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The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023

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Your feet serve as an important contact point on your mountain bike and a good pair of flat pedal shoes provides grip, stability, comfort, and control. Serving as the important interface between our feet and our pedals, our shoes take some serious abuse and do lots of work, so finding the right pair can help enhance your experience and elevate your performance on the bike.

As mountain bikers, we demand a lot from our footwear. Flat pedal shoes should provide reliable traction on your pedals, a supportive platform, efficient power transfer, breathability, water resistance, foot protection, and all-day comfort. While our options used to be somewhat limited, nowadays, there is a wide variety of flat pedal specific mountain bike footwear designed to meet the needs of varying riding styles, weather conditions, and personal preferences. Whether you prioritize grip, support, pedal feel, versatility, or weather resistance, there’s a flat pedal shoe for you.

With so many options on the market, finding the right flat pedal shoes isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. To help, we gathered a diverse selection of 10 models and tested them for months while analyzing their design, fit, pedal grip, sole stiffness, pedaling efficiency, and overall feel on the pedals and when walking. When testing concluded, we zeroed in on our favorites and those that excel for specific reasons compared to the rest.

All of the shoes we tested are solid options, but our top recommendations are listed below, followed by the best of the rest which are all still worthy choices. To compare the models we tested at a glance, check out our comparison chart. If you need help deciding what to buy, take a look at our buying advice and our FAQ section for answers to common questions about mountain bike flat pedal shoes. If you’ve landed here and are interested in mountain bike shoes that clip in to your pedals, we’ve thoroughly tested and reviewed the best clipless mountain bike shoes too.

The Best Flat Pedal Shoes of 2023

Best Overall Flat Pedal Shoes

Giro Latch


  • MSRP $150
  • Measured Weight 603 grams (pair, size 7.5 US / 40 EU)
  • Upper Materials Microfiber
  • Outsole Tack Rubber
  • Closure Laces with elastic lace retainer
  • Size Tested US Mens 7.5 / 40 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 39 – 50 EU (no half sizes)
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Tack Rubber sole is supremely grippy, top of class
  • Stiffer than average sole with controlled, predictable, and supportive flex
  • Low stack height
  • Excellent muted and predictable feel
  • Average breathability and water resistance – dries quickly and easy to clean.


  • Sole is a little stiff for long walks
  • Average breathability and water resistance – jack of all trades, not purpose built for wet or super hot days.
Giro Latch flat pedal shoes product image
The Giro Latch shoes are versatile and provide excellent grip and a nice muted feel on the pedals. We feel they are one of the best options available today. (photo: Jordan Villella)
Best Budget Flat Pedal Shoes

Ride Concepts Accomplice


  • MSRP $130
  • Measured Weight 643 grams (pair, size 7 US / 39.5 EU)
  • Upper Material Nylon Upper with suede eye row detail,
  • Outsole Ride Concepts MAX GRIP
  • Closure Laces with elastic lace retainer
  • Size Tested 7 US Mens / 39.5 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 7 – 15 US, Half: 7.5 – 12.5 US
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Extremely comfortable
  • Solid grip on the pedals
  • Reasonable price point
  • Good insole/arch support


  • Warmer on the feet
  • Not very weather or water resistant
  • Woven nylon upper traps mud/dirt and gets quite dirty – not the easiest to clean
  • Short height in toe box, but it did break in
Ride Concepts Accomplice flat pedals shoes product shot
The Accomplice is a reasonably priced new model from Ride Concepts, that looks good, performs well, and is super comfortable with a sock-like “slip-tongue” design. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Runner-Up Best Flat Pedal Shoes

Five Ten Freerider Pro


  • MSRP $160
  • Measured Weight 627 grams (pair, size 7 US / 40 EU)
  • Upper Materials Synthetic upper
  • Outsole Stealth S1 Dotty rubber
  • Closure Laces with elastic lace retainer
  • Size Tested US Mens 7 / 40 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 6 – 15 US, Half: 6.5 – 12.5 US
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Well deserved high reputation
  • Outstanding traction
  • Fair breathability and water resistance
  • The benchmark for flat pedal shoes
  • Versatile


  • Lots of visible branding
  • Sole may be too soft for some preferences
  • Moderate pedaling efficiency
  • Stealth rubber does wear quickly
Five Ten Freerider Pro flat pedal shoes product shot
A classic, and still one of the best. The Freerider Pro is essentially the benchmark against which all other shoes are judged. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best Flat Pedal Shoes for Adventure Rides

Ride Concepts Tallac Boa


  • MSRP $190
  • Measured Weight 720 grams (pair, size 7 US / 39.5 EU)
  • Upper Material Cordura
  • Outsole Ride Concepts MAX GRIP
  • Closure BOA, textile TX4 Laces, Velcro strap
  • Size Tested 7 US Mens / 39.5 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole and half sizes 7 – 13 US
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Stiff sole
  • Good pedaling efficiency
  • Superb traction on and off the bike
  • Very walkable
  • Cordura upper breathes well and provides solid water resistance
  • BOA closure is quick and easy to deal with, particularly in wet conditions


  • Heavier weight
  • Toe box is a little tight in height, but broke in over testing period
  • Higher stack height may not be for everyone
  • More expensive
Ride Concepts Tallac Boa flat pedal shoes wet and muddy on a test ride
The Tallac Boa and its Cordura uppers offer a surprisingly good balance of weather resistance and breathability, on top of excellent pedal grip, support, and hike-ability. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best Flat Pedal Shoe for Grip

Specialized 2FO DH Flat


  • MSRP $150
  • Measured Weight 734 grams (pair, size 7.25 US / 39.5 EU)
  • Upper Material Leather and textile upper
  • Outsole SlipNot ST (Super Tacky)
  • Closure Laces with elastic lace retainer
  • Size Tested 7.25 US Mens / 39.5 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 36 – 49 EU, Half: 38.5 – 46.5 EU
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Extremely high traction
  • Body Geometry design provides a very comfortable feel on the pedals
  • Great balance of water resistance and breathability
  • Quick drying
  • High level of foot protection
  • Minimal Branding


  • Might be too grippy for some, can be difficult to reposition feet
  • Not the most comfortable walking shoe
  • Narrower/more tapered toe box
Best Waterproof Flat Pedal Shoes

Five Ten Trailcross GTX


  • MSRP $220
  • Measured Weight 692g (pair, size 5 US)
  • Upper Materials Textile with neoprene collar and Gore-Tex membrane
  • Outsole Stealth Dual Compound
  • Closure Laces with neoprene ankle cuff
  • Size Tested US Mens 5
  • Available Sizes Whole: US Mens 4 – 15, Half: US Mens 4.5 – 12.5
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Waterproof membrane
  • Grippy on the pedals
  • Easy to walk in
  • Warmer than non-GTX version


  • Expensive
  • Water can still get in through the top if you're not careful
Five Ten Trailcross GTX
With a Gore-Tex membrane and a high, snug neoprene ankle cuff, the Trailcross GTX is designed to handle wet conditions. (photo: Blair Kemp)
Best Casual Flat Pedal Shoes

Specialized 2FO Method


  • MSRP $100
  • Measured Weight 540 grams (pair, size 7.25 US / 39.5 EU)
  • Upper Material Canvas
  • Outsole SlipNot ST (Super Tacky)
  • Closure Laces
  • Size Tested 7.25 US Mens / 39.5 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 38 – 49 EU, Half: 38.5 – 46.5 EU
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Excellent tactile feel on the pedals
  • Lightweight
  • Stylish on and off the bike
  • Fairly breathable
  • Grips well for intended use (light trail riding, pumptrack, dirt jumps, having fun on bikes)
  • Minimal branding – casual style


  • Minimal foot protection
  • Soaks through easily on wet days
  • Softer sole may not work for everyone
Specialized 2FO Method flat pedal shoe riding shot
The 2FO Method is a casual-looking flat pedal shoe that is right at home on mellower rides or cruising the neighborhood pump track or dirt jumps. (photo: Paul Clauss)
Best of the Rest

Fox Union Flat


  • MSRP $150
  • Measured Weight 639 grams (pair, size 7 US / 39 EU)
  • Upper Material Rubbery TPU one piece welded upper
  • Outsole Ultratac rubber
  • Closure Laces with elastic lace retainer
  • Size Tested 7 US Mens / 39 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 37 – 47 EU, Half: 41.5 – 45.5 EU
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Rubbery one piece upper is very water resistant
  • Ultratac rubber sole with low profile hexagonal lugs provides solid traction in all conditions
  • Precise and responsive fit
  • Low stack height gives good pedal feel
  • Crowd-pleasing sole stiffness


  • Slightly slimmer fit might not be for everyone
  • Upper can get a little hot on humid days, not the most breathable shoe
  • Stock laces are pretty short

Crankbrothers Stamp Boa


  • MSRP $180
  • Measured Weight 664 g (pair, size 7 US / 39.5 EU)
  • Upper Material Rubbery Upper (70% PU, 25% Polyester, 5% PU Film)
  • Outsole Match MC2 Rubber
  • Closure Boa L6, low friction wire, velcro strap at top
  • Size Tested 7 US Mens / 39.5 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 5 – 14 US, Half: 5.5 – 12.5 US
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Exceptional fit and feel on foot
  • Great pedal feel from raised toe sole profile and medium flex
  • Moderate breathability and great water resistance
  • Solid mid-range level of protection


  • Lower level of traction/grip
  • More expensive

Five Ten Trailcross XT


  • MSRP $160
  • Measured Weight 654 grams (pair, size 7 US / 40 EU)
  • Upper Material Mesh upper
  • Outsole Stealth Phantom rubber
  • Closure Laces with elastic lace retainer
  • Size Tested US 7 Mens / 40 EU
  • Available Sizes Whole: 6 – 15 US, Half: 6.5 – 12.5 US
The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2023


  • Very open and breathable, quick drying
  • Most comfortable walking shoe in the test
  • Lightweight
  • Good, but not great, traction on the pedals


  • Good, but not great, traction on the pedals
  • A little underwhelming for aggressive riding
  • Very little padding and foot protection

Flat Pedal Shoes Comparison Chart

Flat Pedal ShoeMSRPMeasured Weight (pair)Size TestedOutsole
Giro Latch$150603 grams7.5 US / 40 EUTack rubber
Ride Concepts Accomplice$130643 grams7 US / 39.5 EUMax Grip Rubber
Five Ten Freerider Pro$160627 grams7 US / 40 EUStealth S1 rubber
Ride Concepts Tallac Boa$190720 grams7 US / 39.5 EUMax Grip rubber
Specialized 2FO DH Flat$150734 grams7.25 US / 39.5 EUSlipNot ST rubber
Five Ten Trailcross GTX$220692 grams5 USStealth Phantom rubber
Specialized 2FO Method$100540 grams7.25 US / 39.5 EUSlipNot ST rubber
Fox Union Flat $150639 grams7 US / 39 EUUltratac rubber
Crankbrothers Stamp Boa$180664 grams7 US / 39.5 EUMatch MC2 rubber
Five Ten Trailcross XT$160654 grams7 US / 40 EUStealth Phantom rubber

Why Should You Trust Bikerumor?

At Bikerumor, we’ve been obsessing over the latest and greatest products for well over a decade. As a team of die-hard cyclists, we’re always seeking the best gear that can enhance our experience and improve our performance whether that’s bikes, wheels, tires, helmets, or footwear. Whether for personal use or reviews, we’re constantly getting our hands on the latest and greatest mountain bike shoes to put through the wringer.

For the purposes of this buyer’s guide, we gathered several of the best flat pedal shoes available in 2023 to test and compare side by side. We tapped Bikerumor contributor, Paul Clauss, for the majority of the testing which took place near his home in northern Vermont. Paul is an avid mountain biker, mountain bike coach, trail builder, and mechanical engineer. A dedicated flat pedal rider, Paul has been riding in flat pedal shoes for many years and has developed a keen sense for the performance characteristics that make a quality shoe. The punchy technical terrain of Vermont serves as an ideal testing ground with short, sharp climbs and steep, rocky, and rooty descents that will challenge the grip of any outsole compound and tread design. The wildly variable weather of northern New England also provided conditions ranging from cool to extremely hot and humid to dry and historically wet and rainy. During testing, these shoes really saw a little bit of everything.

In addition to testing flat pedal shoes, Paul has also tested the best flat pedals and the best dropper posts for comprehensive buyer’s guides. If you’re in the market for a new mountain bike helmet, we’ve tested those too. And, if you’re a clipless pedal rider, we’ve thoroughly tested and reviewed the best clipless mountain bike shoes and have recommendations for everything from XC to trail and DH riding.

Buying Advice: How to Choose Flat Pedal Shoes

With so many options on the market, choosing the right pair of flat pedal shoes can seem like a daunting task. With Five Ten dominating the market for a long time, the decision used to be a bit more straightforward, but now there are more choices than ever before to cover the needs of everyone from downhill rippers to trail riders. We suggest considering several variables when searching for flat pedal shoes; your riding style, fit/comfort, grip/traction, sole stiffness, foot protection, weather resistance, and walkability. We discuss each in greater detail below.

Five Ten Trailcross TX flat pedal shoes riding shot
It’s important to match your shoes with your riding style or the conditions you encounter, whether that’s steep enduro tracks or trips to the bike park. (photo: Blair Kemp)

What Type of Riding Do You Do?

It may seem obvious, but the type of riding you do most often should be considered when looking for new flat pedal shoes. There are lots of different models out there designed to meet the demands of different riding styles, so one should be able to find the right shoes for the job. Downhill riders who spend their days riding chairlifts or shuttles to the top of rough, high-speed descents will often seek shoes with more supportive and protective uppers, impact-absorbing materials, and grippy soles that will keep your feet stuck on the pedals through the chatter of rock gardens and braking bumps. Trail and all-mountain riders who spend their days pedaling to the top of their descents will often steer towards a more balanced, versatile shoe that is moderately protective, pedals efficiently, provides adequate grip, and is possibly better ventilated and slightly lighter weight. People who frequent the pump track or dirt jumps tend to prefer slightly softer flexing soles for pedal feedback and often gravitate to moderately grippy soles for better foot mobility for doing tricks.

Specialized 2FO Method flat pedal shoes at the pump track
Sessioning the neighborhood pump track has different demands than downhill riding. Thankfully, there are shoes for every type of riding. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Fit and Comfort

Fit is always one of the most important considerations because it directly impacts your comfort and control of the bike. How a shoe fits is also a personal preference with some people gravitating towards a more snug and precise fit, while others may enjoy a looser and more forgiving approach. Finding the right fit for you is often best achieved by trying shoes on so you can ensure that the length, width, and volume of the shoe are right for your specific foot size and shape. This is particularly important for those with notably narrow or wide feet as most shoes are made to fit average width/volume feet.

Your regular sneaker or hiking boot size can be a good starting point although some riders size down a half size or so to get a more snug fit for foot stability and control reasons. If you already know your flat pedal shoe size, it is usually fairly consistent within the same brand, though it can vary slightly between different brands as their US and EU sizes may not line up exactly the same on their size charts. It is definitely worth referencing the size charts, and trying shoes on whenever possible.

Fit is one of the primary factors that dictates your overall comfort. Too small of a shoe and you can experience hot spots, foot cramps, or scrunched toes. Too loose and your foot may slip around inside the shoe which may result in blisters or a reduction of stability and control. Likewise, different materials, levels of padding, ventilation, and the closure system can play a role in how the shoe conforms to your foot and how comfortable it is over the course of a long ride or season of riding.

Arch support is another consideration as most brands are aiming to create a shoe that works for most people and that typically involves an insole that has an average amount of arch support. Those who have specific arch support needs will often benefit from the use of an aftermarket or custom insole to find the level they need.

The intended use of a shoe can also affect comfort. Shoes with stiffer soles prioritize pedaling efficiency and support but may sacrifice off-the-bike comfort and performance as a result. The Specialized 2FO DH Flat, for example, handles the impacts and loads of DH riding well, but isn’t super comfortable to walk in for extended periods – it’s a shoe built for downhill performance. In contrast, the Five Ten Trailcross XT is super comfortable for walking around all day, but the comparatively softer sole and less protective upper may not be the best choice for super rough downhills. Matching your riding style and terrain with a shoe’s intended use is a good recipe that should help enhance comfort based on your needs and preferences.

Flat Pedal Shoes side by side sole comparison
While similar, the outsoles of flat pedal shoes are made of different rubber compounds and have varying tread designs intended to provide grip on the pedals. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Grip and Traction

For most flat pedal riders, the grip on the pedals is one of the highest priorities, though this varies somewhat depending on riding style, terrain, and personal preferences. While many people want a locked-in, glued-to-the-pedals feel for security, control, and safety, others may enjoy a bit more freedom of movement and foot mobility. The pedal grip provided by a flat pedal shoe depends on the outsole material, tread pattern, height of the lugs, and dampening from the midsole, as well as the flat pedals you use. Most flat pedal shoes rely mainly on using soft, tacky rubber with low-profile lugs to provide a friction-based grip that the pedal pins can settle into, while others may use more of a mechanical connection approach where the pins settle into channels in the sole or against the edges of the tread lugs. The Crankbrothers Stamp Boa, for example, aims to combine friction with mechanical grip by patterning their sole pattern after the footprint of their Stamp pedals. 

Only a few years ago, Five Ten’s Stealth rubber compounds were dominant in the grip department and are the reason their shoes were and continue to be some of the most popular on the market. Five Ten’s Stealth rubber is still a great choice, but thankfully, other companies’ outsoles are catching up and providing competitive levels of grip. These days, Giro’s Tack rubber, Ride Concepts’ Max Grip, and Fox’s Ultratac outsoles provide a very similar level of grip and traction on the pedals to Five Ten’s Stealth S1 while Specialized’s SlipNot ST felt the grippiest when tested side by side.

In terms of pure grip and the feeling of being truly stuck to the pedals, the Specialized 2FO DH Flat and its SlipNot ST outsole were just a cut above the rest. Just a hair below, the Fox Ultratrac, Ride Concepts Max Grip, Five Ten Stealth S1, and Giro Tack compounds provide a very balanced feel with super reliable traction and a bit more forgiveness in regard to foot repositioning. Again, the pedals you choose are a major factor in the grip equation as well, and you can check out our review of the best flat pedals if you’re looking for a new pair.

Crankbrothers stamp boa flat pedal shoe sole stiffness
The stiffness of the sole is directly related to how efficiently it pedals, the level of support it provides, and the feel on the pedals. (photo: David Cheskin)

Sole Stiffness

The stiffness of the sole of a flat pedal shoe impacts pedaling efficiency, the support and feel of the shoe when riding, and how the shoe performs when walking. A stiff shoe will be slightly more efficient on long pedal-heavy rides and more supportive on long or rough descents, while a softer shoe will typically provide a more tactile feel on the pedals but less support, which can lead to foot fatigue or soreness over time. Most shoes strike a good balance with some outliers on either end of the sole stiffness spectrum designed to meet more specific needs. Like most other things, this is generally a personal preference based on the type of riding you do and the desired performance characteristics you seek from your shoes.

Given their long-standing popularity in the market, the Five Ten Freerider Pro is a bit of a benchmark that many people may already be familiar with. After riding a variety of shoes, we found the Freerider Pro to be about average in terms of sole stiffness with a slight increase on the Giro Latch, as well as a significant increase on the Ride Concepts Tallac Boa and Specialized 2FO DH Flat. Despite their higher level of stiffness, all three of those models still have a good pedal feel that avoids feeling too wooden while providing a bit more efficiency and reducing foot fatigue on longer rides or rough descents. Still, the sweet spot for many riders will likely be the moderate stiffness of something like the Freerider Pro, Fox Union, or Ride Concepts Accomplice.

The DH-oriented Specialized 2FO DH Flat shoes offer more foot protection than most with a heavily reinforced toe box and a raised medial ankle cuff for added protection from crank and frame strikes. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Foot Protection

The amount of foot protection to look for in a flat pedal shoe depends on what you plan to use them for. Nearly all of the shoes in this buyer’s guide have a reinforced toe box and some degree of heel/ankle padding, with the exception of the more casual Specialized 2FO Method. If you find yourself stubbing your toes frequently while riding, a larger, stronger toe box is a good choice. If you are an aggressive downhill rider, you might look for a more protective option with more padding extending through the entire shoe. 

Most of the shoes we tested are versatile, all-around models that have moderate foot protection. Shoes like the Five-Ten Freerider Pro and Giro Latch look nearly identical and both have synthetic uppers, reinforced toe boxes and heels, and light padding throughout. Both the Fox Union Flat and the Crankbrothers Stamp Boa offer similar levels of reinforcement to the aforementioned models, but their rubbery TPU-coated uppers have a slightly tougher, more durable feel. All four of these shoes offer adequate protection for trail and all-mountain riding, and some people will even use them for more aggressive gravity riding too.

The most protective shoe we tested in the DH-oriented Specialized 2FO DH Flat. This burly shoe features a heavily reinforced toe box as well as a raised medial ankle cuff to provide added ankle protection. Not far behind, the Ride Concepts Tallac Boa is another burly shoe that isn’t specifically designed for DH, but should certainly be able to handle it and other aggressive riding scenarios. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the casual-looking Specialized 2FO DH Method is essentially a canvas shoe with a mountain bike sole, and it offers little in the way of protective features. Similarly, the adventure-oriented Five Ten Trailcross XT has a reinforced heel cup and lightly reinforced toe box, but the mesh uppers are otherwise quite thin and less protective than thicker materials.

Five Ten Trailcross GTX flat pedal shoes hiking shot
Some shoes, like Five Ten’s Trailcross models and Ride Concepts Tallac Boa, are better for walking and hiking than other models. (photo: Blair Kemp)


As with the other flat pedal shoe considerations, the walkability of a pair of mountain bike shoes will vary in importance depending on your needs. Many people ride less technical trails that do not require frequent dismounts, while others may face technical rocks gardens, significant hike-a-bike sections, or like to session features regularly. Most shoes are designed with on-the-bike performance as their priority with their walkability as a complete afterthought, though some shoes aim to perform well off the bike too. You can generally tell which shoes are best for walking by looking at them – they look like light hiking/running shoes or hiking boots.

Of the shoes tested, we found the Five Ten Trailcross XT, Trailcross GTX, and Ride Concepts Tallac Boa the best for hiking, with the softer Trailcross XT better for short distances and the stiffer sole of the Tallac Boa more supportive for more technical terrain. The other shoes were fairly similar for walking with their flat soles, lower profile treads, and relatively traditional flat pedal shoe forms. They all work well enough to walk relatively normally, but you wouldn’t go out of your way to walk around in them for too long. Still, they will all get you out to that viewpoint or back up the trail to try that tricky section again with little to complain about.

Five Ten Trailcross XT and Ride Concepts Tallac Boa flat pedal shoes
The Five Ten Trailcross XT and Ride Concepts Tallac Boa are two of the most breathable shoes we tested. Interestingly, the Cordura uppers of the Tallac also resist water very well, while the mesh uppers of the Trailcross do not. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Breathability and Water Resistance

Flat pedal mountain bike shoes need to handle a wide range of temperatures and conditions from bone dry to rainy and sopping wet. Your needs, however, will depend on where you live and the conditions you experience on the trails. If you live in a very hot climate, you might compromise on the level of padding and water resistance in favor of a thinner, more breathable upper to let airflow into the shoe. If you are constantly riding in the rain, you might prefer a less porous upper with water-resistant materials to keep water out, often at the expense of breathability. Most modern shoes handle conditions from dry to light rain just fine, and there are wet weather-specific shoes, like the Five Ten Trailcross GTX with a Gore-Tex membrane, on the market for those who live and ride in the worst of conditions.

Most of the shoes tested for this buyer’s guide do fairly well across all environmental conditions, but each has its strengths and weaknesses. All-rounders like the Giro Latch or Five Ten Freerider Pro, using microfiber/synthetic uppers, stay reasonably cool and dry but are not ideal for the hottest or wettest rides. The rubbery uppers on the Fox Union and Crankbrothers Stamp Boa or the leather/textile Specialized 2FO DH Flat resist water surprisingly effectively, but trap a little more heat inside the shoe. The Five Ten Trailcross XT’s mesh upper lets air and water right in but dries very quickly. The Cordura upper of the Ride Concepts Tallac Boa proved to be a surprise favorite in this regard, balancing a high degree of water resistance while also having a well-ventilated feel. The Five Ten Trailcross GTX is a clear standout for wet conditions with its waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, though it’s designed for use in cool, wet weather, and can be a bit stifling on the feet in warmer conditions

Crankbrothers Stamp Boa flat pedal shoes TPU uppers
Most shoes handle weather and wet conditions relatively well. The Crankbrothers Stamp Boa and the Fox Union Flat both have rubbery TPU-coated uppers that resist water better than most. (photo: Paul Clauss)


The majority of flat pedal shoes use traditional shoe laces as the closure system. This is in contrast to the clipless shoe market where there is a wider range of closure systems. Lately, however, flat pedal shoe brands have been adopting other methods for tightening your flat pedal shoes including Boa dials. Some brands and models of shoes are even offered in multiple versions, like the Ride Concepts Tallac that comes with Boa ($190) or laces ($160), and the Crankbrothers Stamp that comes in Boa ($180), Speed Lace ($150), and Lace ($130) versions to suit varying preferences.

Laces certainly work well for the flat pedal shoe application as they pull tension evenly over the mid-foot and they are cheap and easy to replace if they become damaged. The downsides are that they are a little slower to put on and take off, it takes a little longer to adjust tension while riding, and they can be messy to deal with in sloppy conditions.

Boa dials, often used in combination with velcro straps, are becoming more common on high-end flat pedal shoes. Boa systems use a ratcheting dial to add or remove tension from thin wires/laces over the foot. Boa systems make it very quick and easy to put shoes on and take them off, and to adjust tension while riding. The downsides are that they typically add to the price of shoes, they can sometimes be damaged, and have a somewhat checkered history in terms of reliability. The good news is that Boa systems are becoming more reliable and they are often covered by warranty if they break or are damaged.

Different closure systems on flat pedal shoes
Laces still dominate the flat pedal shoe market, but other systems like Boa dials are becoming more common. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Flat Pedals

As mentioned previously, the flat pedals you choose will also play a major role in the grip, stability, and control equation. There are loads of flat pedal options on the market with different size platforms, profiles, and pin layouts that offer varying levels of grip and performance to meet different needs and preferences. While they may all look relatively similar, they most definitely are not, and we’d encourage anyone seeking a new pair to check out our comprehensive flat pedal buyer’s guide.

A group shot of mountain bike flat pedals
Getting the right shoes is one step, but pairing them with the right pedals is just as important. (photo: Paul Clauss)

Frequently Asked Questions About Flat Pedal Shoes

Will non-MTB-specific shoes work with flat pedals?

Yes, of course, you can mountain bike in any old shoes you choose but we recommend using shoes that are made for the job. Flat pedal specific mountain bike shoes are optimized for traction, support, safety, and to handle the environmental conditions you’ll encounter on the trail. While preferences and opinions vary, we feel that the performance benefits, particularly pedal grip, support, vibration absorption, and foot protection, make using flat pedal mountain bike shoes the best choice.

Do my pedals matter?

Yes! Flat pedals vary in terms of platform size, pin layout, etc, and they provide varying levels of support and grip. Generally speaking, most good pedals will work well with most good shoes, but you’ll also need to consider your riding style and needs/wants from a pedal as they do perform differently. During testing, we used most of the shoes with the Nukeproof Horizon Pro Sam Hill Enduro pedal for consistency, with the Chromag Dagga and Raceface Atlas sprinkled in. If you’re searching for new flat pedals to complement your new shoes, we have recommendations in our flat pedal buyer’s guide.  

The sole patterns on most shoes in this test are optimized to work with a wide variety of pedals, with the exception of the Crankbrothers Stamp Boa, which is designed specifically to work with their Stamp pedal line. This is done by matching the tread pattern to the silhouette and pins of the pedals. The Stamp shoes work well enough with most pedals, but we found they actually work slightly better on the Stamp pedals as the pins fit into the grooves in the sole tread.  

Platform size is also a consideration, as some come in different sizes that are optimized to work with different size feet. Riders with smaller feet may opt for pedals with smaller platforms to better match the sole of their shoes, while those with larger feet will typically gravitate towards larger platforms for added stability.

What size flat pedal shoe should I get?

The sizing of a shoe is very unique to the shape and size of your foot and proper fit is very important. Too small of a shoe and you may end up with pinched toes, cramping, and discomfort, too loose and your foot may end up slipping around inside the shoe which can cause blisters and result in a reduction of control. Fit preferences vary, of course, but most people generally can start at or near their everyday shoe size and go from there. Given that our shoes are a contact point for control of our mountain bikes, however, many people will opt for a snug fit that is achieved by sizing down slightly from their regular street shoe size. And, of course, sizing is not perfectly consistent across different brands, so it is generally best to try shoes on before you buy to ensure they fit you correctly.

How long can I expect my flat pedal shoes to last?

The lifespan of a pair of mountain bike shoes is directly related to how much you ride and the level of abuse you put them through. People who ride almost every day all season long may only get a season of use out of a pair of shoes, while those who ride less frequently or more casually should expect to get a couple seasons or more from a quality pair. Typically, the soft rubber of the soles is one of the first places to show wear as the pedal pins leave marks, grooves, and scars in the rubber. Similarly, the uppers of shoes may be prone to damage if scraped on rocks, logs, and shrubbery, and may break down slightly more quickly when used in wet conditions frequently.

Given the duration of our test period, we can’t comment definitively on the long-term durability of any of the shoes we tested. After a couple months of riding, they all showed minimal wear and we expect most models in this test to be reasonably durable given their intended use. The beefier models like the Ride Concepts Tallac Boa, Specialized 2FO DH Flat seem the most rugged and capable of handling the most abuse, while models like the Five Ten Trailcross LT and Specialized Method couple be prone to wearing out faster given the lighter materials used in their uppers.

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