Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking in 2020 (REVIEW GUIDE)


Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking

What are the best clipless shoes for bikepacking? I’m fond of the Tommaso Vertice 200.

They’re affordable, have a great buckle system for closure, and are comfortable to walk in without sacrificing a lot of pedal power. They’re just what a beginning bikepacker is looking for.

Last update on 2020-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bikepacking can be hard on your bike, but you also need to make sure that your shoes are in order.

Those who are using flats can just find a good pair of lightweight hiking shoes, but if you’re running clipless pedals, then you’ll need to make sure you’re able to find the best clipless shoes for your needs. And that’s not always easy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to be had; instead, each rider needs to figure out what they’re looking for. Let’s take a look at some of the best, and then I’ll show you exactly what you should be looking for.

Reviews of the Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking

1. Tommaso Vertice 200 Bike Shoes

Tommaso Vertice 200 Bike Shoes

The Tommaso Vertice shoe comes in two models, but if you’re going to go down this route, I think you should stick to the 200. That’s the buckled model, and if you look around, you’ll be able to find a great price on them, which is another huge bonus.

These shoes exemplify the trade-off between pedaling and hiking that you need in a bikepacking shoe. They’ve got great grip when you’re off the bike, but hold well while you’re riding as well. Combined with a rugged bottom and mesh sides and top for ventilation, they’re a winner.

The buckle is easy to work with gloves on, which is a big bonus since you don’t want to tear off your gloves every time you need to adjust the shoes.

The lower straps are still velcro, rather than ratcheting, but hold well and are of good enough quality that debris will have a hard time clogging them.

They’re a bit heavy and I’m not sure everyone will be happy with the super thick padding, but I feel it’s a decent trade-off when the whole shoe is taken into account.

For an excellent overall clipless bikepacking shoe they’re hard to beat. Factor in the low cost and ground-up versatility of these shoes and you’ve got a winner for any trail you might be facing.

Pros:

  • The perfect balance between hiking and biking
  • Rugged sole
  • Excellent buckle
  • Mesh upper for ventilation

Cons:

  • A bit heavy
  • Padding may be too thick for some tastes

 View on Amazon


2. Shimano SH-MW501 – Best Bikepacking Shoes for Cold Weather

Shimano SH-MW501

Shimano makes some great clipless shoes, which isn’t surprising considering the SPD is still the gold standard of attachments. While I’m not overly fond of the more solid upper on the SH-MW501 shoe, they definitely have a place: a cold-weather bikepacking shoe.

While the majority of focus on bikepacking is on the photogenic trips through far-away lands, many just want to go for a ride in our own backyard. Many areas are temperate or even cold, and that means a highly breathable mesh shoe just leads to numb toes.

They have a tough upper and a lot of toe and foot protection, even more than my favorite. They’ve also got a decent grip overall and a lot of ankle protection for tough hikes. They even have a fleece liner to keep your feet warm.

This is a great, warm shoe that is perfect for bikepacking in the temperate or colder parts of the country. Just keep them there and go with something lighter if the weather gets warmer, or you’ll end up regretting it.

Pros:

  • Warm fleece liner
  • Tons of foot protection
  • Excellent ankle support
  • Good grip overall

Cons:

  • The grip isn’t great for loose or rocky terrain
  • Not good for warm weather due to low ventilation

 View on Amazon

How to Choose the Best Bikepacking Clipless Shoes – Buyer’s Guide

Whenever you’re bikepacking, you need to take into account a lot more than the average cyclist. Even touring cyclists, those from the closest related sport, have some different needs than an average bikepacker.

When it comes to shoes, things get even more complicated.

While I’m generally an advocate for using flat pedals when bikepacking, some people still prefer clipless. That’s perfectly fine, of course, but it means you either need a pair of shoes that are engineered for both hiking and riding… or you need to pack an extra pair of shoes for long stretches of hike-a-bike.

The truth is that most shoes are going to lean one way or the other, but even the most dedicated bikepackers aren’t known for riding with a pair of serious hiking boots on.

Related Article: Best Bikepacking Pedals

Hiking performance requires the following:

Durability

Durability is always a concern with clipless shoes, but when you’re looking at bikepacking, you need more than just durability in the flex. The sole of the shoes, the upper, and the various little bits on the shoe (like lace eyelets) all need to hold up well for miles of both biking and walking.

Ankle Support

While you most likely don’t need a full boot, you definitely want higher shoes than you’d normally use with clipless pedals. A twisted ankle will keep you from hiking or biking, which means support is essential, especially in nastier terrain.

Good Traction

Your foot needs to be able to get a good grip. Many portions of hike-a-bike on trails are quite steep and the terrain can be unforgiving. You don’t want to risk a slip, especially since you’ll generally have a pack and a fully-loaded bike as well.

Ventilation

Ventilation can be considered a comfort matter for just a couple of days on the trail, but for those doing cross-country treks in hot climates, it’s absolutely essential. Wet feet can cause all sorts of problems, especially when mixed with a tropical climate.

Related Article: Best Bikepacking Saddle

You also need the following to make them good for being on the bike:

Harder Soles

You’ll want harder soles than you’d normally find in a pair of hiking shoes. Otherwise, you’ll lose a lot of pedaling power when you need it the most. Finding just the right combination here can be hard, as softer soles are often desirable for walking long distances.

Flexible Upper

The upper for the shoe also needs to be flexible enough to allow you to pedal comfortably for an extended period. The problem is that too flexible of an upper often means you’re going to need to replace the shoes more quickly.

When you’re bikepacking, the length of the trips you’re planning on going on is the biggest factor.

If you’re looking at much longer rides, then durability becomes an issue, especially if you’re planning on riding somewhere like Africa or South America where it may not be easy to replace your shoes.

For more limited treks, you’ll be fine with less durability, especially if you’re not sure how often you’ll be hitting the road.

The other big factor is the weather: cold weather and hot weather rides will lead to different requirements in ventilation. A shoe that works great in Africa isn’t suited for rides where rain is a serious possibility. The choice really boils down to shoes with a solid upper with ventilation holes or mesh shoes.

If you’re in doubt, then opt for the latter.

Tommaso Vertice 200 Men’s All Mountain Vibram Sole Mountain Bike Shoes with...
  • FACTORY DIRECT VALUE: By offering our Tommaso products factory direct, we are able to offer a level of quality and value that the competition can’t...
  • OUR MOST CAPABLE MOUNTAIN SHOE: With amazing features like an ultra-rugged, grippy Vibram sole, and a hardened and reinforced toe box, the Vertice 100 is...
  • QUALITY & PRECISION FIT: Quick & Reliable closure system features 3 ergonomic Velcro straps for the perfect fit every time, adding comfort and security to...
  • COMFORT & PERFORMANCE: Top of the line performance is great, but performance is nothing without comfort. We made the Vertice our most comfortable shoe ever...
  • GROUNDBREAKING VERSATILITY: The Vertice offers a level of comfort and performance that is hard to find in cycling shoes. Easily add power to every pedal...

Last update on 2020-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Closure System

How your shoes close is another one of the biggies.

For the most part, I recommend looking for something other than laces. Good bikepacking shoes will have a ratchet system that can easily be managed with your gloves on, but Velcro closures are also passable. The problem with Velcro is that they’ll tend to clog with debris after some time.

Laces are prone to get caught on things and aren’t the best choice. They’re still available on some lower-end shoe models, but I’d give them a pass if you can avoid it.

Weight

Like all things involved in bikepacking, weight is always a factor. The problem, again, arises from the need to balance your walking/hiking needs with your bike performance needs. You’ll also need to balance the need for protection with weight.

It’s touchy, but if you’re a beginner or intermediate in the sport, the weight of shoes is secondary to everything else you need to look for.

My Choice for the Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking

There are some serious advantages to clipless pedals; the biggest issue for the bikepacker is making sure they have the best clipless shoes for bikepacking.

To me, the Tommaso Vertice 200 is just about the sweet spot of versatility and price at the end of the day. They really are a great pair of bikepacking shoes.

In the end, what matters is where you’re riding and what you need. Still, either of the above pairs is perfect to get you off to a great start!

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Last update on 2020-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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