Best Mountain Bike Shoes [Review] in 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol
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Looking to get yourself a pair of mountain bike shoes that will keep your feet cozy and comfortable from the first second you put them on to the last pedal stroke after an intense, rugged trail ride?
Well, if so, you’re at the right place.
The best mountain bike shoes play an important role in delivering power to the pedals, keeping your feet protected and secure while also offering comfort for long hours and intense trail shredding. They’re sorted into two types, clipless and clip-in, but the best combine the two.
Although choosing mountain bike shoes is mainly down to personal preference with so many on the market to choose from, it can be quite challenging. Knowing whether you should go for clipless or clip-in or even just regular trainers can be challenging, especially for beginners.
But don’t let that put you off…
To make things easier, I have research hundreds of mountain bike shoes, more than I can shake a stick at. I have had my fair few bad quality shoes when devising this guide, so you don’t have to. I have factored in durability, pedal compatibility, style, and, most importantly, comfort.
Here’s a pro tip before we get started: when searching for mountain bike shoes, you should consider your pedal type, whether you’re looking for clipless or clip-in, and what type of mountain biking you’ll be using these shoes for. It massively helps when choosing!
My top 3 picks are my favorite mountain bike shoes ever.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
Best Mountain Bike Shoes
Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes
best flat mountain bike shoes
Coming in at number one is hard to beat; five, Ten Freerider provides all-day comfort both on and off the mountain.
The comfortable, supportive, and soled high friction rubber grips your platform pedals provide legendary grip with ease while providing comfort from the trails to the pub. These shies are responsive and provide impact resistance, making them a perfect trail shredder.
This signature sticky rubber and tread pattern is there to provide you grip and keep your feet firmly on your pedals. These shoes have lightweight uppers and provide breathability because of the perforated upper.
The only downside to these mountain bike shoes is that they’re flat platform shoes with no places to clip in your pedals, meaning you may lose out on some power output and efficiency as you’re not clipped in. I would also recommend getting the next size up.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Don’t let that put you off; the versatility you get from these shoes is unmatched; not only can you wear these shoes on your trail-shredding adventures, but you can wear them for a quick trip to town or to get groceries; these shoes are mega comfy.
They’re durable too! These shoes are manufactured with a synthetic material that resists weather and abrasion, making them ideal for whatever the trail decides to throw at you. The grooves stick better to your pedals than any old trainer too.
If you’re a casual ride mountain rider or looking for a versatile shoe, High Ten is the one for you.
Durable Biking Shoes
Fast-Drying Synthetic Upper
Inner Heel Area Starting To Fray
Latest deal: Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes
SPECIALIZED 2FO Clipnite Mountain Bike Shoes
Whether you’re looking to push the limits or looking to take your riding to the next level, you should always have the best pedals that are up for the job. The ClipLite shoes provide excellent pedal connection, comfort, and protection while shredding the trails like a boss.
The sole construction is designed to suit body geometry; these footbeds boost power, efficiency and reduce the chance of injury by optimizing the hip, knee, and foot alignment.
Vesrtiality and adjustability? No problem.
Specialized ClipLite comes with a landing strip cleat pocket is also brilliant as it allows you to ride clipped in or clipped out of the pedal. Plus, the Boa S2-Snap dials make dialing to the perfect fit super quick and easy.
Specialized has incorporated extra protection around the toe and heel cap with a slightly raised padding along the inside of the ankle. You’ll never know comfort like it; your feet will be sure to be protected and comfortable even after hours.
The SlipNot rubber sole is also soft and grippy, while the smooth thermobonded upper is lightweight and durable, which I thought was a nice touch. Specialized is a renowned brand in the mountain bike industry; you cannot beat these shoes’ reliability and comfort.
Body geomety soal construction
Strip cleat pocket
Option to be clipped in or out of the pedals
Latest deal: SPECIALIZED 2FO Clipnite MTB Shoes
PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Summit Mountain Bike Shoe
Here’s another brilliant shoe for your all-day adventures down the trails, The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit feature grippy Vibram Ecostep rubber outsoles that will provide insane performance and comfort on the gnarliest of trails.
The synthetic leather uppers are perforated to improve ventilation and allow your feet to dry out at creek crossings and rainy days. These mountain bike shoes will keep your feet cool, comfortable, and sweat-free even during intense rides.
The AN L6 Boa Fit system also works alongside VELCRO toe straps to provide a comfortable, unique, and secure fit for any user. Plus, the Reinforced toe boxes help protect your feet from shocks and rock strikes.
But wait, get this…
The nylon composite soles balance pedaling efficiency with walkability; this versatility makes these shoes brilliant for hitting the trails and hiking. The EVA heel cushioning makes these shoes super comfortable for long rides or hikes down the mountains.
To top it all off, you can either walk in these shoes or clip in with the 2-bolt SPD-style cleat compatibility paired with the grippy Vibram ECO STEP rubber outsoles, which provide plenty of traction on the gnarliest of trails.
These shoes are ready to take on the mountains head-on, are you?
Can be used for mountain biking and hiking
Lack of color options
Latest deal: PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Summit
Giro Rumble VR Off Road Shoe
If you’re looking for more of a budget-friendly option, then Giro’s your brand. Giro Rumble is designed for bikers looking for a bit of adventure in their lives; it is designed for mountain biking and offers the walkable comfort of Vibram hiking shoes.
The Rumble VR Off-Road are versatile shoes that combine performance riding with the clipless pedal compatibility and the walkability of the grippy Vibram outsole to provide ultimate comfort on or off the trails. If you’re a hiker and trail shredder, these are the shoes for you.
The upper part of the shoe has a supple, synthetic, and mesh construction with an injected inner shank which gives efficient transfer of power to your pedals while offering insane leaves of comfort and breathability.
But wait, here’s the kicker…
These shoes are true cycling shoes that will offer unrivaled performance without compromising the flexibility you need when walking on the trails. The sticky Vibram rubber sole will ensure you’re nimble and agile both on the bike and on hikes.
These shoes will be a true mountain buddy.
Can be used for hiking and mountain biking
May need to size up
Latest deal: Giro Rumble VR Off Road Shoe
Bontrager Cambion Mountain Bike Shoe
best clipless mountain bike shoes
Shred the trails with complete control and determination with the uncompromising mountain shoe by Bontrager. Cambion comes in various sizes and features, including the stiff carbon sole and BOA IP1 dials to keep you comfortable and offer optimum performance.
This ergonomically optimized design offers a high performance, plus the stiff Silver Series Carbon Fiberglass composite sole provides efficient power transfer to your pedals, ideal for downhill or enduro racing.
But that’s not all…
The tachyon abrasion-resistant rubber outsole offers great grip in all terrains, and the perforated synthetic uppers offer increased breathability and comfort for every ride. I personally love the sleek black design, but you can also get this shoe in orange and blue!
Another nice touch from Bontrager is the asymmetrical design routing of the BOA cable down outside the foot; this, combined with the silver cat tongue thread, also adds comfort and stability on the trails and keeps you planted in these shoes.
Whether you’re tackling cross-country thrills, chasing mates down the trail or taking part in cyclocross training, or even looking for shoes to use on singletrack or gravel trail rides, Bontrager Cambion is the shoes you need.
Abrasion resistant sole
Stiff carbon sole and BOA IP1 Dials
High performing shoe
Bright colors shoe scuffs easier
Latest deal: Bontrager Cambion Mountain Bike Shoe
Giro Riddance Cycling Shoes
This one for the ladies, Giro Riddance, is the ideal flat pedal women’s mountain bike shoes that provide rowdy descending and powerful pedaling on your favorite trails or hitting a new technical trail you’ve been dying to try.
Giro’s Riddance Off-Road Shoes have achieved class-leading vibration dampening. These shoes have a durable microfiber upper that provides comfort and ease of maneuver. They have a synthetic sole and super high grip Vibram rubber.
These shoes have mud-clearing tread, so you don’t need to worry while riding on muddy trails. The upper is breathable, so while riding a bike on mountains in the hot days, it’ll provide you comfort.
They have a laced closure with a top power strap. The outsole is made of Tri-molded SPD-compatible shank with a 10mm setback. They come with Moulded DH EVA footbed with arch support.
These shoes work with all flat pedals, making them ideal for days out on the trail and walking to the pub with your pals.
Super High Grip Vibram Rubber
Mud Clearing Tread
Not Enough Grip
Latest deal: Giro Riddance Cycling Shoes
Tommaso Vertice Mountain Bike Shoe
Want a great pair of mountain bike shoes from one of the leading cycling brands? Look no further than Tommaso Vertice Mountain Bike Shoe.
Tomasso brings a new pair of mountain bike shoes which are factory direct. This means they have factory fresh quality and a good price to go with it. They fit well, and the manufacturer offers a return policy and a 2-year warranty for the shoes.
They have a rugged and grippy Vibram sole that provides good traction while pedaling, and they also have a reinforced toe box for protection. They come with a precision fit for a better size match and have a breathable fabric with mesh to provide a comfortable riding experience.
But wait, there’s more…
For those who hate laces and tie them up, the Vertice offers a solution to that problem. With a closure system of 3 velcro straps, you’ll not only be getting a tailored fit every time but also a comfortable and secure experience in all your rides.
The Tomasso an exceptional brand for cycling shoes; the Vertice 100s are well-built and durable, so you’ll be using them for a long time for mountain biking without a problem.
Whether you’re hitting tough singletrack trails in the mountain or commuting on a rainy day, these shoes will give you the performance and grip you need for the trails.
Latest deal: Tommaso Vertice Mountain Bike Shoe
Shimano XC1 Mountain Bike Shoes
Last but certainly not least is Shimano XC1 that is designed for durability and optimal power transfer. These men’s mountain bike shoes were built to shred cross-country trails no matter the mountainous terrains throw at you.
The perforated synthetic leather and composite uppers enable superior fit and breathability. The 3 durable hook and loop straps evenly spread tightening force around the tops of the feet. This helps to relieve tension at the highest points of the feet.
The upper wrap across your insteps with minimal overlap, these shoes fit your feet like a glove and feel comfortable even hours after riding. Plus, the lightweight glass-fiber-reinforced nylon soles also offer efficient power transfer to the pedals.
But here’s the kicker…
The rubber outsoles with XC racing patterns aren’t just brilliant for the trails and promote stable pedal engagement but also offer a secure grip while walking.
3 durable hook to relieve tension
Perforated synthetic leather for breathability
Fit like a glove
Can be used for biking and walking
Latest deal: Shimano XC1 Mountain Bike Shoes
Best Mountain Bike Shoes Buyers Guide
While buying a product, I first search for different products relevant to it and see the one with the best quality and have more positive ratings from the customers who buy it.
If the ratings and quality of the product are the main requirements, then we think of our price range to see whether the product lies in our price range or is out of it. If the price is out of range, we can go for the best products lying in our range.
While buying the best mountain bike shoes, one should see different things, such as sole, fit, breathability, comfort, foot, toe protection, and such things. Before buying mountain bike shoes, one should think of what purpose and type of bike one are buying the product. As if the pedals of the bike are flat or clipped as there are different types of shoes for these two different types of pedals.
One can choose the best one by comparing the different products and should choose the one that matches all the requirements. The product should have good ratings as the customer who has bought it before can tell about it in the best way.
Let’s jump into all the features and everything you need to know!
Clipless Vs. Flat: What Is Best?
You’ve heard me speak a lot about clipless and flat pedal compatibility today, but you may wonder what it means and what one should I get, or even what is the difference? This is the first step to narrowing down your search.
Here’s the rundown:
Clipless shoes: Clipless pedals allow you to clip directly to your pedal with a metal cleat which is often sold separately. Being connected to your pedals allows more power transfer and efficient pedaling with every stroke.
Clipless pedals have become popular in road cycling and mountain biking, especially for cross country riding, enduro racing, or long rides. You also don’t need to worry about your feet slipping during jumps or riding through technical trails as your feet are ‘clipped’ in.
It can feel quite alien for some people because naturally, you kick the heel out to disconnect, and you won’t get your foot off the pedal as quickly; it won’t come instantly like second nature. This is why it’s mainly popular for intense trail riding.
Flat bottomed shoes: Flat shoes are similar to your basic sneaker but offer far more grip and are designed to tackle rough riding. They have a smooth bottom and will work with any pedal. They’re ideal for trail riding then hopping off to the pub with pals afterwards, they’re extremely versatile.
Instead of using regular rubber on the bottom of your shoe as you see on sneakers, flat cycling shoes use a much stickier rubber to provide sufficient grip to the pedals. This offers better pedal transfer as your feet are less likely to slip.
While they don’t offer as sufficient power transfer as the clipless models, flat bottom shoes are much more ideal for casual riders or those who enjoy hiking and mountain biking looking for a shoe that can do both. They tend to come in super comfortable bottoms too.
However, some cycling shoes offer the option for both; some clipless shoes can be clipped in or not clipped in, making these shoes ideal for intense trail rides as well as causal hikes or, as I said, going to the pub with pals. If you’re a newbie, I would definitely recommend flat shoes over clipless, though.
Different Types Of Mountain Bike Shoes:
First thing you need to consider before buying any mountain bike shoes is the purpose they will be used for. You probably well know the different types of mountain biking, and along with the different types, there are different shoes for that purpose.
Cross Country: Cross country mountain bike shoes tend to be very lightweight, have a stiff underfoot, and fit like a glove to maximize the connection to the pedal. You’ll also find that most cross country shoes have a clipless design for ultimate performance and pedaling efficiency.
They tend to have less foot protection than trail or downhill purpose shoes and don’t tend to be as comfortable walking but for trekking long miles and picking up speed, an XC shoe is the best choice. I personally love Specialized Race REady S-Works Recon.
Trail: Trail shoes are the most versatile shoe out of the lot. They are comfortable on climbs but still offer a massive amount of durability and protection on gnarly descents. They are also much more flexible than XC shoes and can be used for hiking and riding.
But don’t think that means they don’t offer near as much pedal power as this is definitely not the case; they are still reasonably stiff and offer substantial power output. You also get protection surrounding the whole foot rather than just underneath.
There are also more options when it comes to design too. You can go for clipless or flat; you’re not isolated to one type. You’ll find most mountain bike shoes are designed for trail riding, and I would recommend either Five Ten’s Freerider or Pearl Izumi Summit.
Downhill: The last type of mountain bike shoe is for the most demanding riding style of them all, downhill riding. Downhill riders take on some steep and gnarly descents and need a lot of protection; this is why they need a lot of protection.
Downhill shoes are durable and well-padded. They have the most layers of protection around the toe box and collar. Their construction is designed to withstand high impacts and tough hits while offering unmatched shock absorption. You’ll find that clipless is the most popular option for these kinds of shoes.
The only thing compromised about downhill shoes is weight; they are the heaviest kind of shoes you’ll find on the market because they need to be strong and durable to handle the harshes conditions the mountain will throw at you. Grio’s Chamber II is a personal favorite because it offers unmatched durability and performance when hitting rough descentst.
Things to consider when buying mountain bike shoes:
Foot and Toe Protection: All the shoes mentioned above provide foot and toe protection as mountain biking is a rough sport, and feet and toes have to do a lot while moving quickly over technical trails. Nearly all these shoes include a toe cap that helps take the sting out of a rock strike.
Wet Weather Protection: All these shoes provide wet weather protection as there can be a case that you have to ride on wet and muddy trails. These shoes resist moisture with solid synthetic or leather uppers and a DWR coating while riding on such trails.
Breathability: When you pedal a lot on your rides in a warmer climate, a shoe must provide breathability. All these shoes provide a good ventilating design, as they are all large swaths of mesh or thin upper material.
Durability: Mountain bike footwear is more durable than running shoes. All these shoes are durable and stay in working condition for much longer. Look at the finish of the shoe and the rubber sole to ensure that it won’t fall apart easily.
Rough terrain for various hours at a time can quickly wear down your shoes, so you need to choose high-quality material such as leather that will be able to get through all types of terrain in any weather condition.
Fit: A badly fitting shoe can cause a lot of pain and soreness, especially during longer hikes. That’s why you need to choose hiking shoes that fit you personally. Keep an eye out for a wider toe box if you have wider feet and the closure type.
Lace-up is usually better than Velcro for mountain bike shoes, and you can look for a removable cushioned insole or high-rise shank for that extra secure fit that will support your arch and your ankles; however, it is down to personal opinion if you want to strap and go then velcro is ideal.
Design/type: clipless vs. flat: If you’re an avid mountain biker, then using clipless pedals can be very useful in keeping your feet firmly in the pedals so you can accelerate faster and have better power transfer without slipping. On the other hand, flats are great for stopping and putting your foot down if you need to make frequent stops due to uneven terrain.
Comfort: Needless to say, this is the main factor when buying mountain bike shoes. Potentially you may be wearing hiking shoes for various hours at a time, so ensure that they have some cushioning inside the shoe and padding to support key areas of your foot. Mid to high rise can be better to protect your ankles too.
You need to consider that you’ll be wearing these shoes for hours on end; if they aren’t comfortable, you’ll definitely suffer the consequences with endless blisters and discomfort after an hour or two of riding.
Grip: If you’ve ever tried to go mountain biking in regular sneakers, you’ll quickly understand why it’s a bad idea. Mountain bike shoes have deep lugs and grooves to better grip when on rough terrain and wet ground.
Ensure the sole is made of thick rubber and has deep enough grooves to provide good traction. Whether you’re looking to be clipped in or out of your pedals, having shoes with grip is so important so you can stick onto your pedals and get the most out of your ride.
Weight: This is mainly an issue if you want to go faster, but having lightweight mountain bike shoes can help reduce fatigue. Stick to simpler, more lightweight shoes, so you don’t have to worry about extra weight dragging your down.
However, in some cases, you need weight, such as for added durability, you need to find the right balance of lightweight to performance ensure you’re getting the very best product.
Weather resistance: Weather resistance is significant if you cycle all year round. You need shoes that are durable and that are waterproof, or they will fall apart quickly. If you buy leather shoes, remember they will need maintenance to keep them weatherproof.
When you’re shredding through crooks and creaks, it’s super important to go for a breathable but water-resistant design so your feet can dry off easily and it won’t bother you on your ride.
Breathability/ventilation: This is key for mountain biking. Go for shoes with mesh inserts or perforated holes along the side for better ventilation. Natural materials such as leather will be better for your feet as it is more breathable.
Most mountain bike shoes will come with a breathable mesh layer to promote airflow as well as sweat-wicking material to keep your feet cool and comfortable for the long rides.
Frequently asked questions
What shoes do mountain bikers wear?
Mountain bikers wear XC, Trail, and Flat pedal shoes. These shoes are not like normal sneakers but are a lot stiffer and more durable. They help increase the power output in your pedal stroke and provide protection to the toes from rocks and roots on the trail.
Do you need special shoes for mountain biking?
If you’re a beginner and ride flat pedals, you don’t like mountain bike shoes, and you can have normal shoes like trainers or skate shoes. After getting comfort on trails, you should start thinking about MTB-specific shoes.
Are trail running shoes good for mountain biking?
No, the trail running shoes are not good for mountain biking as trail running is quite flexible with a tapered sole while for mountain bikes the shoes should have a hard and flat sole. The higher traction of the trail running shoes is unsuitable for the pedal.
Are clip-in pedals better for mountain biking?
Clip-less pedals make pedaling a little bit more efficient. But still for good pedaling, one should have a good pedal position and technique when cornering.
The best mountain bike shoes should have a fastening system, which means they should have things such as laces, Velcro, ratchet, or the BOA system. The grip is another factor that is necessary for mountain bike shoes to have, as, without this, it can be difficult to ride a bike on trails.
The shoes should be weather-proof so that if you go for a ride while raining through the muddy trail, the mud won’t make your feet dirty. Durability and breathability are two other factors that are necessary for the best mountain bike shoes to have.
All these features are present in the shoes mentioned in this article. One can compare all these shoes and get the desired shoes according to requirements. The summary, pros, and cons of each product are mentioned in this article. These will help the buyer to make the difference between each.
While buying shoes for mountain biking, you should be clear about the requirements of whether you want shoes for flat pedals or clip-less ones. You should go for the ones that fulfill all his requirements and fall within your budget range.
Content Manager at Pedallers
Alex is a cycling expert at and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.