Get to the Crag

With This Sea­son’s Best Ap­proach Shoes

Gripped - - THE RACK - Story by Gus Alexandropoulos

Arc’teryx Acrux FL GTX Scarpa Crux $129

More rugged than tra­di­tional run­ning shoes, but lighter and more sure-footed than con­ven­tional moun­tain

boots, mod­ern ap­proach shoes are the best footwear op­tion for get­ting to the base of most crags.


By rein­ter­pret­ing plas­tic dou­ble-boot tech­nol­ogy, Arc’teryx has cre­ated a new wa­ter­proof and breath­able ap­proach shoe that’s suit­able for most rugged ap­proaches. As with older plas­tic dou­ble-boots, Arc’teryx builds the Acrux FL gtx with a liner that is in­de­pen­dent of the outer shoe. But un­like stiff and clunky boot lin­ers, Arc’teryx uses a unique stretchy Gore-Tex liner that, much like a sock, per­fectly con­forms to the climber’s foot. The re­sult is ex­cel­lent com­fort and im­proved breatha­bil­ity with­out com­pro­mis­ing wa­ter­proof­ness. Arc’teryx anchors this sock (to pre­vent shift­ing and heel-lift) in­side a ro­bust outer shoe that’s con­structed with a quick-dry­ing, thermo-lam­i­nated, one–piece ny­lon up­per that is sur­pris­ingly light and durable. A moulded eva mid­sole pro­vides solid cush­ion­ing and the pro­pri­etary Vibram out­sole of­fers ex­cel­lent trac­tion and added pro­tec­tion at the front and back of the shoe. This is a solid ap­proach shoe that de­liv­ers an en­vi­able blend of com­fort, dura­bil­ity, lowweight weather pro­tec­tion and per­for­mance. Orig­i­nally con­ceived as a tech­ni­cal and durable ap­proach shoe, the Crux, thanks to its un­der­stated good looks, is also ca­pa­ble of ex­celling in less de­mand­ing ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments. Scarpa starts with a rugged suede up­per and adds Kevlar-re­in­forced web­bing over­lays that in­crease dura­bil­ity and pro­vide ad­di­tional sta­bil­ity when mov­ing on tech­ni­cal ter­rain. For light­weight and lon­glast­ing cush­ion­ing, Scarpa specs an eva mid­sole that is then af­fixed to Vibram’s ver­sa­tile and sticky Ver­ti­cal out­sole. The ad­di­tion of fore­foot rands im­prove se­cu­rity in cracks, while also adding some pro­tec­tion against sharp talus. This is a great ver­sa­tile ap­proach shoe that of­fers ex­cel­lent per­for­mance at a very rea­son­able price.

Mer­rell Capra $170

With its durable leather up­pers and highly breath­able mesh pan­els, the Mer­rell Capra is a great choice for long ap­proaches in warm con­di­tions. To en­sure ex­tra foot-pro­tec­tion on chal­leng­ing trails, Mer­rell adds their TrailProtec pad that helps pro­tect climbers from rocky trails while the moulded ny­lon arch shank adds sta­bil­ity and con­trol in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. For all-day com­fort Mer­rell also in­cludes plush air-cush­ion­ing in the heel. These fea­tures, com­bined with an ag­gres­sive Vibram out­sole, al­low the Capra to ex­cel in a va­ri­ety of trail con­di­tions and ap­proaches with­out com­pro­mis­ing com­fort or dura­bil­ity.

Bo­real Fly­ers Mid Five Ten Guide Ten­nie Mid GTX


Over the last few years, Bo­real has in­tro­duced a num­ber of great new climb­ing shoes in­clud­ing the rel­a­tively new Fly­ers Mid. This ro­bust mid-height shoe is built with burly 2 mm thick split leather up­pers that easily shrug off the abuse en­coun­tered on scree-filled ap­proaches. Bo­real has speced a unique sticky rub­ber sole that de­liv­ers ex­cel­lent grip when climb­ing with­out sac­ri­fic­ing dura­bil­ity. The sole also fea­tures a so­phis­ti­cated tread pat­tern that of­fers a sur­pris­ing level of trac­tion on dirt or mud-filled trails. And to en­sure the Fly­ers Mid last through mul­ti­ple sea­sons of use, Bo­real adds rub­ber rands that not only im­prove climb­ing per­for­mance in cracks, but also pro­tect the shoes from abra­sion. These shoes should be one of the top choices for climbers who spend much of their time on chal­leng­ing back­coun­try ap­proaches.


The Gore-Tex lined Five Ten Guide gtx could well be one of the best op­tions for climbers ven­tur­ing on to tech­ni­cal ground in wet or snowy con­di­tions. Fea­tur­ing rugged leather up­pers with strate­gi­cally placed fab­ric pan­els that en­cour­age for­ward f lex, the Guide Ten­nie Mid gtx feels sur­pris­ingly light and ag­ile. In fact, if climbers size the shoe care­fully, the Guide Ten­nie Mid gtx climbs and feels like many of the tech­ni­cal high-cut climb­ing shoes from the mid-to-late ’ 80s. Much of this climb­ing per­for­mance comes from Five Ten’s new last that seems to pro­vide a snug fit with very lit­tle heel-lift. When this new last is com­bined with Five Ten’s sticky C4 rub­ber sole, it’s not sur­pris­ing that the Guide Ten­nie Mid gtx per­forms so well on chal­leng­ing ap­proaches and easy routes. The ad­di­tion of a Gore-Tex lin­ing en­sures climbers’ feet stay dry and com­fort­able if there is snow or rain on the ap­proach. Fi­nally, for easy fit ad­just­ments, Five Ten has speced durable small-di­am­e­ter laces (that look like climb­ing cord) and pull easily through the shoes’ eye­lets.

La Sportiva He­lios-SR $125 Asolo Jumla GV

Climbers look­ing at do­ing Honnold-inspired in-a-day en­chain­ments or are lucky enough to have ca­sual ap­proaches will love the new La Sportiva He­lios-SR. De­signed as a light­weight ( 230 g) tech­ni­cal trail run­ning shoe, the He­lios-SR is also per­fect for the above stated sit­u­a­tions thanks to its rel­a­tively durable up­pers and sticky out­sole. Not sur­pris­ingly, this shoe de­liv­ers a very plush ride in com­par­i­son to the other ap­proach shoes in this re­view, but it is still suff iciently ag­ile and pre­cise for more tech­ni­cal ter­rain. Sportiva also in­cludes a rock-guard plate at the fore­foot, which pro­vides push-through pro­tec­tion when mov­ing on rocky ter­rain. Per­haps not the best choice for su­per-burly ap­proaches, the He­lios-SR should be a top pick for any­one mov­ing quickly over less de­mand­ing ter­rain.


Avail­able in both men’s and women’s ver­sions, the Jumla GV ap­proach shoes ex­hibit ex­cep­tional con­struc­tion qual­ity. Ev­ery­thing from the stitch­ing to the ma­te­rial choices ref lect an at­ten­tion to de­tail that makes these a great op­tion for rugged tech­ni­cal ap­proaches. Asolo starts with 1.6 – 1.8 mm thick leather pan­els and adds wa­ter­proof/breath­able Gore-Tex lin­ing, re­sult­ing in ex­cel­lent dura­bil­ity and weather pro­tec­tion. The mid­sole dis­plays a sim­i­lar level of at­ten­tion with a full-length sec­tion of eva and a durable shock-ab­sorb­ing polyurethane heel in­sert. All this rests on Vibram’s Fric­tion out­sole that con­sists of many small grip-en­hanc­ing blocks as well as an edg­ing plat­form at the fore­foot. The ad­di­tion of a fore­foot rand im­proves climb­ing per­for­mance, and per­haps more im­por­tant, pro­tects the shoe from abra­sion and sharp rocks. In the field, the Jumla GV de­liv­ered ex­cep­tional pre­ci­sion and sup­port thanks to its foot hug­ging last and great build. Climbers should note that the Jumla GVs seem to fit about one size big­ger than stated; some­thing that should be con­sid­ered if or­der­ing these ex­cel­lent shoes online.

The North Face Verto Ap­proach II $140

De­signed for mov­ing fast, the Verto Aproach II fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of light­weight yet durable fab­rics en­sur­ing ex­cel­lent com­fort and con­trol for get­ting quickly to the crag. The North Face starts with a burly bal­lis­tic ny­lon mesh up­per and adds a highly breath­able mesh in the fore­foot. Over the mid­foot, a se­ries of lam­i­nated over­lays in­crease foot sta­bil­ity and help cre­ate a lockedin fit. This up­per is then mated to a durable yet shock ab­sorb­ing com­pres­sion-moulded eva mid­sole. All this is then af­fixed to a unique Vibram out­sole that de­liv­ers solid trac­tion with­out adding un­nec­es­sary weight. Fi­nally, The North Face uses a col­lapsi­ble heel cup, which makes it easy to kick the shoes on and off be­tween be­lay­ing and climb­ing.

Five Ten Guide Ten­nie Mid GTX

Bo­real Fly­ers Mid

Scarpa Crux

Mer­rell Capra

Arc’teryx Acrux FL GTX

The North Face Verto Ap­proach II

Asolo Jumla GV

La Sportiva He­lios-SR

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