In today’s era, most of the innovations that we are getting to witness are a combination of contrary things.However, I am not saying that brand new developments have halted completely. It is just that the general trend is that much combinatory.
This fact reflects itself in a lot of different things and now have come on to the footwear that people buy. Approach shoes are just that, where you will get the best of both world. Want to know which two world?
What approach shoes will give you is suitability for both hiking and mountain climbing. If you have these shoes on your feet while going on a hike and want to climb up a mountain you will not need a new pair of shoes.
It would be just as simple as that and it will save you both money and time and any other resource that you can conceive of. In case you want to get yourself one of these and for that you want proper guide to help you make the correct choice. This article would be just the one that you will need to learn about the best approach shoes.
- 1 But How Do We Know That These Approach Shoes Are The Best?
- 1.1 On-feet Comfort
- 1.2 Structural Stability & Flexibility
- 1.3 The Best Approach Shoes
- 1.3.1 Salomon X Alp Mid LTR GTX
- 1.3.2 Description
- 1.3.3 Specs
- 1.3.4 Arc’Teryx Arakys
- 1.3.5 Description
- 1.3.6 Specs
- 1.3.7 Five Ten Access Leather
- 1.3.8 Description
- 1.3.9 Specs
- 1.3.10 Scarpa Zen
- 1.3.11 Description
- 1.3.12 Specs
- 1.3.13 Arc’Teryx Konseal FL
- 1.3.14 Description
- 1.3.15 Specs
- 1.3.16 La Sportiva Boulder X
- 1.3.17 Description
- 1.3.18 Specs
- 1.3.19 Evolv Cruiser Psyche
- 1.3.20 Description
- 1.3.21 Specs
- 1.3.22 La Sportiva TX3
- 1.3.23 Description
- 1.3.24 Specs
- 2 Conclusion
But How Do We Know That These Approach Shoes Are The Best?
There is a great saying that comes from some of the best athletes in the world. It goes as follows –
“To be the best you have to beat the best.”
In order to decide which of such hybrid shoes are the best, I have adopted a logic similar to this. As in for these shoes that you will find in this article, they beat the required criteria. In that way I consider them qualified to be the best.
If the shoes have these qualities and nothing more than that, still it would be counted as a worthwhile buy. Consider these fundamentals for making some of the best shoes of this type.
Approach shoes are going to serve both the hikers as well as the rock climbers. It has to have a design that would be able to endure through the long drawn days of hiking. Also it be able to bear all the twisting, smashing and pressure that comes with climbing rocks.
Absolutely one of the most critical things one can require in any kind of footwear. This is the case specifically for these kinds of shoes. As you will have to wear these for a long period of time and perform intense activities while wearing them. So they better be comfortable on your feet or else it can be really damaging not just to your feet, but to your entire body.
Structural Stability & Flexibility
Since hiking trails, as well as the rocks you would try to climb up, will be anything but smooth. The structure of the entire shoe has got to be stable enough to be able to bear all of that.
If you have these three fundamental pillars of footwear awesomeness in the approach shoe that you buy. Then it would be a great investment on your part and you would be good to go ahead and answer to the calling from the mountains.
The Best Approach Shoes
Now that we have consolidated the basis of judgment, it is now time that we get into the meat and potatoes of this article. You will find multiple shoes one better than the other that you will be able to take your pick from. Do not hesitate to indulge if hiking is your passion and you are obsessed about hiking and trekking.
As for the various types of shoes that I have listed here, you will find all the necessary details that would help you make the best decision possible. Because if there is only one advice that I can give regarding the purchase decision that is subjective. The choice that would suit a particular person, would be the exact opposite of some other. Basically, there is not one design and performance profile that would fit all.
So without any more delay, let’s dive in deep into the detailed review of these shoes –
Salomon X Alp Mid LTR GTX
Decades of experience in manufacturing some of the best gear for hiking and outdoors in the world, Salomon has all the accolades to show that they are the brand that you can trust upon.
The boots for walking as well as running trails are really high-performance and good in quality. In case the mountain peaks are where you find your spirit, then a boot like Salomon X Alp Mid LTR GTX’s is the one that you should go for. Provided, it is not a name that will roll easily off your mouth.
This shoe is much like Salomon’s brilliant X Alp MTN GTX boot and it does share many of the common qualities with other tech which make it that much better.
Underneath the Salomon X Alp Mid LTR GTX you will find the Contagrip sole which has high traction. This helps grip into the ground doesn’t matter if you are walking on a rocky surface, muddy swamps and also on ice. The 3D Edging Chassis is a feature that stands out for this particular type of shoe.
A robust series of plates which interlock with a sole that flexes along with the feet as you trek with it. But it also locks together with the load from the side. A positive approach to help make the edging of the boot better. That way you will be able to maintain your balance while climbing the smaller rocks which you might find by the side of steep trails.
These rocks are quite the hiccup as it can send you twisting sideways thus hurting your ankle. The next line of support comes from the rubber toe-guard and heel caps, also made of rubber in their respective position.
This approach shoe is a bit heavier on the side and can get in the way of fast paced mountaineering mission. The lining of this shoe called the Gore-Tex is a bit too much for hiking in summer. Still, where this boot excels is the factor of reliability, where it will be great for most of the mountainous journey with snow, rocks, ice and steep climbs.
- 2 lbs & 8 oz in weight
- Synthetic suede upper
- Contagrip Sole with extra high traction
- The structure very good for the safety of your feet
- A bit too bulky for the average climber
The Arc’Teryx Arakys is an approach shoe built for the more tame objectives like cragging and a bit of casual wear. This one has all the style and the tech you might need froma lightweight shoe.
The Adaptive Fit Lite system has a one-piece upper in lamination, which will fit to your feet. This eliminates all the hot spots and gives a proper fit for scrambling and climbing simple landscapes.
The buckle closure is very good for continuous changing of the shoes where the testers felt that it was rather hard to not fit. Still some of the reports claim it to be difficult to get the buckle to hook properly.
The EVA foam midsole will give comfort and rigidity for trekking with heavy loads. The single piece upper will help the user feel more secure when the hikes will become more complex. For optimizing performance to the fullest, it is best to get a size smaller than your usual.
These can smoothly transition to and fro from a one-hand buckle closure, barefoot friendly, and a flexible heel. This makes the shoe quite comfortable a belay. Also, because of the slipper build with a close fit, the Arakys is also very good for climbing objectives.
This shoe surely has many technical advantages to satisfy the stingiest. But for a crag type approach shoe, it is definitely more than necessary. If long hikes and climbs is your thing, then you will be better off with the other options on this list.
- 1 lb & 3 oz in weight
- Uppers made of Nylon
- Vibram Megagrip Sole
- Has qualities of a really good crag shoe
- Still, not versatile enough for all sorts of mountaineering objectives
Five Ten Access Leather
The Access shoe from Five Ten is honestly a good fit to the name. A high level of comfort, solid support structure and safety protection, Access is the best when it comes to accessing the rocks but that is kind of it.
Expert eyes will get this on the first look. No clip-in loop, an uncannily puny rand and a lacing which does not reach the toe. This boot is plainly not good for rock climbing. Although this approach shoe is noticeably more flexible, with the S1 sole having inferior performance its rivals.
With the Five Ten Access, you get quite an athletic form and it will be better for the sport crag thing with the boulders. At a lesser price point, the Access has a mesh version too, which I would recommend you for those casual, summertime approaches or for the timely hill run where some extra grip really helps. Nevertheless, both the versions are really good for the outdoors. Thus this doubles as the shoe for casual wear, much more than the other ones.
With this particular model, Five Ten has truly taken an unique approach to the line-up of shoes. This seems like the common athletic shoe rather than the rigidity of an approach shoe which is built to jam into the rock cracks all day. You will get lots of padding as well as support for hiking with a rope and the rack to the sport crag for hiking about in the mountains.
What you don’t get is the necessary stiffness and adaptability, that makes it somewhat a bad climber compared to the rivals.
- 1 lb & 9.8 oz in weight
- Leather clad uppers
- Stealth S1 type sole
- An overall aesthetic approach shoe with the right kind of performance
- Not the ideal one for climbing objective
You will get quite a good compromise between strong support and flexibility of the shoe upfront with the Scarpa Zen. It is definitely optimal to keep your feet snug when you will be carrying your bulky ruck sack on your trek.
What the reports from the full-time users highlight is that this shoe is a bit more flexible than the others within and around this price bracket.
One of the most durable shoes that I have come across thus far; I consider it best as an approach shoe that will last quite a bit. The upper, built out of suede leather is well-secured for scree climbing with the toe rand and the synthetic overlay, resistant to abrasion which wraps around the sides as well as the back of the upper. The unique, elongated part of the Spyder sole at the point of flexion of your forefeet.
The Scarpa Zen is truly among the finest of such boots that I have come across. If your main goal is to hike comfortably with the necessary durability, this approach shoe will do you good for long years. Definitely great for hiking, doesn’t matter if on a plain old trail or some jagged terrain, with or without any heavy load. A lot of climbers will want an approach shoe that will deliver improved balance during climbing and hiking.
The sticky rubber sole will stick properly to slabby rocks when you will be hiking, but it is not one of the good fits for technical smearing. On the brighter side, I found the sole to be better than the others for gripping to wet rock slabs. The design of the sole is optimal with multiple small and circular voids which have the bad habit of getting stuck in small pebbles.
This is a complete negative approach for hiking in areas where there are decomposed granites. But for the purposes of gripping and jamming, the Zen has all the right attributes for that. I have found this model to be very good for standing on the large edges, yet it does not have the necessary sensitivity for the smaller ones.
- 1 lb & 14 oz in weight
- Synthetic shoe tongue with suede upper
- Vibram Spyder II type sole
- Very much suited to the purpose of hiking more than anything else
- Kind of falters while edging and smearing
Arc’Teryx Konseal FL
Shoes of this type like most other pieces of mountaineering gear make a compromise between multiple criterias of performance. Padding and sensitivity of climbing will often be at odds with the stability of support. The Arc’teryx Konseal FL possess a lot of cushion materials, which isidentical to the trail running shoes.
For this, stability will be low and you have to compromise the sensitivity. While testing runs, the padding accounted for quite the comfortable use setting.
The EVA midsole injected inward along with the 4-mm OrthoLite insole which is 3-D did absorb all the impacts from the rapid hiking on mountain trails, boulders, scree and cracks.
Yet with all that toughness and ruggedness, the sensitivity has taken a serious backseat and with that I had to be extra careful. The lacing extends up to the base of the toe box which affect the climbing capability a bit. Still the profile did good for toeing into the pockets and gripping into the cracks.
Enthusiasts of these activities consider Arc’teryx’s manufacturing grade and all the attention to every little detail in high praise. The Konseal FL does up keep that reputation. The upper with unlined ripstop mesh and synthetic nubuck overlays give medium breathability and protect from abrasion quite well.
The enhanced side walls made of TPU make a toe cap, which keep in check the damage and protect from powerful impact. The only sign of damage post tests and trials were dirt and scratches over the toe cap. The stitching is quite consistent and strong and bonding is very neat. The laces although slippery, feel quite good in quality.
In case lightweight, good padding,= and a slick athletic feel overwhelm the need for complete stability and sensitivity of touch. The Arc’teryx Konseal FL is a worthwhile candidate for that. Traction on dry stone and things like that is brilliant. Along with the quality of construction and choice of materials adds to longevity. Finally, the minimalist type approach to design makes for a clean look which is as appropriate in the city environment as much in the mountains.
- 1 lb & 5.2 oz in weight
- Ripstop mesh upper
- Vibram Megagrip Sole
- A fine trail running and climbing hybrid.
- Lower stability and sensitivity.
La Sportiva Boulder X
This one is the rugged jack hammer that will see you safely through all those difficult treks and trails. The out-sole is of La Sportiva’s famous Vibram type which can give you a lot of traction in adverse situations like in mud, grimes, scree and jagged rocks in general.
Once you get through the initial period for breaking in, you will be able to hike with this for more than 8 hours straight wearing these.
But your feet will not be much sore, if at all by the time you will be done. This is due to the Vibram sole which is stiffer than almost every other.
The La Sportiva Boulder X is also a lot bulkier than most of the other approach shoes, which might give you a bit more leg fatigue than usual. Especially after extended periods of usage like a long run along the trails and rucking.
Due to such extra weight that add to it the stiffness, this shoe will be great for those early Spring/Summer hikes in the alpine-like snow clad fields. This pair will help you edge in the Spring snow much better than other light weight shoes which will go well in those exhausting climbs where you will need maximum traction.
All this rigidity that will help avoid a lot of those foot injuries and will give you extra support will have good as well as bad effects on performance. The tougher sole can render the edging feel safer still take out most of the smear ability. It is definitely a gamble that you just can not avoid.
The La Sportiva Boulder X comes with a complete leather upper and circumference full of sticky rubber rand along with the pretty thick Vibram Idrogrip out-sole. After miles and a whole lot of scrambling and climbing, mine are still in great shape. By looks, it will go a long time before I even think about any kind of replacement job.
Comfort, performance, looks and all the major aspects that you can think off, you will get with these shoes. The Boulder X from La Sportiva checks all the boxes and is definitely something I would recommend to all the passionate mountaineers.
- 2 lbs & 2 oz in weight
- Leather uppers
- Vibram Idrogrip V-Smear type sole
- Sticky rubber grippings very good and the price is optimal
- But can be a bit heavy for the light footed
Evolv Cruiser Psyche
Evolv is definitely one of the best brands for approach shoes and outdoors gear in general. The Cruzer Psyche, more commonly known as just Psyche is a upgrade version of the Cruzer Classic.
These two shoes are almost identical and on top of that the Psyche has two main differences. More cushioning and more of a robust support along the upper, also a bit more bulk throughout, especially within the toe box space.
The added bulk of the Psyche helps with a more easy feel as compared with the Cruzer Classic, which has a bit tight and exact fit. This will definitely help when you are going to wear it for a long period of time. And yes pretty intense due to the nature of mountaineering activities. This comfortable feel will definitely help if you just want to casually wear it rather than hike hills and canyons.
So, you get the two birds in one stone, both comfort and versatility with just one shoe. In case the Cruiser Psyche fails to hold up all of the scrambling awesomeness like the other ones. It will still keep some of the structural support best suited for the moderately technical grounds. That will help you through all your climbs and hikes, all the while keeping your feet safe.
The best I can deconstruct the features of the Evolv Cruiser Psyche is to consider the things that I might want to get for the difficult missions. Because more things are on the stake for that and you have to have everything dialed in properly for it to be a success. That too with the highest degree of safety and security that you can fathom in your mind.
With the correct mix of comfort for hiking with the essential ability to deal with ruggedness will be fantastic for morning hikes in the 14’ers in Colorado. The well maintained trails will make way for hopping rocks and some of the scrambles. This shoe can make a good guard for your feet on these types of grounds.
Also when you consider the price with what you get for that when price is a factor, it’s certainly worth a look.
- 13.2 oz, pretty lightweight
- Uppers built out of Cotton canvas
- Trax sole
- Light, cost effective and overall very good
- Will fall a bit short for any hike or climb that may be a bit too technical
La Sportiva TX3
La Sportiva TX3 isn’t a shoe that is canyoning specific, instead you get to buy it as an approach shoe, best for rock climbing enthusiasts. This shoe comes both for men and women each with respective weights.
The level of comfort the TX3 provides has impressed me a bit. And the thing is that these shoes were like that right out of the box. No need to break in and season up for the correct fit and I have never gotten a blister by wearing them. The use cases were as long drawn and complicated as any other and in all sort of conditions.
Considering which canyon I was hiking through, I have used them with a wide variety of socks, made from different materials. From wool to neoprene and then everything in between. But when I was using relatively thicker socks I had to remove the insole to have some extra room for extra comfort.
But with the insole put in place, you will get good cushioning and it will be all the more comfortable for longer and more strenuous hikes through the canyons.
I am really content with this approach shoe and would absolutely recommend them to you. The comfort at the feet, especially for the broad ones that I have. Add to that the fantastic grip has made these one of my favorite shoes not just for hiking canyons but also for those dire places where I might need to do a lot of bushwalking.
If you like a lighter, a more trainer-like shoe, then the TX3 will definitely be the one to consider. Also a fine choice for those having feet, broad or narrow feet who feel that the ‘one size fits all’ characteristic of the many canyoning boots that do not fit their bill at all.
- 1 lb & 9 oz to weight
- Mesh style upper with a PU rand
- Vibram Megagrip Traverse sole
- The shoe is at the optimal weight with proper breathable surface
- Still, the mesh which is responsible for breathability, is bad for durability
With such a carousel of options to choose from, it is easy to get overwhelmed while trying to make a purchase decision. It is easy to get lost in this vast information, as people say that “the devil is in the details”. Option paralysis is real and it can get the best of us. Still, I have crunched all that you might need is the most palatable way possible.
Now, all that you have to do is consult this information and then get out there to pinpoint your specific needs. Once you do that, the decision-making process would be that much easier.
So go ahead and happy mountaineering!