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.
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.
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.
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.
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.