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)

 

Climbing Hiking All-Around Heavy-Duty Weight

Evolv Cruzer Psyche

Scarpa Zen

5.10 Guide Tennie

Salewa EVO Mid GTX

Salewa Firetail EVO Mid GTX Approach Shoe Review - Featured

Evolv Cruzer

Evolv Cruzer

5.10 AEscent

LS Boulder X

Salewa EVO GTX

Adidas Terrex Solo

 

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.

Model:Pros:Cons:Price:

Evolv Cruzer Psyche


evolve-cruzer-psyche

- Heel folds back
- More support/comfort than the classic Cruzers
- Extremely lightweight
- Great for quick approaches
- Super casual look
- Excellent value
- Still lacking in support
- Durability is lacking
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Scarpa Crux


Scarpa Crux Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Great value for performance in all categories
- Very comfortable and provides lots of support
- Effective rubber toe rand
- Lightweight
- Laces go all the way up to the toe for adjustability
- Climbs and hikes in well
- Made with environmentally friendly materials
- Not waterproof
- Shorter tongue moves around sometimes
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Best Climbing Approach Shoes
8.3 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
9
Comfort
9
Support
6
Weight
10
Durability
6.5
Value
9
7.8 Site Score
7.7 1 vote
Climbing
9
Comfort
8.5
Support
5
Weight
10
Durability
5
Value
9

 

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.

Model:Pros:Cons:Price:

Scarpa Zen


Scarpa Zen Approach Shoe Review - Sole Outer

- Great support
- Breathable, comfortable, and stable
- Very durable
- Can pass as a casual shoe
- A little expensive
- Does not climb well
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5.10 AEscent


Five Ten Aescent Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Amazing grip and traction
- Low-profile for more stability and grip
- Comfortable, lightweight, and good support
- Performs well in all categories
- Wide toebox takes away from climbing performance
- Doesn't have tons of cushioning
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Best Hiking Approach Shoes
8.3 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
8.5
Comfort
8.5
Support
8
Weight
8
Durability
8
Value
9
8 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
7
Comfort
9
Support
9
Weight
6.5
Durability
8.5
Value
8

 

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).

Model:Pros:Cons:Price:

5.10 Guide Tennie


Five Ten Guide Tennie Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Good mix of both hiking and climbing performance
- Super sticky C4 rubber
- Lacing goes almost all the way to the toes
- Great value for performance
- Canvas version is less durable than leather
- Leather version less breathable than canvas
- Not very water resistant
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LS Boulder X


La Sportiva Boulder X Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Solid performance
- Excellent traction "when wet"
- Water resistance
- Excellent value
- Great durability
- A little bulky
- Not very breathable
- Laces can untie easily
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Best All-Around Approach Shoes
8.6 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
9
Comfort
8.5
Support
8
Weight
7.5
Durability
8.5
Value
10
8.5 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
8
Comfort
8.5
Support
9
Weight
7
Durability
9
Value
9.5

 

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!

Model:Pros:Cons:Price:

Salewa EVO Mid GTX


Salewa Firetail EVO Mid GTX Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Mid-top for more support
-Water resistant yet breathable Gore-Tex
- Has two insoles to adjust comfort and fit
- Light weight considering it's like a boot
- Sticky Vibram rubber
- Does not fold down very compactly
- More hiking oriented than climbing
- Not as flexible as the low-cuts
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Salewa EVO GTX


Salewa Firetail EVO GTX Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Extremely supportive
- Gore-Tex lining is water resistant yet breathable
- Comes with two insoles to adjust comfort/fit
- Climbs well in thanks to Vibram rubber
- Comes with two-week blister-free guarantee
- More of a hiking oriented shoe
- Harder to find
- Not as supportive as the mid-top version
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Best Heavy-Duty Approach Shoes
8.9 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
8
Comfort
8.5
Support
10
Weight
8.5
Durability
8.5
Value
10
8.6 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
8
Comfort
8.5
Support
9
Weight
8
Durability
8.5
Value
9.5

 

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).

Model:Pros:Cons:Price:

Evolv Cruzer


Evolv Cruzer Approach Shoe Review

- Great for bouldering, belaying, and use in the gym
- Extremely lightweight and easy to carry
- Excels at light hikes / quick approaches
- Very casual style
- Good value
- Heel folds down
- Little arch/heel support
- Not very breathable
- Not water resistant
- Not very durable
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Adidas Terrex Solo


Adidas Terrex Solo Approach Shoe Review - Featured

- Surprisingly lightweight yet durable
- Breathable materials make them good for hikes
- Climbs well in the Stealth rubber sole
- Mixed feelings about quality
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Best Lightweight Approach Shoes
8.2 Site Score
0 0 votes
Climbing
8.5
Comfort
8
Support
7.5
Weight
8.5
Durability
8
Value
8.5
7.8 Site Score
7.7 1 vote
Climbing
9
Comfort
8.5
Support
5
Weight
10
Durability
5
Value
9

 

Best Approach Shoe Brands

 

Salewa Five Ten La Sportiva Scarpa
salewa-logo five-ten-logo la-sportiva-logo scarpa-logo
Evolv Arc’teryx North Face Boreal
evolv-logo arc-teryx-logo the-north-face-logo boreal-logo-2