We’ve picked out the eight top mountain bike shoes that will keep you solidly connected to your bike through thick and thin. Be sure to leave your personal picks for the best mtb shoes in the comments! There are only three places where you’re connected to your mountain bike: your handlebar, your saddle, and your pedals. And you often aren’t on your saddle.
Best Mountain Bike Shoes
FiveTen Kestrel Lace-up – ($150)
The Kestrel has been a solid performer in the FiveTen lineup for years. The lace-up version has classic skate-shoe styling, and is comfortable both riding and walking (the sole isn’t quite as stiff as the Boa model). FiveTen’s signature Stealth outsole is super grippy, and will help keep you on your bike even if you haven’t quite managed to clip in.
The rugged exterior feels absolutely bomb-proof, and venting over the toe helps keep them cool (or at least a little cooler; this style of shoe is always going to be hot). The only count against the Kestrels is that this solid construction, padding, and grippy rubber is really heavy. This isn’t a featherweight cross-country shoe; but if you’re looking for a trail, all-mountain, or downhill shoe, the Kestrel will serve you well.
(Note: there’s also a Boa model that ratchets instead of ties. I opted to include the lace-up model here because it’s what I ride. If you like the idea of a more consistent fit, check it out.) One of the best mtb shoes of 2019 [Purchase: $149.95]
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek VII Mountain Bike Shoes – ($129)
Pearl’s bike-shoe pedigree is undeniable. Their running shoes have earned quite a following as well. And with the X-Alp Seek, they sought to combine the two. Despite the running-shoe look, these kicks pack two-bolt cleat compatibility and nylon plates in the sole for efficient power transfer. They’re just remarkably comfortable off the bike as well.
This is another notably heavy shoe—the average weight is even higher than the Kestrels. But you’re making a great tradeoff; superior comfort and versatility for a bit more weight. It’s a deal that almost every rider will be happy to make. Especially when you can still look pretty stylish hitting the brewery after a ride! [Purchase: $129.95]
Giro Terraduro MTb Shoes – ($180)
Breaking away from the traditional mold, Giro designed something different in the Terraduro. It combines the under-foot stiffness of an XC shoe, but includes enough forefoot flex that you don’t feel beat up after a ride. That flex also gives you more grip when you’re hiking rough terrain. The Vibram rubber is designed for maximum traction, and the reinforced toe box capping it off keeps it from getting shredded on the trail.
The highly adjustable micro-buckle and two velcro straps give you easy adjustability without the need for laces or complicated buckle systems. Microfiber, EVA, and Aegis combine for a comfortable fit that fights odors. It looks different from other mountain bike shoes—because it IS different.
Shimano XC5 Shoe – ($150)
This shoe is not versatile. It won’t give you maximal traction for hiking. It won’t protect your feet from rock bashes. But it will help you ride as fast as you possibly can. The XC5 is designed for cross-country, cyclocross, and gravel-road riding. Which means it’s almost a road shoe. But the lugged outsole and a little bit of flex where it’s needed make it very at home on rougher rides.
Synthetic leather and a lace closure are all you’ll find on the upper: no bash guards, reinforced sections, or Boa dials. This is a stripped-down shoe made for going fast. And even though it doesn’t have the hiking chops of trail shoes, the Michelin rubber outsole over the carbon-reinforced midsole will give you enough grip to get through those rockier sections of a cross-country ride. [Purchase: $150]
Sidi Dominator MTB Shoes – ($179)
The Dominator has long been a proud shoe; Sidi’s legacy of professional-level footwear is predicated on shoes like this. It’s meant for one thing and one thing only: going fast. The leather-like upper is super light and well-ventilated. The Caliper Buckle system gives you tons of adjustability. The nylon composite sole transfers power like nothing else.
This particular shoe is designed to work well for cyclocross, so the tread compound is a bit softer than most MTB shoes. But it still manages to be super light and ready for the rigors of cross-country rides and races. [Purchase: $179]
NorthWave Celsius – ($249)
The Celsius is a specialty shoe: it’s built for really nasty riding. It’s not even really a shoe. It’s more of a cycling boot. It doesn’t pack a ton of insulation, but it does bring Gore-Tex to keep your feet totally dry, no matter how wet or snowy the riding. The high-ankle cuff keeps snow and water from getting inside the boot.
It’s not cheap, but if you’re doing a lot of wet or winter riding, not much can compete with it. NorthWave isn’t a well-known brand, but the Celsius is a respected option for wet-weather riding. [Purchase: $249]
Giro Carbide RII Mountain Bike Shoes – ($99)
If you’re looking for an entry-level shoe that won’t break the bank or let you down on the trail, it’s tough to beat the Carbide RII. The three-strap closure gives you a solid fit without adding the cost of a Boa system. The hybrid nylon-rubber outsole is stiff, but not too stiff, and is cheaper than full nylon. The scuff guard adds durability without the cost of molded toe guards.
I’ll be honest: you’re not getting a pro-level shoe here. It isn’t packed with features. But for $100, it’ll get you riding and you won’t need to replace it within the first year. You’ll probably want to upgrade sooner or later, but you won’t need to. And that’s worth a lot. [Purchase: $99.95]
What MTB Shoe are you Riding?
These eight mountain bike shoes are some of the best out there. And with the variety of terrain types, prices, and styles, you’re sure to find one that fits your budget and riding style.
What are you riding right now? I’m currently rocking the lace-up version of the Kestrel, and I love it. I want to hear what you’re using! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of your current MTB shoes.
Looking for even more mountain bike gear? Check out some of our favorites below