Reviews You Can Rely On

Five Ten HellCat Review

Five Ten HellCat
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $150 List | $99.99 at Evo
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, durable, stylish
Cons:  Heavy, not versatile
Manufacturer:   Five Ten
By Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 1, 2015
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
  • Comfort - 20% 9.0
  • Weight - 15% 4.0
  • Power Transfer - 30% 6.0
  • Traction Walkability - 20% 8.0
  • Durability - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Five Ten HellCat is a downhill and enduro specific clipless mountain bike shoe. There is not a lift line in world where you will not see a few pairs of these shoes. To say that they are popular would be an understatement. In addition to being a favorite of the OutdoorGearLab staff, the HellCat has graced the World Cup podium more than once. This shoe looks very similar to many skate shoes, but don't be fooled; the HellCat is packed with mountain bike specific features. The HellCat is most comparable to the Giro Terraduro, but it comes in a bit more fashionable design and weighs a bit more. Five Ten markets the shoe as a downhill and all mountain design, and we found it to be best suited to downhill and bike park use.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Five Ten HellCat is a downhill specific shoe with a casual look. It goes well with full platform pedals such as the Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race and the Crankbrothers Mallet 3. If laps in the bike park are your thing, then this is the shoe for you.

Performance Comparison

The HT X1 is a full platform clipless pedal for downhill mountain...
The HT X1 is a full platform clipless pedal for downhill mountain biking. It is best paired with a pair of soft, flexible bike shoes like this model, the Hellcat, from Five Ten. Note the Velcro strap which protects the laces from tangling with your chain.
Credit: McKenzie Long


Comfort is at the top of the list of attributes and accolades we can bestow upon the HellCat. These shoes feel as comfortable as your favorite skate shoe, with lots to padding around the ankle cuff and tongue. They feel similar on the foot to the Giro Terraduro, but are a bit more boxy and rigid in the upper. A rigid toecap offers great protection for those unintentional encounters with rocks and trail debris, and the toe box also has a thin layer of padding to keep you comfortable. The HellCat is the only shoe we tested that utilizes traditional laces for retention. Laces can provide a very precise level of tension, but they cannot be adjusted while riding and require the rider to stop to make adjustments. One advantage of laces is that if you have a failure or wear out a lace, you can easily find a replacement. The HellCats also feature a Velcro strap up near the ankle cuff that can be used to fine tune tension as well as keep the laces in check so they don't find their way into your drive train. Lack of ventilation is the only downside to the HellCat; they have no vents and can be very hot on a warm day.

The Mallet 3 is best partnered with a softer, grippy shoe, like the...
The Mallet 3 is best partnered with a softer, grippy shoe, like the Five Ten Hellcat pictured here.
Credit: Karl Anderson


The KOMs you will be chasing with this shoe will likely be of the downhill variety. Weighing in at 2lbs 9.3oz, the HellCat is the heaviest shoe we tested. If all you ride is downhill, then you probably don't care, but if you are looking for a dual-purpose shoe, there are lighter options available.

Power Transfer

The Five Ten HellCat is not one of the best pedaling shoes we tested. This is due to the use of a nylon midsole plate that does not run the full length of the shoe. The platform directly under the cleat attachment zone is fairly stiff, but the shoe has quite a bit of flex in the mid portion. The HellCat is best when paired with a full platform clipless pedal, which can make up for some of the flex by increasing the size of the contact patch. That being said, for the short bursts of power that characterize downhill riding, the HellCat is more than adequate, it is during long trail rides where we noticed the lack of efficiency.

The Eggbeater 2 has the smallest amount of contact area of the...
The Eggbeater 2 has the smallest amount of contact area of the pedals we tested and should be combined with very stiff-soled shoes. The Five Ten Hellcats pictured here are much too flexible to be used with the Eggbeater and would be better paired with a full platform pedal.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Traction, Walking, Running

The Stealth S1 rubber soles of the HellCat provide tons of traction when navigating rocky sections of trail or doing course walks. (This is a shoe from a well-regarded sticky rubber climbing shoe manufacturer after all.)
The Stealth S1 sole on the Five Ten HellCat gives excellent traction...
The Stealth S1 sole on the Five Ten HellCat gives excellent traction on slick rock.
Credit: Curtis Smith
According to Five Ten, the S1 rubber also absorbs more shock than other types of rubber. While this was not noticeable during testing, we did notice that the S1 rubber provides an excellent interface with most full platform clipless pedals.

Walking in the HellCats is about as comfortable as it gets in a clipless mountain bike shoe with any sort of decent pedaling platform. There is just enough flex to allow for a normal stride and gait. Our only complaint is the lack of tread, which can make the shoes a bit prone to clogging with mud when riding in wet conditions.


The HellCats have no shortcomings here. This is one bombproof shoe. The sole is incredibly resistant to wear, despite being very grippy. The synthetic leather upper is also very resistant to abrasion and wear. Some of our testers have gotten multiple seasons of use out of their personal HellCats. The only portion of the shoe that is prone to wear is the laces, but they are so cheap and easy to replace that we do not see this as a significant issue.

Best Applications

The Five Ten HellCats are best suited to downhill riding, but they are also a capable trail shoe when paired with a full platform pedal. If you like riding the bike park, this shoe should be on your kit list.

Pedals make up two of your 5 contact points with a bike. Choosing...
Pedals make up two of your 5 contact points with a bike. Choosing the right pair of pedals (coupled with the right shoes) for your bike and riding style will enhance your confidence and can help you build your skills. Here the Crankbrothers Mallet 3 and the Five Ten Hellcat go for a test spin at the bike park.
Credit: Luke Lydiard


For $150, the Five Ten HellCat's are a good value. These shoes should get you through many seasons, and will probably outlast much of your other gear.


The Five Ten HellCat is an excellent, downhill oriented clipless mountain bike shoe. It is a comfortable, durable shoe that provides excellent protection for the foot. A long time favorite of the OutdoorGearLab staff, lets hope Five Ten keeps making this shoe for a long time to come.

Curtis Smith
You Might Also Like

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