At a glance
Etnies is mainly known for its skate and leisure shoes, but have been in the MTB market for quite some time now. The Camber CL is their brand new MTB shoe aimed at the clipped in riders out there. It comes in two colours, 17 sizes and of course there’s also a flat pedal version available.Buy Shoes on
For a first clipless shoe, Etnies did a great job of combining a lot of technical features. Most noticeable is the neoprene ‘’sock” that is there to stop any loam or crud entering your shoes while shredding. Of course there is a velcro strap holding the laces in place while adding some extra pressure and support on the upper part of your foot.
The outsole has a pedal-specific tread pattern created with Formula G – an MTB rubber compound that offers double the adhesion compared to standard rubber. It also has a nylon clipless pedal shank – optimised for pedalling efficiency and off-bike walkability.
On the inside it has a lightweight STI Evolution Foam midsole that provides superior cushioning and comfort that won’t pack out. The shoe’s upper features the lightweight, breathable protection of Exo-Shield, and a Repel treatment to block moisture. The asymmetric Lace Lock protects laces from pedal hang ups. The cleat area offers 33mm of adjustment and my size 44 EU shoes weigh in at 512 grams per shoe.
Out on the trail
Getting in the Cambers is a bit of a mission when they’re fresh out of the box. The neoprene cuff is fairly tight and you could struggle a bit getting your feet in there, but after a few days on the trails the materials settle in place and the tabs on the shoe give you a good hold when sliding in your feet.
Cleat setup is quick and easy, although it would be great if you were able to slide the cleat a little further to the centre of the shoe. I had no issues with my settings but I can imagine if you’re used to having your cleats in the middle of the shoe you will struggle to reach the favourite setting.
We started riding with the shoes right in autumn, and they gave plenty of warmth on even the cooler rides while not overheating your feet when the sun came out. Although the uppers are not waterproof, they do seem to be fairly water resistant. The odd shower and splashing through a river or two is no big deal with the Cambers. Added bonus is that they dry out fairly quickly too. If you’re riding through winter, it’s good to know they have a Camber CL WR version with extra Thinsulate to keep your tootsies warm and dry.
On the pedalling efficiency front, they’re not the stiffest soled shoes out there as you might expect. Still they provide when it's time to transfer the power from foot to pedal. I wouldn’t recommend this to the competition oriented rider, but for every day ripping it’s plenty stiff.
Not having a concrete rigid sole is a big bonus when it comes to time off the bike. It’s mega comfortable and even on the longer hike-a-bikes I had no issues with foot fatigue. It’s also one of the shoes I had least issues with the heel releasing while hiking. A major cause of blisters on those big days. The rubber sole was plenty grippy too, especially with the ribbed section near your toes that really grabbed the rocks when hiking up steep stuff.
Etnies blew it out of the water for their first clipless shoe ever. It’s hella comfortable, plenty of grip off the bike and it looks the part too. My only gripe is the cleat adjustability, but unless you ride very extreme cleat positions you won’t have an issue.Buy Shoes on
This review was in Issue 73 of IMB.For more information visit Etnies
By Jarno HooglandJarno's life has revolved around two wheels ever since he swung a leg over his first BMX at age 4. After a BMX and DH racing career, he moved on to work for bike shops, distributors and brands before ending up in the editors seat at IMB. Based in the ultimate testing ground in the Swiss mountains, he runs his guiding operation and makes sure every IMB issue is filled with top notch content.