Review: Five Ten Freerider EPS High

For years Five Ten shoes have been the benchmark in flat pedal mountain bike footwear, and for almost as many years riders have moaned that there hasn’t been a winter or wet conditions-friendly version of the sticky soled shoes.

The Impact or Freerider models would act like big sponges, seemingly soaking up their own weight in water and then taking the best part of a week to dry out.

This has meant packing multiple pairs for a trip away or defecting to other less-permeable brands, in my case often wearing Sombrio’s hi-top shoes in the wet.

But Five Ten have been listening to riders and getting their shiz together in recent years, adding a multitude of new shoes since they were bought out by sportswear giant Adidas.

Five Ten shoe
Subtle brown-on-black styling is suitable for all occasions

The humble Freerider has now evolved into the Freerider EPS (though their website doesn’t explain what the EPS means) – a dedicated winter show with DWR-treated leather, Primaloft insulation, heat-reflective footboard and – of course – the famous Stealth rubber soles.

I purchased the “High” version of the shoe, which is an ankle-boot, and first impressions were good.

I’m always a 44 in Five Tens, but these were a bit harder to slip on than my previous shoes (various normal Freeriders), mainly because of the stiff collar around the ankle.

Once on, they felt fine though, with no pinching and plenty of room for my Woolie Boolie socks.

On the bike they have a stiffer, more substantial feel than the trainer-like Freeriders. You can still feel the pedals fine, but they don’t wrap around them in the same way. I don’t mind this at all as I’m used to riding noticeably less sticky-soled shoes and the Stealth rubber makes these feel very secure to me.

Those sticky soles are a boon when hike-a-biking up rocky hillsides, and the stiffer soles are a bonus then too. As with all Five Tens, they’re a bit dicey if you’re ascending muddy slopes on foot – so careful planning is required on such occasions if you want to avoid comedy moments.

That’s all very well, I hear you say, but are the keep the bloody water out or not?

Well, considering they don’t seem to claim to be waterproof, I have been impressed. Really impressed.

I don’t wear Sealskinz and I have submerged these right up to the ankle in wet bog (not always on purpose), and have been surprised to find my feet have stayed dry.

Five Ten shoes
The Freerider EPS High can be a struggle to put on, especially if you have cold feet already

Those high, tight ankles do a decent job of keeping water splashes out. Water will find its way in if you’re riding through loads of puddles or in consistent rain, but it’s by no means inevitable.

I’ve had the opportunity to test them on a few sub-zero rides and the insulation seems to do a reasonable job of keeping toes unfrozen, even when the windchill has numbed other extremities.

The only time I’ve found a chink in their armour was hike-a-biking in the snow, where the cold did travel up through the soles to leave me with painfully frozen plates of meat. They were OK once I was back on the bike and pedalling again though.

If I were being picky I’d maybe like flaps to cover the laces, but there doesn’t seem to be a water ingress issue there – so that’s just me being fussy I suppose.

Durability has been excellent so far, with no sign of damage to the soles despite a lot of wear this winter. Overall, I can’t recommend these shoes highly enough. Five Ten have finally made the shoe we’ve been asking for all these years and it works pretty much as advertised.

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