEST FOR: MOUNTAIN BIKING

Founded almost a century ago, Shimano is a household name for almost anyone who’s ever ridden a bicycle. Let’s face it, sooner or later on most rides, we all end up walking the bike whether on a washed out section of trail or perhaps even through an area off-limits for riders. Shoes that excel at pulling double duty are a bonus. The SH-ME5 is just such a shoe. The shoes possess reinforced uppers that provide additional protection and durability while still remaining breathable for long hot rides. Utilizing a combination of the BOA dial lacing system and a Velcro strap, this low-profile shoe can be dialed in for a perfect fit every time you hit the trail.

Specialized S-Works Recon

Specs
  • Closure: BOA Dial
  • Weight: 1lb 9oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Rubber Heel And Toe Tread Provide Excellent Traction Off The Bike
  • Roomy Toe Box So Your Feet Don’t Feel Cramped
  • Proprietary Heel Construction Cradles The Heel And Keeps It In Place While Riding
Specialized S-Works Recon

BEST FOR: MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING

Specialized makes a wide range of footwear but this is the Cadillac of cycling shoes. The Specialized S-Works Recon checks all the boxes you would expect from a premium cycling shoe: excellent power transfer, lightweight construction, and extremely stylish design. A stiff carbon plate offers excellent power transfer while the dual, independent BOA dials create an excellent fit. The heel and toe tread feature a proprietary rubber that provides excellent traction when you’re off the bike as well as while you’re riding. And while you might naturally gravitate towards the black model, the white shoe is exceptionally stylish. Why blend in when you were born to stand out?

Five Ten Hellcat Pro

Specs
  • Closure: Lace And Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1lb 3oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Breathable Mesh Tongue And Side Panel Help To Keep Your Feet Cool
  • Proprietary Rubber Sole For Extra Grip On The Pedal And While Walking
  • Great Traction Off The Bike
Five Ten Hellcat Pro

BEST FOR: DOWNHILL AND ALL-MOUNTAIN 

Five Ten has made a name for themselves in the mountain biking world. And with a name like the Hellcat Pro, it sets a precedent that it can definitely live up to on the trails. The upper comes with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish to make the shoes hydrophobic to repel the water you will ultimately encounter on your rides. The brand’s proprietary sticky rubber soles will provide reliable traction on any surface, wet or dry, riding or walking. The shoes are secured to your foot via a combination of laces and a strap. A breathable mesh tongue and side panel will expedite the transfer of moisture away from the foot, keeping your dogs cool while you ride.

Specialized 2FO Cliplite

Specs
  • Closure: BOA Dial
  • Weight: 1lb 10oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Easy To Ride Clipped In Or Out
  • Molded Heel Cup For Extra Comfort And Security
  • Proprietary Rubber Sole Is Soft And Grippy, Providing Both Comfort And Traction
Specialized 2FO Cliplite

BEST FOR: RIDING CLIPPED IN OR OUT

You might be an excellent rider but if your feet don’t have the right connection to the pedal, you may have a hard time leaving the starting line. That won’t be an issue with the 2FO Cliplite as they provide excellent pedal-to-shoe connection. The cleat pocket makes it easy to ride clipped in or out of the pedal. Unlike other shoes, this model features two independent BOA dials that allow the ability to dial in the tension needed at different locations across the top of the foot. The proprietary rubber sole is soft and grippy for traction off the bike.

Five Ten Kestrel Pro BOA

Specs
  • Closure: BOA Dial
  • Weight: 16.3oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Pedal Compatibility: Cleat
  • SPD Pedal Compatible: Yes
Features
  • Proprietary Rubber Sole Provides Superior Traction
  • Single BOA Dial To Tighten Shoes Provides The Perfect Fit, Every Time
  • Low-Profile Design
Five Ten Kestrel Pro BOA

BEST FOR: TRAIL RIDING AND RACING

Building on the success of the Five Ten BOA Kestrel, the Pro BOA steps it up a notch. This model is designed for delivering ultimate power transfer from the shoes to the pedal. And like other Five Ten shoes in this guide, they feature the proprietary rubber soles for the ultimate grip and traction on and off the trail. A single BOA dial provides superior fit while the perforated toe area and mesh tongue provide extra breathability for all day comfort. Come race day, the cushiony midsoles provide excellent shock absorption as you barrel down the trail pinballing from rock to rock.

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING MOUNTAIN BIKING SHOES

RIDING PREFERENCE

The style of riding typically dictates the type of mountain bike shoe best suited for that particular style without getting too technical, we will break it down into just two main categories: clipless and flats.

Clipless: Contrary to its name, you are clipped into the pedal. The bottom of the shoe accommodates cleats that will ‘clip’ into the pedal. There are a variety of pedal manufacturers and SPD may be one of the most widely used. The misleading term clipless has a long history but we’ll save that story for another day. 

Flats:  Flats are truly that. They don’t accommodate cleats and/or have the option to use both options. Flats are great for downhill riding, bike parks, lift assist, etc… Because the shoes don’t have a clipping mechanism, the pedals are usually larger to provide a more stable platform.

 

COST

Mountain bike shoes prices can range all over the spectrum. Shoes like the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit are a great entry level shoe that won’t break the bank while the Specialized S-Works Recon are a premium shoe and are usually reserved for those that know what they want in a shoe and perhaps veteran riders or competitors. 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

CLEATS

When used in conjunction with the clipless pedal system, cleats are attached to the bottom of cycling shoes and the cleat clips into the pedal. If you have a specific brand of pedals already, make sure that the shoes accommodate those particular cleats. 

SPD

SPD is a proprietary system created by Shimano and it stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. It is one of the most prominent styles in biking.

CLIPLESS

Despite the irony in the name, these pedals actual require you to clip-in, they allow for a better transfer of energy through the foot and prevent your shoes from slipping off the pedals when riding on uneven terrain. They are ideal for cross-country and all-mountain riding.

FLATS

Flats is another term for platform pedal shoes. They are much beefier shoes to protect your foot and can be worn for normal use, unlike shoes with cleats. 

READ MORE

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