Can I use hiking shoes for mountain biking? Everyone knows how durable hiking shoes are. However, you might be wondering if they’re any good for pedaling a mountain bike.

Hiking shoes are a viable option for mountain biking. The stiff soles and durability are perfect for supporting your foot while pedaling. The waterproofing can actually keep your feet dry in muddy conditions.

The grip to the pedals many not be as good as a dedicated flat sole mountain bike shoes, but if you don’t have dedicated MTB shoes, hiking shoes are the next best option. 

Can I Use Hiking Shoes For Mountain Biking?

Have you ever wondered whether or not you can use hiking shoes for mountain biking? Hiking and mountain biking are two sports done in similar environments. For this reason, some outdoor enthusiasts who love biking and hiking wonder if hiking shoes are also suitable for mountain biking.

Use Hike Shoes for MTB
Use Hike Shoes for MTB

Hiking Shoes: Are They Compatible With Mountain Biking?

Hiking is one of the most accessible sports activities. The main reason is that it does not require special skills, just a good pair of hiking shoes and a survival kit. Similarly, mountain biking requires a pair of sports shoes, a survival kit, and additional protective gear.

So, if you are a hiker fond of trail riding, you can use your hiking shoes for mountain biking. Hiking shoes are versatile and highly durable to handle any outdoor sport, regardless of their difficulty. But apart from durability, there are other reasons why hiking shoes can make a good mountain biking shoes substitute:

1. Hiking shoes have rugged soles

It would be best if you went through a harsh environment with various obstacles when hiking and mountain biking. Regular sports shoes will quickly wear out on the sole, considering how rough the trails are.

On the other hand, hiking shoes have rigid soles. Manufacturers made it especially for rough environments that regular shoes cannot stand. For this reason, hiking shoes will not quickly wear out regardless of how rugged the trails are.

Similarly, mountain biking shoes need rugged soles to transfer more power to your pedaling. The rugged soles also protect your feet from soreness caused by the pressure of pedaling for hours.

2. Provides excellent grip on surfaces

Hiking shoes can grip surfaces while you are walking excellently. It prevents accidental falls, especially if a hiking trail has a slippery surface. The impressive grip of hiking shoes is also beneficial for pedaling a mountain bike. It prevents your feet from slipping off the pedals, which makes pedaling somewhat easier.

3. Hiking shoes can withstand the abuse

Mountain biking involves pedaling continuously to get to your destination. It causes abuse to mountain biking shoes, so they need to be highly durable. Luckily, hiking shoes are durable enough to withstand mountain biking’s harsh riding conditions.

4. There are waterproof hiking shoes available

You never know when the rain will pour while you are mountain biking. For this reason, having a pair of waterproof shoes is advantageous. This way, you will not have to withstand soaking your feet in wet shoes.

So, if you have waterproof hiking shoes, they can make suitable footwear for mountain biking.

5. The soles of hiking shoes pair well with flat pedals

If your hiking shoes are not too large, they pair well with mountain bikes equipped with flat pedals. Flat pedals do not require specially designed shoes, so pedaling with hiking shoes should be easy. (source)

Shoes, Socks and Pedals – taking care of your feet riding is critical. Check out the articles below:

The Pros And Cons Of Using Hiking Shoes For Mountain Biking


  • Hiking shoes are usable for various outdoor activities
  • You can use hiking shoes in different weather conditions
  • They are usually easier to find than mountain biking shoes
  • The soles of hiking shoes provide excellent grip
  • The versatility of hiking shoes lets you save money from buying different shoes for different outdoor activities.


  • Hiking shoes are expensive
  • Some hiking shoes have soles that are a bit too flexible for pedaling
  • Large hiking shoes may not fit mountain bike pedals

Difference Between Hiking And Mountain Biking Shoes

Of course, hiking and mountain biking shoes are for different outdoor activities. For this reason, you need to expect some differences.

For instance, hiking shoes have a thick cushion that absorbs shock and vibration as you walk on rough trails. While mountain bikers experience shock and vibrations, too, they need thin and lightweight shoes to gain more pedaling speed and agility.

Some hiking shoes also tend to be larger than mountain biking shoes. If you have such hiking shoes, you may find it challenging to find a comfortable position on the pedal as the shoes may not fit.

If you are using a mountain bike with clipless pedals, it may not be ideal to pair hiking shoes with it. The reason is that such a mountain bike needs shoes with cleats. The shoes’ cleats connect with the pedals, preventing your feet from slipping off as you conquer the trails.

In case it is not familiar, specialized mountain biking shoes for clipless pedals have a small metal attachment on their soles. These metal attachments lock in with clipless pedals, thus keeping your feet in place.

Regarding the price, hiking shoes tend to be more expensive than mountain biking shoes. It also has better rigidity, making transferring power from your legs into your bike’s pedals easier. (source)

Should You Still Invest In Mountain Biking Shoes?

Dedicated Mountain Bike Clipless Shoes
Dedicated Mountain Bike Clipless Shoes

An excellent pair of shoes is vital if you want to enjoy your mountain biking adventure. While hiking shoes are undoubtedly exceptional, specialized mountain biking shoes have features for pedaling and withstanding various terrains. So, getting a pair of mountain biking shoes is essential if you want to take mountain biking as a serious outdoor sport.

Below are the reasons why it is ideal to invest in mountain biking shoes:

Should you pedal when changing gears on a bike
Should you pedal when changing gears on a bike

Mountain biking shoes offer protection

Undoubtedly, hiking shoes can protect your feet from obstacles on a trail. But regardless of the similarity of the environment where people conduct these activities, they are still entirely different sports. For this reason, hiking shoes may not offer the protection needed by mountain bikers.

That said, you need mountain biking shoes that can protect your feet from the toe to the ankle, preventing cuts and blisters. While minor wounds may not be that much of an injury, they take away the fun you can get from mountain biking.

Some mountain biking shoes even have the feature to prevent small rocks from getting into the shoes and hurting your feet. 

It works well in transferring your leg power to the pedals

As mentioned, hiking shoes are cushiony, which prevents you from giving a lot of energy to pedaling your bike. Shoes with thick cushions absorb pedal power, so you must work harder to achieve your desired speed.

Mountain biking shoes have thin yet comfortable cushions. So, they work well in transferring your leg power into the pedals and allow you to achieve the speed you desire without having to work too hard. The stiffness of mountain biking shoes also prevents loss of power.

It provides impressive foot support

Mountain biking shoes have stiff soles. These soles provide impressive foot support and lower the stress that you put on your feet when pedaling. If you like long rides or downhill mountain biking, investing in a pair of mountain biking shoes is better than using your hiking shoes.

The extra support provided by mountain biking shoes prevents the underside of your feet from hurting too much after a long day out on the trail.

In addition, the rigidity of mountain biking shoes makes them last a long time. It can take the beating no matter how hard, thus making your investment worth it.

Mountain biking shoes have excellent grip

If your feet continuously fall off the pedal while mountain biking, the energy you spend on getting a good speed will be wasted. You will have to start gaining pedal power and momentum again, making you feel too tired to enjoy your activity. Luckily, a good pair of mountain biking shoes can prevent your feet from constantly slipping off the pedals.

Mountain biking shoes have soles that provide fantastic grip. Apart from keeping your feet on the pedal, this feature also prevents safety issues, such as falling off your bike while going downhill. (source)

Two Main Factors To Consider When Buying Mountain Biking Shoes

Wearing your hiking shoes while mountain biking is excellent as long as they do not make pedaling an issue. But if you prefer to purchase a pair of mountain biking shoes for your next adventure, it is essential to note that there are factors you need to consider.

Flat or clipless?

Before going to a local store and picking up mountain bike shoes, you need to check the type of pedals your mountain bike has.

If your mountain bike has flat pedals, a regular pair of mountain biking shoes will protect your feet while making pedaling an easy task. Flat pedal mountain bike shoes have sticky rubber soles, similar to those in tennis shoes. Since they are sticky, your feet will not easily slip off the pedals, no matter how hard you move your feet.

Another type of mountain biking shoe has cleats attached to the soles. As mentioned, such shoes have small metal cleats that lock in with the pedals while you are biking. If your mountain bike has these clipless pedals, you need this type of shoe. In other words, a hiking show doesn’t work well for clipless pedals. (source)


The size of mountain biking shoes differs depending on where you buy them. So, unless you know the size advertised by a seller online, buying your mountain biking shoes at a physical shop is better.

In addition, you need to pay attention to how the shoes fit your feet. They should not stress on any pressure point as it can cause discomfort. It would be best if you also avoided shoes with seams that rub your foot, as they can cause blisters.

Final Thoughts

You can wear hiking shoes for mountain biking. Hiking shoes are versatile and durable, so they can withstand the beating of having to push the pedal for long periods.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have comments or suggestions, please drop them in the comments section below.

Hiking and mountain biking are two outdoor activities done in similar environments. So, if you want to try mountain biking and hiking, shoes are the only shoes you have. You can wear them as long as they are comfortable and protective.

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David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or making YouTube videos at 👉 DIY Mountain Bike Read more about David HERE.


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  4. Chris Hayhurst. Mountain Biking!: Get on the Trail. The Rosen Publishing Group, 1999. Accessed September 16, 2022.