For the flat pedal rider, the winter months can be harsh on your piggies as, while clip riders are spoilt for choice with insulated and waterproof dream boots, flat pedal aficionados are just lucky not to have holes in their shoes. Strange that the industry hasn’t caught on to this as flat pedals make sense for slow and slippery Winter conditions.

Do you prefer clipless pedals? Click hear to learn more about the best clipless MTB winter shoes you can buy

What makes a good winter flat pedal shoe?

Arguably, the most important feature on a good flat shoe is the sole compound; it needs to be grippy in the wet and remain tacky in freezing conditions. Second on our list would be fit; a wider toe box and adjustable closure mean that your shoe can accommodate thermal or waterproof socks without cutting off circulation to your feet. Also on our wish list would be a waterproof barrier, whether a membrane or a sealed outer material keeps wind chill and water out and some form of insulation to add warmth.

All winter shoes will get soaked at some point, so a waterproof liner does have a downside in that, once water has run down your leg and filled up your boot, it stays full of water. While shoes with holes in might let the water in, they also allow drainage meaning that your shoe will be lighter. so having a shoe that drains well or stays light when saturated and then dries quickly so you can ride the next day, is also a factor to consider.

There are very few no winter specific flat shoes available on the market, so we found three which had features that would appeal to winter flat shoe riders to see which model was the most suitable.

Water absorption and drying time: how we test

Riding in winter inevitably means that you will get wet feet at some point. Shoes, therefore, need to absorb as little water as possible to keep the weight low and to dry quickly, so that you can ride again asap. To simulate this and discover which shoes performed the best, we weighed each one dry, then dipped it in 3 cm of water to see how wet you’d get if you stood in a puddle. Next, we submerged the shoe for 30 seconds, then drained it for 30 seconds before weighing it again to see how much water each boot absorbed. We took the insoles out and left them at a constant 20 c for 24 hours before weighing them again to see how much water was lost to evaporation.

Shoe Dry weigh1 Weight after puddle test2 Percentage increase after submersion3 Percentage of water evaporation4
Five Ten Freerider Elements 1060 g 1086 g 21.1 % 50 %
Shimano SH-GR9R 831 g 882 g 29.5 % 36 %
Giro Riddance Mid 1175 g 1175 g 32.1 % 34.5 %

1: Size 46 | 2: Height of water: 3 cm | 3: 30 sec drip | 4: after 24 hrs at 20° C

Tops & Flops


The drying times of the Five Ten were a vast improvement from previous tests
The Shimano GR-9 were the lightest on test, even after a soaking!
The ankle protection from The Giro Riddance Mid was great for foot out antics
The Five Ten Stealth sole is still the grippiest sole we’ve tested


The Vibram sole of the Giro Riddance Mid is still too hard for Winter riding
We miss the sealed uppers on AM7 on the Shimano GR-9


It is prophesied that a champion will come forth to successfully challenge the dominance of Five Ten in the world of flat pedal shoes. The Giro Riddance looks great and fits well but Vibram soles remain too hard to be good in anything other than warm and dry conditions, Shimano’s GR9 is undeniably a great shoe and the Michelin sole is a real improvement over the AM7 but, having decided to put holes in it, the GR9 loses the battle against winter to the grippy, water resistant and quick drying, Five Ten Freerider Elements.

About the author

Thomas Corfield

After nearly 30 years of riding and coming from a career in cycle sales, UK Editor Tom is still passionate about everything mountain biking. Based in the Scottish Borders, he enjoys riding everything from solo adventures in the mountains to big social night rides.