Finding the best MTB shoes for your riding style is just as important as finding the right bike and helmet, but this point is often overlooked in favor of other MTB improvements.
Not only will a good pair of mountain bike shoes give you a better, personal fit, but they will also be faster and more efficient when paired with the best mountain bike pedals.
The range of mountain bike shoes is divided into two distinct types: strapless and flat shoes, and there are also options covering the best mountain bike shoes for women. When it comes to choosing the best mountain bike shoes, there is no right or wrong decision, but riding style and preference are likely to influence the final decision.
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Flat pedal shoes are often used for trail, enduro, and gravity riding, and can provide excellent feedback from the pedals as well as improved maneuverability on the bike. Clipless shoes are also used in the mountain biking arena with cleats that mechanically secure the shoe to the pedals, providing better power and control. The main factors to consider before purchasing mountain bike shoes are listed in the buying guide below.
If you are absolutely looking for flat shoes, please see our guide to the best MTB flat pedal shoes and the best MTB flat pedals.
If you are not sure what to look for, you can skip to our tips on what to look for when buying your next mountain bike shoes at the bottom of this article.
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Best Shoes For Mountain Biking
Best Shoes For Mountain Biking | Comparison Table 2022
|X5 Terra - Military Green / Tangy Green||Fizik||Check Price|
|Five Ten Sleuth Mountain Bike Shoes Men's, Black, Size 10||Five Ten||Check Price|
|Five Ten Freerider Pro Mountain Bike Shoe - Men's Night Navy/Cloud White/Col Gold 11.5||Five Ten||Check Price|
|Crank Brothers Mallet Speedlace Mountain Bike Shoe Black/White, 10.5 - Men's||Crankbrothers||Check Price|
|Five Ten Men's Trailcross XT Mountain Bike Shoe, Core Black/Grey Six/Legend Earth - 12||Five Ten||Check Price|
|Five Ten Sleuth DLX Mountain Bike Shoes Men's, Grey, Size 10.5||Five Ten||Check Price|
|Five Ten Trail Cross Mid Pro Mountain Bike Shoes Men's, Black, Size 9||Five Ten||Check Price|
|Fizik Tempo R5 Overcurve Cycling Shoe, Black/ - 42.5, Black/Black||Fizik||Check Price|
|SCOTT MTB Comp BOA Reflective Shoe (Grey Reflective/Black, 46) - 2021||SCOTT||Check Price|
Best Shoes For Mountain Biking | 2022 Product Overview
How To Choose The Best Shoes For Mountain Biking | Unrivaled Guide 2022
It goes without saying that shoes that do not fit the foot are not to be taken. The shoe’s rating is irrelevant. Mountain bike shoes should fit snugly in the toe and heel. The foot should fit comfortably in the toe box, but note that cross country shoes and shoes without clips generally have a slightly narrower toe box than flat pedal shoes, which often look like skate shoes.
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This is the main difference between the two types of shoes. In flat mountain bike shoes, you are going to want a sole that has some flexibility so that you can walk and ride it with ease. If you are using clipless mountain bike shoes, you need a stiffer sole that transfers as much power as possible to the pedals themselves. Let’s say you are using clipless shoes but plan on having to occasionally get off the bike and ride more difficult terrain. In this case, a flexible sole, especially on the front, would be easier to walk in.
Most clipless MTB shoes have a recessed chamber for mounting cleats that lock into the pedals, with cleats more like hiking boots on the edge of the foot. In the case of such shoes, you are looking for aggressive lugs to help you climb hills and break downhill when you need to walk. The middle chamber should be wide enough to allow mud and dirt to drain out easily if necessary, with room to adjust the cleats back and forth to the rider’s preference.
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Mountain bike shoes are likely to have more diverse closure systems than any other type of shoe or boot we have seen. Some shoes close with velcro straps or ratchet straps. Others use laces, quick-lace systems, or BOA closures. Some also have a flap to cover the zipper or a mix of these. In our testing, we preferred the good old-fashioned shoelace and the new BOA system. Mountain bike shoes with both systems seem to work best for both wide and narrow feet.
Some MTB shoes have waterproof versions and some have neoprene ankle liners, which also have the potential to cross puddles and rivers on many trail and MTB rides. You would think that crossing a calf-high stream in waterproof shoes would be a good thing, but with waterproof shoes, the water is simply likely to be higher than the top of your shoes, and your socks will act as water sucker, impeding the rest of the ride. If you are looking for winter cycling shoes, waterproof is fine, but if you are looking for shoes for most of the year, good breathability will be more useful in keeping your feet dry on the ride.
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Retention systems secure the shoes to the foot. Laces are the traditional choice, but there are other methods.
Shoelaces allow the wearer to control the feel and fit of the shoe, but they cannot be adjusted on the fly and can become entangled in the mud unless protected by a flap.
The Boa system opens, closes, and adjusts quickly, easily, and precisely by means of a ratchet wheel and threads threaded through the shoe opening. It tends to be featured on the most expensive shoes and specified for weight savings.
Velcro straps and ratchet buckles are common and are quite sturdy, but can be a bit heavy. They are usually found on inexpensive or mid-priced shoes.
The sole is an important determinant of shoe performance; XC racers will want a stiff sole that transfers all power to the pedals. Stiff soles are also useful when putting shoes on pedals with small clips.
Expensive shoes have light, stiff carbon soles, while inexpensive shoes have heavy, soft plastic soles.
In general, weight and sole stiffness are not a concern for gravity-oriented riders. Therefore, they tend to choose shoes that provide a good pedaling feel and protection for their feet.
The shape of the sole is also important. Some shoes offer a light and minimal sole, which is great for running, but not enough if you have to run or walk on trails. Others offer more grip and protection but weigh a bit more.
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Can you use running shoes for mountain biking?| Video Explanation
Can I ride a mountain bike in running shoes?
Mountain biking in running shoes is not a good idea from both a performance and safety standpoint. The soles are too soft and do not allow you to pedal properly. This limits your ability to pedal and your feet may slip off the pedals.
Can I use climbing shoes for mountain biking?
Mountaineering boots may be used for mountain biking. Certainly, hiking boots are versatile enough to meet most mountain biking requirements. However, for more advanced mountain bikers, it is recommended to opt for mountain biking shoes that are specifically designed for performance.
Are tennis shoes suitable for mountain biking?
The truth is that it is a good idea to invest in a good pair of mountain bike shoes, simply because they are the right tool for the job. Just as you wouldn’t use a wrench on a nail, you shouldn’t use running shoes or tennis shoes on a mountain bike.
Should I buy a larger-size cycling shoe?
When determining your cycling shoe size, measure your normal shoe size, as cycling shoes are true to size. However, if you are normally between a size 9 and 9.5, for example, we recommend going up one size.
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This guide offers a wide variety of the Best Shoes For Mountain Biking at a wide range of prices, so you won’t be spending a fortune. Instead, you’ll spend enough to keep your feet safe and your wallet full. If you already own a pair of shoes or have just purchased a pair, please share your experience by leaving a comment in the comments section below.
Hi, I am Brian, Lives in Mooresville, North Carolina, and Went to The University of Texas at Austin, I am a shoe lover & know the inside out of shoes. I am well aware of the qualities of top-quality boots. That’s what I’m sharing with the reader of About Shoes/book/footwear. Read More Here