Mountain biking (MTB) is undoubtedly one of the most demanding and exhilarating action sports, with the equipment used by riders undoubtedly having an effect upon performance when on the trails. The shoes that you wear whilst on the saddle will help you take on even the steepest and rockiest climbs and descents, with comfort, style and functionality all factors to consider when purchasing a new pair.
As a result, I have put together a list of some of the best MTB shoes on the market today, which should cater for a range of customers. However, no matter what your preferences are in this area, all of the shoes suggested are certain to make your next ride both more comfortable and faster. MTB shoes have to perform in all areas, including when walking or running.
Despite Adidas perhaps not being the first name that you think about when considering buying a new pair of cycling shoes, the Terrex Trail Cross SL is undoubtedly one of the best MTB shoes around. A stealth rubber outsole provides both durability and stability on the saddle, while such features also helped me transfer power through the pedals during testing.
A mesh tongue and upper also helps to ensure breathability at all times, even in hot conditions, while a TPU toe-cap helped to provide additional protection on rocky surfaces. The lace bungee helps to avoid the possibility of the laces getting tangled, while lateral support offers extra stability in the midsole.
The Terrex Trail Cross SL is a hugely attractive shoe, while the price point makes it an excellent option for beginners or intermittent riders. Weighing in at 385g, these shoes from Adidas offer a good mix of speed and stability, whilst they also offer the durability required for those looking for a long-term investment.
Hike and bike technical alpine trails in these hybrid outdoor shoes. Built with a breathable mesh upper and abrasion-resistant weldings, they keep feet cool, dry and protected.
The T-Flex 2LS from Louis Garneau provide excellent traction and density, making them a perfect option for those who regularly ride in muddy or wet conditions. This is achieved by dual density lugs and outsole, while I found that the Boa L5 system allowed for efficient adjustment during testing, as well as maximising comfort.
One of the main selling points of these MTB shoes is their removable studs under the toe cap, which I found offered significant protection in testing conditions. As well as this, running with these shoes thanks to the T-Flex technology.
Nylon throughout the upper of the shoe offers excellent comfort and durability, whilst I also found that this material helps to provide a secure fit.
Lock-down also helps to reduce any loss of power, adding to the list of positives surrounding the T-Flex 2LS. These shoes are certainly on the more expensive end of the market, however, those serious about mountain biking will find that they are well worth the investment.
Weighing at around 334g (UK size 9), the Louis GarneauT-Flex 2LS provides durability and support throughout, which is hugely important for mountain bikers.
These are undoubtedly among the best MTB shoes around, with their main selling point surrounding their excellent durability. With a sealed upper, the XC51N is perfect for riders in wet conditions, with the lack of any mesh materials meaning that no moisture will enter the shoes.
I found that despite the use of synthetic leather, it also helped to ensure that they remained comfortable throughout testing, with the glass fibre carbon sole coming with an option spike mount, adding even more stability.
Elsewhere, the adjustable buckle on these shoes helps to ensure lock-down at all times, which I believe did not have any effect upon their comfort.
Shimano have cleverly added an arch pad onto the shoes, which ensures stability, even when unclipped. Another important feature is their polyurethane outsole lugs, which I found helps debris to pass through when on a particularly muddy trail.
Due to the materials used, these shoes are heavier than many others on the market at around 630g (UK size 9) and I’d also suggest going up half a size when purchasing as they run a touch small for me.
The XC51N is undoubtedly a great option for the traditional mountain biker, with their price point making them an excellent shoe for those on a budget.
The Sidi Dominator 7 is perfect for those who struggle to find a good-fitting pair of MTB shoes, with customers able to choose between a wide or narrow style. As well as this, they also perform well when it comes to grip, protection and water-resistance, making them an excellent all-rounder.
The synthetic upper known as “Microfibra” helps to provide both durability and breathability, while I found that the addition of a plastic heel cup helps to ensure that my feet stayed in the optimal position for energy output. A plastic toe cap also features in order to add extra protection in such an important area.
A Leva Caliper buckle and two Velcro straps help to provide lock-down, while adjustments are easily made in this area, as well as stopping any potential slipping in the heel.
The nylon sole helps to provide durability as well as power transfer, which are both hugely important on tough mountain trails.
The Dominator 7 is an excellent option for those looking for a long-term MTB shoe, with the quality of materials used meaning that they can withstand everything that is thrown at them.
The Mavic Alpine XL a good option for those looking for a more traditional form of MTB shoes. Their old school feel does not mean that they lack in performance, with their protection perhaps being the standout feature. This is offered through a rubberised toe box, as well as a Neoprene cuff around the ankle, which stops any unwanted debris entering the shoes.
In terms of stability, a simple strap and lacing system helps to keep the foot locked down at all times, as well as making taking the shoes off and on as quick as possible.
I found that the Alpine XL stood up to the wet conditions on various trails during testing, however the part-mesh upper does mean that they are not the warmest option.
These shoes cater for both beginners and intermittent bikers due to its price point, with the leather upper meaning that they should last for a significant period of time.
Despite not having the look of a traditional off-road cycling shoe, the Giro Empire VR90 is one of the new breeds of MTB products, with its one-piece upper providing excellent comfort.
A carbon outsole helps to provide protection in testing conditions, while rubber tread on the sole offers relentless grip.
With the Giro Empire VR90 I found that the adjustable footbed enabled me to find exactly the right fit during testing, which in turn created maximum pedalling efficiency. A traditional lacing system is utilised on the Empire VR90, which allows for easy access at all times.
These shoes are definitely among the most stylish around today, with Giro offering a range of colourways to suit your needs.
It is worth keeping in mind that these shoes are not so suitable for those with a wide foot, due to their streamlined design.
Whether you are an experienced mountain biker or looking to test your skills in this area for the first time, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration before purchasing a pair of MTB shoes.
Weather conditions are likely to have a significant impact upon the type of shoes in which you ultimately end up buying, with products featuring heavy ventilation perhaps not suiting the cold and wet conditions during winter.
Similarly, a leather-dominated option is perhaps unlikely to provide the breathability required during hot weather. As a result, it is crucial to weigh up the pros and cons in this area before making your final decision.
Style and fit tend to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer when it comes to the best MTB shoes, both in terms of the length and width. It is important to work out whether your feet are likely to rub or if there are any potential pressure points from your potential shoes, which such factors having an effect upon the ultimate comfort.