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Review: Bontrager Foray trail shoes

Versatile shoe ready and durable enough for trail, XC and 'cross

Bongrager Foray

Bontrager went through a full re-design of its Foray and Evoke shoes earlier this spring. Designed to be a blend of performance and durability, the Foray suits a wide range of uses from trail and cross country mountain biking to cyclocross and gravel riding.

That’s a lot of ground to cover for one shoe. With a mix of good construction and a distinct Bontrager’s latest tries its best, with solid results.

Fit and features

Bontrager uses its inForm Race last on the Foray, which it describes as “slightly roomier, high-performance fit.” Compared to Shimano’s XC series, the Foray’s are slightly narrower, especially up front. The “roomier” part is more of a volume than width, in my experience. This isn’t a bad thing, and will surely be appreciated by anyone who has never found Shamino’s worked for them.

Bontrager uses a combination of a single Boa L6 dial and hook-and-loop strap to adjust the Foray’s fit. The L6 is easy to adjust, and has a nice slim profile that keeps it from getting caught or scuffed on trail. I did shove one into a fence (after mis-judging the width of my bars) and, while scuffed, the Boa was otherwise unharmed.

I do wish the Boa was mounted lower down toward the sole of the shoe. It wasn’t always easy to get that secure feeling of being locked into the shoe, unless I really ratcheted down the tension.

Finally, the heel cup isn’t as deep as some other shoes out there. It was mostly comfortable, but I did find this left my heel wandering during harder efforts. I have weirdly skinny heels, which makes this an issue on several brand’s shoes. On the other hand, if you find other shoes rub or chafe above the heel, the Foray’s could leave you enough space. Fit is especially personal for shoes, so what was alright but not perfect for me might be great for someone else.

Performance on trail

On the trail, the Foray’s are comfortably stiff. They’re not harsh, like a full-on XC race shoe, but they’re not so soft that long or challenging rides are uncomfortable. Bontrager calls the Foray a 6/14 on its own stiffness scale. What that translates to is a shoe that would be nice for cyclocross. It’s supportive on the pedals, but comfortable enough to walk, run, or hike up short sections of trail in.

When you are off the bike, the Foray has solid treads that lend the shoe plenty of traction. There’s an option for toe spikes, and the included – removable – nylon toe studs add grip. The Tachyon rubber grip treads and scuff guards also stand up to a good amount of abuse. The hard nylon arches do have a few scores from walking on rocky trails, but the scuff guards and treads look no worse for wear.

As an everyday trail or gravel shoe, the Foray’s are built to last. The uppers are made from a tough, synthetic leather material. This hasn’t scored or marked up at all yet, despite being dragged over some rocks and – due entirely to my own error while experimenting with cleat placement- rubbing one crank quite consistently.

2021 Bontrager Foray
2021 Bontrager Foray

Review: Bontrager Foray

All in? Foray offers a good alternative for a shoe designed to toe the line between everyday rider and performance design. At $215.00, they’re not inexpensive, but they are on par with other shoes out there. The inForm Race last provides a good fit option that is distinct enough to make it worth checking out, if similar shoes from other brands aren’t working for you. I do wish the Boa L6 placement was better, but it still does provide easy adjustment on the fly.

Bontrager’s made a solid, performance shoe that will survive plenty of daily riding, or a full season of racing – whether that’s XC, cyclocross or gravel. Bontrager makes more high performance shoes if racing is your only goal. But the Foray are a good bet for everyday trail and cross country riding with a performance bent, or even trying out this style of shoe. The Evoke, for $50.00 less, offers many of the same features, just lacks the added to strap fit adjustment.

Bontrager’s re-worked Foray comes in four colours and unisex sizing from 36-48, with half sizes from 38.5 – 45.5. The 2021 Foray retails for $215.00.