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Five Ten Kestrel Review

Five Ten Kestrel
Photo: Five Ten
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Price:  $200 List
Pros:  Durable, good traction on slick rock
Cons:  Heavy, uncomfortable
Manufacturer:   Five Ten
By Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 1, 2015
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  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Power Transfer - 30% 6
  • Traction Walkability - 20% 9
  • Durability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

This particular version of the Kestrel is no longer in production.

The Five Ten Kestrel is an enduro or trail riding shoe designed to excel in the same areas as the Giro Terraduro. We were excited when we got these shoes, and expected them to be a tough competitor in the enduro shoe genre. Unfortunately, they did not meet our expectations, primarily because they are not comfortable.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Five Ten Kestrel is an enduro shoe that incorporates the sticky rubber that made Five Ten famous in the rock-climbing world on the sole. Five Ten makes some excellent mountain bike shoes, including the HellCat, unfortunately we feel that they missed the mark a bit with the Kestrel. Read on to find out more.

Performance Comparison

Testing sag on the Specialized Enduro Expert in anticipation of a...
Testing sag on the Specialized Enduro Expert in anticipation of a trail ride while wearing the Five Ten Kestrel shoes.
Photo: Curtis Smith


The Five Ten Kestrel does not get high marks for comfort. The upper material is extremely stiff, and despite what we feel was ample time for them to break in, they never did. They feel boxy, stiff, and clunk on the foot. Very minimal padding on the tongue and ankle cuff lead to hot spots and blisters during long rides. The Kestrel uses a single Boa dial for retention. Unfortunately, the design and placement of the dial does not lead to an evenly tensioned or comfortable fit. We attribute this mostly to the fact that the Kestrel only uses one Boa dial, with a cable that threads through multiple contact points on the shoe much like laces would thread on a traditional tennis shoe. When you begin to tighten the dial, slack in the cable is taken up throughout the system, but at a certain point, the friction at the contact points becomes too great, and all further tensioning only impacts the top length of cable. The result is the inability to achieve the proper tension in the toe box and mid-foot area. Boa dials work well, but we feel that at least two are required to achieve even tensioning. We like the use of Boa dials on mountain bike shoes when it is executed well, see our review of the Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro for more on a shoe with Boa dials that we like.

The Five Ten Kestrel uses a single boa dial and long cables to...
The Five Ten Kestrel uses a single boa dial and long cables to provide retention. Unfortunately the cable tends to bind at the contact points preventing even tension across the shoe.
Photo: Curtis Smith


The Five Ten Kestrel was not the heaviest shoe we tested, but it was close.
The Five Ten Kestrel on the scale.
The Five Ten Kestrel on the scale.
Photo: Curtis Smith
To be fair, this shoe is only modestly heavier than the Giro Terraduro, the shoe it compares most closely to in our review.

Power Transfer

The Five Ten Kestrel has a "carbon infused shank", and feels quite stiff under pedaling load. While we did not notice much if any flex while pedaling, it never felt very efficient due to the poor fit. All of our testers had difficulty getting the toe box of the shoe to feel snug on the foot. This leads to the sensation that your foot is lifting up off of the insole during the upswing of the pedal stroke. We also had issues with the shoe coming into contact with the crank arm when trying to unclip. The overall width of the toe box combined with the lateral cleat placement position (this is not adjustable, the only adjustment is fore and aft) can make it very difficult to unclip.

Traction, Walking, Running

Traction on slick rock is excellent in the Kestrel; the combination of C4 rubber and MI6 makes navigating steep rock a breeze.
Stealth rubber is hard to beat when it comes to traction on rock....
Stealth rubber is hard to beat when it comes to traction on rock. Five Ten Kestrel.
Photo: Curtis Smith
Unfortunately, the sole is so stiff that just general walking feels a bit clunky and awkward. The sole, while sticky, lacks any lugs, so when it comes to walking in loose or wet soil these shoes are not the best.


This is one area that the Kestrel shines. The sole is very resistant to wear from walking and hiking. Almost the entire toe of the shoe is covered in tough rubber that is almost impervious to abrasion. The Boa dial could be better placed, it is located on the lateral portion of the shoe and is prone to impacts with rocks.

Best Applications

The Kestrel is best suited to gravity, trail, and enduro riding.


The Five Ten Kestrel is not a good value due to its poor performance during testing.


The concept of the Kestrel is sound, however the execution is not up the level of its competitors. Overall we were a bit disappointed with this shoe and would recommend you look at the Giro Terraduro, which is priced the same and is a much better option in this category.

Other Versions and Accessories

Five Ten offers a range of mountain bike shoes including the HellCat, one of our favorites at OutdoorGearLab.

Curtis Smith