Approach shoes are very unique in that they are a hybrid between climbing shoes, hiking shoes, and trail runners. As a result, this makes them very versatile outdoors since you don’t have to pack a bunch of shoes with you. However, approach shoes don’t all perform the same things well. In fact, there are a lot of approach shoes that often specialize in a certain category. Except for all-around shoes, most excel in some areas while performing in others just well enough. In case you haven’t yet, you might want to read through our guide on how to choose approach shoes. It should give you an idea of what to look for when choosing approach shoes. However, for our article on the best approach shoes, we decided to pick shoes that excel in key categories: climbing, hiking, all-around, heavy-duty, and weight. That way, there’s a little something here for everyone.
Best Approach Shoes (At Least We Think So)
Best Approach Shoes for Climbing
For many people, approach shoes are meant to climb well. In particular, that means talus-hopping, smearing, edging, light bouldering, and aid climbing (possibly even some trad). That’s why all approach shoes have an outsole made of a special rubber very similar to climbing shoes. This allows you to climb on rocks with confidence, which is why we chose the Evolv Cruzer Psyche and the Evolv Cruzer as our top picks in the category of climbing. Specifically, their combination of light weight, thin lugs, and sensitivity make them ideal for any sort of climbing.
Best Approach Shoes for Hiking
Another area approach shoes should do well in is hiking. Not terribly long hikes that require tons of walking but approaches, semi-technical hiking, or backpacking. In this case, you’ll want a pair of approach shoes that provide optimal comfort, stability, support, and protection from brush. These key components will keep you a step ahead at all times. That’s where the Scarpa Zen and Five Ten AEscent shine. But aside from their amazing hiking ability, they climb well too so you won’t have to change to another pair of shoes when the going gets tough.
Best Approach Shoes for All-Around
Rarely do you see approach shoes that perform in all categories well. That’s because in most cases, you trade climbing for hiking ability, durability for weight, and vice versa. However, there are a few options on the market that do well in all areas. Enter the Five Ten Guide Tennie and the La Sportiva Boulder X, two remarkable approach shoes that can do it all. Whether it’s climbing, hiking, or protecting you from the elements in comfort, these two are real winners. Believe me, you might even be able to climb Trump Tower in these (rated 5.6).
Best Approach Shoes for Heavy-Duty Use
Next up we have approach shoes that are durable, weather-resistant, and protective for heavy-duty use. In other words, they are perfectly suited for the harsh realities of the great outdoors. Whether you’re scraping against granite, plowing through snow, trudging through thick woods, or crossing river streams, these shoes will withstand the elements and still look great while doing it. Overall, the Salewa Firetail EVO Mid GTX and Salewa Firetail EVO GTX (low-cut version) are our top picks for heavy-duty use. However, what’s so surprising is how lightweight these shoes are considering everything it can do. Maybe it’s because of the synthetic and Gore-Tex material but these approach shoes are incredible!
Best Approach Shoes for Weight
Now we have the lightweight champs. Approach shoes that are perfect for quick approaches, talus-hopping, and carrying up the mountain for the descent. These guys will hardly take up any room in your pack (or clip them onto a carabiner) and also climb very well in. Notably, the Evolv Cruzer and Adidas Terrex Solo are built as minimally as possible to ensure feather feet. The Cruzers weigh in at a little over a pound while the Terrex Solos average about a pound and six ounces. Evolv uses their sticky Trax rubber while Adidas uses the famous Stealth rubber (since they acquired Five Ten).
Best Approach Shoe Brands
|Salewa||Five Ten||La Sportiva||Scarpa|