Five Ten Kestrel Clipless Shoe


Fit is obviously very subjective, so don’t take anything in this section to be “good” or “bad.” It is what it is, and if it works for you, then that’s great.

The Kestrel is a much slimmer fit than most of the other Five Ten shoes I’ve worn. It’s more in line with something like the Giro Terraduro, which is roughly a “C” width. In my Five Ten Maltese Falcons I have a fair amount of side to side wiggle room, but in the Kestrel, I’m pretty locked in. Length-wise, I’d call them just a hair longer than advertised.

The toe box on the Kestrel is medium-wide, but not super tall. There’s definitely more room for the toes than in something like a Sidi, but it doesn’t have a huge toe box. For me, it was a good mix of comfort without feeling like I was swimming in there.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Kestrel for Blister Gear Review
Noah Bodman in the Five Ten Kestrel, Whitefish, MT.

One quirk of the fit that didn’t work great for me was the heel pocket. The pocket itself was reasonably effective—I could get my heel locked in there pretty well. But the padding and shape around the rear upper edge didn’t play well with my foot, and I’d get a weird pinchy pressure point there. With more time in the shoe, I suspect that issue would break in and work itself out.

The Kestrel comes with an Ortholite footbed that was comfortable and added a fairly average amount of arch support. I have very high arches, so personally I could have used a bit more support, but I think the stock footbed will work well for a lot of people.

Performance and Ride Impressions

On the bike, the Kestrel’s stiff sole was pretty quickly apparent; for a shoe that’s marketed more to the enduro crowd, the Kestrel can hang as an XC shoe.

At first I felt like the shoe was a bit too soft and squishy in the tongue, which was hampering power transfer on the upstroke. But after a few rides, things bedded in and performance improved in that regard.

Breathability on the Kestrel is pretty good. It’s still not as cool as some of the super ventilated XC shoes out there, but it’s better than the Giro Terraduro, the Giro VR70, or the Teva Pivot.

Due primarily to the stiff sole, the Kestrel would not be my first choice for a ride that involved a lot of walking. The stiff sole runs the entire length of the shoe, so it doesn’t allow the toes to bend at all.

Walking on rocks, the Stealth rubber does its thing and provides really good grip. But the lugs aren’t particularly large (they’re shallow circles—the same that is found on lots of Five Ten shoes), so when things get muddy or soft, the Kestrel doesn’t dig in all that well.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Kestrel for Blister Gear Review
Five Ten Kestrel sole

Aside from the BOA issue noted above, I don’t have much to report on the durability front. Fifteen rides certainly isn’t enough to come away with any hard conclusions, but so far, nothing is showing any signs of premature wear or failure.

Bottom Line

With the Kestrel, Five Ten has constructed a shoe that’s a significant departure from most of their lineup. The Kestrel blends a surprisingly stiff sole with an assortment of other features that seem more aimed at the trail and all mountain crowd.

The BOA system is, all at once, the main selling point and the main liability of this shoe. If you like the idea of the BOA, or if you’ve had good experiences with BOA on other gear, then I think you’ll be psyched on its implementation here. If you’re a bit unsure, your best bet is probably just to try it on and see if it works for you.

All in all, the Kestrel brings some new ideas to the table, and it’s clearly a bit different than most of the shoes it’s competing against. Whether that’s a good thing or not probably depends on how you’re planning on using the shoe and (of course) whether it fits your foot. But if you’re in the market for an all around shoe that could pull double duties as an XC racer and for more casual trail rides, the Kestrel is worth a look.

2 comments on “Five Ten Kestrel Clipless Shoe”

  1. I used these for a month long road trip to the UT/NV desert in the spring, wanted to like them but came away disappointed.
    – Soles on both shoes started to peel off after about 2 weeks, one much more so and other just starting to around cleat area, ultimately returned them for this reason.
    – I found the covered forefoot area to trap too much heat, always hot, especially climbing Grafton on a 35C day (ok, bad example;)).
    – Great grip on rock but no purchase in climbing muddy sections, a few aggressive toe lugs could have helped in this respect.
    – I found the fit a touch narrow but doable, I’m happiest with Specialized fit and have been rocking the S-Works Trail for the last two seasons.
    – I had trouble with one shoe engaging/disengaging XT Trail pedal for whatever reason. I loosened and repositioned cleat but did not alleviate issue, maybe should of tried a shim.
    – As mentioned, BOA doesn’t open up enough. Specialized has a hook for the cables and its quick & easy to unhook the top cable to remove/put on shoes, no issues with BOA.
    – Heel hold was great.
    – Stiff enough for most, although I’ll admit I do tend to like the ultra stiffness of my S-Works, just feels that much better and lighter pedalling and deal with it on long hike-a-bikes. I’d probably be happy enough with the Kestrels though in this respect.

    While I know a lot of peeps aren’t fans of Spec (I was especially disgruntled after the Cafe Roubaix fiasco, he’s local to me), I’m looking forward to trying out their new Cliplite for this genre of shoe.

  2. I went through two pairs during a race season. Both toes, the rubber pealed back and the boa lace snapped. I will be looking elsewhere for 2016

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