Great choice if you’re looking for a good hike-a-bike outdoor shoe
The new Five Ten Trail Cross flat pedal shoe is available in the (LT) low version here and a more protective (Mid) ankle boot.
Following in the Adidas Terrex Trail shoe’s footsteps, it targets ‘adventure’ activities as much as all-out mountain biking, and uses a mesh upper and the brand’s acclaimed Stealth rubber outer sole.
Despite multiple alternatives to grab, Five Ten Freerider Pro shoes are my go-to, as I reckon they’re the best on the market. So how do these new models stack up against the brand’s market-leading kicks?
To start with, the fit is different. There’s a longer, thinner body with a boxier toe cap that comes up about half a size bigger. The ankle cup is higher at the back and lower on the sides too. The main difference though, is the overall stiffness of the upper. Whereas Freerider Pros wrap feet in a sturdy shell that doesn’t twist or wriggle, the Trail Cross has a much more flexible and thinner upper and tongue. There’s less support for the foot, and the skinny laces (that aid cooling) also press into the thin tongue. The breathable mesh material used is way cooler and quicker drying though.
Underneath, the Stealth ‘Phantom’ rubber sole uses a dotted mid-portion bookeneded by deeper, ridged sections for hiking traction, and is every bit as grippy and well-damped as we’ve come to expect from Five Ten. There’s decent thickness to the shank to cushion and absorb impacts, and also the sensible addition of little ports that allow any water that splashes inside to drain out and dry more easily.
Pedal-power delivery is efficient, since the sole’s stiff enough and doesn’t cause any pressure points or clawing of the foot. When it comes to riding aggressively though, the Trail Cross sits a fraction higher off the pedal than a Freerider, and having a more twisty, less supportive hold reduced our ability to control the bike precisely. When steering the bike dynamically with our feet, inputs and forces were partly absorbed by the upper twisting and flexing independently from the sole, and weren’t directed fully into the pedals.
This means there’s a more vague connection with the bike compared to the Freerider Pro, which transmits leg power and body weight shifts more effectively and feels more responsive and stable too. The older shoe is also a tad lighter and offers a tighter and more stable heel cup that reduces heel lift and stops more dirt and debris from sneaking inside. Finally, there’s also superior protection for toes and small bones on the top of your feet.
None of this is to say the Trail Cross isn’t always locked on the pedals at the sole – it’s still a better riding shoe than most rivals, due simply to the quality of Five Ten’s rubber in terms of friction and damping. The speed of drying and ventilation on hot days will be a bonus to some too, plus the price is very reasonable.
Feeling safe and totally connected to the machine equals maximum fun to me, so I can’t help but feel a shoe that prioritises hiking and speed of drying ahead of grip and control misses the mark a little. That said, if you’re looking for a good dual-purpose outdoor shoe, the Five Ten Trail Cross could be the perfect choice.