Been riding clipless my entire life, when I made the decision last year between flats and clipless I stayed with clipless and these are my learnings: 1) The actual pedal/cleat you have make a huge difference on the experience. I've updgraded and it was a game changer. 2) Uphills it does not make any difference, IMPO. depends in the rider. If you're fit enough you'll climb fast. 3) I've ridden rocky, rooty, steep sections all whilst clip in. Does not matter, but again it can be the rider 4) it is an advanage to know my foot is in the right place when I need to klap a pedal in. but decent flats and shoes also have great grip. If it was possible to be able to "test drive" them on some trails for a day would be the best to solve thie personal dillema. Good luck and happy riding!