Earlier this Spring when I was trying to pick a new pair of shoes for the year, I tried on various models from Bontrager, Sidi, Mavic and Giro. I won't bore you with minute details of the fit of the different brands (besides, your feet are probably a different shape from mine), but in the end, I decided to go with Giro, a newcomer to the shoe game.
They offer two MTB models, The Gauge and the higher end Code. I decided to go with the Code, despite going against a few beliefs I have about mountain bike shoes:
1) I don't believe in having a buckle/ratchet on MTB shoes; to me it's a part that could get damaged or get clogged with dirt and mud and cease to work
2) I've never had a MTB shoe with a super stiff sole. I've always believed that a bit of flex is a good thing, especially if you end up off the bike and have to walk a bit.
3) I try not to buy expensive MTB shoes since they'll get trashed within a couple of seasons and need replacing.
Before getting injured, I got in 5 rides wearing these shoes. With respect to those 3 points above:
1) no issues yet with the buckle...I like being able to cinch the top strap down nice and tight, and it's less velcro to get clogged with dirt.
2) The stiff sole rocks. I can feel the difference it makes when standing up to pedal...instant power transfer. As far as lack of comfort or too stiff when hiking, no issues noted
3) Overall, they are worth the extra coin. They are one of the best fitting shoes I have worn...comparable to my other favourite fitting shoes, Specialized. There are no pressure points, and the upper conforms to my foot perfectly.
Some other features are pointed out below in the picture captions:
The middle strap loops through the D-ring on top of the middle of the foot, which takes pressure off the instep.
One of the buckles has gotten a little scuffed up. If it gets damaged, the buckles are easily replaced.
The sole is made from Easton EC 90 carbon, their top tier carbon. The lugs are soft, giving nice grip on rocks for dismounts or dabs. My only worry is that they might wear out prematurely due to being too soft. Guess I just have to stay clipped in as much as possible. The carbon sole also contributes to these shoes being ridiculously light.
The sole has taken some dings, but the tough ass carbon is standing up to it.
The code comes with an insole with adjustable arch height.
All I can say about these shoes so far is that they rock. Hopfully I get to use them sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm spending my time with "BRIE", Beer, Rest, Ice and Elevation.