Bontrager has been putting out some really awesome gear lately from their completely redesigned carbon wheels, to stow-bibs and helmets to the recently reviewed Rally Clipless Shoe. You’ll see many of their products on our test riders throughout the season as we get along with a lot of Bontrager’s gear. There has been a move in the industry lately to make gear that works both on and off the bike and Bontrager obviously has been seeing the same things. This year, Bontrager released the Avert shoe, which claims to hike as well as your favorite boot, clip in for a long ride, then transition to the pub for a drink. We spent some time with them to see if they are really ready for all activities.
The Avert is a long departure from the XC-specific shoes that Bontrager cut their teeth on. It is a lace up SPD-compatible hiking shoe. The exterior is water resistant, features breathable Cordura and suede with an almost military-like color and large, lugged sole. The area around the clip is somewhat smoother to provide a smoother entrance into pedals.
Laces are managed by an elastic strap and the tongue is a fully-wrapped design to keep dirt and debris out. Armor has been added around the toe cap as well as extra material around the heel and ankle for increased protection. The tongue and heel have large pull straps that ease the slip-on design.
Since the Avert is marketed as an all-day shoe that can pull duty hiking as well as it performs on the bike, we took it for three weeks of shooting eMTBs in St. George. We knew that there would be long days of hiking, filming and riding, ahead. Luckily for us, the slip-on design is ultra-comfy with virtually no break in period. The cuff around the ankle is fairly tight and prevents dirt and gravel from getting in, so the pull-on tabs are required to keep the heel from folding under.
Performance while pedaling is moderate as the shoe has a very soft shank and that makes sense since it is more of a casual rider or exploratory shoe. this isn’t a race shoe designed for competitive riders, instead it’s a great option for those who want to a bit of everything. We could feel the shoe flex a bit under heavy pedaling and when dropping our heels for a long downhill. The shoe does not have enough flex to cause your arch to cramp but definitely causes increased foot fatigue on long efforts up or down compared to Bontrager’s more performance-oriented Rally shoe. The SPD system works without issue and we found it easy to get in and out of every pedal we tested it with.
Walking in the Avert is as good as any hiking shoe we have. The deeply lugged sole has excellent grip, and the soft shank allows the shoe to flex with the terrain. No longer do you have to do the penguin walk in your XC hard sole slippers over every rock in the trail. The Avert is almost better off the bike than on, which is great if you don’t want to invest in two pairs of shoes for your weekend explorations. The desert tan color definitely gives a tacticool vibe that some testers really like, however I was not into it. The Bontrager Avert is also available in black, which would tone down the GI Joe looks.
We see the Bontrager Avert as the ideal shoe for someone who spends their time split between riding and hiking, such as a photographer or trail builder. Also, if you’re a casual rider who enjoys walking around campgrounds, State Parks and trailheads while you lock the bike up to a nearby tree, these are going to be an ideal shoe for you. They have loads of grip and can pull all day duty in comfort. The Avert is not going to win any awards as the most efficient shoe on the market, which it’s not trying to be, but it may be the closest thing to a do it all MTB shoe on the market today.