What makes a pair of shoes great? We always look at fit comfort, and style, but the best mtb shoes go even further. They’ll let you conquer a mountain uphill and downhill, and they’ll keep your feet safe on winding, rocky trails.

Some of the factors in choosing mountain bike shoes include pedal compatibility, riding style, weight and flexibility. Do you need a cleat-compatible shoe for clipless pedals or a super grippy flat shoe for platform pedals?

No matter your preference, we have recommendations to make your next ride faster and more comfortable. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’ve reviewed dozens of bike shoes to create this list of our 10 favorite shoes including styles for men and for women.

So low-key bike commuter and mud-spattered racer alike, we have a shoe for you.

 

CLICK HERE to Download our FREE Quick Starter Guide to Mountain Biking

 

QUICK ANSWER: THE BEST MTB SHOES

1. SIDI SD15

2. GIRO TERRADURO MID

3. SHIMANO SH-M200

4. MAVIC CROSSMAX SL PRO

5. LOUIS GARNEAU T-FLEX 2LS

6. PEARL IZUMI MEN’S X-ALP SEEK VII

7. SHIMANO SH-AM7

8. GIRO RUMBLE VR

9. FIVE TEN FREERIDER CONTACT

10. SCOTT MTB TEAM

 

 

 

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST MTB SHOES

PICTURE
MTB SHOE
BEST USE
CLOSURE
SOLE
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
MTB SHOE
BEST USE
CLOSURE
SOLE
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
Sidi Sd15
Overall
BOA-Velcro
2-Hole Cleat
375g
$$$$
4.0
Giro Terraduro Mid
Overall
Buckle-Laceup
2-Hole Cleat
420g
$$$
5.0
Shimano Sh-M200
Overall
Buckle-Laceup
2-Hole Cleat
381g
$$$
4.2
Mavic Crossmax Sl Pro
Overall
Buckle
2-Hole Cleat
370g
$$$$$
4.0
Louis Garneau T-Flex 2ls
Overall
BOA
2-Hole Cleat
334g
$$$$
4.5
Pearl Izumi Men's X-Alp Seek Vii
Budget
Laceup
2-Hole Cleat
365g
$
4.5
Shimano Sh-Am7
Budget
Velcro-Laceup
Flat
365g
$$
5.0
Giro Rumble Vr
Casual
Laceup
Flat/2-Hole Cleat
430g
$
4.3
Five Ten Freerider Contact
Casual
Laceup
Flat
390g
$$
4.5
Scott Mtb Team
Casual
BOA-Velcro
2-Hole Cleat
350g
$$$
5.0

 

 

MTB SHOES 101

 

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST MTB SHOES

 

1. FLAT SHOES OR CLEATS

 

THE CONTROVERSY

If the most contentious debate in mountain biking is singletrack trail design, then clip-less vs flat pedals is a close second.

Clipless pedals use interlocking cleat systems to lock the shoe to the pedal. They require cleat-compatible shoes

Meanwhile, flat pedals are just the simple platform pedals we all started on. The latter is easier for new riders and less expensive. The former is preferred by most experienced riders.

 

THE CONSENSUS

Clipless pedals have become almost mandatory in road cycling, but mountain biking still has a love for simple platforms and grippy, textured flat shoes. Neither choice is wrong and more a matter of personal preference than any proven data.

If you want to wear comfortable sneakers, go with flat shoes. If you want to try the extra stability and efficiency of cleats, buy a two-hole mountain bike cleat compatible shoe.

We’ve detailed the benefits, differences and history of the various pedal systems in a previous article on the best mountain bike pedals. For most riders, the decision is made by the company they keep along with their level of interest and preference.

Solo riders can go with either. However, social riders will probably prefer being similarly equipped so that technological advantages don’t ruin the camaraderie of a group ride.

 

2. NYLON OR CARBON SOLES

Mountain Bike Rider notes the importance of paying attention to the material used in your soles. Carbon is trendy, rigid, and low-weight, and very popular for road bike shoes.

Nylon is a more popular choice for mountain bike riders since it is cheaper and has a more flexible sole, which is more comfortable for walking.

 

3. MTB SHOE SIZE AND FIT

We’re used to buying shoes that aren’t quite comfortable immediately. Traditional leather and synthetic shoes break in, becoming comfortable with time. Not so with bike shoes.

Made from sterner stuff, a bike shoe should fit immediately. According to REI, it won’t actually change with time.

You want a shoe that feels snug around your foot but allows your toes to move freely. Everything else should be held firmly in place. Again per REI, slippage may be due to the fact that bike shoes aren’t designed for walking. Try a smaller size to rule out fit issues first.

 

4. MTB SHOE CLOSURE

 

HIGH-TECH

There are lots of ways to close a shoe. Many MTB shoes feature high-tech closure mechanisms. The options may include boas, reel-based ratchet systems, or buckles. Others may be similar to zip-ties or velcro straps. Many shoes mix-and-match features.

One common combination is velcro fasteners on the lower half and a boa at the top. These systems allow for a secure fit with maximum comfort. These are also very popular. They tend to be expensive and are the standard for closure systems on cleat-compatible shoes.

 

LOW-TECH

Lace-ups tend to cost less, but can be dangerous. Catching a shoelace in the chain or around the pedal can lead to a crash. Most modern mtb shoes will feature some way of tucking or hiding the lace after it has been tied.

Lace-ups largely fell out of favor, but have made a big comeback in mountain biking. According to Bicycling magazine, this resurgence can be explained by aesthetic preferences, comfort and ease of use. Lace-ups may be a more casual choice, but they’re perfectly valid for mountain bike riders of any level.

 

5. VENTILATION

Many riders buy shoes for different seasons. A great summer shoe will come with mesh ventilation at key places, letting the foot stay cooler but also letting in water if it’s wet or muddy. Well-vented shoes are cooler and not sufficient on their own for cold-weather riding, where the toes are especially vulnerable.

While well-heeled riders may own a shoe for each season, most of us are going to have to make a compromise. Thankfully, you can go with a well-ventilated summer shoe and buy inexpensive bike shoe covers or “booties,” which slip over the shoe for specific conditions.

Water-repellent booties for rainy days, insulated booties for winter temps and wind-blocking booties for crisp fall and spring weather are cost-effective add-ons that will turn your kicks into a shoe for all seasons.

 

6. CLEAT PLACEMENT

An important part of shoe fit on clipless pedals is cleat placement. Many shoes have a wide range of spots where cleats can be attached.

The two-hole cleat attachment spot can be moved along an anterior-posterior track. Some shoes do not have a track, and you’ll need to assess cleat placement as part of overall shoe fit.

The editors at Bikeradar have published a video and simple how-to on fitting the cleats once you have your shoes and pedals. With a hex key and a little thread lock, you’ll have your new shoes setup in no time.

 

ideal mtb shoes to have for mountain bikers

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/alvaro_chan

 

MTB SHOES REVIEWS

 

1. BEST MTB SHOES FOR OVERALL USE

SIDI SD15

 

Check out the latest price on:
Jenson USA

BEST FOR: Highly-durable shoes that excel on varied terrain

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: BOA-Velcro

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 375g

PROS: Durable, rugged, easily repaired and maintained.

CONS: Price

 

 

 

GIRO TERRADURO MID

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: High-comfort riding through all-weather conditions

WOMEN’S VERSION: Giro Terradura Women’s

CLOSURE: Buckle-Laceup

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 420g

PROS: Sheds water, water resistant, comfortable

CONS: Weight

 

 

 

SHIMANO SH-M200

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Mid-range price for high-quality trail riding

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Buckle-Laceup

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 381g

PROS: Weight, price

CONS: Durability

 

 

 

MAVIC CROSSMAX SL PRO

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: High-speed CX racing

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Buckle

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 370g

PROS: Weight, ventilation

CONS: Price

 

 

 

LOUIS GARNEAU T-FLEX 2LS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: All-around riding in inclement weather or wet conditions

WOMEN’S VERSION: Louis Garneau Women’s T-Flex LS100

CLOSURE: BOA

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 334g

PROS: Weight, water resistant, water shedding, ventilation

CONS: Price

 

 

 

 

2. BEST MTB SHOES FOR BUDGET

PEARL IZUMI MEN’S X-ALP SEEK VII

 

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Aesthetic-minded riders seeking comfort and a less rigid, classic sneaker style and feel

WOMEN’S VERSION: Pearl Izumi Women’s X-Alp

CLOSURE: Laceup

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 365g

PROS: Comfort, style, weight, price

CONS: Flexible

 

 

 

SHIMANO SH-AM7

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Flat shoe downhill and gravity riding

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro-Laceup

SOLE: Flat

WEIGHT: 365g

PROS: Weight, comfort, grip

CONS: Slippery in rain, style

 

 

 

 

3. BEST MTB SHOES FOR CASUAL RIDES

GIRO RUMBLE VR

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Stylish versatile shoes for flat or clipless pedals

WOMEN’S VERSION: Giro Women’s Petra VR

CLOSURE: Laceup

SOLE: Flat and 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 430g

PROS: Style, comfort, versatility, price

CONS: Flexible, weight

 

 

 

FIVE TEN FREERIDER CONTACT

Check out the latest price on:
Jenson USA

BEST FOR: Serious or casual riding in stylish flat shoes

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Laceup

SOLE: Flat

WEIGHT: 390g

PROS: Price, style, comfort, grip

CONS: Weight

 

 

 

SCOTT MTB TEAM

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Versatile, lightweight shoe that can be easily adjusted

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: BOA-Velcro

SOLE: 2-Hole Cleat

WEIGHT: 350g

PROS: Weight, adjustable, style

CONS: Price

Best MTB Shoes - Mountain Bike Clothing - Best Mountain Bike Gear Articles – MTB Equipment and Accessories for Men, Women and Kids – Mountain Biking Products Articles and Reviews
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