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Kayland Vitrik GTX: A nimble, heavy-duty approach shoe

A comfortable shoe for complex terrain and in variable conditions

Most approach shoes make you choose between a protective, stable platform for hiking in talus and on unstable slopes and a light, capable rock climbing shoe that can take you as far as you can go without putting on rock shoes. Two weeks climbing in the Vitrik in the Canadian Rockies, I was impressed by how well the shoe functioned on a range of terrain.

The upper is suede leather, reinforced at the toe and heel. A double-density, microporous heel wedge adds to the stability and comfort on descents. The result was a solid, boot-like feel that was welcome on long alpine rock scrambles. The Gore-Tex insert kept the feet dry in a couple of trudges through snow, and the shoe seemed more breathable than some Gore-Tex footwear, an important perk on hot summer approaches.

With an asymmetrical lacing system that Kayland calls the ALS (Ankle Locking system). For the most part, this kept the shoe where I wanted it on my foot, even on some really long approaches up sliding talus. The down-to-the-toes eyelets helped to keep it tight around the forefoot for climbing.

All of these features meant that at the end of the day in the Vitriks my feet were less exhausted than in some shoes.

The laces extend to the toe, allowing a personalized closure and maximum precision in the fit. The Vibram Gravity outsole, with its Megagrip compound for a perfect grip was secure on all kinds of trails from gravel to mud, but it really shone rock climbing. Maybe because it’s the closest compound to rock climbing rubber available in approach and hiking shoes. Slabs, edging, cracks, the Vitrik could do it all.  I kept them on long after I would have switched to rock shoes when wearing many, similarly protective approach footwear.

A pair of  Vitriks will weight in the vicinity of 900g, depending on shoe size, so it’s not the lightest of approach shoes on the market. They are also not highly compressible for stuffing in your pack. I found these small prices to pay for their all-round performance.

Also available in a mid-height model for more ankle protection.