Choosing shoes for bikepacking and cycling, in general, is not an easy task. There are many factors to take into consideration. Clipless of flat. Waterproof or light and breathable. Stiff or soft. Wide or narrow. It can be very expensive research by trial and error before you find the best shoes. With this article, I would like to help you choose the best bikepacking shoes, giving you an overview of some of the best that are out there based on my experience.
But before listing the shoes, I would like to say a few words about clipless vs flat – why choose one instead of the other. For me, the rule of thumb is that I rather use SPD shoes. The reason is simple: they are much more efficient when pedalling and, as I like to ride long distances, that means more km per watt. Sometimes, it also happens that I go for long bikepacking adventures and bring flat shoes because I don’t have enough space to carry two pairs of shoes but that’s rare.
Therefore, the shoes mentioned in this article are all clipless.
Giro Ventana cycling shoes
I have been using Giro shoes for a long time and I still do. I have tried almost all the models and right now, I am happy with their Ventana when it comes to clipless bikepacking shoes.
These are very versatile cycling shoes that can be used also for MTB although this means that they tend to be a bit heavier than others specifically designed for bikepacking (the extra weight is due to the fact that MTB shoes have more material to protect the feet from shocks).
They can keep you dry in light rain and another big plus is the price. It is hard to find something that good around 120 euro.
The only con for me, which is more about Giro clipless shoes in general, is that I find the tip quite narrow and as I have wide feet (and regularly wear barefoot shoes), I start to feel pain after 4+ hours in the saddle.
Weight/Pair: 834 gr (pair)
Quoc Gran Tourer MTB shoes
Quoc is a British brand that creates cycling shoes that combine comfort, performance and contemporary design in the British shoemaking tradition. For bikepacking, they offer a model called Gran Tourer, which has a very sober classic look – a thing I like because when bikepacking, I tend to wear all-road apparel, which looks more casual than classic cycling gear. They are water-resistant to the top of the green seam border. The more you wear them the more comfortable they become, like a proper classic pair of leather shoes. They are available in 3 colours. Price-wise, they are quite expensive so definitely for riders who care for style as much as they care for quality.
Weight/Pair: 682 gr (pair)
Vaude TVL Pavei cycling shoes
Back in the day, I used to climb and hike in the Alps a lot and always found Vaude shoes very reliable. That is why – when they launched a new line of cycling shoes a few years ago – I gave them a try. In particular, I have tried their bike adventure model TVL Pavei. I didn’t stick with these because I am not a big fan of the look (they come in 3 colours) but quality-wise, they are great. Very durable, light and partly made of recyclable materials. They are not waterproof although a waterproof version exists. They are made of breathable mesh material, which is always my first choice as I tend to bikepack more in warmer weather.
Weight/Pair: 780 (pair)
Specialized Recon 2.0 bikepacking shoes
The Specialized Recon 2.0 are probably the best shoes I ever tried. In a nutshell, they are a perfect mix between road biking and mountain bike shoes, and the result is that they are suitable for everything: cross country, MTB, gravel riding, bikepacking, etc. First of all, they are very durable and comfortable. They have a quite aggressive sole design, which is great for pushing your fully loaded bike when needed but they are not too stiff to compromise comfort. They are also very light. What I don’t like too much about them is the branding. I rather have shoes that are not shout-y but in harmony with the all-road apparel philosophy. Specialized Recon are available in 4 colours.
Weight/Pair: 714 gr (pair)
Bontrager GR2 off road gravel shoes
I really like the look of Bontrager GR2, especially the yellow version. These shoes are very light and one of the most comfortable for me as I have large feet. At first sight, the sole seems quite stiff but they are actually quite flexible, providing a stiff-yet-walkable performance. Once again, if you are looking for comfort above all, these are the shoes for you.
Weight: 690 gr (pair)
Pearl Izumi X-Alp
The X-Alp model from Pearl Izumi boasts the BOA® Fit System, a very street-inspired look, and the Cordura® fabric made from recycled material that is both lightweight and durable. These are shoes that can be easily used for gravel and bikepacking but also as mountain bike shoes thanks to the reinforced toe box for added protection and the foam midsole cushion impacts.
Weight: 872 gr (pair)
Shimano MT7 commuting and mountain bike shoes
The Japanese giant has a line of shoes dedicated to touring and bikepacking. Among the few models, I happened to try the MT7, which is a versatile cycling shoe built for mountain touring, bikepacking or commuting. They are very decent shoes for a reasonable price featuring the BOA® Fit System, midsole and a shock-absorbing rubber sole.
Weight: 730 gr (pair)