LEATT 7.0 HYDRADRI WATERPROOF SHOE REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Finlay Anderson
For many riders, when it gets into the murkiest months and trail conditions transform into the wettest and wildest of the year, the flat pedals come out to play and the search for winter mountain bike shoes begins. Though a winterized flat pedal shoe seems like an obvious offering for mountain bike footwear companies to focus on, the options for quality mountain bike shoes that are waterproof are still fairly limited. Adding a new offering to your option list this winter are Leatt’s 7.0 HydraDri Waterproof flat pedal shoes. Robert has been putting the 7.0 HydraDri shoes to the ultimate test of a Scottish winter; let him give you his verdict on how they perform.
Leatt designed the 7.0 HydraDri Waterproof flat pedal shoes to provide protection from the elements while riding mountain bikes aggressively in bad weather. The HydraDri in their name refers to Leatt’s waterproof material, which is found in the form of a high-top bootie that encapsulates the shoe to give a watertight seal without adding considerable heft or bulk. This material has a 10k/10k rating for waterproofing and breathability, which should resist the majority of puddle splashes and rain without preventing the foot from breathing. There is a long waterproof zip up the middle of the shoe, which wraps around to the outside of the upper ankle, and there’s a snap fastener to cinch down the elasticated cuff at the bootie top. Sections of TPU are added to the outside of the shoe to offer impact and abrasion protection, keeping your foot safer and increasing the lifespan of the shoe.
The sole uses Leatt’s new RideGrip PRO rubber compound – their stickiest rubber yet – in an effort to offer riders more traction in wet conditions. RideGrip PRO was developed not only to improve the grip, but also to maximize the tear and abrasion resistance to ensure it stands up to the abuse. This rubber is molded into Leatt’s WaffleGrip PRO tread pattern, which is essentially an inverted version of their standard WaffleGrip pattern and has been designed to improve grip with shorter pins as well as improving walking grip and mud clearing thanks to mud flow channels.
Within the waterproof bootie is essentially a standard flat pedal shoe, which is secured to the foot using a Speed Lace system for quick and effective operation when gloved. Below the foot is an anti-compression EVA midsole and insole, giving comfort without any loss of pedal feel. The inside of the 7.0 HydraDri shoe is given an Active Carbon liner to aid in moisture wicking and drying, resist bacteria buildup and prevent odor. The Leatt 7.0 HydraDri flat pedal shoes are available in sizes US 6-13 (EU 38.5-48.5) including half sizes, and retail for $190 / £190.
Living in the Tweed Valley in Scotland makes for a considerable portion of the year where the trails are saturated, so products that can aid in keeping me warm and dry are invaluable. When I first heard that Leatt was adding not only waterproof mono suits to their product range, but also a waterproof flat pedal shoe, I was quick to get my name down on the list to test out both. I’ve spent the last couple months riding the 7.0 HydraDri shoes down the wet and wild trails that play host to the Enduro World Series (or should I say Enduro World Cup), and can safely say I’ve come to grips with how they perform.
The overall profile of Leatt’s HydraDri 7.0 shoes is quite typical of their range. That’s to say it’s not massively voluminous inside, and so I wasn’t able to go above a mid-thickness sock comfortably. Speaking with a fellow rider of the 7.0’s, after struggling with tightness around the midfoot he had found success with removing the insole, and has been comfortable using a thicker sock with this configuration. So, we’d suggest trying on a pair before purchasing, or opting to go up a bit in sizing if in doubt. Getting into the waterproof Leatt shoes is slightly more awkward than a standard shoe, but isn’t as bad as some similar waterproof models thanks to the Speed Lace system, effective pull tabs, and enough elasticity in the HydraDri bootie material to let you manipulate it easily. The Speed Laces live up to their name, and thanks to an extra pull tab on the forefoot, you can get them cinched up nice and tight with relative ease. Once on the foot and secured tight, I didn’t find the need to readjust them during any rides. Getting the zipper done up on the bootie is a little fiddly as it’s quite tight around the foot, but once you figure out the technique and how to pull the material across from both sides to make the zip a little slacker, it goes up with a slight tug. I was a little concerned that the zipper may fail after repeated yanks to get it fastened, but it held strong over a couple of months of near daily use, and feels sturdy enough to stand the test of time. The elasticated cuff at the top has enough give to avoid any pressure hotspots on your leg, yet stays tightly put and prevents the bootie from slipping down the ankle.
When combined with a reasonable length trouser leg to overlap the bootie and prevent water from directly hitting the shoe top, there were absolutely no issues with water getting in through the cuff, aside from a couple of times when submerged in stream crossings and when bog bashing. It was only on some particularly wet rides with repeated submersions or relentless rain and puddle splashing that the 10k waterproofing was overwhelmed, meaning the inside of the shoes were impressively dry for the vast majority of rides. Thanks to the bootie hiding any of the complex shaped bits and preventing any mud ingress, you can easily rinse the mud off of the Leatt shoes to restore them to a clean state. The HydraDri material used for the bootie is thin, so offers little in the way of impact damage protection or insulation, however it allows the foot to breathe fairly well and keeps any wind from passing through. I found the HydraDri 7.0 shoes comfortable with a merino riding sock down to around 4C/40F, and was comfortable in the warmer winter days at around 10C/50F with no signs of overheating. Below these temperatures I began to feel some chill in my toes, so resorted to cramming a thicker sock in, which reduced the ride time I could sustain before discomfort crept in.
The sole is most crucial in a flat pedal shoe, especially when it comes to sloppy rides where pedal grip is reduced. Leatt’s new RideGrip PRO rubber is certainly softer than their previous offerings, but still doesn’t quite reach the ranks of Five Ten’s Stealth sole. I’d place the overall sticking power across a range of pedals at around 8.5, with Five Ten’s aggressive models being the benchmark 10/10. That’s to say, with the right set of pedals (such as Hope’s F22s), there’s ample grip to charge hard without concern, but on some less grippy pedals with less piercing pins, I began to struggle a touch. The WaffleGrip PRO tread pattern offers a nice compromise of pin capture and adjustability, and offers good walking grip for the times off of the bike both in the mud and on rock. There’s a nice balance of flex and comfort, avoiding any pressure spots on the foot but retaining plenty of pedal feel to instill confidence in the grip. Over the course of testing it’s evident that the 7.0 HydraDri shoes have been used and abused, but the soles aren’t showing any signs of premature wear and the TPU bumpers have shaken off any abrasions against the trailside effectively.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Leatt 7.0 HydraDri waterproof flat pedal shoes were impressive at resisting the elements, and provided some good performance in the wet and wild conditions of the Scottish winter. They’re not the grippiest or warmest shoes out there, but offered adequate grip for aggressive riding when combined with a suitably aggressive pedal, and offered a comfortable place for my feet for all but the coldest of rides.
Well put together
Good pedal feel without discomfort
Not the grippiest
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