When looking for the best mountain bike shoes, there is a plethora of options. To figure out which pair is right for you, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to go with flat-pedal shoes or clipless-pedal shoes.
Our in-depth buyer’s guide further down this page will help you choose, as well as provide some information on the foundations of a good mountain bike shoe.
You’ll find all the best mountain bike shoe reviews on this page, and whether you ride cross-country, trail, enduro or downhill on flat or clipless pedals, we’ve ridden and rated the best mountain bike shoes on the market.
The best mountain bike shoes in 2020, as rated by our expert testers
Mavic Crossmax Elite CM: £159
Mavic Deemax Pro Shoe: £159
Fizik Infinito X1: £325
Northwave Himalaya Boot: £230
Specialized X-Works Recon: £340
Five Ten Impact Pro: £125
Five Ten Impact Pro TLD: £140
Giro Chamber II: £130
Specialized 2FO Flat 1.0: £100
Specialized Women’s 2FO Flat 1.0: £100
Bontrager Flatline: £120
ION Raid II: £85
Shimano GR9: £120
Best clipless pedal shoes for mountain bikers
Lover of flats? Scroll a bit further down for our favourites.
Mavic Crossmax Elite CM shoes
Mavic Crossmax Elite CM shoes. Immediate Media
- For racing and riding
- Snug, stable fit
Mavic’s Crossmax Elite CMs are well-sealed and keep the weather out, yet they provide ample stiffness and upper security too.
A snug, stable fit with Velcro forefoot straps and Ergo Dial closure help efficiently deliver power through the pedals. The weather-shrugging toe and tongue, and neoprene collar ensure comfort even when the shoes get wet.
The sole is stiff enough for sprinting but not too rigid for longer rides, and a soft-compound tread gives good grip off the bike.
Mavic Deemax Pro shoes
Mavic Deemax Pro shoes. Mavic
- Secure and supportive
- Enduro and downhill racing
The Deemax Pros are comfortable on and off the bike while providing plenty of protection, with padding around the ankle area, a reinforced heel and an extended sole to protect the toes.
A combination of laces and Velcro straps ensure a good fit, although it is best to pay attention to Mavic’s sizing guide because they come up quite small.
The shoes feature a compliant sole that isn’t too flexy.
Fizik Infinito X1 shoes
Fizik Infinito X1 shoes. Immediate Media
- Secure fit
- Compliant carbon sole
- Comfortable XC race shoes
The Infinito X1s come with a hefty price tag, but if you are looking for durable, relatively comfortable cross-country race shoes, they could be for you.
The X1s fit excellently — depending on foot shape; with shoes of this ilk it’s best to check first — plus a rubber gripper on the inside of the heel cup and the Boa adjusters ensure the feet stay put and don’t slip around.
A unidirectional carbon fibre sole with aggressive lugs for off-bike moments is stiff but not overly so — the X1s are more forgiving than other race shoes on the market.
Northwave Himalaya Boot
Northwave Himalaya Boot. Immediate Media
- Ultimate bad-weather boot
- Thinsulate lining
- Very warm
As the name might suggest, the Himalaya Boots are for the extreme end of the weather spectrum. They are some of the best winter mountain biking shoes available.
The Himalayas keep your feet warm and dry in the very worst of conditions. Their uppers are extensively protected from the elements, with layers of warm and waterproof materials ensuring the elements stay on the outside.
Inside, the Boots feature a Thinsulate lining that is soft and quilted. This, along with their neoprene cuff Arctic GTX footbeds, ensures the feet stay warm and dry even on the worst of days.
Specialized S-Works Recon shoes
Specialized S-Works Recon shoes. David Caudery/Immediate Media
- Very comfortable
Specialized’s S-Works Recon shoes are high-performing cross-country mountain bike shoes that are also suitable for gravel riding and racing.
Twin Boa dials make for perfect retention, with an extra Velcro strap for added security. Specialized Body Geometry insoles add shape to the footbed. The fit is excellent.
Best flat pedal shoes for mountain bikers
Five Ten Impact Pro shoes
Five Ten Impact Pro shoes. Immediate Media
- Grippiest rubber available
- Lighter than previous models
Five Ten has no rival when it comes to the stickiness of its shoe rubber. The “Stealth S1” sole of the Impact Pro shoes, with its revised pattern, locks the shoes in place on the pedals.
The Impact Pros are just right in their construction; not overly bulky, but still protective with a reinforced toe cap and abrasion-resistant upper.
Five Ten Impact Pro TLD Edition shoes
Five Ten Impact Pro TLD Edition shoes. Immediate Media
- Supreme grip
- Troy Lee Designs special edition
- Good protection
There is no better rubber than Five Ten “Stealth”. If you are looking for unmatched grip, make sure to invest in a pair of Five Tens.
The Impact Pro TLD shoes are a special-edition collaboration with Troy Lee Designs, the California-based kit and protection brand. They feature all the protection of a regular set of Impact Pros, just in a special colourway with the Troy Lee Designs logo on the rear (they also cost a little more).
If you are after ultimate traction, look no further than a pair of Impact Pros.
Giro Chamber II shoes
Giro Chamber II. Immediate Media
- Plenty of adjustment
- Efficient for pedalling
- Good off-bike grip
Giro’s Chamber II shoes are standout performers which are easy for clipping in and out of the pedals and have lots of cleat adjustment.
A thin sole gives enough feel while remaining efficiently rigid for sprints and climbs.
The shoes’ wide camo-print sole and toe bumper help to protect the feet and the collar is well padded too.
Specialized 2FO 1.0 shoes
Specialized 2FO 1.0 shoes. Immediate Media
- Inner bootie keeps dirt out
- Grippier redesigned sole
- Quick drying
The 2FOs’ smooth, thermos- bonded upper construction has plenty of ventilation and they are super light at just 692g for a pair of size EU43.
As with all flat pedal shoes, the quality of the uppers is irrelevant if the soles are no good, but Specialized’s SlipNot 2.0 rubber is impressively grippy. The lug pattern is also a progression of the brand’s original 2FOs and is an improvement.
The shoes’ inner bootie provides a solid, stable fit and helps stop dirt and stones getting into the shoes around the ankle area.
Specialized Women’s 2FO Flat 1.0 shoes
Specialized Women’s 2FO Flat 1.0 shoes. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media Co
- Very comfortable
- Good traction
- All-round performance
Specialized’s Women’s 2FO 1.0 is a total transformation from the original 2FO shoes. Their look, feel and fit have been redesigned into this women-specific option.
An inner-bootie helps provide the comfortable, snug fit and lowers the potential for stones and dirt getting inside the shoes when riding.
While Specialized’s SlipNot 2.0 sole is still not as grippy as Five Ten’s Stealth Rubber, it is an improvement and it is one of the better alternatives to Five Ten. The sole is also slightly suppler than its predecessor, which makes for a more comfortable overall feel.
This is an excellent option for female trail riders.
Bontrager Flatline shoes
Bontrager Flatline shoes. Immediate Media
- Comfortable on and off the bike
- Good level of flexibility through the soles
- Quick drying
Bontrager’s flat pedal shoes use Vibram soles to achieve a good level of grip — enough that your feet stay on the pedals but not so much that they feel stuck in place.
The sole is shallower than on other shoes, meaning lots of feedback. Likewise, the upper has minimal padding and is relatively flexible.
The Flatlines are comfortable and light (708g per pair, size EU 43) and provide adequate grip, but don’t have boatloads of protection.
ION Raid II shoes
ION Raid II shoes. Immediate Media
- Excellent grip
- Competitive pricing
- Secure fit
ION’s “Pin Tonic” rubber comes oh-so-close to Five Ten’s “Stealth” rubber in its grippiness — something very few shoe manufacturers manage to achieve.
The Raid IIs’ casual styling belies their technical strengths. A pre-formed heel and asymmetric shaping ensure secure fit and protection from crank knocks.
A lack of meshing or vents isn’t ideal for summer, but it makes for better splash-proofing.
Shimano GR9 shoes
Shimano GR9 shoes. Immediate Media
- Great fit thanks to Speed Lacing system
- Michelin sole
Shimano’s GR9 shoes are packed full of technical features such as their Speed Lacing system and splash-proof cover.
A Michelin sole is grippy and flexes just enough to provide feedback through the pedals without sacrificing foot support.
They are also reasonably light at 803g for a pair of size EU 43.
Mountain bike shoe buyer’s guide
Mountain bikers have two options when it comes to footwear: clipless shoes or flats.
What shoes you choose is up to you, and both types have their benefits. But picking the right type is important because different styles work better in different situations.
Which mountain bike shoes are best for you?
There’s no right or wrong answer but it’s well worth considering what type of riding you’ll mostly be doing — XC (cross-country), trails or gravity orientated — because this will influence your decision.
Flat-pedal shoes tend to be orientated towards trail, enduro and downhill riders, where feel and grip on the pedals, as well as protection, is important. Some flat-pedal shoes have soles that are stiffer than others, but none are as stiff as a dedicated cross-country shoe.
Clipless-pedal shoes come in a wider variety of forms, catering to virtually every sort of rider. They range from XC shoes, which are much like road shoes but with a little bit of tread on the soles, all the way to DH shoes that resemble their flat-pedal counterparts, save for cleat mounts.
So, what do you need to look out for?
No matter what style of shoe you choose, if they don’t fit correctly they’ll be uncomfortable and won’t perform as well as they could.
We recommend you try before you buy because everyone’s feet are different and manufacturers use different lasts to build their shoes.
Ensure there’s enough wiggle room for your toes and a decent hold on your heel for comfort and power transfer.
You should also make sure there are no hot spots or parts that dig in because these will become painful on longer days in the saddle.
The retention system is what keeps the shoes on your feet. Laces are the traditional option, but there are alternatives.
Laces give you great control over a shoe’s feel and fit but can’t be adjusted on-the-fly and can get claggy with mud — unless they’re protected by a lace flap.
Boa systems use a ratchet dial and a wire that’s looped through the shoe’s opening for quick, easy and accurate closure and adjustment. They’re found on pricier shoes and tend to be specced to help save weight.
Velcro straps and ratchet buckles are more common and pretty rugged but weigh a bit more. They tend to come on cheaper and mid-price shoes.
The sole is key in defining how the shoe performs. XC riders will want a stiff sole that transfers every watt of power to the pedals. A stiff sole also helps when the shoe is perched on a small clipless pedal.
Pricier shoes will benefit from a light and stiff carbon sole, while cheaper ones use plastic, which is heavier and more flexible.
Trail and enduro riders tend to go one of two ways: either an XC-style shoe with more protection and a more aggressive tread or a gravity-orientated shoe with a more flexible, comfortable sole and a construction that performs better with clipless pedals that have a platform.
Generally speaking, weight and sole stiffness are of no concern to gravity-orientated riders, so they tend to go for shoes that offer plenty of pedal feel and foot protection.
Tread pattern is also important. Some shoes offer a lightweight minimal tread, which is great for racing but will come up short if you need to run or walk anywhere while out on the trail. Others offer more grip and protection but weigh a little more as a result.