With their burly uppers and sticky, climbing-specific outsoles, approach shoes allow climbers to easily get to almost any crag.
Here are some of this season’s best approach shoes.
Scarpa Tech Ascent GTX
The Tech Ascent represents what could be the ideal approach footwear for anyone wanting the extra support of a boot with the light weight and agile climbing capabilities of a sticky soled approach shoe. Scarpa uses a mid-cut suede upper that is durable, light and thanks to the Gore lining, waterproof. For traction, Scarpa employs Vibram’s Vertical outsole which delivers solid climbing performance and exceptional control on loose ground. A dual-density polyurethane midsole provides excellent shock absorption even when carrying heavy loads and is more durable that EVA foam. This may be the perfect approach shoe for back country routes in the Rockies and B.C.
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
The Ultra Raptor combines exceptional approach-shoe traction with the cushioning often found on trail running shoes. As such the Ultra Raptor is a good choice mixed approaches with lighter loads. Sportiva adds a forefoot rock guard which protects against bruises from rocks and roots. This is a great hybrid shoe suitable for crag approaches or long trail runs.
Boreal Sendai Grafito
Boreal’s reputation for building robust approach footwear is further confirmed with its new Sendai Grafito. A durable suede upper is mated to an aggressive Vibram outsole that also sports a sticky edging platform at the forefoot. For greater comfort and a more secure fit, Boreal uses its patented Heel Fit System (HFS) that places extra padding above the heel. A cushy midsole takes the sting out of long approaches and is sufficiently durable for multiple seasons of use. This is a solid approach shoe that should survive years of use.
Patigonia Drifter AC
With its hyper-aggressive outsole and highly breathable nubuck-reinforced mesh uppers, the Patagonia Drifter AC is a top choice for loose approach trails and warmer conditions. Thin webbing eyelets that anchor to the sole of the shoe create a foot-hugging fit but are more susceptible to abrasion (compared to traditional eyelets) at scree covered crags. This a good approach shoe for anyone wanting maximum traction in muddy and loose trail conditions.
FIve Ten Ascent
With its close-to-the-ground ride and sleek aesthetics, the new Aescent can easily transition between technical rock approaches and slippery pub floors. Five Ten has created a shoe with great lifestyle-styling that also performs exceptionally well on moderate approaches. As a bonus, the Aescent is also equally at home when riding a flat-pedalled fixie to the bouldering gym.
This impeccably made mid-height approach shoe delivers excellent durability and waterproofness thanks to the high quality suede uppers and Gore lining. Asolo uses a low-profile outsole/midsole, which allows for moderate technical climbing without sacrificing protection during long approaches. Cushioning is even further improved in the thanks to the unique anti-shock heel insert. Although the price may initially seem high, the Jumlas will no doubt survive multiple seasons worth of use and are a great choice for anyone venturing into the backcountry.
The North Face Verto Approach
This lightweight technical approach shoe mates running-shoe agility with the rock shoe climbing performance. A synthetic upper is durable without being heavy while the sticky rubber outsole and rubber toe rand provide solid traction on rocky trails. A compressed EVA midsole and The North Face’s Cradle heel cushioning and stability technology ensure comfort during longer approaches. These are a solid approach shoe for a variety of situations.
Merrell Mix Master Tuff
With its lightweight and breathable uppers and low ride height, the Mix Master Tuffs are good approach shoe for climbers moving fast on moderate trails. The mildly aggressive outsole offers good traction on hardpack approach trails or loose desert-like terrain (think Bishop or Skaha). Climbers travelling with light packs on less extreme terrain will appreciate these new shoes from Merrell.