For me, approach shoes are very important. The comfort and security I feel when I’m hiking and scrambling to the base of a climb can help set my mood for the day. If I’m uncomfortable while hiking or sliding around and nervous while scrambling, it’s no good. So I thought I’d share my approach shoe experiences for your benefit or to get some of your thoughts about shoes.
Five Ten W’s Mountain Master
I absolutely hated these shoes. They did not fit well, were not sticky, and had ridiculously stiff soles that killed my feet. Even with my superfeet insoles, they were no good. I was not at all impressed. This is probably why they don’t make these any more.
Five Ten W’s Access
These shoes aren’t really approach shoes, they’re trail running shoes. For trail running shoes, they’re quite nice. They fit well and are very comfortable. For just hiking, they are great. However, they aren’t made for scrambling and don’t really perform well there. They’ve been demoted to my “just hiking” shoes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still love them. Also on the downside, the construction of the shoes seems not to be the highest quality. A lot of little decorative things on the shoes (nothing functional) took about a week to fall off.
Montrail W’s CTC
These shoes are absolutely fantastic. They fit great, are comfortable for hiking, work great for scrambling (I lead Tenaya Peak wearing these instead of my rock shoes), and last forever (except for the laces, but these are fairly easily replaced). They are vented so that your feet don’t get too hot, although it also means your feet get wet if it’s raining/snowing/etc. But if you are dealing with a lot of those conditions, I’m pretty sure you need a different kind of shoe anyways. My sensitive feet love the CTCs and I can wear them for hours and hike long distances with no blisters. My first pair of CTCs have been going strong for three years (although they recently got “retired” to the brutal job of being my geology shoes). I now have a newer version of the shoes, which Montrail thankfully let remain essentially the same except for the color and the laces. Highly recommended!
I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use these because I got mine used and they are sized a little too small to be comfortable for hiking a lot. I know plenty of guides who swore by these a while ago, though, so they can’t be that bad.
La Sportiva Cirque Pro
I just got a pair of these last weekend at the REI used gear sale (wooo $8!!!) and I’m very excited. From just trying them on, they fit my feet perfectly (although I do seem to have La Sportiva feet) and feel very comfortable. I’m excited to try them out after I get them resoled.
What approach shoes work for you?