Comparison of climbing approach shoes
If you are into climbing, you are well familiar with the term hiking approach. Depending on where you find yourself in the world, the approach can be very long and exhaustive, even more so than the climbing that follows! For the purposes of making this route as pleasant and least problematic for your feet as possible, we highly recommend that you pick up appropriate shoes for the job. In this review, we have compared some of the better options you have out there for climbing approach shoes. To be exact, we have reviewed the Evolv Cruzer, Five Ten Guide Tennie, Five Ten Camp Four, La Sportiva Granda and the Scarpa Zen. We hope to be able to shed some light on the pros and cons of these models and help you decide what would best suit your needs and preferences.
Needless to say, this is probably one of the most important factors for anyone taking climbing seriously, if not the most important one. Even if you are inclined to consider other factors such as weight or waterproof capabilities, you simply can not deny the importance of durability over the long haul. Especially if you are planning on using these shoes for some time instead of buying a new pair every year. In this category, we can certainly outline the Scarpa Zen which performed very well which was expected given how sturdy and strong it looks on first sight. Also, the Camp Four did not let us down either. No wonder it sells so well on many sites that offer it. The Granda is a solid performer when it comes to durability as well. Our tests revealed that its rubber wears out significantly faster than the stitching which is generally how it is supposed to be with climbing approach shoes. As it will be revealed later on in the review, the Granda is somewhat more pricey than its competition in this review but the former is definitely giving them a good run for their money when it comes to durability.
In this category, we find that the Five Finger KSO is dominating with its extremely almost-can’t-feel-them-on-your-feet kind of weight. We would surely recommend them for long distance journeys as well as easier climbs. As far as the models we review in this article, the Cruzer beats the competition in the weight department, however it’s overall durability fails it somehow, hence why we would not recommend this model for longer approaches. If you are looking for a comfortable, compact model aiming to use it mostly on medium length hikes, it will probably do you justice. With that in mind, it is worth pointing out the rest of the reviewed models score similarly when it comes to weight and there is not much that can distinguish them from one another.
Certainly not to be underestimated on slabs and rocks, smearing is an important factor when evaluating climbing approach footwear. In our experience, the Five Ten Guide Tennie takes the prize with its high quality Stealth C4 sticky rubber. La Granda scores very high as well indeed, taking the prominent second place in this category. Out of all reviewed models, only the Scarpa Zen does not have sticky rubber which is noteworthy if you intend to challenge many slabs and boulders. As far as taking a peak into items not thoroughly observed in this review, the Five Ten Daescent scored surprisingly well on smearing, however other factors were taking into account to exclude it from this review altogether. To be more exact, the fitting around the toes left much to be desired.
Another important category if you consider using these shoes not only for the approaches themselves, but also trying out some climbing as well. As far as edging is concerned, La Granda scores the highest and we should make a note that it almost feels like a climbing shoe indeed. It provides the necessary grip as well as enables its wearer to feel where he/she is stepping with the needed precision and detail. Therefore, if you consider making a hybrid purchase of an approach & climbing shoe, this model would best suit your expectations. Other models in this review were mediocre at best when it comes to edging having only Scarpa Zen and Camp Four provide half decent results. If you wear these, you can confidently stand on an edge, however they greatly reduce the sensation and that could be somewhat risky if you attempt more challenging climbs.
If long hikes are on your agenda, consider the following notes. These three models: La Sportiva Exum Pro, Evolv Escapist, and Five Ten Savant are absolute masters when it comes to long distance transitions. We wanted to include them in this section at least to give you an idea which ones are the best for hiking, however they are certainly not the best climbing approach shoes out there. From the ones we do review, Zen and Camp Four are the highest scoring models. We would recommend them for short to medium hikes with heavy loads because they are tougher, more sturdy models that can take the pressure. They will make your feet somewhat tired after some time so really long hikes are something best avoided if you are wearing the aforementioned models.
Once you have acquainted yourself with the different specifications of these models, it stands to reason to also peak a boo into their respective most preferable applications. The Cruzer is very suitable for use in urban areas and its also decent in medium size approaches. The Five Ten Tennie would do well climbing walls and rocks. Camp Four is recommended for long hikes and approaches, shoes you can use in your everyday life even. Scarpa Zen is good for small climbs and scrambling. Last but not least, the La Granda is recommended to guides and keen climbers who require a comfortable shoe for long hikes or mediocre climbing routes.
In conclusion, we would like to make a few notes on pricing. The cheapest model as of today is the Cruzer, selling between $70-$85 and the most expensive one is La Granda selling for over $200 in most online shops. All other models are priced similarly at about $140-$160. We hope this review was helpful to you as it certainly was heaps of fun for us to make. Our experience and testing reveals that La Granda is probably the best all-rounder from the bunch but it should be noted this kind of performance is coming at a price. Therefore it is up to every single individual to decide what the balance of price-to-performance would be and make a choice accordingly.