We've thrashed the soles out of hundreds of MTB sneakers to give you our pick of the very best mountain bike shoes. Whether you ride flat pedals or clip in, and whatever your budget, there's an option for you here.

The interface between pedal and shoe is one of the most important contact points for control and comfort in mountain biking, and if you’re looking for the ultimate comfort, grip and performance, these are best mountain bike shoes we’ve tried and tested.

The best mountain bike flat pedal shoes look like trainers/sneakers but have low-profile soles made from sticky rubber. Whereas the best mountain bike clipless pedal shoes are generally stiffer and have recessed bolt holes for attaching pedal cleats. And of course don’t forget to match them with the best flat pedals or clipless pedals.

The best mountain bike shoes for flat pedals

FiveTen Freerider Pro mountain bike shoe

The Five Ten Freerider Pro still sits on the flat pedal throne.

1. Five Ten Freerider Pro

Best all-round flat pedal shoe

Weight: 780g | Sizes: 5-13.5 | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • The grippiest sole available
  • Shock absorbing mid-sole
  • Balance of weight, protection, and durability

Reasons to avoid:

  • Pretty pricey
  • Can be too sticky for some riders

Five Ten’s Freerider Pro is a classic design that still outperforms almost every competitor on the market. The secret to the Freerider Pro’s success is the brilliantly grippy sole, but the slim fit, decent shock absorption, and well-tuned stability ensures its no one-trick pony.

There are loads of different versions of the Freerider Pro, but we’d suggest sticking to the classic design for the best durability and all-season weather resistance. The price is competitive, and more often than not there’s a bargain to be found online, particularly if you’re not fussy about colour options or fall outside the most popular sizes.

Read our full test review of the Five Ten Freerider Pro

Fox Union Flat Shoe

Fox’s Union Flat Shoe is s worthy alternative to the Five Ten Freerider Pro.

2. Fox Union Flat

Superb grip and a wipe-clean design

Weight: 779g | Sizes: 37-47 with half sizes between 41 and 46 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Quick drying
  • Great fit
  • Excellent grip

Reasons to avoid:

  • Laces are cheap and too short
  • Not the best shock absorption

Taking knowledge and experience from many years designing motocross boots, Fox’s new Union Flat shoe goes straight in to our recommended list. The brand’s own Ultrac rubber sole is a grippy compound with security tightened through the use of small hexagonal lugs that let the pedal pins tightly lock into place. Grip is on par with Five Ten’s Freerider Pro.

The moulded upper is lightweight and wipe-clean, and the interior gets a great fit thanks to a gusseted tongue and customisable arch wedge. The only aspects letting it down are the measly laces.

Read our full test review of the Fox Union Flat shoe

Specialized 2FO Roost Canvas Shoes

Specialized 2FO Roost Canvas Shoes are cheap but effective.

3. Specialized 2FO Roost

Best budget flat pedal shoe

Weight: 828g | Sizes: 36-49 | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Lightweight
  • Super sticky rubber
  • Decent shock absorption

Reasons to avoid:

  • They size up small
  • Durability unproven

With this latest Roost version, Specialized has nailed the rubber blend, with a sole that stays fully planted in all-conditions. The new 2FO Roost shoes are also lightweight, brilliant value, and feel more like a regular trainer to walk around in than a Five Ten.

Yes, the upper is more flexible and has less support than Specialized’s DH version, but many casual riders will prefer the extra feel and comfort that comes with it. The only concern is durability – while the DH shoe lasts really well, the lighter, thinner, upper on the Roost is unlikely to be quite as durable.

Read our full test review of the Specialized 2FO Roost

Five Ten Trailcross XT flat shoe

Five Ten Trailcross XT flat shoe

4. Five Ten Trailcross XT

Best flat pedal shoe for hike-a-bikes

Weight: 780g | Sizes: 5.5-14.5 | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Exceptional grip even in the worst conditions
  • Lightweight, breathable, great for hike-a-bike
  • Reasonably supportive

Reasons to avoid:

  • Definite running shoe vibe
  • Narrow fit, and sizing comes up small

Looking for a shoe with excellent traction off the bike as well as on the pedals? Five Ten’s Trailcross XT is our pick of the bunch with an exceptionally grippy rubber sole and lightweight, flexible upper that’s a breeze to walk in. That sole traction comes from the latest Stealth Phantom rubber, boasting a squidgy 55a compound and dotty lug pattern.

It’s really comfortable to walk in, so it doubles up nicely as a dry weather trail hiking shoe, and the lightweight upper helps make pedalling nice and efficient. On the flipside, there’s not a lot of support in the shoe, or protection from impacts, so it’s not ideal for big mountain riding and long, steep descents. The sizing comes up a touch small – you may need to go up half a size – but Five Ten does offer them. Overall, a great multi-use shoe, if slightly compromised as pure biking footwear.

Read our full test review of the Five Ten Trail Cross XT

Photo of a pair of white Endura mtb shoes, slightly muddy, sitting on moss-covered rock

The Endura Humvee flat pedal shoes impressed with excellent comfort and great value

5. Endura Hummvee flat pedal

Best casual mountain bike shoe

Weight: 938g | Sizes: EU38 – 47 | Colours: Black, Olive, Pebble, Navy | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Comfort and sizing options
  • Grippy sole
  • The price is great too

Reasons to avoid:

  • Just outdone on grip by Stealth and SlipNot rubber
  • Toe box lacks protection

Endura’s Hummvee shoe gets a tacky rubber sole compound called StickyFOOT and casual, skate-inspired styling. The rubber is effective, but not quite as impressive as Five Ten’s blend, so we did experience a few pedal slips in wet conditions during months of testing.

However, the simple, casual styling works well off the bike, so you can leave them on for the post-ride pub or drive home. The fit is faultless, helped by 13 different sizes to choose from. Considering the sub-£100 price, Endura has done a great job with the Hummvees.

Read the full review of the Endura Hummvee Flat Pedal Shoe

Ride Concepts Hellion Elite

The Ride Concepts Hellion Elite are ideal for gravity riding

6. Ride Concepts Hellion Elite shoe

Excellent alternative to Five Ten

Weight: 793g | Sizes: 39-45.5 | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Sole grip rivals Five Ten Freeriders

Reasons to avoid:

  • No cheaper than a Five Ten

Ride Concepts Hellion Elite boasts a sole wrapped in DST 4.0 Max Grip rubber that’s every bit as sticky as the benchmark Five Ten Freerider Pro, making it a genuine rival if you want to try an alternative shoe.

This Elite version also gets an anti-bacterial lining to keep them smelling fresh, and the protection fore and aft, with large rubber bumpers, makes them a great choice for rocky terrain and gravity riding. Even after months of testing, our test samples looked surprisingly new.

Read our full test review of the Ride Concepts Hellion Elite

Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex shoe

The Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex shoe makes winter rides marginally less miserable

7. Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex

Best flat pedal shoe for winter riding

Weight: 968g | Sizes: 38-50 | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Fantastic grip
  • Good foot stability
  • Reasonable weather protection

Reasons to avoid:

  • A lot of money compared to waterproof socks
  • Hard to get on and off

Derived from the distinctively rugged Trailcross shoe, this Five Ten offering adds an extended ankle collar and Gore-Tex liner to make it our go-to flat pedal shoe for stinking winter rides. There’s absolutely rock-solid traction on the pedals (or slippery trails) in the wet thanks to the dotty rubber sole, while ridged sections help grip while climbing muddy banks.

The internal sock helps keep feet warm and (mostly) dry, although there’s no way of completely preventing water ingress. It’s good for a couple of hours, but not a full day bog-trotting through the wilderness. Way more expensive than a pair of waterproof socks, it’s debatable whether they are the best investment for the average climate, but if you regularly ride in wet conditions, they are definitely recommended.

Read our full test review of the Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex

The best mountain bike shoes for clipless pedals

Crankbrothers Mallet E BOA

The Crankbrothers Mallet BOA shoes are our first choice for gravity riding

1. Crankbrothers Mallet E BOA

Most comfortable shoe for enduro and gravity riding

Weight: 944g (pair, with cleats) | Sizes: 37-48 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Slipper-like comfort
  • Rock-solid stability
  • Cleats fitted as standard

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not the cheapest option on the market
  • Takes ages to dry
  • BOA is vulnerable to damage

Crankbrothers makes the best clip-in pedals for trail and gravity riding, and paired with the Mallet BOA shoes is a match made in heaven. The BOA closure bumps up the price tag, but helps reduce hot spots across the top of the foot when tightened down, and allows for micro tension adjustments while riding.

It’s an extremely comfortable shoe, with a deep heel pocket that reduces heel lift while pedalling, and there’s excellent foot stability while also giving plenty of contact with the pedal and feedback through the sole. Long cleat slots let you run a more rearward stance on the pedals too – great for gravity riding. The price is up there, but the addition of a free set of cleats improves the value if you’re a Crankbrothers pedal user.

Read our full test review of the Crankbrothers Mallet E BOA

The Bontrager Rally is an old design but still performs great for gravity riders

2. Bontrager Rally

Best budget shoe for gravity riding

Weight: 886g | Sizes: 37-48 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Shock absorbing qualities
  • Great comfort
  • Works well with platform clip-in pedals

Reasons to avoid:

  • Needs to be paired with caged clipless pedals
  • Some cleats need spacers underneath to clear sole
  • Quite an old design now, so don’t pay full whack

Before the Crankbrothers Mallet shoe came along, the Bontrager Rally was our top clip-in gravity shoe. It’s still a recommended product, but it can’t quite match the comfort of its Crankbrothers rival. There’s a synthetic leather upper, reinforced toe box and abrasion-resistant coating on the heel and toe cap, so it’s well protected from knocks and scrapes, and lasts well.

The Velcro strap and lace closure are not exactly cutting edge, but they work, and help keep the cost down. Flip the shoe over, and the sole is wrapped in a sticky rubber that actually feels really secure on a broad platform clipless pedal like the Crankbrothers Mallet DH. We’d recommend going up a size to create a bit more space in the front of the shoe – especially if you’re going to be using this in the winter with a thicker/waterproof sock.

Read our full test review of the Bontrager Rally

Ride Concepts Tallac Clip BOA Shoes

Ride Concepts Tallac Clip BOA Shoes are burly and properly planted

3. Ride Concepts Tallac Clip BOA

Best clip-in shoe if money is no object

Weight: 1,022g | Sizes: 37-49.5 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Easy to use BOA dial closure
  • Great quality
  • Nicely cushioned
  • Cleat runway is long and wide
  • Impressive grip

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not quite as comfy as some competitors
  • Large footprint for its size
  • Premium price

Like most shoes with a BOA closure, the Ride Concepts Tallac Clip is an expensive proposition. It’s also a distinctive design, that won’t suit all tastes. But the benefits of the BOA are obvious, with a rapid closure and adjustment, and a really even pressure across the top of the foot.

Big bumpers and a chunky sole mark this out as a gravity shoe, particularly as its bulk can cause issues with crank clearance and doesn’t lend itself to high cadence pedalling. But the stability on a set of platform clip-in pedals is impressive.

Read our full test review of the Ride Concepts Tallac Clip BOA

Shimano MW7 XC shoes

The Shimano MW7 boots are our winter winners

4. Shimano MW7

Best winter clip-in boot

Weight: 830g | Sizes: 38-48 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Easy to get on and off
  • Effective barrier against the elements
  • Good cleat clearance

Reasons to avoid:

  • You’ll need to be an avid storm chaser to swallow the high price

Of all the winter boots we’ve tested, the Shimano MW7 comes out on top because it’s the easiest to take on and off, without compromising on weather protection. Under the big flap is a BOA dial that allows the shoe to completely open up, making access a doddle.

The Gore-Tex membrane, fleecy liner, and gusseted tongue keep things lovely and cosy inside, and if you run a waterproof trouser over the ankle cuff, you’ll stay dry too. It’s a stiff old boot, with a hard rubber sole, so not suited to gravity riding, but for epic adventures in the great outdoors, the Shimano MW7 is top notch.

Read our full test review of the Shimano MW7

5. Scott Shr-alp

Best clip in shoe for wide, flat feet

Weight: 1,080g | Sizes: 40-48 | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Good stability and retention, and great for wide feet
  • Breathes well, but still keeps water and mud out
  • Good traction off the bike

Reasons to avoid:

  • There’s not much damping on offer

The Scott Shr-alp is one of the roomiest clipless shoes we’ve tried, and that makes it ideal if you have big, wide feet like mine. It’s also ideal if you want to run a winter or waterproof sock in there without it bunching. The retention is simple but effective, with laces and a velcro strap, and that helps keep the price reasonable.

Off the bike, the Shr-alp is a great hike-a-bike shoe thanks to tall grippy lugs. It’s still easy to clip in through thanks to a big cleat box and chamfered sides. And on the bike the shoe hugs the pedal giving you a lower centre of gravity than others out there. The only slight drawback here is the lack of damping, but plenty will love that extra connection to the trail.

Read our full test review of the Scott Shr-alp

Photo of person wearing Ride Concepts Tallac men's mountain bike shoe

How we tested the best mountain bike shoes

To ensure all things are equal, we coupled our shoes with the two test-winning pedals from the mbr group test in the June issue. We also ran these on the same bike so that we could measure crank and chainstay clearance for each shoe and gauge overall comfort and grip without being distracted by suspension and tyre choice.

With the clip-in shoes, we measured the size of the cleat box and clearance around the cleat and focused on ease of engagement/release. With the flat shoes, the main driver is grip, so we measured the rubber compound on every shoe with a durometer. We also did a simple flex test to check feel, and some off- the-bike hikes to gauge comfort and check for heel lift.

Fox Union Flat Shoe

The Fox Union Flat Shoe has loads of flat pedal grip

What to look for in the best mountain bike shoes

There are two types of mountain bike pedal – clip-in and and flat – and to get the maximum performance from either, it’s necessary to use a dedicated shoe. Since both pedal systems are equally popular, this test includes each type. Increasingly we’re seeing a crossover with newly released shoes, as brands design both clip-in and flat versions of the latest models.

However, some companies still specialise in one particular type, such as Adidas Five Ten for example. Does that make them better at it? Not necessarily, but judging by past experience, it does seem to be easier to make a decent clip-in shoe than one designed for a flat pedal.

Flat pedal shoes work really well for lounging around in

Of course, there is nothing stopping you riding flats in a pair of trainers. However, the shock-absorbing sole will sap energy, the rubber outsole will be too hard and slide on the platform, and the upper will not have enough support. So in our view it’s just as crucial to use a specific mtb flat pedal shoe as it is a clip-in design. With more grip comes more control over the bike, and your feet are less likely to slip off, which is obviously a lot safer.

With clip-in pedals, any SPD-compatible shoe is going to work well because it’s actually the pedal/cleat interface that is responsible for grip and security. That said, a clip-in shoe is under more load when pedalling and during the disengagement phase, and often is supported by a smaller surface area of pedal, so it needs to feature a more stable construction and often a reinforcing strap to reduce flex.

best mountain bike shoes

The cleat box has markings to allow you to match your cleat position from left to right

Cleat pocket

This recess on the bottom of the sole needs to be deep enough that you don’t feel the cleat when you walk, but shallow enough that the cleat engages easily with the mechanism. It’s a fine balance with all the different pedal designs out there, but you can raise and lower the cleat using thin shims (spacers) often provided with the pedals.

Ride Concepts Accomplice BOA flat pedal shoe

BOA closure systems are easy to adjust while riding and can reduce hotspots on the foot.

Covers and straps

A big strap across the top of the shoe adds stability, but also makes for a more positive release when twisting the shoe free of the binding. Integrated covers limit mud ingress and stop laces catching in the pedal axle.

best mountain bike shoes

Inner ankle protection pads can be useful for gravity riding

Ankle protection

Look for an extended section of upper on the crank side of the shoe. This stops your ankle contacting the crank arm when you’re leaning into a corner, or those times when you have to unclip inwards.

Stiff sole

Clip-in shoes are generally stiffer than flat shoes – this is primarily for pedalling efficiency, but having a solid sole also means you won’t feel the cleat when cranking hard.

Riding midsole on your shoes puts less stress on your calves and means you can drop your heels and feel like you are riding in the bike instead of on top of it

Tread pattern

There are no hard and fast rules regarding the tread pattern on the sole. Some companies use a waffle, others just use chevrons or raised circles. It’s more important to have enough tread, especially at the toe and heel, to create purchase when scrambling up and down steep terrain.

Midsole makeup

Aka the insole. This should be supportive, stable and breathable. Any extras, like D3O impact zones or Body Geometry fit customisation features, are a bonus.

Toe-heel bumpers

A thicker layer of anti-scuff rubber reinforcement on the toe and heel adds some long-term durability but also protects your feet against rock strikes and abrasion.

Rubber compound

For some reason manufacturers are reluctant to use really tacky rubber on their flat shoes because they cite reduced durability, but with a flat shoe, grip generated by the rubber is everything. If it’s too hard your feet just won’t stay on the pedals, so it’s irrelevant how long the shoe lasts.