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Hello fellow mountain bikers!

I'm relatively new to mountain biking and have been thoroughly enjoying the thrilling off-road adventures. However, my current footwear is causing me some serious blister issues :(

I would greatly appreciate your insights and any recommendations regarding the best types of mountain bike shoes from a comfort and non-blistering perspective for those who've experienced similar problems? Do you have any personal favorites or notable experiences that could help guide my decision?

Any recommendations greatly appreciated!

Happy trails!

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    More info required. What sort of pedals (flats or clips)? What sort of riding? How much walking are you doing(up hills, tech spots etc)? What sort of shoes are you using now? Aside, would think if you're getting blisters riding bikes the cause is either VERY ill fitting shoes or socks.
    – Hursey
    May 24, 2023 at 20:46
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    Also what sorts of blister issues? Where exactly? Blisters can be anywhere on the foot but usually for very different reasons. May 25, 2023 at 8:28

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As Hursey mentions in their comment, blistering is a sign of (extremely) poorly fitting footwear. Ultimately, comfort is a very personal thing because we all have different foot shapes. If possible, your best bet would be to visit a cycling store and try on some different models of shoes, much like you would for casual shoes. You want your shoes to fit snugly. Not so tight as to be uncomfortable, but excessive wiggle room does have a risk of inducing blisters as your foot moves within.

Use the location of the blisters as a hint telling you what isn't working for you. I'm guessing the blisters are on your ankles, which means some part of the shoe is rubbing there as you pedal. You would want to get shoes with a differently-shaped ankle section then.

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  • I wouldn't be so quick to say blistering indicates bad fit. I never have problems with blisters on my feet from bicycle riding, but I do typically get blisters from walking or skiing. The difference is probably less about my shoes, but about the fact that for ages I've ridden a bike near-daily, but I go skiing far more seldom. Presumably similar for many other users on this StackExchange. The feet, the skin, the gait adapts to what kind of activity you do most often, and that affects what will cause blisters and what's handled by callouses. May 27, 2023 at 9:49
  • @leftaroundabout Fair point, I pretty much get blisters the second I try to go ice skating. It's weird. Although, I'm not sure what you can really do about it apart from trying to toughen your feet through use, or changing your footwear setup.
    – MaplePanda
    May 27, 2023 at 18:36
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I find that fitting cycling shoes is different to your regular shoes because the motions are different.

Most cycling specific shoes should be a close fit around the heel and firm over the instep, but the toe-box should be relatively relaxed. The sole should be stiffer for road shoes and quite "normal" for MTB shoes.

Your comfort is the main requirement - if something isn't right, you won't want to ride so much.

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I think it is more of a general fit than a type-of-shoe problem and you probably have to go to a bike shop for some proper fitting/perhaps foot-measuring and then recommending a suitable model. As a beginner, you might also not want to have the stiffest race model, indeed.

I've ridden thousands of miles, albeit in road cycling shoes, but never came close to blisters, so there must be something fundamentally wrong with the fit of your current shoes, like slipping in the shoes or some parts being to tight/wide so that the foot rubs/moves within the shoe. Maybe you are just one size off ...

That being said, I'd say you need to assess your foot type with help from a professional and get matching shoes, let's say for example getting a "wide" model if have wide feed.

(I know that's generic but I'm afraid specific advise on something as individually fitting as shoes over the internet is hard. If Shoe XYZ works for Person A, it doesn't mean it'll do for you.

If a shoe can't solve, as a last resort, a orthopaedist or bikefitter might be able to help as well, like custom sole inlays but let's start with basics.

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Also, have you tried simply adjusting your socks? Try different thicknesses, different materials, but also perhaps double up. Thin under thick is good for hiking if you've got room, with the fit of my bike shoes, I'd be more likely to go for (very) thin under thin. The idea of double socks is to make the movement/friction happen between sock and sock rather than sock and skin.

For MTB, if you're not clipped in, a reasonably thick or stiff sole is good. In many ways I like my cross-country running shoes on the MTB, because they grip the pedals well and drain freely if I ride through deep water. But after a few hours, I can feel the protrusions on the pedal, in the form of hotspots on the sole of my foot. They'd turn into blisters in another few hours. Approach shoes/hiking shoes are better, though these days I tend to use SPDs for long rides on the MTB (shorter rides can be in bigger groups where other riders are less strong but more skilled than me; then I'd rather not be clipped in).

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