Five Ten Hellcat - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, stiff, good power transfer, large cleat opening
Cons: Not waterproof, velcro strap too long
Manufacturer: Adidas Five Ten
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Five Ten has long been known for making quality mountain bike shoes and the Hellcat Women's is no exception. Our testers found the Five Ten Hellcat to not only perform well in a variety of conditions, but to also be packed with features typically found in more expensive shoes, such as a gusseted tongue and reinforced eyelets, earning our Best Bang for Your Buck Award. The Hellcats feature Five Ten's Stealth C4 rubber sole, which our testers appreciate on hike-a-bikes involving slabs and rocks, where the shoes' soles cling to the rock. The three-quarter dual-density TPU shank and EVA midsole provide exceptional power transfer, shock absorption, stiffness and control over the pedals and we were able to easily and comfortably push, pull, drop and jump in these shoes, making them a great choice for an all-round shoe.
Stability and Control
The first time we wore the Hellcats, we were incredibly impressed with the shoe's stiffness and our ability to transfer power into our pedals. Our testers feel the Hellcats' power transfer is more on par with more expensive shoes featuring a carbon sole.
The Hellcat features a 1 ⅜" cleat opening, making it one of the larger openings of all the shoes we tested. This not only allows us to place the cleat in our ideal position, it also makes clipping in and out much easier in comparison to shoes whose cleat opening is only 1" in size.
The other benefits our testers found to the larger cleat opening is an increased ability to stand and apply pressure into the pedals. In shoes where the cleat is more forward we had to be more conscious about dropping our heel to maintain a neutral position on the pedals, as our foot wanted to rotate forward due to the cleat placement. With the larger cleat opening on the Hellcat, it is easier to maintain a neutral position on the pedals because the cleat is closer to our midfoot.
The Hellcat's stiffness comes from a three-quarter dual-density TPU shank and EVA midsole making it not only stiff, but also giving it excellent shock absorption properties. Where some shoes we tested lack a shock-absorbing footbed or midsole, the Hellcat soaks up impacts and trail chatter before it reaches our feet. Our testers find this property to be especially important when riding more technical terrain, dropping or jumping, as shoes that lack impact protection send these forces into our feet causing discomfort.
The Five Ten Hellcat Women's are comfortable right out of the box and remained that way throughout testing. The Hellcat uses a combination of lacing and a velcro closure, allowing the rider to lace the shoe as snug or as loose as you like. An elastic retainer is sewn into the tongue, allowing you to tuck your laces away and prevent them from ending up in your chain. This feature is quite handy and is not found on all the lace-up models we tested.
Unlike other shoes we tested, we found no pressure points with the Hellcat, and we never experienced issues with rubbing, hot spots, or other uncomfortable points on our feet, earning it high marks for comfort. We did at times find the velcro closure hit the front of our ankle; and although it does not cause much discomfort, we do find it to be mild annoyance and wish it was a few millimeters farther towards the forefoot as to prevent it from hitting the ankle. We also feel the velcro strap is too long, as it hangs out from the side of our shoe with nothing to attach to and find this odd considering other models by Five Ten do not have this issue.
The uppers of the Hellcat are a weather-resistant, micro-perforated synthetic material. We wore the Hellcat's in a variety of temperatures, ranging from 25 degrees to over 80 degrees, and found them to breathe fairly well, although not as well as models we tested due to the reinforced impact protection areas. On a four-hour ride in temps between 25 and 35 degrees, we were pleasantly surprised at how warm the Hellcat's kept our feet. Typically, we have issues with keeping their feet warm in cold temps, but not in the Hellcats.
The eyelets found on the Hellcat's uppers are also reinforced, making the shoe easier to lace and also adding to the shoe's durability. Unlike other shoes we tested, that do not have reinforced eyelets, this small addition makes a big difference in lacing the shoe, as eyelets allow us to easily push the string through.
Our testers enjoy the grip that the Hellcats' Stealth C4 rubber provides on rocks and slabs, making it one of our top-performing shoes in this category. Unlike other shoes whose soles cake with mud or slip on rocks, we never experienced any issues that detract from our ability to walk and hike in the Hellcats comfortably.
The sole of the Hellcat is quite stiff, especially when you try to flex it in your hand, but once on your foot provides appropriate flex behind the toe making it quite comfortable to walk in. The StealthC4 rubber outsole is the same rubber Five Ten uses in their rock climbing shoes and provides exceptional grip on rock surfaces ranging from babyhead's to slabs. Our testers especially appreciate this stickiness on hike-a-bikes over large rock slabs in the desert where scrambling is involved and where we could smear our foot on the rock without fear of losing gripe.
The Hellcat's outsole is made from climbing rubber and we expected it to perform well on rock, but not necessarily in the mud, however, the rubber sole shed mud and resisted caking.
The Hellcats provide impact protection not only in the midsole and footbed, but also in the shoe's uppers which are constructed of a weather-resistant, micro-perforated synthetic material. From heel to toe, there are reinforced areas where the foot is most vulnerable, such as the ball of the foot and toe box. During testing in Colorado, we had a few rocks from the trail kick up and hit our feet, but we never felt their impact, nor did we experience any bruising to our foot from the impact.
Advertised as having a weather-resistant upper, we were surprised when water easily entered through the shoe's upper when riding through a puddle, leaving our sock wet. It is because of this that the Hellcat scored as it did in this metric, as other shoes we tested offered better protection against water.
The Hellcat is the only shoe we tested with a gusseted tongue, which is a nice feature as it helps to keep dirt and debris out of the shoe. Despite the shoes being dirty and dusty on the outside, our socks stayed nice and clean. The Hellcat's protection and gusseted tongue are two features that helped it to earn Best Bang for Your Buck award.
A pair of 8.5US women's Hellcats weighs in at 437grams, making it one of the heavier shoes we tested; thus it's lower score in this metric. However, the weight is on par with shoes that offer similar foot and impact protection.
The Hellcats not only performed well in all conditions, they also have design features such as reinforced eyelets, a gusseted tongue, and elastic lace retainer, that are not found on other shoes of a similar price. The stability and control offered by the Hellcats is on par with or better than more expensive shoes we tested, earning it our Best Bang for your Buck Award.
The Five Ten Hellcat earns its high marks due to its outstanding performance, and the moderate price tag helped it to earn Best Bang for Your Buck. The Hellcat consistently performs well in a variety of conditions and our testers feel it's stiffness and impact absorption to be on par or better than more expensive shoes we tested. We also appreciate the small details, such as reinforced eyelets and a gusseted tongue, which help set it apart, although we do wish it had a more waterproof upper. Overall, we did not find a shoe that offered the same amount of comfort and performance for the dollar, earning it Best Bang for Your Buck.
— Tara Reddinger-Adams