Bontrager Foray Review
Cons: Loose toe box, disconnected feel, not the most protective
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Our Analysis and Test Results
On the whole, the Bontrager Foray performed well, being lightweight and nicely made at a great price point. The Boa dial system, grippy sole, and resistant upper material make for a shoe that will likely appeal to a wide range of riders. Comfort was the divisive factor for testers of this shoe, with some appreciating the looser feel, and others becoming frustrated at the inability to tighten the toe box adequately to acquire maximum power. The results from the large toe box will vary depending on the shape of your foot, and we highly recommend trying on a pair of Forays before buying.
A high stack height where the cleat sits and a loose fitting toe box overwhelmed the stiff sole of the Bontrager Foray, resulting in a comparatively low score in power transfer when compared against similar XC/trail shoes such as the Scott MTB Team Boa, the Giro Empire VR90, and even the Enduro designed Five Ten Kestral Pro Boa. We found ourselves disappointed with the pedaling manners and lack of a secure fit on the Foray, which may not be as much as an issue for those with larger forefeet/toes.
While being comfortable out of the box, the fit of the Bontrager Foray seems to depend heavily on the shape of an individuals forefoot. Those with narrower feet may find themselves swimming in these shoes while those with wider feet may be right at home. If laying down the power isn't your primary concern, the Foray is a great choice for all-day comfort.
There is a reasonable amount of padding around the heel pocket and ankle cuff of the shoe, with additional protection provided by large rubber rands on the toe and heel. Ventilation is taken care of by many perforations throughout the shoe, which succeeded in keeping the foot cool without bringing in water during water crossings. The shoe has a single BOA dial, which utilizes a crisscrossed cable design to tighten down the uppers while reducing the need to tighten multiple dials. The issue with having only a single dial means there is minimal adjustment around the toes, making it feel slightly less secure. The single velcro strap across the forefoot does a decent job of tightening this part of the shoe, but couldn't account for all of the roominess that our testers felt.
Traction and Walkability
In head to head tests with the Scott MTB Team Boa, the Giro Empire VR90 and the Giro Privateer R, the Bontrager Foray is equal to the Privateer at the lower end of the traction spectrum. The large lugs on the sole were able to dig into loose dirt or scree but struggled to find confidence inspiring grip on rocks or deadfall. Some testers found their toes to wiggle around in the large toe box of the Foray, providing extra comfort while walking along flat ground and causing frustration on steep uphills.
Overall, the Foray is a comfortable shoe for walking and provides adequate traction for most trail riders — middle of the road performance in this area at a middle of the road price.
The Foray tips the scales at 402g per shoe for our size 45 test pair, which is incredibly light for its price. It is only 14g heavier than the Editors' Choice award-winning Giro Empire VR90 and significantly lighter than our top pick for enduro racers, the Five Ten Kestral Pro Boa.
Utilizing polyurethane-coated synthetic upper material, the Foray will stand up to abuse for quite some time across a variety of riding styles. Rubber rands at the toe and heel add additional protection against rock strikes and while hiking up hills. The primary concerns to durability are the exposed Boa dial, which can be replaced easily in case of damage, and the nylon rubber sole, which is not as grippy, nor as durable as the soles found on similar shoes such as the Giro Empire VR90 or the Scott MTB Team Boa.
At a very reasonable price, the Bontrager Foray is a quality buy, with a few quirks that kept it from being one of our favorites of the test. Quality design, materials, and features such as those found on this shoe are rare at this price point. For a similar cost though, the similar Scott MTB Team Boa can be had with a more secure feeling fit and higher degree of power transfer. Assuming you appreciate the fit and styling of the Foray, it is a great buy.
The Bontrager Foray is a good mountain bike shoe. It is versatile and offers performance and features that most riders love at a low price point. Is the fit up to snuff for the rigors of riding and potentially racing? That is up to you, but we believe other shoes offer equally if not better performance at similar costs.
— Dillon Osleger