Five Ten Hellcat Pro

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Five Ten Hellcat Pro

Five Ten Hellcat Pro

Size Tested: 9.5

Blister’s Measured Weight: 546 grams per shoe

Upper: “DWR Synthetic”

Closure: Laces with Velcro Strap

Stated Features:

  • Clipless & SPD compatible Stealth® C4™ durable outsole
  • Breathable mesh tongue & side panel
  • 3/4 dual-density, vibration-dampening TPU shank
  • Supportive, compression-molded EVA midsole
  • Added TPU toe box with impact resistant foam

Used with Time MX6 pedals

MSRP: $180

Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs

Test Location: Montana, British Columbia, and beyond

Test Duration: 3 months

Intro

The Hellcat Pro isn’t an entirely new shoe in Five Ten’s lineup — the standard Hellcat has been around for a while, and the Hellcat Pro is more or less the evolution of the clipless Five Ten Impact. Greg Minnaar had a signature version of the Impact, and reportedly he had a hand (a foot?) in the development of the Hellcat Pro.

So for those who are familiar with the predecessors of the Hellcat Pro, you should have some idea of where this shoe lands in the lineup: it’s heavy, it offers more protection than most bike shoes, and it’s really built around riding that emphasizes descending.

Features and Construction

The Hellcat Pro is, at its heart, a fairly straightforward clipless-compatible shoe with a lace-up closure that’s supplemented by a Velcro strap. But while that might make it seem comparable to a bunch of other shoes on the market, the Hellcat Pro pretty clearly sits at one end of the shoe spectrum.

For the Hellcat Pro’s closure, the laces themselves aren’t anything special, but in the area under the Velcro strap, the laces tie into a separate tab that allows the laces and the strap to each tighten the shoe independently. It seemed excessive at first, but it actually works pretty well.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Five Ten Hellcat Pro — Closure

The Velcro strap also functions a little differently than most other shoes, with the Velcro portion being fairly short. This means that most of the strap isn’t covered in Velcro and doubled over, which allows the strap to flex and conform a little more and makes it more comfortable.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Five Ten Hellcat Pro — Velcro Strap

The upper body of the shoe is made of what Five Ten calls “DWR synthetic.” I’m not exactly sure what the material is, but it feels a bit rubbery. It’s not faux leather, and whatever it is, it’s not particularly breathable. It is, however, decently water resistant.

The sole of the Hellcat Pro has a ¾ shank, which means it’s moderately stiff, but still bends at the toe so it walks easily. I’d say the Hellcat Pro is fairly average in terms of stiffness for this type of shoe, which is a good bit less stiff than an XC race shoe, but a bit stiffer than a casual “recreationist” type shoe. The Hellcat Pro also gets a healthy amount of foam under the foot, which helps dampen vibrations and reduce impacts when you’re running away from your bike as it tomahawks towards you on the backside of a failed jump.

The C4 rubber on the Hellcat Pro’s sole isn’t as sticky as Five Ten’s Mi6 compound, but combined with the classic “dotty” tread pattern, it provides pretty good grip for riding unclipped, and it does fine for walking around.

For the cleat attachment, the Hellcat Pro has relatively long 35 mm slots, which allow for a more rearward position for the cleats than you’ll get out of most Trail-oriented shoes. The Hellcat Pro’s slot recess is also pretty deep, so even with a metal shim under the cleat (which Five Ten includes with the shoes), my Time cleats still don’t protrude past the sole.

Fit

Fit is always going to be a bit subjective, but I’m basing this off of my size 9.5ish foot that’s roughly a C width. The Hellcat Pro, like most Five Ten shoes I’ve used, runs slightly large lengthwise. I wear a size 10 in some brands and a size 9.5 in others. In the Hellcat Pro, I’m solidly a size 9.5 (U.S.).

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Five Ten Hellcat Pro

Width-wise, the Hellcat Pro certainly isn’t a narrow shoe, but it doesn’t feel quite as wide as some Five Ten shoes I’ve worn in the past. Which at least for me, is a good thing — my foot floated around in various older Five Ten’s, but it feels decently locked into the Hellcat Pro. That said, the Hellcat Pro still doesn’t have a super defined heel cup, so it doesn’t feel as snug as a more XC-ish, pedal-oriented shoe.

Performance and Ride Impressions

On the bike, the Hellcat Pro is more or less what you’d expect (and hope for) from a shoe like this. It feels much more substantial than any of the lighter-weight, more pedaling-oriented shoes I’ve ridden. And I’ve smashed my foot into quite a few rocks and stumps along the trail, all of which the Hellcat Pro has done a good job of warding off. The toe box is decently stiff, and there’s a rubber cap at the front of the shoe that offers some extra protection.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Noah Bodman in Five Ten Hellcat Pro. (photo by Marc O’Brien)

And while the Hellcat Pro is aimed a bit more at DH riding, I used it as my everyday riding shoe for a few months, which means I put around 800 miles of pedaling into them. All in all, they’re pretty comfortable to pedal in. No, they’re not light. And yes, they’re definitely hot. But it didn’t seem unreasonable to do long rides in them. And particularly on rougher, more technical trails where a bit of extra protection was warranted, I preferred the Hellcat Pro over any of the lighter, more breathable shoes in my closet.

The synthetic construction of the shoe also does a pretty good job of warding off water, both from actual water on the trail and from dewy plants. The downside here is that the water resistance works in both directions, and once the inside of the Hellcat Pro is wet, it doesn’t dry out very quickly.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Five Ten Hellcat Pro

I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the Hellcat Pro walking up steep climbs, and I’d say it’s fine. The sole isn’t heavily lugged, so in steep, slippery conditions, it’s nowhere near as good as something with a knobbier Vibram sole. And the heel cup isn’t super pronounced, so on longer walks I got some blisters. But all in all, by walking in bike shoe standards, the Hellcat Pro is pretty decent.

Durability and Downsides

I can’t say that the construction of any Five Ten shoes I’ve owned is overly impressive — they’re not hand-stitched leather from Italy. But they’re not terrible either, and the Hellcat Pro has thus far been holding up really well. None of the glued junctions are delaminating, all of the stitching is tied off nicely and holding up well, and nothing is tearing or separating. So all in all, I really have nothing to complain about in terms of durability.

Noah Bodman reviews the Five Ten Hellcat Pro for Blister
Noah Bodman in Five Ten Hellcat Pro. (photo by Marc O’Brien)

The biggest downside of the Hellcat Pro is just that the lack of breathability has resulted in mine smelling fairly terrible. It doesn’t really bother me while riding, but when I take them off at the end of the ride, it’s pretty damn bad. Worse than any other shoe I’ve ever owned. Like, given the option of putting those shoes in my car after a ride, or having my dog fart in the car, I think I’d take the dog farts. A nice soak in some baking soda and vinegar is in the near future for these shoes.

Bottom Line

The Five Ten Hellcat Pro falls decidedly at the DH-oriented end of the clipless shoe spectrum. It’s heavy, it doesn’t breathe very well, and it’s built more with protection in mind than pedaling ease.

That said, I’ve spent a ton of time pedaling in the Hellcat Pro, and it’s pretty dang comfy. If your feet get hot, or if you don’t care that much about having extra protection in your shoes, or if you want something that’s really built around pedaling efficiency, there are clearly better options on the market. But for those who want a clipless shoe that prioritizes protection and comfort on the descents while still being serviceable while pedaling, the Hellcat Pro is one of the best I’ve tried, and maybe the best option currently on the market.

2 thoughts on “Five Ten Hellcat Pro

    • I’ve only ridden the original Kestrel (with the Boa), but I believe the sole is the same on the Kestrel Lace. So with that caveat in mind, the Kestrel is definitely stiffer than the Hellcat Pro. By a decent margin.

      -Noah

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