The Five Ten Kestrel Boa XC Shoe is Up for Almost Anything [Review]

The Five Ten Kestrel Boa is the brand's first foray into XC-style bike shoes.

Five Ten Kestrel Boa Shoes

Last year at Outdoor Retailer, we were one of the first to check out Five Ten’s newest shoe, the Kestrel Boa. This new clipless, Boa-dialed mountain bike shoe from Five Ten was a big deal for a few reasons.

First of all, the Five Ten Kestrel Boa, not to be confused with the old Kestrel Pro Boa, is the brand’s most conservative bike shoe to date, and by that I mean, considering Five Ten’s history and reputation for trail, gravity, and freeride shoes, the Kestrel Boa sits on the opposite side of the spectrum.

When we first wrote about the shoe, we used their nomenclature, describing it as a “downcountry and gravel shoe.” I would say the spectrum and range of application for the Kestrel Boa indeed starts at gravel but it can be used as an everyday trail riding shoe, though for many, downcountry is trail riding.

About the Five Ten Kestrel Boa

Five Ten released the Kestrel Boa this spring. In their words, the shoe is a “‘Downcountry’ shoe that pairs XC performance with Five Ten’s significant gravity and mountain bike expertise” to suit a growing hardtail and full-suspension XC market. It sort of makes you wonder what took so long.

The shoe has a full-length glass fiber plate through the mid-sole for stiffness and stability.

To protect your digits, the shoe has an impact resistant toe box and a breathable, abrasion-resistant upper made from recycled materials. On the sole, Five Ten laid down a textured STEALTH rubber instep for grip on the toe and heel with spikes for digging into the ground.

Boa dials aren’t new to Five Ten, and a Boa Li2 can be found at the top of the shoe, along with two Velcro closures across the foot.

The Kestrel Boa comes in two colors for men and two colors for women. MSRP is $230.

On the trail

I’ve been wearing the Five Ten Kestrel Boas for a few months now and I’ve gotten along with them very well. Five Ten is correct in that a lot more people are interested in the downcountry category, whether it’s everyday trail riding or casual endurance riding, or whatever you want to call it.

There are plenty of mountain bike shoes out there these days for the downcountry rider’s needs, but this might be a gateway for people who want to ride long days in the saddle, have fun on the way down, and steer clear of a shoe like a Sidi or a racey Shimano XC shoe.

The aesthetic works well for the Kestrel Boa. It’s distinctively a Five Ten, but has that sleek, molded look, rounded heel cup, and tailored arches and toes.

The shoe may have felt a little big my first ride or two, but I ordered the same size I usually do, and within a few rides they felt snug to my feet.

The shoes slip on easily after opening up the Boa and Velcro straps. There is a loop on the back of the heel, but it doesn’t assist in donning the shoe in any way. Rather it seems to support the association of Five Ten with Adidas.

The shoes sync up well too. I have been adjusting the middle Velcro strap each time since it’s necessary when putting the Kestrel Boa on but I haven’t needed to adjust the lower strap. Eventually, as most Velcro does, the material will probably soften and lose its grip, but I haven’t had any issues yet. Personally I’d prefer a Boa lower on the shoe too, but the straps likely keep the price much lower.

Pedaling in the shoe, there is a solid amount of stiffness to assist putting power into the bike. These do feel like an XC shoe and there isn’t a break in the toe, but they are comfortable to walk and hike-a-bike in. Five Ten doesn’t include a stiffness index like some other brands, but if I had to guess, it’d say it’s about a 7/10. The cleat channel might look narrow between the protruding sole edges, but I’ve been able to engage and disengage the shoes without problem every time.

The Five Ten Kestrel Boa shoes have been comfortable on long rides in warm weather and they vent adequately. The toe box is nice and stiff and I haven’t had any concerning contact with rocks. The abrasion-resistant upper does fend off scratches easily too. Some XC shoes have a softer upper material and while they look damn fine out of the box, after a few rides they are often torn up and pockmarked. It’s nice that isn’t a concern with the Kestrel Boas. Other than some small scratches and tears in the rubber on the sole, the Five Tens are holding up fine.

Pros and cons of the Five Ten Kestrel Boa


  • Light and comfortable
  • Good blend of pedaling performance and stability for descents
  • Nice look


  • None noted

Bottom line

The Five Ten Kestrel Boa is a stiff, durable, and lightweight shoe for all types of rides between the gravel and trail riding categories.