Written by @GurvinderSG
So you've decided to take up rock climbing. You've got your new climbing shoes ready to go. The rest of your gear is in the bag too. But wait, aren't you forgetting something? How do you plan on getting from the car to the ascend point? It's called the approach, and there's a shoe for that. What, you didn't think those J's were going to cut it did you?
If there's one thing we learned at Outdoor Retailer, it's that 2013 is going to be a big one for approach shoes. As the interest in climbing continues to grow, so does the need for a decent, reliable pair of approach shoes--ones that are lightweight, durable, and have the proper traction to cover virtually any terrain in any weather. While many of the new approach shoes, like the adidas Terrex Solo Stealth, we'll have to wait for until Fall, we decided it was necessary to do a round-up of the best ones currently on the market. These are The 10 Best Approach Shoes Available Today.
No. 10 - The North Face Verto
Weight: 1 lbs 14 oz
The lightweight Verto is designed to get you from point A to B as fast and as safely as possible. Despite its lightweight construction, the low-profile boot comes with protective rubber toe reinforcement, along with mudguards in the rear, so durability is not an issue. Everything is housed on a Vibram IdroGrip outsole, allowing users to move with flexibility without losing their footing on wet terrain.
No. 9 - Lowa Pinto
Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz
Ok, so the Lowa Pinto technically isn't an approach shoe. But if you can get past the 2lbs+ weight that's on paper, you'll notice the boot feels lighter than it looks. The PInto's nubuck leather construction ensures that it will hold up against any type of outdoor environment—not to mention it gives the shoe that classic outdoors look. You get an ultra-grippy Vibram sole with this one as well.
No. 8 - Scarpa Crux
Weight: 13.9 oz
This all-around approach shoe from Scarpa is one of the lightest options currently on the market. The lugged Vibram Vertical Approach outsole is specifically designed to tackle off-road conditions as you make the trek from your car to the base point. The shoe's webbing ribcage is reinforced with Kevlar for some added toughness and durability.
No. 7 - Patagonia Cragmaster
Weight: 14 oz
The Patagonia Cragmaster has been around for quite some time now, and there's a simple reason for that. The low-profile approach shoe is both flexible and supportive, making it a perfect option for bouldering and moderate climbs. The shoe's waterproof nubuck leather upper is comfortable enough for the long haul, and reinforced with a rubber toe and heel, can take a beating without being phased. Vibram in the outsole.
No. 6 - Five Ten Guide Tennie Canvas
Weight: 14.4 oz
When it comes to climbing footwear, few brands can match up to the superiority of Five Ten. So it's no surprise that the brand's Guide Tennie is one of the top all-terrain shoes around. This canvas version is designed to be breathable, while still be able to take a beating. The high-friction Stealth outsole gives it the perfect gripping properties for scrambling on and around rocks.
No. 5 - Salewa Firetail GTX
Weight: 15 oz
The Salewa Firetail GTX can be considered a hybrid of sorts. It's a technical approach shoe in the body of an ultra-light trail running sneaker. The shoe's EVA midsole with PU Shock Absorption give your feet a comfortable resting place, while the Gore-TEX coating keeps them nice and dry in wet, rainy conditions. The proprietary Salewa Vibram Approach outsole gives the shoe great traction, so slipping is one less thing you have to worry about.
No. 4 - Haglofs Roc Legend
Weight: 1 lb 14 oz
The Haglofs Roc Legend is another one of those approach shoes that have been around so long that they've achieved legendary status by now (as the name of the shoe suggest). The shoe features a thin midsole for better ground contact, along with a Polygiene anti-odor treated footbed for less stink. The upper is constructed from a water repellent suede leather, with quick drying microfiber in the lining. A Vibram IdroGrip outsole rounds out the Roc Legend.
No. 3 - adidas Terrex Swift Solo
Weight: 1 lb 7 oz
There's an upgraded version of the Terrex Swift Solo making its way to consumers soon, but that won't be until later this Fall. Until then, the current model will do just fine. Aesthetically, no other approach shoe even comes close to the Terrex Swift. The best part of it is that the great design of the shoe is complimented by a list of performance technology, that is equally as impressive. The shoe features a rubber toe cap for extra grip, and an open mesh upper for breathability. The shoe's Traxion outsole isn't as great as the Vibram options, but it will soon be replaced with a high-grade Stealth outsole—which will definitely put this shoe over the top.
No. 2 - Zamberian A95 Calanque RR
Weight: 1 lb
With a $250 MSRP, the shoe better have all the bells and whistles to justify the price. Fortunately, the Zamberian A95 Calanque RR has all that and then some, so it's somewhat reasonable. The shoe features 360-degree rubber reinforcement for maximum coverage, and unique ZAS (Zamberian Air System) padding embedded in the dual-density PU midsole for a comfortable ride. The A95 Calanque's modular flex GT shank adds another layer of protection against sharp rocks, while the Vibram Boulder outsole keeps you on your feet.
No. 1 - La Sportiva Ganda
Weight: 1 lb 4 oz
Unless you're really serious about this climbing thing, we wouldn't recommend shelling out so much cash for an approach shoe. But if you want the best of the best, the La Sportiva Ganda is the one. In fact, our words wouldn't do it justice so we'll let La Sportiva take it away: "This is the ultimate mountain shoe for technical alpine rock climbs and those unbelievable long days in the mountains. We pulled out all the stops to produce a shoe that will withstand multiple resoles, let you carry a 30-pound pack and climb 5.12! Slip lasted in the forefoot and board lasted in the back, the Ganda is built around a 3D sculpted anatomical PU Lite midsole that molds to your foot."