You never know exactly where you're heading when you start a ride, so if having a shoe you know can handle off-trail wanderings and new routes is important to you, we'd take a look at the Pearl Izumi Women's X-Alp Launch II Mountain Bike Shoe. Light and responsive on quick after-work rides with your girlfriends, but rugged enough to handle long, rambling weekend rides, the X-Alp Launch II makes an ideal companion as you improve. Pearl wisely starts with synthetic bonded uppers, which come devoid of any traditional seaming. This allows the shoe to adapt to a wide range of foot shapes, and cuts down on the likelihood of hot spots or pressure points interrupting your ride. We're fans of the BOA dial and hook-and-loop strap lacing system; the BOA dial gives you nearly unlimited control of fit around your instep, while the strap addresses fit around your toes. Underneath the shoe, you'll have a cushy EVA midsole providing all-day comfort, partnered with a carbon-reinforced composite shank that will ensure you get the power transfer you need on steep, unforgiving climbs. Grippy carbon rubber lugs along the outsole dig into the ground when you're inching your bike along gnarly cliff-side rock gardens and leaving your bike to go snap a picture of a sweeping view.