Do you know one of the unique categories of footwear? The answer is approach shoes! Yes, that’s right.
They are a combination of climbing and hiking shoes. I’m sure you were aware of that. But do you know the best approach shoes available on the market today?
The highest rated ones are hard to come by. It’s because they have a unique design that can withstand rough terrain during your approach to the cliff. At the same time, they provide the much-needed support and comfort for such a physically challenging activity.
So now you know why they’re called approach shoes and also why they have so much in common with climbing or hiking shoes. Time to move on to the 10 top picks!
- Best Approach Shoes 2017
- 1. Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe – The Most Functional Approach Shoes
- 2. Salewa Men’s Firetail 3 Hiking Shoe – The Best Heavy-Duty Approach Shoes
- 3. Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoe – The Best Lightweight Approach Shoes
- 4. Evolv Men’s Cruzer Approach Shoe – The Best Affordable Approach Shoes
- 5. La Sportiva Boulder X Hiking Shoe – The Best Entry-Level Approach Shoes
- 6. Adidas Men’s Terrex Solo Cross Trainer Shoes – The Best High-Quality Approach Shoes
- 7. Vasque Men’s Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoe – The Best Approach Shoes for Scrambling and Hiking
- 8. Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoe – The Best Approach Shoes for All Terrain
- 9. Scarpa Men’s Zen Hiking Shoe – The Most Durable Approach Shoes
- 10. Salewa Men’s MS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoe – The Bonus Pick
- Approach Shoes Buyer's Guide
- Final Note
Best Approach Shoes 2017
Photo credit: thegirloutdoors.co.uk
I’ve listed many potential options for you below. Next to the product titles in the reviews section, you’ll see why that particular pair is shortlisted. What this specific piece of additional information does is make the selection process easier. So let’s get started!
Here’s an overview of what lies ahead:
#1 (Editor choice)
Gore-Tex Waterproof Lining
Not Waterproof or Water-Resistant
Not Waterproof or Water-Resistant
Not Waterproof or Water-Resistant
Not Waterproof or Water-Resistant
1. Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe – The Most Functional Approach Shoes
The Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe is an all-rounder when it comes to performance, design, and durability. Hence, it serves as the most functional pick on the list. These best approach shoes are suitable for fifth class routes, rock, and snow along with peak and boulder approaches. Now let’s get into the more specific details.
The excellent beveled toe design allows you to land on a small edge. This is an advantage that only climbing slippers provide. The climbing rubber present in all the right spots of the shoe delivers high performance over cracks and crevices as well.
The outsoles have a unique Stealth C4 rubber design, which brings tons of traction to the table. Plus, the soles have an additional stiffness and thickness about them. But that just makes the shoes suitable for long distance hikes.
As for weight, the Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoes are neither too bulky nor too light. The structure is a perfect combination of climbing and hiking shoes. You will also be glad to know that they have a water-resistant Nubuck leather material for the uppers.
And lastly, let’s talk about the fit. This high-quality leather tends to stretch over time. And that gives your toes enough room to flex and move around freely. So people with wide feet have nothing to worry about.
The best part about these shoes is the renowned rubber construction of the outsoles. What the Stealth C4 dotty tread rubber does is provide your feet with the traction they need for rock climbing.
I’ve already mentioned above that the Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoes come with additional stiffness. While this may be perfect for hiking purposes, it can cause some discomfort during the break-in phase.
- The shoes are lightweight yet durable and comfortable.
- The perfect fit provides excellent ankle support.
- There is optimal inner cushioning to prevent blisters.
- The shoes are a tad too stiff.
- The laces tend to come loose easily.
2. Salewa Men’s Firetail 3 Hiking Shoe – The Best Heavy-Duty Approach Shoes
If you’re an avid climber, then you know all about the success of Salewa products. And the Salewa Men’s Firetail 3 Hiking Shoe is no exception. The shoes are highly functional and robust with a capacity to stand the test of time.
For me, it’s all about performance. In that regard, I appreciate the Vibram outsoles of these best approach shoes. The grip is integrated into all the crucial spots of the shoe, which is ideal for rocky terrain.
Even the square design of the toe box provides superb traction along with exceptional comfort. This particular part is slightly large so that you can kick up snow during an alpine climb.
The lacing system of the shoes pairs up well with such a toe design. The laces begin from the ankle region and travel to the toes. Plus, they come with micro adjustments to offer a better fit.
And here’s the best part; the Gore-Tex lining. This waterproof membrane contributes to keeping your feet warm and dry at all times. And that also means excellent underwater traction.
Despite such a resilient structure and high technical ability, the Salewa Men’s Firetail 3 Hiking Shoe is light in weight. So covering a long distance trail is not only possible but also comfortable.
The one thing you might love about these shoes is the sizing and fit. The Salewa Men’s Firetail 3 Hiking Shoes have no break-in stage. This means that they fit and feel comfortable right from the beginning itself.
Knowing that the shoes come with a Gore-Tex waterproofing capacity is great, isn’t it? But here’s the drawback; this lining tends to hold moisture for too long. So the shoes take a while to dry out completely.
- The shoes can withstand harsh abuse.
- The outsoles offer exceptional grip even on slippery surfaces.
- When soaked, they don’t dry out quickly.
SALEWA Firetail 3
3. Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoe – The Best Lightweight Approach Shoes
Comfort comes in the form of a lightweight design with the Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoes. After testing them, I realized how these shoes have the upper hand as far as weight, durability, and flexibility are concerned.
But don’t let the “lightweight” tag lead you to believe that the Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoes are not apt for heavy-duty operations. You can wear them on monstrous side-hill slogs even with a heavy load. Additionally, they are also suitable for moderate climbs.
The approach shoes have a suede construction with Kevlar webbing. What such a combination does is pair up well with the laces in the mid-foot region to provide a snug fit. And it’s these particular components that add durability to the shoe as well.
As for tread, the rubber outsoles do a decent job at delivering a stable footing. So if you’re a moderate climber, then the Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoes might be an ideal choice for you.
When buying approach shoes, protection and traction are important factors to take into consideration. With that in mind, these shoes come with an excellent rubber-designed toe rand and Vibram outsoles. The former provides protection under all types of conditions. And the latter offers a solid grip.
The only disappointment with the Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoes comes in the form of an inflexible upper construction. But this just means that the shoes take a long time to break in.
- The sizing of the shoes is seamless.
- The toe region is roomy enough for wide feet.
- The sticky rubber outsoles deliver maximum support.
- The uppers have a hard quality.
4. Evolv Men’s Cruzer Approach Shoe – The Best Affordable Approach Shoes
The Evolv Men’s Cruzer Approach Shoe is the first on the list to offer so many excellent features with a budget-friendly price tag. So let’s talk about these features in detail below.
These best approach shoes have a lightweight design with a heel that folds down. The foldable part transforms them into easy to wear and remove crag slippers. And to make things even better, the sticky rubber outsoles hold onto the rock to get you to complete your climb.
The Evolv Men’s Cruzer Approach Shoestands out from the crowd. But that’s not because the manufacturer wants to earn a good reputation. The ultimate goal is to live up to your expectations as far as buying the best approach shoes on the market is concerned.
When Evolv claims that these shoes are lightweight, you should believe that. In fact, the brand also made it a point to provide the shoes with a design that clips to the harness most securely. Such a benefit makes them suitable for slabby descents and multi-pitch adventures.
So it’s safe for me to say that the Evolv Men’s Cruzer Approach Shoes are an ideal option for the climber community.
The most striking aspect is the moisture wicking capacity of the shoes. This comes in the form of a memory foam equipped insole that also provides long-lasting comfort.
The major downside only applies to hikers or climbers with wide feet. The Evolv Men’s Cruzer Approach Shoes don’t have a spacious toe box. So if you have wide feet, you might be better off with the Scarpa Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoes.
- The EVA midsoles carry sufficient cushioning.
- The heel region has a pull tab for added comfort.
- The toe box of the shoes is not broad enough.
5. La Sportiva Boulder X Hiking Shoe – The Best Entry-Level Approach Shoes
If you’re new to the field, then there’s nothing better than the La Sportiva Boulder X Hiking Shoes. They are incredibly comfortable when you’re climbing third as well as fourth class routes. Plus, the remarkable rubber outsoles and the affordability of the shoes steal the show.
If you care strongly about the fit, you will be relieved to know that these best approach shoes have a neat toe box design. This particular region offers tons of space for those with wide feet. On top of that, the edging power of the shoes is the ultimate deciding factor.
The Vibram compound for the outsoles is considered to be as sticky as you would like it to be. Combine this with the unique midsoles, and you have shoes that deliver exceptional shock absorption.
Lastly, let me highlight the fact that the shoes have a board lasted design. This provides the much-needed rigidity for the sole purpose of holding edges.
We often tend to neglect the fit of approach shoes. More often than not, it ranks the lowest on our list. But you should know that a good fit is responsible for superior comfort. And in the case of the La Sportiva Boulder X Hiking Shoe, the Mythos lacing closure offers the kind of adaptable fit to keep you comfortable for long hours.
The part that might let you down is the sizing of the shoes. They are not true to size, so it’s better to try out the pair before buying it.
- The shoes have high cushioned insoles for long approaches.
- The Micropore midsoles provide shock absorption.
- The toe rand and leather upper increase durability.
- The shoes are not true to size.
- They are a tad too bulky.
6. Adidas Men’s Terrex Solo Cross Trainer Shoes – The Best High-Quality Approach Shoes
Adidas doesn’t fail to manufacture groundbreaking shoes for every outdoor activity or adventure. And it has done it again with these best approach shoes. The Adidas Men’s Terrex Solo Cross Trainer Shoes are a great addition to this category.
You might find relief in knowing that Yosemite legends such as Thomas and Alexander Huber have contributed to the design of the shoes.
The Adidas Men’s Terrex Solo Cross Trainer Shoes are trail runners with a mesh upper and lace bungee. They feature Stealth rubber outsoles and toe cap along with a large volume. These components make the shoes suitable for the technical and rocky terrain.
You can rest assured after reading that these shoes have abrasion resistant mesh uppers. And the mesh material gives its leather counterpart a serious competition.
All in all, I like the Adidas Men’s Terrex Solo Cross Trainer Shoes because they’re perfect for summertime rocky scrambles and approaches.
These shoes are an obvious choice for descents. They have a heel offset loop that allows you to hang the shoe from the harness. In fact, these approach shoes are even ideal for longer endurance. This means you can also wear them for third and fourth class routes and technical trails.
More often than not, your feet require a decent level of arch support. But there are only a few approach shoes on the market that offer such an advantage. And the Adidas Men’s Terrex Solo Cross Trainer Shoes are not one of them.
- The shoes offer optimal ventilation.
- The EVA midsoles are lightweight and well-cushioned.
- They lack arch support.
Live without Limits | Adidas TERREX
7. Vasque Men’s Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoe – The Best Approach Shoes for Scrambling and Hiking
Do you know what makes the Vasque Men’s Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoe ideal for scrambling and hiking? It’s the flexible and lightweight construction. Apart from that, the shoes have a grip like no other.
Since we’re talking about traction, here’s something you might want to know. These best approach shoes perform exceptionally well in that regard even on rocky surfaces with a loaded pack. Slipping is not a part of the experience.
Like I stated before, the shoes are light in weight. And that allows you to perform physically challenging activities without feeling an excessive strain in the foot muscles.
As for stability and support, the Vasque Men’s Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoe has an ideal design. EVA midsoles, Vibram outsoles, and a low profile structure; the recipe to the best approach shoes. These components offer enough cushioning as well as impact for your wild adventures.
Built with uppers of suede leather with side mesh panels, they offer just the kind of breathability your feet demand. Even though the shoes are not water resistant or waterproof, they dry up quickly. So the absence of any significant feature is compensated for by the addition of an equally valuable quality.
Here’s something important you need to know about the Vasque Men’s Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoes. They have a low-profile design, right? Despite that, these shoes provide the much-needed stability for long backpacking trips. Thanks to the excellent grip and climbing shoe-inspired lacing system!
The only thing missing is traction on muddy surfaces. But the other fantastic features somehow make this particular flaw seem negligible.
- The mesh component adds breathability and cuts down weight.
- The solid toe cap maximizes durability.
- The laces provide a customized fit.
- The climbing performance of the shoes is weak.
- They offer an insufficient grip on the muddy surface.
Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoe from Vasque
8. Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoe – The Best Approach Shoes for All Terrain
Being responsive is as important as being lightweight when it comes to approach shoes. Even support plays a significant role in determining how good the shoes are. So keeping that in mind, the Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoe is one of the best.
They are perfect for hiking purposes on all kinds of terrain. The ankle protection that you get with these shoes is like no other. On top of that, they feature Stealth rubber soles with huge oval lugs. Do you what this means? It implies that the shoes can deliver excellent traction even on wet, soft terrain. (Wet rock climbing)
Now let’s move on to comfort. In that regard, you will be quite impressed to know that the shoes come with an Ortholite foam equipped sock liner. This particular component is not only moisture and sweat resistant but also provides foot padding.
The one thing I love about the Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoes is that you can wear them otherwise too. You don’t necessarily have to be a hiker or climber to own a pair of these.
More often than not, it’s hard to buy approach shoes that shine in performance over wet and rocky terrain. So let me introduce you to the Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoe. The exceptional grip that it holds over these kinds of surfaces is something you might not find in other models on the market. And you can take my word for it!
Unlike some of the other options on the list that have a too narrow design, these are the opposite. It means that the Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoes have a large structure. This makes them suitable only for those with wide feet.
- The shoes have high-quality leather uppers for durability.
- They are weather, water, and moisture resistant.
- The toe box region of the shoes is too broad.
9. Scarpa Men’s Zen Hiking Shoe – The Most Durable Approach Shoes
Nothing beats the Scarpa Men’s Zen Hiking Shoe as far as durability is concerned. In that context, they are the best in the lineup. When setting out on adventures to destinations like Washington’s Enchantments, you have to hike for a long distance before reaching a climb. This means changing from approach shoes to climbing shoes.
So at such times, you don’t need a pair of approach shoes that climb well. Instead, you ought to buy something that can withstand long, technical trails along with third class routes. This is where the Scarpa Men’s Zen Hiking Shoe wins the vote.
The shoes offer just the kind of support and sturdiness you require for long hikes even under a heavy load. They keep your toes comfortable and allow you to walk in snow quite comfortably. The latter is an advantage you get with only mountaineering boots, am I right?
The leather construction adds durability. The molded Vibram outsoles are suitable for different kinds of approach conditions. The optimally stiff arch region delivers additional support. Lastly, the rubber rand provides trail protection. So much to look forward to!
Climbs during long approaches or situations where you need to prioritize support and stiffness over climbing ability. These are the types of scenarios that demand the use of Scarpa Men’s Zen Hiking Shoes.
When you compare the quality of these shoes with the ones that were manufactured a few years ago, you might be slightly disappointed. It’s because they don’t have the kind of exceptional arch support the old ones did.
- The shoes have a well-built construction.
- They have an incredible grip.
- The smearing and edging abilities of the shoe are mediocre.
- The arch support is not what you’d expect.
10. Salewa Men’s MS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoe – The Bonus Pick
Don’t think that the last pick on the list is anything but exceptional. Let me begin by stating that the Salewa Men’s MS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoe features legendary engineering. This comes in the form of rubber outsoles that stick to all kinds of surfaces under any condition.
The uppers of the shoes have a robust construction that can withstand heavy-duty use and abuse. And to make things even better, the interior offers optimal comfort for climbing as well as hiking purposes. (Mountain climbing safety)
Since we’re talking about climbing and hiking, here’s something that you might appreciate. The Salewa Men’s MS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoes have phenomenal Vibram EVO outsoles with a MegaGrip compound. What this does is provide traction and support most efficiently.
And now, let’s talk about fit. The extended lacing system combines with the shell grid design to give you that precise fit. So now you know what to expect from the Salewa Men’s MS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoe.
If you care strongly about ventilation, then this is your pick. The shoes have a breathable mesh upper that performs its duty well enough. When carrying out physically demanding tasks, keeping your feet cool and dry goes a long in making the experience comfortable.
The part that constitutes as the deal-breaker is the tongue of the shoes. It tends to slide forward when you wear the shoes for too long. So the best thing you can do to avoid something like this is purchase the right size. This might not give the tongue enough space to move around.
- The insoles of the shoes are interchangeable.
- They have a high-quality design and construction.
- You don’t have to break in the shoes.
- The tongue causes discomfort during prolonged wear.
Approach Shoes Buyer's Guide
Photo credit: theadventurejunkies.com
Approach Shoes vs Hiking Shoes/Climbing Shoes
The difference between these categories is quite large. But only if you know what approach shoes are and what to look for in them. So this guide will help you achieve that.
Now let me begin by stating that approach shoes are nothing but a combination of hiking boots and climbing slippers. It means you can climb and hike with this type of footwear. But that’s not the case with climbing or hiking shoes, am I right?
What I mean to say is that if you try to climb with a pair of hiking shoes on, you might end up with foot and body injuries. And the same applies to hiking with climbing shoes.
So the best thing to do at such times is to strap on a pair that offers the best of both worlds. And this comes in the form of the best approach shoes.
They have the larger profile along with the additional stiffness of hiking shoes. At the same time, they are as light in weight and incredibly responsive as their climbing counterparts.
Different Styles of the Best Approach Shoes
Photo credit: theadventurejunkies.com
The purpose of buying these types of shoes should be clear before you spend your money. For example, when hiking over rock and snow for long distances, you need a pair that might not be suitable for any other scenario. In that case, let’s breakdown the uses of approach shoes.
- For Technical Trail
Approach trails tend to be steep, technical, and unmaintained, right? The chances of encountering scree and wet surfaces or navigating boulder fields are highly likely. And such a journey often requires you to spend several days on the trail. This means you need to buy the most durable approach shoes with a capacity to stand the test of time.
- For Fifth Class Terrain
Are you an adamant climber who hits the fifth class tracks or links up moderate alpine ridgelines and climbs? If yes, then it’s best to get a pair of shoes that offers maximum protection and support. The design should have a low, snug profile, which is suitable for climbing a steep rock. (How to calculate climbing grade?)
- For Descents
Short approaches, as well as descents, demand the use of lightweight, compact footwear. Skilled adventurers opt for flip-flops during such times. But you don’t need to go there unless you’re a pro at it yourself. Instead, choose approach shoes that are light in weight and also provide enough traction and protection.
- For Snow
It goes without saying that some approach shoes are suitable for snowy weather and conditions while the others aren’t. For this particular purpose, you require sturdy, high-profile boots. They allow you to walk in snow quite effortlessly. In that case, even mid-height approach shoes are an ideal choice for these conditions.
- For Cragging
Many footwear manufacturing companies create approach shoes for the sole purpose of cragging. These kinds of shoes are easy to put on and remove. And they also come with heels that can fold down to transform the shoes into slippers.
Important Factors to Take Into Consideration
Photo credit: tryclimbing.com
Traction and outsoles go hand in hand, don’t they? Approach shoes consist of heel brake, midfoot, and toe box. The toe box design has a remarkable rubber rand, which surrounds the entire toe region.
The mid-foot either has a dotty or sharper tread pattern. The former provides a large surface area for rocks, but it doesn’t work well on a snowy or wet terrain. And the latter delivers exceptional traction. However, it tends to be slightly clunky when traversing technical terrain.
Lastly, only some of the best approach shoes come with the heel brake feature. So keep these components in mind during the selection process.
Certain types of approach shoes edge well. And the best way to determine which ones they are is to check the rubber rand. This particular element connects to the shoes’ sole to offer that ideal seamless edge. Such a design is present in climbing shoes as well.
And these types of approach shoes deliver more flexibility.
The majority of climbers embark upon their journey when the weather is warm and dry. Nevertheless, it’s always a better idea to buy a pair of shoes with an optimal waterproofing capacity.
I like to call it “extra protection.” It comes in the form of an additional layer installed inside the shoes. And this extra protection is suitable for unpredictable weather conditions along with creek crossings and crossing show.
But the only drawback here is that the waterproof lining adds a little more weight to the shoes.
This is considered to be the most important factor to take into consideration during the buying process. Breathability in all types of sports shoes or outdoor boots is essential. In the case of approach shoes, you should opt for mesh uppers as they allow your feet to remain fresh and dry at all times.
But this doesn’t mean that the leather or suede versions are not breathable. It just implies that mesh offers more breathability than all the other materials.
Now the downside to this is that approach shoes with mesh uppers are not so high on durability. In fact, leather is considered to be the toughest contender in that department.
Hiking and climbing are activities that demand you to wear lightweight shoes. Failing to do so might end up overstressing or overworking those muscles in your feet. (Prepare for mountain climbing)
There will be times where you might have to carry the shoes as well. This means spending a lot of time wearing as well as holding them, right? Keeping that in mind, consider buying a pair of lightweight approach shoes.
But here’s the trade-off! The lighter the footwear, the lesser the stability, durability, and protection. So you need to decide what matters more if you want to make a wise decision.
Sizing and Fit
The factors related to fit and sizing depend on your particular needs and requirements. If you want more stability and responsiveness on technical terrain, then you require a snug fit. On the other hand, long distances and downhill slogs cause foot swelling. So at such times, what you need is a pair of approach shoes with a roomy toe box.
The design of the lacing system also matters when talking about a comfortable fit. Most of the best approach shoes on the market have a lacing closure that reaches the toes. This enables you to provide your toes with that much-needed space.
Stability and Stiffness
If your footwear is bulky and heavy, it might not be a suitable option for technical terrain. So you need to select approach shoes with integrated shanks or even internal supports. These components are what set approach boots apart from super-flexible running and cross training shoes.
My Choice: Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoe
When it comes to finding equipment for outdoor activities, there are many options to choose from. You will always get something better than what you already have. With that in mind, let me make selection easier for you by listing the best of the best pick. In this case, it’s the Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoe.
I’m sure already know that Five Ten is a brand for hiking and climbing enthusiasts. In fact, it caters to the global athlete community. And the Five Ten Men’s Camp Four Hiking Shoes are considered to be one of the best approach shoes on the market.
They are a high-friction, high-performance pair of shoes that come with Stealth rubber outsoles. The leather-upper construction brings tons of durability and weather resistance into the picture. Apart from that, there’s also breathability, shock absorption, and superior comfort to look forward to.