These mid-top flat pedal shoes (clipless versions are available) have become our new favourite trail shoe. They fall right between brilliantly protective, super-sticky but heavy and bulky footwear and shoes that are light and comfy, but less sticky of sole and very thin, with minimal protection.
The high inner ankle padding stops painful crank-slaps and, if you’ve got metalwork or old lower-leg injuries, the soft one-sided protection works brilliantly with none of the discomfort of boots.
The Vibram soles aren’t quite as sticky as Five Ten’s Stealth rubber (nothing is…) but on pedals with mid-to-long pins they’re absolutely secure. They’re noticeably easier to spin than some as well, but without leaving you totally unprotected from any excited rocks that jump up and punch your big toe mid-descent.
The AM41s are comfortable enough to wear all day but still stiff enough across the sole to aid pedalling, and hill-climing grip is decent and predictable when you’re off and pushing.
The Velcro-secured lace-protecting flap is an absolute boon in UK conditions, as mud-free and often dry laces are far easier to undo. They’re not waterproof, but the flap does a good job of fending off splashes. Basically, these are just excellent for trail riding.