First-Ever MTB Flat Shoe With GORE-TEX: Five Ten Trailcross GTX Review
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For the first time in mountain biking, a brand has brought GORE-TEX to a flat-pedal shoe. Five Ten’s October release of the Trailcross GTX was billed as adidas’s answer to all things sloppy weather for mountain bikers. We put them to the test on Pacific Northwest trails filled with mud, puddles, and rain.
Built on the Five Ten Trailcross platform, the GTX adds a GORE-TEX membrane and neoprene bootie to rise above the ankle and help keep moisture out. They also modified the stiffness of the shoe and the outsole to make it a crossover between a pure flat pedal shoe and a light hiker. Add in an upper design with protective features and the Trailcross GTX offers up a new approach for Five Ten without completely reinventing a lineup stalwart.
In short: The $200 Five Ten Trailcross GTX gives GORE-TEX center stage while embracing classic Five Ten tech and highlighting some useful new features for comfortable riding in uncomfortable conditions.
Five Ten Trailcross GTX Review
Out of the box, the Five Ten Trailcross GTX gives the impression of a winter-ready sneaker. The neoprene ankle cuff features a large Velcro enclosure, so opening it and using the pull tabs on both the front and back makes it relatively simple to pull on. The overbuilt rigid polyurethane on the upper gives off a sense of ruggedness.
Wearing the shoes for the first time in a record-breaking “Atmospheric River” rain event in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest put them to the test immediately. Of course, riding Galbraith Mountain in Washington state amid the rains meant plenty of mud, muck, and mire in addition to the downpour. The shoes kept my feet dry. Plain and simple.
Adidas brought out its dotted outsole for riding, but then modified both the toe and heel to offer more walkability. I found the Five Ten Stealth Phantom rubber grip incredibly grippy, more so than any other brand I had ridden recently. Even in mucky conditions with debris sticking in the outsole, Five Ten’s signature grip remained true in the Trailcross GTX.
The Trailcross GTX features slimmed-down EVA foam in the midsole, an average take on comfort.
Five Ten did create more flex in the shoe to make walking or hiking more achievable. This always comes as a tricky balance, though, as we’ve all worn flat pedal shoes so rigid you can barely take a step, and others so flexible you might as well have worn a typical running sneaker. The Trailcross GTX made walking — or pushing my bike up a steep incline — much more comfortable and realistic.
The modified traction at the toe and heel did help me grip the muddy trail, sometimes in the same places I’ve slipped in other brands. The design also meant that I was more comfortable wearing the shoe around town.
But it came at a cost: while adidas says they met the perfect balance, I felt a slight loss of pedal power on the tough climbs. Some tradeoff here is to be expected, though. It’s up to the wearer whether that tradeoff is worth it.
Waterproofing and Breathability
Let’s be frank: GORE-TEX knows breathable waterproofing. Really, it’s surprising that it took this long for a brand to partner with GORE-TEX on a flat pedal mountain biking shoe, because GORE-TEX delivers.
I spent hours outside in the Atmospheric River rain event, rode in wet weather, and even stood in ankle-deep mud puddles. My feet remained perfectly dry. The bootie construction and GORE-TEX membrane also helped keep them warm.
Overall, I enjoyed the breathability of the GORE-TEX membrane and didn’t feel overheated in the Trailcross GTX, but keep in mind it was 40 degrees outside during my rides. This was fall at its finest in the Pacific Northwest.
The neoprene cuff rises high enough that rain and mud don’t easily splash through the top of your shoe. I’ve had waterproof sneakers aplenty where the shoe does the work, but so much rain gets in from the ankle there was no point.
The neoprene assuages that concern and rises high enough that your pant will cover the top of the cuff anyway. The Velcro enclosure provides decently (but not perfect) security from rain, but the pants I wore — I tried multiple pairs with the shoes — were all able to cover the top and ensure that nothing slid down inside the shoe.
Adidas claims that the shoes are breathable enough for summer riding. Unfortunately, the weather conditions didn’t allow me to test those claims. But because of how built out the shoe is, I’m not convinced I’ll be pulling out the Trailcross GTX for warm-weather rides.
Fit & Feel
I don’t like laces on my flat pedal shoes. I just don’t. And I really didn’t love the Five Ten Trailcross GTX laces, as they were a touch too long without rising high enough to help secure the heel. There wasn’t a clever way to tuck them away, even if you could bunch them up and push them through the pull on the front of the bootie.
What I dislike more than laces, though, is when you tighten laces and the polyurethane on the outside of the shoe cinches tight enough to dig into your foot. With all that protection on the upper, you get a bit of a funky feel.
Sure, adidas did provide a couple of cutaways on the midsole to allow for more bend, but I found the rigidity of the upper less than comfortable in extreme bend situations. You likely won’t notice this on a regular step and certainly not when on your pedals, but it did come into play from time to time. It wasn’t enough to steer me away from the Trailcross GTX as a hike-a-bike option, but I wouldn’t be grabbing them as a hiking shoe.
Overall, the fit of the shoe ran true to size, especially in the forefoot. I found the heel a bit roomy, as the laces don’t rise to the neoprene cuff, and the Velcro strap made it difficult to really cinch the heel and back part of the shoe to the exact specifications I wanted.
If you’re looking for powerful protection on the ankle, you won’t find it. By making the neoprene cuff stretchy enough for an easy on-off situation — and it was a seamless on-off design — the Trailcross GTX forgoes heavy protection higher than the foot. That said, the Velcro strap and neoprene offer some cushioning and wear protection that is better than nothing.
For those who have worn other high-rise mountain biking shoes with weather protection, you may find the flexibility in the top on the Trailcross GTX a sudden increase in comfort. I know that other brands may provide protection high up, but that comes with the price of stiffness. The Trailcross GTX drops the stiffness and ups the comfort.
Should You Buy the Five Ten Trailcross GTX?
After spending some time in the Five Ten Trailcross GTX, nitpicking the pros and cons, the pros still outweighed the cons for me when looking for a weather-appropriate riding option.
My main concerns centered around the slight decrease in pedal power from the more flexible outsole that made it easier to walk in, the roominess in the heel noticed only when walking and not when riding and the rigidness of the polyurethane, which was again more of a walking issue than a riding issue.
What I did adore, though, was how warm and dry my feet remained, how snug my foot felt with the bootie-like construction, the sleekness of the design, and the grip on the pedals. Typically, the main reason you’re spending the extra cash on a waterproof design is for just that: waterproofing.
The Five Ten Trailcross GTX fully delivers on that front. For a waterproof flat-pedal mountain biking shoe you may occasionally wear off the bike, the Trailcross GTX may find a comfortable home on your favorite mucky mountain.
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