What is it
Offering the breathability and lightweight construction of a cross-country shoe with the grippy sole of an all-mountain shoe, the Northwave Outcross Plus is an affordable, high-performance pair of kicks featuring the company’s own take on a BOA-style closure system called SLW2. Another highlight of the Outcross Plus is the Michelin rubber used on the soles, which Northwave claims is 28 percent more abrasion resistant than the TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) used by many competitors. Thanks to its high performance mesh uppers, Outcross Plus shoes are extremely breathable and quick-drying. Upon first evaluation, the Outcross Plus seemed to be the ideal backcountry shoe designed for all-day adventures where breathability and grip are the top footwear priority.
- SLW2 closure system outperforms BOA
- Michelin sole rubber is very grippy
- Breathable uppers dry out quickly
- Removable rubber plates good for platform or clipless pedals
- Reasonably priced
- Shoe feels very flat, no arch support
- Very little foot padding protection from rocks
- Midsole feels too flexy when pedaling
The Outcross Plus is a solid performer overall with a few niggles that could be a bigger issue for some riders than others. Overall, the Outcross Plus is an extremely grippy, lightweight and breathable shoe that dries out very quickly. But with this lightweight breathability comes sacrifices in the comfort department. Although not uncomfortable, the Outcross Plus is definitely light in the padding department. Accidentally kick a rock and your foot will most definitely feel the brunt of the impact.
Additionally, those with high arches will need to get a set of aftermarket insoles with arch support, as the standard Outcross Plus insoles offer little support. I also felt the Outcross Plus was lacking in the pedaling stiffness department, feeling more like a shoe for recreational riders than a high performance all-mountain offering. On the upside, the Outcross Plus shoes were great when hiking, with just the right amount of flex and an incredible amount of grip thanks to the Michelin soles.
When I first laid eyes on Northwave’s take on the BOA closure system, awkwardly named SLW2, I asked myself, Why not just use a BOA? But after a couple rides I figured out why. SLW2 works better than the BOA system. The turn-dial closes much faster and consistently, and the release mechanism is almost instantaneous with the flick of a small lever. And for those who prefer platforms over clipless, the Outcross Plus features a slick removable rubber center lug that can be bolted in place of a metal cleat.
Bottom line, for those in search of a durable, grippy, lightweight and breathable all-mountain shoe that is very comfortable off the bike, the Outcross Plus is a great choice. Those seeking more foot padding and protection with a bit more pedaling stiffness should look elsewhere.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
More info: northwave.com