Gear Guy

MX 225     Photo: courtesy, Lake Cycling

Q:

Is there a mountain-bike shoe that can double as a hiker?

I'm the type of mountain biker who enjoys venturing off the beaten path; I often have to carry my bike over hills and valleys and I like to stop and explore my surroundings on foot. I'm searching for the perfect pair of clipless mountain-bike shoes that double as a durable hiker. Does such a hybrid exist? Kaiser Falls, Idaho

A:Yes it does, Kaiser. A company called Lake seems to have gotten its mind wrapped around the bike/hike equation better than many other makers. I wore a pair or Lakes on a tour in the Rockies last fall, and while we weren't doing a ton of hiking between overnight stops, I tromped around quite a bit in the Lakes and found them much more comfortable and functional than my earlier pair of Sidis (which were, in fairness, very much high-performance cycling shoes). And these were Lake MX 220s ($130; www.lakecycling.com), which really are more of straight mountain-bike shoe.

Lake also makes a line of shoes they say are for bicycling "adventures," including hiking and climbing with the bike. They would work wonderfully for your purposes, I should think. Take a look at the MX 225 ($130), which has a grippy Vibram sole, water-resistant leather, a tough toe cap to protect your extremities, and a scree collar so loose rock and dust can't get down into the shoes. And of course they'll adapt to most any clipless pedal system.

Diadora's Santa Cruz ($99; www.diadora.com) is another shoe that combines biking functionality with good adaptability for walking and scrambling. Plus, they look pretty good, so if you stop at a restaurant or bar, people won't think you're a complete dork. Cannondale's MC610 ($80; www.cannondale.com) is another all-purpose shoe that looks pretty good and works well on or off the bike.

Still, I like the Lakes. And I wish more shoe makers took seriously the idea that people want a shoe that's good for both hiking and biking. I've suggested to Montrail that they take one of their very fine trail runners and add a bike cleat component. Alas, to no avail.

Check out the 2005 Gear of the Year winners in Outside's 2005 Buyer's Guide , then get yourself a copy of the issue, on newsstands now!

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