Approach Shoe Review – Fall 2016

Since we probably spend more time in our approach shoes than our actual climbing shoes, it’s worth investing in a pair that can help you scramble up a tough approach, hike off a multipitch, and be comfortable enough to belay in for hours.  Below are our picks for the season:


Arc’teryx Arakys – What I love about these shoes is that while they may be approach shoes, they are cute and stylish at the same time, coming in a great bright teal color that doesn’t get scuffed too easily. I usually wear a 7.5 when it comes to regular shoes, but for these I had to size down to a 7 since they run a little big. These shoes are designed to be minimalist and so rather than having bulky laces that get tangled, they use a buckle strap to make putting them on quick and efficient. They are super comfortable and have great arch support, so if you are flat footed or require shoes with added support, these shoes will keep your feet happy. The outsole is made of Vibram rubber, a high friction rubber, which makes scrambling up 4th class approaches very secure. Not only are they good for any type of terrain, they are good for almost all types of weather. I wore them in a downpour for a good half an hour and was surprised to find the inside of my shoes only slightly damp. The mesh around the shoe also makes the shoe very breathable making it a perfect hot weather shoe. The heel is collapsible, making it a perfect belay slipper. Arc’teryx is known to be expensive, so $150 may seem steep for a pair of approach shoes, but for the the price, this shoe is definitely worth it. I’ve been wearing them nonstop since I got them!

Evolv Cruzer (Lace-Up) – In full disclosure, I wasn’t really sold on the idea of approach shoes until I happened to win a pair of the Cruzers in a bouldering competition. Nearly all of my projects this year were at crags with really easy approaches and access, where even flip-flops might suffice. However, I jumped on the approach shoe bandwagon with the addition of these shoes to my arsenal after a trip to Smith, where the approaches were much more challenging.  There, approaches involved a fair bit of gully-scrambling where the Trax rubber sole came in handy. Plus, the shoes are lightweight, breathable, and easy to pack as hike-off shoes for multi-pitch endeavors. They’re easy to throw in the washing machine to wash off dust and spruce up the dark purple color. Like the Arakys, the heel is collapsible and can be worn as belay slippers between climbs. My only complaint with these shoes is that they could be more durable; I’ve noticed in more worn-in pairs, the sides of the shoes tend to blow out. In my case, the pull-on tabs at the back of the shoe fell off after only 3 months of use, making it now more difficult to get them on since the heel cup is not very rigid. However, for the price point, these are a solid investment. What makes them even more attractive is that they are currently on a closeout price, so you can score a pair of these shoes for a $59 (compared to $74.95 original price)!
Scarpa Gecko Lite – This shoe seems to hit the right balance on weight, style, and function. The wrap-around toe rand and mix of suede and mesh upper makes the Gecko Lite durable yet flexible and breathable. They fit true to size, and thanks to a thin, flexible tongue they are easy to get on and off. My only complaint about the fit is that when I wear short socks the top of the tongue rubs against the front of my ankle. However, in taller socks this isn’t a problem. The teal accents add just enough pop of color without getting gaudy, Euro, or overly “female designed”. As for performance, I always feel secure and confident scrambling up rocks on the Vibram sole, and the flexible materials allow you to really lace them up for a secure fit. They retail for $159, which is definitely an investment, but these are made from strong, quality materials and mine are still in great shape after months of wear.

Cypher Logic – These were definitely the dark horse of the approach shoe review. Prior to the Logics I hadn’t owned anything from Cypher and they definitely exceeded my expectations! Even though they are described as a “lightweight” shoe, they’re the most heavy duty pair we reviewed, making them great for longer, colder, and wetter approaches. Like the Gecko Lite, they have a great wrap-around rubber toe and Vibram rubber sole so you feel secure scrambling around. The mix of leather and canvas contribute to the toughness of this shoe and help keep your feet dry, warm, and supported. The design is clean and simple, though I think they could use a little more color somewhere. Coming in a $99, these babies are a bit more affordable than the competitors. Overall, I’ve got no complaints about the Cypher Logic and recommend them if you’re looking for a sturdy, reliable approach shoe that’s somewhere between mid and lightweight.

What have you been wearing this season?  Give us your picks!
Climb on!
Mary, Emily, and Beth

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