Bikepacking shoe considerations

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Home Forums Off Piste Bikepacking & Bicycle Touring Bikepacking shoe considerations

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    Dustin V
    BPL Member


    I’m bikepacking-curious. I’ve done a lot of mountain biking and backpacking separately and the idea of combining the two seems like it would be fun. I have a lot of questions about specific routes, techniques and gear, but the thing that seems the most difficult to figure out is the footwear. My favorite SPD shoes are too stiff to walk in for any significant distance and I worry about rocks and mud clogging up the cleats. I live in CO, so there’s usually at least scattered technical or very steep singletrack, so I know there will be significant hike-a-bike.

    Do folks here usually use flat pedals and trail shoes? Or do you use hybrid shoes that are built to be walked in? Are there bikepacking-specific shoes out there that I’m not seeing? Better cleats for walking?

    Do you look for a shoe that has a stiff sole? A wide pedal platform? Harder tread compound so the pedal doesn’t chew up the sole?

    I’m hoping someone here has a system that will not involve 10# brogues or hauling extra shoes.

    Mark Wetherington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Montana

    Hauling extra shoes might be your best bet, unfortunately. I’ve not done much actual bikepacking, but in Kentucky I would often ride a touring bike to trailheads and found the MTB clipless shoes that I was using were adequate for walking even a few miles (Specialized made them and they were a pretty inexpensive model). I would just clean out mud/grit before clipping back in. Against my better judgement, I even scrambled up easy Class 3 sandstone on some trips with them.

    I have also just worn Altra Lone Peaks when pedaling my mountain bike up rugged forest roads that I didn’t want to drive and wearing my backpack (only around 3 miles with minimal elevation gain). The discomfort of wearing the backpack distracted me from what was probably less than ideal biking footwear, but it worked out OK.

    Approach shoes (stiff sole, but comfortable enough to hike in) might be a good option as they would have better grip on the pedals than trailrunners.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Colorado

    I find Merrell Moab ventilators to make decent biking/hiking shoes. The soles are tough enough to not get trashed by my flat pedals and they’re comfortable to walk in whether pushing a rig or not.

    BPL Member


    Locale: The Cascades

    The best bikepacking site on the internet is, imnho, Lots of great info, including various routes.

    BPL Member


    I take my xero shoes trail runners when bikepacking. They’re very minimalist in nature and pack down quite small. They are a “barefoot running” shoe so they may not be for everyone but they work well for me.

    Dustin V
    BPL Member


    Approach shoes are an interesting idea. They would also be useful for bouldering at the local rocks that are within biking distance.

    I already have some Merrells around the house, so those may be the first thing I try.

    lisa r
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western OR

    Not a bikepacker (yet) but got into gravel biking this winter and have done a lot of it the last 6 months. I’ve been a road biker so I went straight to clipless (SPD) when I got the gravel bike. I’ve been spending enough time in the saddle though that I developed some foot problems from the bike shoes. Until Topo or Altra start making clipless bike shoes I’ll probably have to stick with flats. I’ve been on flats, which I’ve been using with worn out Altra Lone Peaks, for the last couple months. I don’t find it as annoying for pedaling as I thought it would be, even the climbing isn’t too bad (I’ve been doing routes with pretty significant climbing and rough terrain). I’d still rather be clipped in, but flats are better than I was expecting, and it’s quite convenient wearing good walking/hike shoes for those hike-a-bike times. If you do go with flats, consider finding some that have pins or pegs so you’re not slipping and sliding off them. Have fun!

    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wine Country

    I use PSD MTB biking shoes, because they allow me ride with some stiffness in the sole, and still work as shoes to walk in.  Because MTB sometimes need to walk….for miles.


    Scott H
    BPL Member


    I have done a lot of cycling over the years and some hiking.  I have never bike backed but I had a pair of a asolo hiking shoes.   I used those at times on my bike and used them on a day long bike outing with flat pedals.   They have a shank in them like their hiking boots.  They were excellent on flat pedals as they allowed for wonderful power transmission but to me are great to walk in.  My asolo shoes were actually better for biking than a pair of cycling shoes I bought for town biking as the asolo s had much better transmission to the pedal.  My regular hikers now are Technicas which I have used on my bike as well, the asolo s were better on the bike but I pretty much wore the bottoms off them so they are retired.

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