The sole of the Trailcross Clip-in uses Five Ten’s Stealth Marathon Rubber, which is designed to wear longer and better than the softer and gripper versions of Stealth Rubber typically reserved for their flat-pedal shoes. I found the Trailcross to have above-average traction for a MTB shoe, and average traction for a hiking / jogging shoe (a compliment). I had minimal slip-outs or blown steps while hiking wearing the Trailcross. The cleat channel itself is quite deep and wide, with a ramped entry and a hard plastic bottom. This helps your soft cleats to sit as flush as possible with the tread of the shoe and helps to cut down on cleat wear from hard hiking miles, which can often lead to the early death of MTB cleats. A situation where the Trailcross shines (outside of the expected increase in walking/hiking feel and efficiency) is scrambling on rocks, wood features, or other low-grip surfaces. Being able to flex the shoe from the ball of your foot, its lugged sole, and its recessed cleat area all afforded a high level of confidence in these situations where you are looking for maximum surface contact.
When riding, you can feel that the shank of the shoe is softer than most dedicated MTB shoes, especially lighter, more XC-oriented options, and this does decrease the feeling of instant power transmission when you stomp on the pedals. On bigger rides or longer days in the saddle, my foot / arch would often also feel more tired than I’m used to due to the increased flex. The wider toe box (than the Five Ten and Pearl Izumi shoes that I normally wear) does also allow more movement from the front of your foot, which makes it feel like less of a performance fit in the front half of this shoe. But these same traits are very welcome when hiking in the Trailcross. The softer sole helps avoid that awkward heel-first rolling step I find myself often adopting in shoes with a stiffer sole, and the wider toe box gives your feet (toes) a bit of room to spread apart and increases stability when walking.
From the lens of MTB performance, I found the Trailcross to benefit from larger platform clip-in pedals. The larger the pedal’s platform, the more of that softer-than-average midsole/instep area of the shoe was supported by the platform of the pedal, as opposed to my foot. Over longer days, at faster speeds, or on bigger impacts, a larger-platform pedal also helped me feel more stable, and I could feel less deformation from the shank of the shoe. The thin upper material does also leave you a bit more exposed to flying rocks, stationary tree limbs, or other objects that a traditional MTB shoe with a more robust upper would do more to protect you from. It was never a problem for me, but I didn’t really realize how often rocks ping off the top of my shoe until I had less material there to absorb the impacts. The toe cap never left my toes feeling vulnerable, though.
From the perspective of hiking performance, the thinner material of the upper is fantastic. My feet stayed noticeably cooler, and the shoe vents well. This is also a benefit after stream crossings since the upper of the shoe will dry out quite quickly. I found the insole of the Trailcross to be very average in terms of support. If you are someone who is sensitive to that, or likes to swap out insoles on your shoes for increased comfort or performance, I would expect you may choose to do so here.