Five Ten TrailCross LT Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Supremely versatile, excellent ventilation, tacky grip, easy to walk in
Cons: Not a dedicated mountain bike shoe, less supportive sole
Manufacturer: Adidas Five Ten
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Trailcross LT is a unique new model from Addidas/Five Ten. With a style reminiscent of a light hiking/trail running shoe, it doesn't look or feel quite like any other flat pedal shoe on the market. Billed as a shoe that "lets you pedal, push, and hike in any terrain with a breathable, quick-drying design for taking on any adventure." We found these versatile shoes deliver spectacular off-bike performance, decent power transfer, and impressive ventilation, while also delivering the incredible grip that FiveTen is known for.
If you ride with flat pedals, then you're likely already familiar with Five Ten's strong reputation for grippy mountain bike soles. The Five Ten Freerider Pro has been our Editor's Choice for years, due in part to this truly top-of-the-line grip. Despite having a slightly different focus, the Trailcross LT still delivers that classic Five Ten tackiness, albeit in a slightly different package.
[chartid=grip] - no chart data found for this chart]
The Trailcross LT utilizes a Stealth Phantom rubber sole which feels almost identical to the Freerider Pro's Stealth S1. This compound is a touch softer than most of the competition and really allows the pins to engage the rubber. When perched upon the pedals, you can really feel the pins dig into the sole to provide a locked-in feel. The outsole has a tread design comprised of raised dots under the midfoot with wider stepped lugs at the toe and heel for enhanced walking grip. Not only does the tacky Stealth rubber grip the pins well, but the dotty tread does a great job of engaging them. In addition to the impressive grip, we feel this rubber compound combines well with the EVA midsole for a little bit of damping that enhances comfort and helps keep the shoes from getting bounced from the pedals.
Given the intended application of the TrailCross LT, it does have a couple of quirks. The footprint of the shoe is a little smaller than the Freerider Pro or other shoes in the review. Since it doubles as an athletic sneaker, it is a little narrower, particularly at the arch, than the dedicated, 100% mountain bike focused competition. If you ride with your pedals way back under the middle of the foot, this may result in a little less sole to pedal interface. It also has a slightly more rockered design through the toe. This isn't a huge deal, but it does reduce the amount of the sole that contacts the pedals in some positions.
Off the bike, the traction is outstanding. The slightly rockered sole paired with easy flex through the toe creates an excellent walking motion. The Stealth Phantom rubber is grippy and hooks up well on almost all surfaces short of mud and slop. The tread design has also been optimized for walking, with stepped lugs at the toes and wide lugs at the heel for extra bite. If you frequently find yourself hiking across sketchy sections of trail with your bike on your shoulder…this is a great shoe for the job.
The TrailCross LT is a comfortable shoe with a performance fit. Overall, we found them to run a bit long (at least a half size), and also slightly narrower through the forefoot compared to most other shoes in the test, and definitely compared to other Five Ten models. That said, our testers with medium-volume feet were able to achieve a comfortable fit thanks to their supple mesh uppers, cushioned midsole, and minimalist protective features.
[chartid=fit and comfort] - no chart data found for this chart]
The soft and breathable mesh upper is extremely pleasant against the foot. It is quite soft and supple and easily conforms to shape of the foot. On the trail, this soft material isn't quite as supportive as sturdier synthetic materials. This can allow a little bit of lateral flex in the upper of the shoe when railing through a corner or making an awkward move on a techy climb, resulting in a slightly more vague side to side feel. That said, this material makes this the most breathable shoe we tested, which enhances its comfort in warm temperatures. The midsole of the shoe is made of EVA foam which does a great job of absorbing impact and helps to keep the feet feeling fresh.
The insole is generally pleasant and the thin, yet broad, tongue sits flat against the feet. We found it easy to pull even tension across the foot with the laces, although we could feel the shoe's laces through the thin, mesh tongue. We didn't find it to be too uncomfortable, although it could potentially create pressure points if the laces were over-tightened. Due to the relatively minimalist design of this shoe, it is somewhat light on protective features. It does, however, have a rubber cap that protects the toes at the front of the shoe, although it doesn't cover the vulnerable pinky toe knuckle. The heel pocket also has a nice reinforced feel that should help protect it from impacts.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The TrailCross LT offers decent levels of power transfer. Again, this shoe straddles the line between mountain biking and hiking, and the sole has been optimized to work pretty well for both activities. Considering how well these shoes work for walking/hiking, we were generally impressed by their power transfer. Shoe design is a game of compromises and we think FiveTen nailed it for the intended use of the Trailcross.
[chartid=rigidity and power transfer] - no chart data found for this chart]
When squeezing and twisting the shoe by hand, the softer flex of the Trailcross LT is apparent. This shoe flexes very easily from the ball of the foot forward, making it easy to have a natural walking motion. It does not flex much from the ball of the foot to the heel, and it feels stiff enough to keep the jarring trail forces from reaching your feet and causing discomfort and fatigue. When putting the power down on the pedals, you can certainly notice a slight amount of flex, but we don't think it significantly detracts from pedal efficiency. Yes, there are stiffer shoes that offer better power transfer, but none that match the hikeability of the Trailcross.
Off the bike, the soles feel great for walking considering their underfoot stiffness and respectable power transfer. No, this is not the shoe we'd choose to take for hikes without a bike, but we also wouldn't choose to bike in dedicated hiking shoes either. The slightly rockered forefoot paired with the easy flexing toe makes for a natural walking feel. If you tend to use the word "adventure" when describing your rides, the Trailcross will help make those long hike-a-bikes more tolerable.
The TrailCross LT is the most breathable shoe in our review, and it's not even close. This isn't all that surprising given the fact that the uppers are comprised almost entirely of a mesh material. This mesh allows air to escape and enter the shoe far more easily than the thicker synthetic materials found on the majority of the other shoes we tested. The lightly padded mesh tongue, thin laces, and even the perforated footbed also help to promote airflow, drainage, and quick drying.
[chartid=breathability] - no chart data found for this chart]
The Trailcross LT is a purpose-built adventure riding shoe and that is apparent in the especially airy, quick-drying design. The mesh uppers allow for impressive airflow and ventilation, making them a great choice for summer, the desert, or any hot climate. The flip side is that they won't keep your feet very warm when the seasons change and the temperatures inevitably dip. The mesh uppers also tend to allow water to pass through them to the feet quickly, however, they dry out nearly as fast for the same reason. The insoles are even perforated under the forefoot to allow water to pass through and drain.
Throughout testing, we observed no significant signs of wear or premature breakdown of materials aside from some minor pin-scarring in the soles. The quality of craftsmanship appears to be quite good, although we would be remiss not to mention our durability concerns.
[chartid=durability] - no chart data found for this chart]
One thing that should be noted is the tacky Stealth rubber sole will be prone to wearing out a little quicker than harder sole materials, a tradeoff for their impressive grip. The soles of our test shoes are already showing some minor wear from the pedal pins. The mesh material used in the uppers also seems prone to damage from abrasion, especially when compared to the beefier synthetic materials used in other models we tested. If you value breathability, this tradeoff may be worth it for you. Again, we didn't experience any premature wear of the mesh material, so this is just speculation but we feel is worthy of mention.
Our size 10 TrailCross LT shoes hit the scale at an average of 400-grams, or 14.1-ounces, per shoe. While they aren't the lightest shoes in the test, they aren't that far off, and the super-breathable construction and mesh upper makes them feel extremely light. In addition, the great walking motion only adds to that light and fantastically feathery feel.
We feel the TrailCross LT is a strong value for the right buyer. If you prioritize adventure rides and versatility, this shoe is an absolute no-brainer. The design quality is excellent, the level of grip is top-notch and the hiking experience is unrivaled. This shoe hikes better than any mountain bike shoe and it rides exponentially better than any hiking shoe. That said, those seeking a dedicated riding shoe will probably be better offer spending their money elsewhere.
The Trailcross LT is a unique shoe aimed squarely at the adventure rider. Basically a hybrid mountain biking and hiking shoe, it blends unrivaled off-the-bike hiking performance with classic, tacky Five Ten grip and pedal traction. It also offers outstanding breathability and respectable power transfer in a lightweight, versatile package. This shoe is an excellent option for the rider who likes to explore and doesn't shy away from extended hike-a-bikes, creek crossings, or the unknown.
— Pat Donahue
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More