Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA Shoes

Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA Shoes

Test Locations: Washington

Test Duration: 2 months

Reviewer: 6’, 170 lb / 183 cm, 77.1 kg

Size Tested: US 10

Blister’s Measured Weight per shoe (US 10): 428 and 429 g / 15.1 & 15.1 oz

Upper: Ripstop synthetic fabric

Closure: BOA + velcro strap

Sizes Offered:

  • US Men’s 5–15 (half sizes 5–13)
  • US Women’s 6.5–16.5 (half sizes 6.5–14.5)
  • EU 37–49 (half sizes 37–47)

Pedals Used: Shimano XTR Trail, HT X2, HT X3, HT T2

MSRP: $220

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA
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Crank Brothers is expanding their shoe lineup today with the new Mallet Trail BOA, their lightest and most Trail-oriented clipless shoe to date. There’s also a new Stamp Trail BOA, which is effectively the flat-pedal version of the Mallet Trail BOA. Those retail for $200, and look essentially identical, apart from the outsole.

We haven’t yet tried the Stamp Trail BOA, but I’ve been using the Mallet Trail BOA for a couple of months now, and their combination of fit and features is pretty interesting.

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
David Golay wearing the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA

Features and Construction

The Mallet Trail BOA isn’t just the longstanding (and very good) Crank Brothers Mallet BOA with some lighter materials swapped in — it’s a pretty different shoe in a lot of respects. Both use a BOA closure with a velcro strap over the instep, but the Mallet Trail BOA positions the BOA cord and dial slightly more toward the inside of the shoe; the dial lands a little closer to the top of the shoe, with the outer portion of the upper wrapping farther over the tongue, relative to the original Mallet BOA.

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA (right) and Mallet BOA (left)

Crank Brothers doesn’t provide a ton of info on the materials used in the Mallet Trail BOA’s upper, but they’re primarily constructed with a thin, fairly tightly woven ripstop material that features a subtle waffle pattern. There’s a substantial rubber toe cap and a little bit of laminated rubber over the higher-wear parts of the upper. The tongue is relatively thin, lightly padded, and uses wide elastic straps on both sides to keep it in place.

The Mallet BOA isn’t super heavily padded for a more gravity-oriented shoe, and the Mallet Trail BOA is even thinner and more lightly padded. That said, the Mallet Trail BOA’s toe cap is on the beefier side for a lighter Trail shoe (it feels similar to the Mallet BOA on that front), and the Mallet Trail BOA uses a blockier, more aggressive tread pattern for better purchase off the bike in looser soil.

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA (right) and Mallet BOA (left)

The Mallet Trail BOA’s midsole also feels a little stiffer than that of the Mallet BOA, especially in the forefoot, but it’s not a huge difference — the Mallet Trail BOA is stiff-ish, but an ultra-rigid XC race shoe this is not. The Mallet Trail BOA’s cleat slot is also especially long, with room to run a quite forward cleat position up to what I’d call a moderately rearward one. I tend to run my cleats pretty far back on most shoes and have them most of the way back on the Mallet Trail BOA, but am able to get a position that I like.

The Mallet Trail BOA also adds a small elastic gaiter around the ankle closure. It’s unobtrusive and hasn’t given me any issues in getting the shoes on or off, but has done a great job of keeping dirt out of the cuffs of the shoes. It’s not remotely waterproof or meant for real weather resistance, but it’s a welcome touch when hike-a-biking in looser dirt in particular.

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
Crank Brothers Mallet Trail Gaiter


I’ve been testing the Mallet Trail BOA in my usual size of a US Men’s 10 (EU 43.5) and they fit well, but if anything, I’m closer to sizing down than up in these. The length feels true to size, but the Mallet Trail BOA runs a little bit on the higher-volume, roomier side of the spectrum, especially for a lighter, more Trail-oriented shoe, where you often see somewhat narrower, tighter-fitting options than you do with more gravity-oriented shoes.

I’ve got a wide forefoot (about 112–113 mm) and fairly squared-off toes (my middle toe is the longest and my fourth toe is almost as long as my big one), but I have a narrower midfoot and heel, and often have an easier time fitting into more gravity-oriented shoes with roomier toeboxes. I have no such issues with the Mallet Trail BOA — they’re quite roomy up front.

The BOA closure + velcro strap on the Mallet Trail BOA combine to do a nice job of wrapping around my midfoot and keeping the shoes secure, but the toebox feels notably high volume (both in terms of width and especially height) and there’s more room than I strictly need up there. The lightly padded upper on the Mallet Trail BOA also doesn’t feel like it conforms to every square millimeter of my feet as many beefier, more padded gravity shoes do.

The Mallet Trail BOA is quite comfortable and I’ve had no issues with hot spots or pressure points, but my connection to the shoes (and through them, the pedals) feels just a tiny bit less secure than it is with some heavier, burlier shoes (e.g., Mallet BOA, Shimano GE900, & Specialized 2FO DH). Given the good fit I’ve got through the midfoot, this hasn’t caused me any real trouble, but folks who want a more locked-down fit may feel otherwise. Heel hold has been solid, though not super tight on my narrow-ish heels.

On the Bike

In short, the Mallet Trail BOA does a really nice job of bringing a roomier, more gravity-oriented fit and feel to a somewhat lighter, more breathable package. It definitely reminds me more of a lighter-duty gravity shoe than a bulked-up XC one in terms of its fit and feel, but hits a middle ground there that isn’t quite like anything else I’ve tried to date.

I’ve used the Mallet Trail BOA with a mix of large-platform, DH-oriented pedals (HT X2 & X3) and some with a more mid-sized platform (Shimano XTR Trail & HT T2). The Mallet Trail BOA has worked fine with both styles, but feels a little better suited to the latter. The shoe’s blockier tread pattern (vs. what you get on most DH-oriented shoes) interferes with the traction pins and bigger platforms of the X2 and X3 pedals a bit and makes clipping in a little less smooth than might be ideal. Shimming up the cleats slightly helps there, but makes for a less-solid / stable-feeling connection with the pedal platform.

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
David Golay wearing the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA

Despite its ankle gaiter and relatively tall cuff, the Mallet Trail BOA doesn’t offer a lot of ankle protection. That hasn’t been a problem for me most of the time, but I have one bike in the current test fleet (Nicolai Nucleon 16) with notably limited heel clearance, and I have noticed myself banging my ankle on the swingarm of that bike while descending. It’s been fine on the other bikes I’ve been spending time on of late but is worth bearing in mind if you happen to be a notable heel-rub practitioner. The Mallet Trail’s outsole is also a little bit wider than average in the heel, potentially making them a little more rub-prone than a lot of other shoes.

The Mallet Trail BOA also breathes very well, to the point that I’ve regretted wearing it on some recent rides that have dipped into the mid-40s °F (around 7° C). I’m sure that the shoe’s breathability will be quite welcome in a few months, but the Mallet Trail BOA runs appreciably cooler than most of the all-rounder Trail / Gravity shoes I’ve been spending time in recently, including the relatively breathable Mallet BOA.

Unsurprisingly, the Mallet Trail BOA doesn’t offer much in terms of water resistance, but it does an excellent job of draining out the water that makes its way in, and is quite quick to dry as well. Though I haven’t yet had the opportunity to take it on any, given the current season, I think the Mallet Trail BOA will be an especially good option for some big high-country rides that involve a lot of pedaling, some hike-a-biking, a few stream crossings, and so on.

David Golay reviews the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA for Blister
David Golay wearing the Crank Brothers Mallet Trail BOA

Bigger gravity-oriented shoes tend to be a lot more secure when scrambling on rocks and the like, relative to lighter, more minimalist XC ones, but those bulky DH shoes also often feel hot, heavy, and like big sponges that soak up a ton of water if you get them wet. The Mallet Trail BOA seems like an especially promising middle ground there.

Off the Bike

The Mallet Trail BOA walks pretty well for a stiff-ish Trail bike shoe. I get a little bit of heel lift in it but not enough to cause any real issues or discomfort, and its wide outsole does feel like it provides a somewhat more stable than average platform, especially in the heel.

Grip on wet roots and rocks is adequate, but not on the same level as some ultra-sticky (and softer-wearing) rubber options. There are definitely better alternatives if you’ll be doing a lot of hike-a-biking in your clipless shoes (e.g., Five Ten Traillcross Clip-In), but those sorts of shoes tend to have softer-flexing midsoles that aren’t as supportive on the bike, especially when using smaller pedals with less of an overall platform. I like the balance that the Mallet Trail BOA strikes there.


I haven’t yet put a massive number of miles on the Mallet Trail BOA, but my pair is holding up great so far. I’ll keep logging time in them (especially once temperatures warm up) and report back if any issues crop up, but all indications are that they’re well-built. So far so good.

Bottom Line

The new Mallet Trail BOA is quite an interesting offering from Crank Brothers, bringing a fairly wide, higher-volume fit to a lighter, highly breathable shoe. It’s a combination of XC and gravity-oriented features that I haven’t really encountered anywhere else — especially with the wider fit of the Mallet Trail BOA — and is one that I think is quite compelling for the right folks. The Mallet Trail BOA has earned a place on my gear shelf going forward, and I’m particularly looking forward to getting some more time in it once temperatures warm up. I’ll report back if my impressions change once I do.

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