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Giro Ranger gravel shoe review: “no-frills” velcro SPD shoe for off-road cruising

Labeled by Giro itself as a “no frills” shoe, but is there more to the Ranger than meets the eye?

Giro Ranger gravel shoes
(Image: © Dean Hersey)

Bike Perfect Verdict

A no-nonsense modern take on a classic lightweight off-road shoe design that blends all day comfort and breathability perfectly for warm rides

Pros

  • +

    Stable sole tread with mounts for toe spikes

  • +

    All day comfort

  • +

    Airy for the hot days

Cons

  • -

    Old skool MTB styling

  • -

    Cold in winter

Giro is almost a household name associated with cycling. The Californian brand has been making cycling apparel since the mid-80s, with cycling footwear added to its catalog in 2010. It produces footwear for road, downhill mountain biking, and everything in between, including a plethora of options to suit the emergence of the gravel riding scene.  

Giro's best gravel shoes cover pretty much every conceivable price point with a choice of closure and outer sole options. The Ranger sits in the Giro lineup alongside the Sector and Rincon, which share the same upper construction. Let's take an in-depth look at the Ranger shoes, their features, and how they perform for gravel riding.  

Giro Ranger gravel shoes reflective heel detail

The heel and toes get some reinforcement to offer a little foot protection (Image credit: Dean Hersey)

Design and aesthetics 

So in my opinion we have here a classic XC MTB-styled shoe. Starting with the outer sole, it features a nylon fiber composite plate surrounded by a chunky dual-injected rubber tread and finished with tough stainless steel hardware to ensure no seizing. The cleat is tucked nicely up inside the tread with plenty of cleat clearance for trouble-free pedal engagement and release.

The rubber extends from the sole over the front of the toe with more rubber protection found on the lower section of the heel to warn off any strikes to either area. 

The Ranger uses a triple velcro strap closure system for a robust no-nonsense approach, rather than the Boas used on the Rincon and Sector. But it is what the straps lace over that differs Giro footwear from the competition. The Ranger employs a breathable woven mesh that Giro names Synchwire. This Synchwire weave is enclosed with its rubbery Exo Structure to brace the mesh upper, adding to the foot support. Meanwhile the 'V' cut padded tongue is thin and vented. The heel is both cushioned and supportive and the rear is reflective, helping to increase your visibility for the inevitable tarmac sections.

The inner uses an EVA footbed that offers medium arch support covering the majority of riders. The Giro Ranger is available in EU size 39 right through to 50 and in a choice of four subtle 'gravel'” colorways.

Giro Ranger gravel shoes sole detail

We have always found Giro's tread pattern and well-recessed cleat to be great for wandering or hike-a-biking (Image credit: Dean Hersey)

Performance

A more relaxed approach to a gravel shoe, the Ranger leans towards comfort over race stiffness. Saving a few important pennies and dropping the Easton Carbon sole or a fancy closure system of the other Giro stablemates also creates more comfort for your feet as well as your bank balance. Don't be put off though, the glass fiber sole is plenty stiff enough to give good power transfer while not punishing your feet on longer rides. The Ranger is still light thanks to its construction, only nudging my scales to 704g for a pair of size 42 (without cleats).

The tread width offers good stability and the flexibility of the Synchwire mesh upper means that they are grippy and better suited to walking than some gravel shoes I've tried. This is ideal for when you have to swing your legs off the bike at a coffee stop. There is ample room between the chunky tread blocks for my Shimano cleats and I like that there is the option to run spikes.

The Synchwire mesh is never going to be the most watertight design but the airy mesh upper is quick-drying once wet. Obviously, your toes are going to be a little on the chilly side during fresh winter rides, but on the flip side in the warmer months, the mesh will breathe better than most other gravel shoes.

The tongue is thin and yet substantial enough not to suffer from uncomfortable bunching. Thick padded heels offer me support and are mighty comfy. I really like how the light and supple mesh upper molds to your foot like a sock. Of course, the support and compression aren't as high as either a wire or a ratchet closure system but the pressure of the Ranger is consistent around your foot. I never suffered from any uncomfortable hot spots on long gravel rides even while wearing thicker socks.

While it might not be the most secure closure method, I think you would need to be really unlucky to have any of the velcro straps snag with enough force to release them. There is plenty of adjustment between the three straps and I was able to fasten them as tightly as I needed. The aesthetics might be a little dated but if the subtle and plain velcro closure works then why change it? If you like the rest of the shoe’s features but you want a Boa closure, then look at the more expensive models, Giro has it all on offer. 

The sizing is spot on for me with no need to worry about sizing up and the medium level of arch support inside is great for my foot shape. Comfort is exceptional and easily competes with shoes three times the price tag. The Giro Ranger is more than just a gravel shoe. As Giro quotes its “no-frills” design is simple and creates a versatile shoe that works perfectly for any type of off-road ride, albeit in the summertime.

Giro Ranger gravel shoes

The Synchwire upper offers great breathability and comfort (Image credit: Dean Hersey)

Verdict

The Giro Ranger is simple and does the fundamental things very well. All the carbon soles and latest lacing technology are great but if your hard-earned cash doesn't quite reach that far the Ranger would be my choice. The all-day comfort and the airy upper make for a well thought out, great all-round off-road shoe package if you have a warm California-like climate.  

Tech Specs: Giro Ranger

  • Color: Black / Portaro Gray / Black, Green / Olive, Gum
  • Retention: Three Velcro straps
  • Uppers: Giro Synchwire
  • Outsole: Nylon composite
  • Weight: 704g (pair, size 42 without cleats)
  • Size: EU 39-50
  • Price: $120 / £99.99 
Dean Hersey
Freelance writer

 

Dean is a freelance cycling journalist and a self-confessed pedal addict based in Dorset, who's fortunate to have the New Forest National Park and the Isle of Purbeck on his doorstep. Not confined to his local spots, riding bikes has meant Dean has been fortunate to travel the world in search of the best trails. From summers spent in the Alps to exploring iconic locations such as Scotland, Aosta Valley, the Pyrenees, Finale Ligure, New Zealand and Whistler to name a few. Over the years he has dabbled in racing DH and enduro to XC. More recently Dean has been exploring the UK with his gravel bike and loves a bikepacking trip. As passionate about writing as much as his riding, by recapturing his adventures through his stories and sharing his own experiences of products by writing technical reviews, he's also a regular contributor for Singletrack and Grit CX.

Rides: Open U.P

Height: 180cm

Weight: 65kg