Clipless mountain bike shoes stayed the same for a long time. There were the high-end models that were primarily made to be light and stiff, with little regard for what they were like to walk in. They mostly had plastic lugs that provided very little in the way of traction. Mid-level shoes had the same plastic lugs but were more comfortable to walk in because the budget-friendly sole material flexed more than carbon. Finally, there were the recreational shoes, which were basically sneakers with cleat slots–not great to ride in, but perfect for walking. Nowadays there are tons of options on a varying scale of on- and off-the-bike performance and style.
Specialized’s Comp MTB is a great choice for riders who prefer traditional mountain bike shoe styling but want to avoid another broken coccyx. The shoe’s large rubber lugs yield much better traction than the plastic ones of old, and the sole has just the right amount of flex for the typical trail rider: Specialized rates them as a 6 on a scale of 13.
The Comp MTB uses the tried-and-true closure system of two Velcro straps and a buckle, only the buckle is now a BOA dial. The BOA is more micro-adjustable than a typical buckle and the dial is easy to reach for on-the-fly adjustments, but it does make it a bit slower to get in and out of the shoe. Buckles just open and close faster than the BOA can. While the BOA lace is detachable from the plastic hook it loops through, allowing it to flap open, it’s less intuitive than jamming a plastic ratchet strap into a buckle. In regards to fit, the Comp MTB is true to size and somewhat roomier in the toe box than other shoes of the same size. I don’t have particularly voluminous feet, but this shoe would be perfect for those who do.