Five Ten Kestrel Lace Women’s
- Stitched Stealth C4™ rubber outsole
- Compression molded EVA midsole with nylon shank
- Polyurethane (PU) coated synthetic upper
- Velcro lace strap
- Compatible with all 2-hole cleats
- Perforated toe vamp & mesh tongue for breathability
- Non-slip heel cup to reduce torsional flex
Size tested: Women’s 5.5
Pedals: VP Components Adventure
Blister’s Measured Weight: 354 grams per shoe
Reviewer: 5’2” 125 lbs.
Test Duration: 25 days
Test Location: Park City, Utah
The Kestrel Lace joins the original Kestrel in Five Ten’s lineup of efficient pedaling all-mountain / trail shoes. It is a slightly more affordable lace-up version of the original Kestrel (which uses the BOA system), and offers a few different features that some riders may prefer. It also comes in a women’s version that has a lower volume fit and tighter heel pocket.
Noah Bodman reviewed the men’s 5.10 Kestrel last year, and found them to present a happy medium between cross-country race shoes and Five Ten’s other more freeride- and downhill-oriented options.
I’ve found the women’s Kestrel Lace to be a great all-around trail riding shoe that I actually prefer over the original Kestrel, thanks to some changes.
I have small, relatively narrow feet, and I don’t like having lots of room for my feet to move laterally while riding. The Kestrel Lace Women’s has a lower-volume fit compared to the men’s version (though I haven’t tried on the Men’s Kestrel Lace, just the BOA Men’s Kestrel). It is not as narrow as a high performance cross-country shoe, but fits my foot comfortably without too much extra room.
Women and men with narrow feet—or any rider that prefers a tighter fit—should consider the women’s version of these shoes.
The heel cup fits very well and doesn’t allow for much unwanted movement. The toe box is roomy, but it doesn’t feel like I’m swimming around. The only complaint I have is that I wish the shoe was a little more narrow around the ball of my foot. I end up compensating for this by tying the laces tightly around my mid-foot.
The sizing runs a bit large, so trying the shoes on before buying them may be a good idea. If that’s not an option, you might want to lean to the smaller side when ordering them.
My feet don’t go to sleep while riding in the Kestrel Lace, even during during 5+ hour rides. This is a great departure from riding in cross-country shoes in which a lot of feeling is gone after a couple hours.
The stock footbed feels supportive and absorbs small shocks well. I have moderately high arches and these footbeds have been fine, but they would probably support mid-height arches better.
Construction and Breathability
The Kestrel Lace has a synthetic upper with a stiff toe box to protect against rocks and trailside debris. I haven’t had any hard direct blows to this area, but the shoes have done a great job warding off small flying rocks.
The upper is polyurethane coated to be water resistant. The shoes do a decent job of shedding water, but if you are riding in the rain or through puddles, your feet will still get wet as water can easily enter through the mesh tongue and perforated holes in the toe box.
The mesh tongue and perforated holes are also the only way that air flows through the shoe, so the Kestrel Lace can overheat on hot rides. I haven’t ever found the shoes to be unbearable, even on 85°F days, but they aren’t the best for rides in extremely hot temps. My dedicated XC shoes do a much better job with airflow, but at the cost of less protection and water resistance.
Laces and Velcro Strap
I was extremely happy to see a lace-up version of the Kestrel, since the BOA on the original Kestrel is probably my least favorite feature of the shoe. It gets sticky and permanently less smooth the first time you ride through mud. It is also very hard to release and it always takes a fair amount of effort to get my foot in the shoe. Although it allows you to incrementally increase the tightness of the Kestrel very easily while riding, it takes a while for the tension to distribute evenly throughout the shoe.
The laces on the Kestrel Lace make it easy to tighten the shoe uniformly and can be tucked into the sides before closing the velcro strap. The downside is that they aren’t adjustable on the go, requiring a couple minutes to re-tie if the tension isn’t perfect.
I ride left foot forward, and the velcro strap can dig into my ankle on my right foot when I’m descending. After a few rides I was able to remedy this by angling the strap a bit forward and anchoring it around the knot in the laces.
Noah mentioned the extra long 33 mm cleat attachment slots on the Kestrel. I like my cleats placed behind the ball of my foot for descending control, and the Kestrel Lace allows me to do this with a little room to spare.
The cleats are recessed so they don’t hit the ground while walking. The cutout around the cleat is relatively large, so it is easy to clip and unclip without getting the shoe hung up on the pedal.
The Kestrel Lace has a nylon shank to make the shoe stiff. It is supposedly 15% less stiff than the standard Kestrel. I’m not sure if this slight decrease in stiffness is noticeable, and I found the Kestrel Lace to be good at all-around pedaling. As Noah said of the original Kestrel, neither shoe is as stiff as a cross-country race shoe, but both versions of the Kestrel still pedal well.
The stiff nylon shank extends through the entire foot, so the shoe doesn’t bend very much while walking. Coming from an XC background, the Kestrel Lace feels fine for short hike-a-bike rides, but those who are used to softer skate-style shoes will probably be less happy walking around in the Kestrel Lace.
I would say that the Kestrel Lace hits a happy medium between pedaling efficiency and walking capability for most riders who usually climb up to their descents. As a trail rider, giving up some power for comfort, shock absorption, and walkability is a sacrifice I am very happy to make.
Kestrel Lace vs. the Original (Boa) Kestrel
I rode in the original Kestrel for almost four months in 2015, and I agree with Noah that they pedal well and have many well-thought-out features that make them good all-around trail shoes. But the durability and performance of some of the features did not live up to my expectations.
I already mentioned that the BOA system of the Kestrel is not my cup of tea due to its roughness, especially after it inevitably gets muddy. The Kestrel Lace remedies this issue, though the lace-up version is not as adjustable while riding.
I also found the durability of the original Kestrel to be lacking. Within about 70 rides and under five true hike-a-bikes, the Stealth Mi6 rubber on one shoe completely tore at the toe, revealing the inner shank. I am guilty of dabbing more with this foot than the other, but I was shocked at how quickly the shoe completely fell apart.
So I emailed Five Ten, and their warranty department did a great job of getting a new pair shipped to me once I sent the old ones in. And there is, of course, a possibility that I got a faulty pair at first.
The Kestrel Lace uses only Stealth C4 rubber, instead of both the Stealth Mi6 and C4 on the original Kestrel. Although the C4 isn’t as grippy, it is harder and potentially more durable. I haven’t put in enough time on the Kestrel Lace to truly know if it holds up better, but there aren’t any signs of wear on the soles after a month of hard riding. I also haven’t noticed any lack of traction in the Kestrel Lace due to the less grippy C4 rubber on the toes and heels.
My measured weight of the Kestrel Lace (354 grams) is actually lower than the original Kestrel (385 grams) even though my older Kestrels are 1.5 sizes bigger.
Lastly, the fit of the Kestrel Lace Women’s is better suited for more narrow feet. So again, both guys and girls who have narrow feet or like a tighter fit should look at the Kestrel Lace Women’s. The “Women’s” version could — and maybe should — simply be called a “low volume” version that comes in smaller sizes. The subdued and gender-neutral color schemes look great, and make for one of the least-dorky-looking clipless shoes around. The Kestrel Lace has a slightly less “sleek” design than the original Kestrel, but in my opinion, is a much better looking shoe.
The women’s Five Ten Kestrel Lace is a great all-around trail shoe for riders who spend a lot of time pedaling, but who also want the comfort, protection, and walkability that an all-mountain shoe provides. The low-volume fit will work well for any rider —guy or girl — with narrow feet, or those who want a tighter fit. The harder rubber and lace-up closure (instead of the BOA system) make the Kestrel Lace a clear choice over the original Kestrel for me.