Director’s Picks – 2014 Approach Shoes
I’m happy to say that after years of inquiries from our clients, Apex’s Director (well, that is, me) has started an equipment blog to provide reviews on what products we like best in the field. My focus isn’t on what doesn’t work well – it’s on finding the top performers in each gear category and sharing with you the best uses for each. No paid winners – just the best performing products.
Our first gear category is the approach shoe. Great for increasing traction and safety on approaches to local crags and multi-pitch routes, our staff often uses them to climb in for efficiency and ease of transition in the mountains, increasing our clients’ climbing time.
A great shoe for short approaches and aggressive leads. The soles feel just like a climbing slipper and provide great friction. The reliable traction inspires confidence and makes it easy to find a relaxed stance when placing gear or building an anchor. The Evolv’s are also great for quickly transitioning from climbing to belaying because their flexible canvas means they’re easy to slip on with the heel folding down. Even with its lightweight construction the Evolv still has a very supportive insole and stylish look that would be great whether you’re pushing the grade or running errands around town.
Five-Ten: Guide Tennie
A stiff, durable shoe that might just take the place of your climbing shoes on a wide variety of terrain. The stiff sole provides great leverage and allows for trustworthy foot placements every time. With the sharp toe edge and stiff sole it wouldn’t be a problem taking the Guide Tennie up to 5.10. This is a beefy shoe that will be an all around performer and last a long time. Off the rock this stylish shoe works great around the town with its comfortable fit and skate-shoe-like look.
La Sportiva: Xplorer
This a shoe to take up one of Colorado’s 14’ers. The Xplorer is very comfortable and is great on long approaches or any extended trail hikes. The wide and durable sole provides great stability and will have no problem taking quite a bit of abuse. If you like the fit of Sportiva or have a more athletic foot, expect the excellent fit that Sportiva is known for.
Five-Ten: Camp Four
If you thought 5.10’s Guide Tennie was a beefy shoe you haven’t seen anything yet. The Camp Four looks more like a hiking boot than a climbing shoe but is as lightweight and agile as you can ask for. The high-top option protects against dirt and sand and is great for extended backcountry trips where ankle protection counts. The Camp Four’s stealth rubber sole is a work of art. While the soles toe is designed for edging and traction, the heel is an off-road beast providing confidence on loose dirt, sand, mud or anything else you can throw at it. I took this baby up a six pitch route in the rain and it performed just as well on the way up as on the muddy hike down. This shoe was selected as our guide fleet shoe for 2014 for Apex’s rock guiding staff.
So I hope you treat your feet to great footwear, and get out there and play hard in them! Also, be sure to comment and let me know what gear category you’d like to see reviewed next!