The Best Cycling Touring shoes in 2020 ( Reviews & Guide )


 Shoes designed for road cycling are uncomfortable to walk in. Shoes designed for walking are not ideal for cycling.  What happens when you will be doing both? Do you have to keep switching shoes?

I have been on more than my share of bike tours over the years. The Hells Gate Canyon Tour and the Long Island Tour were the last two I took.

One thing I have learned is that shoes can be what comes between you and having the time of your life on a bicycle tour. If they are not quite appropriate to the conditions out there, you could end up with endlessly aching and sometimes injured feet.

Your feet are as important as your wheels. You need them well taken care of and comfortable all through your tour.

Here are some brands I have come across over the years and concluded that they are the best cycling touring shoes you could get your hands on.


The Best Cycling Touring Shoes – A Comparison Table

Cycling touring shoes
Outsole material
Closure system
Upper material
Action
PEARL iZUmi X – Alp Journey
Carbon rubber
Quick lacing
Plastic (66%)

Textile (34%)

Adidas Terrex Swift R2
Continental rubber with lugs
Speed laces with bungees
Ripstop nylon
Shimano SPD 5
Rubber
Straps
Synthetic leather
Evolv Cruzer Approach
TRAX rubber
Laces
100% canvas

PEARL iZUMi X- Alp Journey Shoes – Our Top Pick

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If your touring will take you into rough terrains thesePEARL iZUMi cycling and hiking shoes give you everything you need.

Specs

  • Carbon rubber outsole
  • Upper: 66% plastic and 34% textile with mesh construction
  • Bonded upper
  • SPD compatible (2-bolt)
  • Quick lacing closure system

The bonded, seamless upper is made of plastic and textile (66% plastic and 34% textile) to make sure you are comfortable even when you spend entire days in these shoes. A mesh construction gives them superior breathability and makes them fast-drying.

A combination of a rubber outsole and SPD compatibility makes pedaling efficient and allows you to walk comfortably when you need to get off the bike.

A bootie-like upper construction brings the shoe slightly higher up the ankle making it comfortable whether you have socks on or not.

The lightweight EVA midsole gives soft cushioning and the carbon rubber outsole is lugged for superior traction as well as durability. A quick lacing closure system lets you pull the lace once for comfortable and secure fastening.

Some people have complained that their shoes had a slightly larger fit than the quoted size. If you have narrow feet, it is best to try them on before you buy. You may need to go with a size smaller than your regular shoe size.

Pros

  • Bootie- like fit
  • Comfortable
  • Quick lacing system
  • SPD compatible
  • Light midsole
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Fit slightly larger than quoted size

Verdict

Here is a pair of cycling touring shoes designed for cycling and rough trails usually experienced during hiking. A rubber outsole and SPD compatibility makes them great for both cycling and walking.

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Adidas Terrex Swift R2 Shoes

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The first thing you notice when you wear these shoes is their weight and how stiff the platform is.

Specs

  • Built on a boarded last
  • Outsole: Continental rubber with lugs
  • Upper: ripstop nylon
  • Closure: Speed lace with bungees
  • Padded and gusseted tongue
  • Weight: 12. Ounces ( size 9)

Size 9 weighs 12.3 ounces. The platform is built on a boarded last. This is a plastic or paper board base attached to the bottom of the shoe’s upper and midsole. This base is the reason this shoe provides exceptional protection underfoot and can take heavy loads. If your tour involves some hiking which requires you to carry heavy loads, your shoes should be up to the task.

The outsole is a favorite feature in these shoes. It is made of Continental rubber, designed with aggress L-shaped lugs running from the heel to the toe. Lugs bite into gravel, sand or mud to provide traction.

Ripstop nylon, a strong, durable and abrasion resistant material is used to make the upper. What is great about this material is that it will keep your feet warm during colder months. It also acts as a strong barrier to protect the feet from jagged rocks or sharp thorns which are often part of hiking.

These advantages come with drawbacks such as overheating of feet during warmer months. The strong fabric also takes long to dry.

The heel is well padded with an external plastic counter. It is slightly lower than in other shoes and this causes some heel slip.  Fortunately, this sipping tends to diminish as you break in the shoes, as your foot settles better into the midsole.

For closure, a speed lace system with bungees is used to make fastening quick, easy and safe. Laces are attached to 3 plastic bands around a forefoot anchor and the midfoot. Under these is a padded and gusseted tongue which prevents sand, dirt and debris from finding its way into the shoe. This lacing system provides lateral stability with no pressure points and no hotspots.

Pros

  • Exceptional protection
  • Well-padded heel
  • Convenient closure system
  • No pressure points or hotspots

Cons

  • Heavy shoe
  • Takes long to break in
  • Low heel
  • Takes long to dry

Verdict

This pair is best for cycling tours which involve a lot of hiking. If you are looking for strong, highly protective shoes, the Adidas Terrex Swift R2 are a good option. This strength and superior protection from the upper and underfoot comes with extra weight and poor drainage.

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Shimano SD 5

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Specs

  • Open shoes/sandal design
  • Closure: straps
  • Synthetic leather upper
  • Rubber outsole
  • 2-hole cleats
  • Weight: about 1 lb. ( per pair)

If you are touring in the summer, you don’t have to suffer with overheating feet. Shimano SD 5 are sandals designed for long distance cycling therefore assuring you of fresh, cool feet.

A flat foot bed makes these shoes comfortable to wear for extended periods. A 2-cleat design makes it possible to pedal efficiently while the rubber outsole gives some rigidity with walking comfort for when you get off the bike.

The uppers are made of synthetic leather with mesh layering. This material ensures good moisture control and makes them quite durable. Mesh adds to breathability.

A dual strap closure gives you a comfortable, secure fit as well as adds to aesthetic appeal. The design which utilizes minimal material and the closure system used makes them a light option.

You will need to be careful when walking in these shoes, especially if your tour involves hiking. They have no toe protection so you may end up with some injuries.

You are advised to buy these sandals one size larger than your standard street shoe size.

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Good moisture control
  • SPD compatible

Cons

  • No toe protection
  • Not appropriate for cold weather

Verdict

Persevering overheating feet in the name of quality cycling shoes can now be a struggle of the past. These sandals give you everything yourregular cycling shoes have to offer as well as the chance to breathe, feel the fresh air in between your toes as you ride.

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Evolv Cruzer Approach Shoes

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One look at the Evolv Cruzer Approach shoes and you can tell they are different from just about all the other bike touring shoes you have seen. This is a minimalist shoe designed to be as light as possible. It falls in the middle of the field between style and performance.

Specs

  • TRAX rubber outsole
  • EVA midsole
  • Micro-fiber foam insole
  • 100% cotton canvas upper
  • Lace closure
  • Rear loop
  • Weight: 7.7 ounces per shoe

These shoes are ideal for cycling tours involving rock climbing. The manufacturers works with TRAX rubber to develop eco-TRAX, a high friction rubber compound made from recycled material. This is what you find on the shoe’s outsole. It gives you sufficient friction when cycling and good traction for walking.

On the inside, there is a micro-fiber lined memory foam insole which makes the shoes comfortable and allows you to wear them with or without socks.

The upper is made of 100 percent cotton canvas. Some people like the canvas look while others feel it makes shoes look cheap. You can’t, however, go wrong with canvas when it comes to ventilation. It allows air circulation which makes these shoes very breathable.

The closure system used is laces with 2 eyelets. These sit over a dual overlap tongue. Laces are preferred because they ensure a tight fit but can get caught in the chain or tangle on the pedal. The tongue helps to keep the foot from slipping from side to side.

Features which serve the rock climbing target include a loop at the rear. With this you can easily hook your shoes onto your belay and be on your way. They are very light so carrying them, whether it is in a bag pack on the bike or up the rocks is easy.

Apart from impeccable performance, this is also a really stylish shoe. You can wear it on the road and it is still trendy enough for you to use it with a pair of jeans or shorts for a night out at the bar.

The fit is quite tight. The manufacturer recommends buying one size up unless you have very narrow feet.

The obvious drawbacks have to do with the canvas upper which like any other cotton material easily absorbs water. Even small amounts of water pass through it onto your feet.

Pros

  • High friction, eco-friendlyoutsole
  • Great breathability
  • Folding heel
  • Lightweight
  • Can be worn laced up or as slip ons

Cons

  • Not water proof
  • Not durable

Verdict

These are cycling shoes with a heavy leaning towards climbing. If your touring involves rock climbing, these are the shoes for you. After all that you can use them for a smart casual look.

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What to Consider When Buying the Best Cycling Touring Shoes

Primary Activity – Cycling or Walking

The shoes you wear as you cycle are important because they are the interface between you and the pedal. They can make the difference between a fun and a painful tour especially if you are going to be on the road all day, every day for days, weeks or even months.

Shoes with stiff soles are great for cycling because they very efficiently transfer power from your foot to the pedal. These however are not comfortable for walking. Shoes which are comfortable for walking have softer soles but are not efficient in transferring power to the pedals.

Do you anticipate to be spending more time walking or cycling? Is it likely to be a half and half situation?Your answer to this determines the cycling touring shoes you settle on.

 Upper Material

The upper material of your cycling tour shoes are likely to get wet and dry out repeatedly as you go along. It could be lightly wet from sweat, drenched from rain, cycling through a small river or anything in between.

Many manufacturers opt for synthetic material for shoe uppers because they perform better with repeated wetting and drying. Most shoes have mesh panels for better air circulation which helps to keep feet cool as well as dry the inside when needed.

Material used on this part also determines how easy or difficult it will be to clean the shoes. As long as you are touring, your shoes are going to get dirty…maybe extremely dirty so you want shoes which are can be cleaned quickly and easily.

Closures

There are several options to choose from when it comes to closures.

Laces: Under these there are standard laces which cross over the upper to give the shoe a neat and comfortable fit. With laces, you need to be careful that long laces don’t get tangled between the pedal and crank or get caught in the chain rings.

Quick lace systemsare designed such that they don’t leave any lace to tangle. They are convenient and fast to work with but may not adjust sufficiently or offer consistent tightness across the entire foot.

Then there are lace -less closures like Velcro straps and ratchet based closures. These give a tight and comfortable hold without the possibility of laces tangled anywhere but may be too bulky for some people.

None can be said to be better than the other. Closure choice usually comes down to personal preference.

Cleats

Amajority of touring cyclists use standard 2-bolt cleats which are used with pedals manufactured by Shimano, Time, Crank Brothers or other major pedal makers.

You can use cycling shoes with cleats which are fully exposed. This makes clipping onto the pedal easier but then makes walking uncomfortable. If you find yourself walking on a hard floor, the cleats make loud clicking noises and could damage some floors.

The alternative is a pair of cycling shoes with recessed cleats. With these it takes a little more effort when it is time to clip them on but makes walking a lot easier.

Weather conditions

You really can’t afford to ignore Mother Nature when you are taking off on a cycling tour. She determines the shoes you take with you. If you will be touring in the middle of summer, chances are that your feet will overheat soon after you put them on if you are wearing a regular pair of cycling shoes.

In extremely hot weather, go for a good quality pair of cycling sandals. They keep your feet cool and still give you the grip required to keep your pedaling efficient. On the other hand, if you are touring during colder months of the year, sandals just won’t do. Get your hands on a pair of cycling boots which keep your feet warm while still maintaining comfortable pedaling.

Conclusion

Picking the perfect pair of shoes for your cycling tour boils down to versatility. You must pick shoes which allow you to enjoy every part of your tour. That includes both cycling and walking or hiking.

There are lots of options in the market which allow you to consider other factors like prevailing weather conditions, breathability and of course aesthetic appeal. Good quality shoes which meet all your needs don’t have to be unattractive.

 FAQs

Is cycling barefoot an option?

You can cycle barefoot if you have flat pedals. These are any pedals which don’t have small spikes or anything on the surface designed to improve grip on a shoe.

I have heard about cycling socks with cycling shoes. Are these for warmth?

Cycling socks are designed for use with cycling shoes. They are thin so don’t stretch the shoes and ruin the fit.