11 Best Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes For 2023

In the market for some new women’s mountain biking shoes? I’ve got you covered! This post rounds up the best flat and clipless options on the market.

Very dirty and dusty legs and feet of woman wearing mountain bike shoes

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Good mountain bike shoes are an essential part of your mountain bike gear closet. They keep your feet glued to your pedals, they protect them from rocks and roots, and some even absorb impact when bombing down chunky trails.

So what are the best women’s mountain bike shoes?

While I can’t really answer that question for you – we all have our own personal shoe preferences and requirements – I have tried and tested a number of women’s mountain biking shoes and in this post, I round the top contenders for 2023.

So whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to upgrade your current setup, read on for some shoe-shopping inspiration!

Mountain bike shoe icon in grey

Best Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes At A Glance

Best flat pedal shoes

Best clipless shoes

Comparison Table

1. Ride Concepts LivewireFlat1 lb. 10.5 oz.Lace-up$110
2. Ride Concepts HellionFlat1 lb. 10 ozLace-up$130+
3. Five Ten FreeriderFlat1 lb. 10.4 oz.Lace-up$100
4. Bontrager FlatlineFlatNot specifiedLace-up$130
5. Specialized RimeFlat1 lb 11.2 ozLace-up$140
6. Crankbrothers MalletClipless1 lb 13.2 ozLace-up$150
7. Five Ten KestrelsClipless1 lb. 9.7 oz.Lace-ups, velcro$150
8. Shimano XC1Clipless1 lb. 5.8 oz.Velcro$100
9. Ride Concepts TraverseClipless2 lbs. 1 oz.Lace-up, velcro$180
10. PEARL iZUMi Alp-XClipless1 lb. 8.8 oz.Lace-up, velcro, boa$150
11. Giro VentanaClipless1 lb. 12 oz.Lace-up, velcro$130

Best women’s flat pedal shoes

1. Ride Concepts Livewire

Two Wheeled Wanderer Favorite

Key Features
  • Platform: Flats
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 10.5 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $110.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Every day pedaling
  • What I like: Comes in half size, durable and well-made, super grippy, very comfortable
  • What I don’t like: Laces get frayed by eyelets

After many seasons of riding with Five Ten shoes, I made the switch over to Ride Concepts and I’m super happy that I did! Five Ten’s are still a great choice, but I feel like Ride Concepts has surpassed them in quality, design, and durability.

Ride Concepts is also a rider-owned brand, so you can be assured that they strive to make the best shoes possible.

The Ride Concepts Livewire women’s mountain bike shoes are currently my favorites because they’re super grippy on the pedals and they’re comfortable to ride in no matter the length of ride or type of terrain.

The only drawback that I’ve found is that the laces tend to get ‘chewed’ up by the metal eyelets after a season or two of riding, so they need to be replaced before the shoe actually wears out. Laces are cheap, though :).

And can I just say how happy I am to not have to choose between a set of ‘women’s’ colors!?

Pair of Ride Concepts Livewire mountain bike shoes on rock

2. Ride Concepts Hellion

Runner Up

Key Features
  • Platform: Flats (clipless option available)
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 10 oz
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $130.00 – $150.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Everyday pedaling
  • What I like: Three models to choose from: flat, clipless, and flat elite, excellent durability, reinforced toe and heel,
  • What I don’t like: A white mountain bike shoe?!

The Ride Concepts Hellion line includes three different models: a flat pedal shoe, a clipless shoe, and an elite flat pedal shoe with greater impact-absorbing midsoles.

Whichever model you choose, you can’t really go wrong. These shoes are durable, weather-resistant, and designed with a grippy rubber outsole and reinforced heels and toes for protection.

They’re similar to the Livewire’s, but designed to be a bit more weather-resistant and abuse-tolerant.

3. Five Ten Freeriders

Popular choice

Key Features
  • Platform: Flats
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 10.4 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $100.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Every day pedaling, new riders
  • What I like: Grippy proprietary Stealth rubber, Made with recycled materials, stylish
  • What I don’t like: Not as durable or well-made as they used to be

Five Tens used to be my go-to mountain bike shoe brand, but since they sold to Adidas, I do feel like they’ve changed a lot. This doesn’t mean that they’re not good anymore, they’re just different and I personally prefer Ride Concepts now.

That being said, the Five Ten Freerider women’s mountain bike shoe is a great entry-level shoe for newer riders or those switching to flats. I started out on these shoes!

Five Ten uses a proprietary Stealth rubber sole that is super grippy on the pedals and great for everyday pedaling on a variety of terrain. I also love that Adidas has started to incorporate recycled materials and has teamed up with Parley Ocean Plastic to phase out single-use plastics and microbeads and use recycled ocean plastics in their designs.

If you’re looking for something that is a bit stiffer and has a sleeker, more form-fitting look check out the Five Ten Freerider Pros.

Close up photo of mountain bikers left foot wearing Five Ten mountain bike shoe on trail in California
I wore Five Ten Contacts for several years. They were similar to the Freeriders but are now discontinued

4. Bontrager Flatline

Good for wide feet

Key Features
  • Platform: Flats
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Weight (pair): Not specified
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $130.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Everyday pedaling, women with wide feet
  • What I like: Great entry-level shoe, good for wide feet, Durable and grippy soles
  • What I don’t like: Only one color choice, not the best for rowdy riding

Vibram soles are known for their superior grip and comfort, which is why Bontrager chose them for their Women’s Flatline platform mountain bike shoes. These shoes provide great grip on flat pedals and they are some of the comfiest shoes out there.

The downsides are that they’re not as stiff as other options listed here and therefore not great for most challenging and technical riding.

But, if you’re a cross-country or casual rider who prefers a flat pedal, those shoes are a great option! Made with a shock-absorbing midsole and a durable synthetic upper, they are a good entry-level women’s mountain bike shoe.

5. Specialized Rime

Versatile option

Key Features
  • Platform: Flats (clipless option available)
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb 11.2 oz
  • Women-specific? Unisex
  • MSRP: $140.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Women who want a shoe they can bike, hike, and climb with
  • What I like: Great design, versatile for one and off the bike
  • What I don’t like: Since it’s versatile, it doesn’t excel as a biking shoe

For the mountain bikers who also like to dapple in other outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, and exploring off trails (or tend to hike-a-bike more often than not…) the Specialized Rime mountain bike shoes are the perfect answer.

These shoes are specifically designed to be a versatile option no matter where your adventures take you. The sole is made from durable and grippy rubber and the mesh uppers are quick-drying and breathable.

If you prefer to be clipped in, the Rime also come in a clipless version.

Best Clipless Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes

6. Crankbrothers Mallet

Best clipless Option

Key Features
  • Platform: Clipless
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb 13.2 oz
  • Women-specific? Unisex
  • MSRP: $150.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Bigger enduro days, bike parks
  • What I like: Strong and durable, choose between three different closure options: lace, boa, and speed lace
  • What I don’t like: Not technically women’s-specific, heavier than some other options

Crankbrothers used to just make and sell mountain bike pedals, but they’ve recently designed a line of clipless (and flat) mountain bike shoes, which makes perfect sense.

The Crankbrothers Mallet shoe is a sturdy and durable option designed for big enduro days, bike park riding, or just everyday outings if you prefer a stiff, clipless shoe.

It also comes in three different closure styles: lace-up, boa, or speed lace with a velcro strap.

It is important to note that the Mallet isn’t women’s-specific per se, but Crankbrothers does offer women’s sizing in their size charts.

6. Five Ten Kestrels

Popular Choice

Key Features
  • Platform: Clipless
  • Closure: Lace-up, velcro
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 9.7 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $150.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Everyday riding
  • What I like: Popular choice among clipless riders, very stiff sole for support, wide cleat interface for easy clipping in/out
  • What I don’t like: Five Ten shoes not as durable as they used to be, take a bit to break in, only one (kind of ugly) color choice

For an all-around clipless women’s mountain bike shoe, the Five Ten Kestrel is one of the most popular options, although they do take some time to break in.

The sole is made with Five Ten’s famous Stealth rubber and the exterior is a perfect blend of breathable mesh and durable synthetic that will withstand daily use and abuse.

These shoes are definitely on the stiff side, so they’re a better choice for riders already comfortable and familiar with riding on a clipless platform.

I also appreciate that the cleat platform has a wide interface so that there is plenty of room for quickly snapping in and out.

Female mountain biker riding bike down technical trail in Sedona wearing Five Ten Kestrel mountain bike shoes
My friend Michelle wearing her Five Ten Kestrel’s in Sedona

8. Shimano XC1

Best XC-Style Women’s Mountain Bike Shoe

Key Features
  • Platform: Clipless
  • Closure: Velcro
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 5.8 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $100.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Cross-country style riding
  • What I like: Recessed cleat for walking/hike-a-biking, lightweight and breathable, great for gravel riding too
  • What I don’t like: Reports that it runs small, only one color

For the XC mountain biking enthusiasts out there, the Shimano XC1 is a really popular choice for its lightness, breathability, and contoured fit.

The recessed cleat area allows you to walk around easily and the burly lugs around the outsole help with traction on and off the bike.

If you ride primarily cross-country trails and long distances, this is a great shoe for you. It can also double as a gravel shoe!

9. Ride Concepts Traverse

Best For Bike Parks & Downhilling

Key Features
  • Platform: Clipless
  • Closure: Velcro and lace
  • Weight (pair): 2 lbs. 1 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $180.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Bike park riding
  • What I like: Excellent protection, stiff and supportive, highly weather-resistant, great shock absorption
  • What I don’t like: Not very versatile, heavy and warm

Are you a bike park rat or plan on doing a lot of rough and rugged gravity-fed mountain biking? If so, check out the Ride Concepts Traverse women’s mountain bike shoe.

This shoe was specifically designed for rowdy riding in rough conditions. It has excellent protection up to the ankle to safeguard against rocks and flying objects and its stiff platform will keep your feet solid on the pedals. It’s also designed with an awesome shock-absorbing midsole for comfort.

Oh, and it’s the shoe of choice for pro-rider Rachel Atherton!

10. PEARL iZUMi X-Alp Summit

Versatile Women’s mountain bike Shoe

Key Features
  • Platform: Clipless
  • Closure: Velcro, lace, & boa
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 8.8 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $150.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Cross-country style riding
  • What I like: Wide toe box, burly outsoles, comfortable for long days
  • What I don’t like: Run small, tongue can rub against ankle

If your idea of mountain biking is going on long, rugged rides or overnight bikepacking trips through varied terrain, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit Mountain Bike Shoe was made for you.

These high-quality and durable shoes have beefy lugs on the bottom for hike-a-bike sections and a wide toe box so your feet can stay comfortable on long rides.

The synthetic leather upper is studded with a ton of small holes to maximize ventilation and allow your feet to dry out after river crossings.

While these shoes shine on big, backcountry rides they can be used as an everyday mountain bike shoe or, better yet, in partnership with a more traditional flat pedal shoe.

11. Giro Ventana

Best for Casual riding

Key Features
  • Platform: Clipless
  • Closure: Velcro, lace-up
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 12 oz.
  • Women-specific? Yes
  • MSRP: $130.00

Where to shop

  • Great for: Casual riding
  • What I like: Versatile, grippy rubber outsole, reinforced heel and toe box, comfortable
  • What I don’t like: Not ideal for rowdy riding

The Giro Ventana women’s mountain bike shoe is a unique blend of cross-country and enduro. The sleek, contoured XC look is paired with reinforced heels and toes for more rugged riding.

The Ventana is a good option if you want a versatile shoe that works for most types of riding. But that being said, it’s not ideal for hard-charging bike park days or rowdy downhilling where you’ll want something with more support.

Women’s Mountain bike Shoe FAQs

Not sure how to choose the right mountain biking shoes for you? Here are some frequently asked questions to help you find the perfect pair:

Technically, yes. You can wear plain old sneakers or hiking shoes when you’re just starting out, but I don’t recommend continuing to use these types of shoes as you get more and more into mountain biking.

Mountain bike shoes are designed with specific riding features including:

  • Grippy rubber soles with tread patterns to maximize traction on pedals
  • Cleat platforms if you decide to ride clipless
  • Reinforced toes and heels for added protection against rocks and trailside brush
  • Impact-absorbing mid-soles to reduce fatigue and soreness

Hiking shoes and sneakers are okay to start off with, but you’ll want to invest in some mountain bike-specific footwear once you realize it’s the best sport ever.

Mountain bike shoes should fit just like normal shoes or hiking boots. You want there to be a little bit of wiggle room at the front so your toes have space to move, but you don’t want the toe box to be so loose that your feet slide around.

This really comes down to personal preference. There’s no ‘best’ answer between lace-ups, velcro, or boa.

Here are a few pros and cons of each:

  • Lace-up pros: Simple, cheap to replace, easy to carry a spare
  • Lace-up cons: Prone to wear and fraying, hard to get a super snug fit
  • Velcro pros: Quick and easy, secure
  • Velcro cons: Can’t really replace, attracts debris
  • Boa pros: Can get a very snug fit, fast and easy
  • Boa cons: Out of luck if it breaks, low-quality designs can slip

Again, this really comes down to personal preference and what kind of riding you plan on doing the most.

In general:

  • Cross-country, long-distance, riders prefer clipless shoes/pedals
  • Enduro, downhill, and technical riders prefer flat shoes/pedals

It’s also important to remember that you can always swap between the two!

For more info and tips on each system, head to my Flats vs Clipless blog post.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for a cross-country shoe, a downhill shoe, or something that bridges all riding styles, there are a ton of great women’s mountain bike shoes to choose from.

The biggest thing to remember is that there is no one best shoe. What works well for me might not work for you and vice versa.

Take your time to do research, read reviews, and maybe even order a few pairs and try them on before you make a decision.

Happy trails!

I hope this guide helps you find the perfect shoe for your riding needs! Do you already have a women’s mountain bike shoe that you love? What is it? Let us know in the comments below!

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