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Last updated: March 01, 2021
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Approach shoes are hybrid footwear that is commonly associated with climbing and hiking. Approach shoes are constructed of multiple materials designed to be robust to all kinds of surfaces, long-lasting and most important of all – comfortable. In addition to climbing and hiking, approach shoes are commonly found in sports such as tennis and golf which require sturdy footwear to give players both foot stability as well as a secure grip for short and sharp movements.
But what are the best approach shoes currently available to purchase? This article aims to give insight into this question to assist you in the process of purchasing the best approach shoes to suit your needs. Factors we consider important in the buying process include the upper and sole material, available sizes, type of closure and shoe weight. You must give yourself time to consider factors such as these when you are researching online for the best approach shoes as it will maximize your chances of purchasing a great value for a product that is perfectly suited to your needs.
The content for this article is taken from manufacturer websites as well as online customer reviews to give you the most informed insight. The article begins with a comparison table of all the reviewed products, followed by 8 in-depth product reviews which include key features, product descriptions and pros and cons. This is followed by the buying guide and FAQ section, with the conclusion ranking the top three best approach shoes.
The SCARPA Men’s Crux Approach Shoe is known for being one of the most durable approach shoes currently available to purchase. Made specifically for hiking, these shoes contain a rubber sole, with a suede and textile upper material. SCARPA is a multi-generational family business based in Northern Italy. Their attention to detail in the product design is unique, ensuring supreme levels of comfort.
Available in half sizes between 6-14 in the US, the SCARPA Men’s Crux Approach Shoe will be accessible to the majority of people with common foot sizes. The pair of shoes also only weighs 10.8 oz, making them very easy to transport as well as relieving any burden when being worn. The SCARPA Men’s Crux Approach Shoe is the perfect alternative to clunky walking boots that can often tire out ramblers due to their excessive weight.
One of the best aspects of the SCARPA Men’s Crux Approach Shoe is that they are incredibly comfortable. The 2D EVA-MP midsole is crucial to enabling the comfy feel. There is nothing more annoying than having a hiking shoe that does not provide sufficient grip. Luckily, the Vibram Vertical Approach outsole is another crucial element of the shoe design that enables a secure grip when hiking. The outsole is ‘sticky’ in being able to latch onto to surfaces, providing strong support when completing rugged descents.
The SCARPA Men’s Crux Approach Shoe is a great value approach shoe. If you are after a hiking shoe that is comfortable, durable and has a great grip in touch walks, look no further.
The Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoe is a supremely lightweight hiking shoe that not only functional but also eye-catching, thanks to the bright orange strips and light green laces. The sole of the shoe is made from synthetic material, while the upper parts of the shoe are made from suede and textile.
One of the best features of the Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoe is the removable sole. If you want to purchase a specific type of sole to alleviate foot or leg pain, you can easily replace the existing sole with your preferred option. This gives users a great degree of flexibility over how they customize the shoes.
Another fantastic feature of the Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoe is the ergonomic midsole that is specifically designed to ensure maximum comfort for mountain hikers. The midsole contains Bilight Technology that effectively cradles the foot to give strong cushioning and prevention of blisters. No matter how long you are hiking, be rest assured that the Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoe will protect your foot from any damage.
Other cool features of the Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoe include self-cleaning grooves that help with shoe maintenance on the bottom of the shoe, water-resistant exterior material as well as a Flex Collar that gives extra ankle support by promoting natural movement. The Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoe is certainly a reliable, fashionable shoe, making it the best approach shoe for hiking.
The La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X is a high-quality climbing shoe, commonly referred to as one of the best climbing approach shoes. Built with a rubber sole and suede and mesh upper, the La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X is perfectly built to cope with the demands of climbing.
What makes the La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X particularly suited to climbing is the ultra-sticky rubber sole. This contains a Vibram Idro-Grip compound that allows the shoe to latch on to all kinds of surfaces, even when wet, to give you the necessary support. Also, to support, having a sticky rubber sole adds to the level of comfort when climbing, making it an enjoyable experience.
The high-cushion LaSpEVA inner sole is another important feature that provides comfort to climbers. The location of the cushion is utilized when climbers enter long approaches. While the leather midsole ensures fantastic durability even in the toughest of conditions. Comfort and durability are all the climbers seek in a shoe, the La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X delivers this in abundance.
One frustration with the shoe is the laces which are annoying to tie as they have to loop around your ankle. If you are not too fussed about the lacing, this will be a minor issue and should not detract from the overall quality that the La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X has to offer climbers. They are one of the best value climbing shoes that can adapt to any climbing surface.
The Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse is renowned for being one of the best women’s approaches shoes. Vasque is committed to designing functional footwear that is both innovative and aesthetically pleasing. They have certainly delivered their aims with the Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse. Built from a suede and mesh upper, with a rubber sole, the shoe is built to last and is perfect for hiking or everyday wear.
One of the best features of the Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse is the high level of comfort that women have when wearing the shoe. It is known the Vasque shoes strive for comfort level more associated with athletic shoes, and they have matched that with the Women’s Grand Traverse. The comfort is ensured through a variety of features, including the webbing heel lock to prevent blisters and the Vibram Ibex with Idrogrip sole which forms nicely around your foot.
The Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse is water-resistant allowing them to perform well in wet conditions on hikes across natural water features such as rivers and canals. Although the shoes are heavy compared to other shoes in the market, the overmolded mesh material on the upper part of the shoe is used to enable a speedy performance due to its lightweight feel.
The Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse is available in sizes 6-11 US size which should cater to the majority of women’s sizes. The shoes are a great purchase for women who love the outdoors and want to explore with a strong and comfortable shoe that is also fashionable. The Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse delivers in all these areas to give a great value purchasing option.
What we liked:
Functional on all surfaces, all conditions
Robust to water
What could be better:
Tight fit – you may need one size higher than normal
The Five Ten Men’s Access Approach Shoes are one of the best approach shoes that cater to people with wide feet. If you are a person with wide feet, you may not be aware that there are many companies and designers who make shoes specifically for wider feet. The Five Ten Men’s Access Approach Shoes contain a rubber sole with a nubuck leather upper construction, making them well-suited to climbing.
When climbing, the shoes must have strong shock absorption and durability. The construction of the Five Ten Men’s Access Approach Shoes is specifically catered for these demands. The Stealth S1 rubber outsole includes a Climbing Zone toe that is shaped to allow better movement across rocky surfaces. Also, the exoskeleton lacing system that is rubberized, provides added torsional support which is vital in ensuring a strong and secure climb.
Five Ten are known for their state-of-the-art innovation. The choice of nubuck leather for the upper part of the shoe is particularly innovative as it provides supreme durability against all the jagged edges that climbers are likely to encounter. In addition to durability, the leather is very aesthetically pleasing, making the Five Ten Men’s Access Approach Shoes a highly sought-after product.
The Five Ten Men’s Access Approach Shoes are a great value product that specifically targets people with wider feet. You should not have to force your feet into slim fit shoes, instead invest money in shoes that such as the Access ensure better comfort, balance and durability.
Tennis players require very sturdy shoes to withstand the fast-paced twist and turns of the game. The Adidas Men’s Approach Tennis Shoe is known for being one of the most reliable and reasonably priced tennis shoes currently available to purchase. Available primarily in all-white design to match the dress code of many tennis clubs, the shoes are aesthetically pleasing to tennis purists.
Designed with a rubber sole and synthetic upper, the Adidas Men’s Approach Tennis Shoe fit the classic design construct of a tennis shoe. The rubber outsole is designed specifically to have a strong grip on the playing surface. As tennis players have to frequently do short, sharp turns, having such a strong grip is essential to stay in rallies.
The soft synthetic upper part of the shoe is designed to give maximum breathability to the tennis shoes. Tennis games can often last more than 2-3 hours, it is vitally important that your feet can constantly access air to cool down. Feet that have limited access to air are likely to swell up and restrict movement. The breathable synthetic upper is crucial to ensuring successful tennis play.
The Adidas Men’s Approach Tennis Shoe is available in 6-14 US sizes and is closed through regular laces. In addition to tennis, full-white access shoes are increasingly becoming fashionable. If you are not a tennis player but want a comfortable trendy shoe, the Adidas Men’s Approach Tennis Shoe is a great choice that also caters for people with wider feet.
Golfers require shoes that can provide a sure footing when making shots. They also need to be able to withstand adverse weather conditions and keep your feet dry, The Skechers Men’s Go Golf Elite 3 Approach Shoe delivers all of these demands to give a high-quality golf shoe that will enable players to perform at their best.
Constructed from a synthetic sole with a suede and fabric upper, the Skechers Men’s Go Golf Elite 3 Approach Shoe follows the design specifications of the majority of golf shoes currently in the market. The manufacturers give customers a 2-year waterproof guarantee to highlight their confidence that your feet will be protected from water. Another great advantage of the Skechers Men’s Go Golf Elite 3 Approach Shoe is their lightweight feel. Golfers out on the course for 4-5 hours need a shoe that is light to reduce any strain.
The strong levels of comfort provided by the Skechers Men’s Go Golf Elite 3 Approach Shoe are enabled through the 5gen cushioning, which contains shock absorption technology to protect the feet as they travel around the golf course.
The durable grip tpu bottom plate is also an essential element to any golf shoe. The stud-like design, ensures your feet are rooted to the surface when performing your golf swing. Having stable feet is essential to any successful golf swing, the Skechers Men’s Go Golf Elite 3 Approach Shoe goes a long way to equipping players with foot stability.
The evolv Women’s Cruzer Approach Shoe is on the best affordable approach shoes for women currently in the market. Designed with a rubber sole and cotton canvas upper material, these shoes are exceptionally light and are a great balance between rock climbing shoes and conventional approach shoes.
The evolv Women’s Cruzer Approach Shoe is renowned for their high friction TRAX rubber which enables you to easily scramble across granite slabs or challenging rock faces. The rubber is sticky, enabling the sole to easily latch onto the tricky climbing surfaces.
One of the best aspects of the evolv Women’s Cruzer Approach Shoe is their durability. These shoes are not just climbing shoes. They can also be slippers if you are relaxing in the evening or can be worn out on the town. They are supremely comfortable and affordable, making the evolv Women’s Cruzer Approach Shoe an increasingly popular fashion choice. The designers are world-leading in their innovation and also offer vegan-friendly styles to fit in with certain ethical values.
Other cool features of the evolv Women’s Cruzer Approach Shoe include the unique split tongue which gives extra breathability and wearing options as well as the zero drops ethylene-vinyl acetate midsole which gives the feel of walking barefoot despite wearing shoes. The evolv Women’s Cruzer Approach Shoe is a unique purchasing option for women who need to approach shoes to climb, but also like a comfortable product that can be work in many different scenarios.
What we liked:
What could be better:
Limited durability on rough rock surfaces
Things to Consider
There are a lot of approach shoes in the market and it can be hard to choose the best. The following guide will help you in choosing the best approach shoes that suit your needs.
Choose the approach shoe by task
The most suitable approach shoe will combine both the grip and comfort of a hiking boot as well as the dexterity of a shoe used for climbing.
The following features are best if you are looking for an approach shoe for hiking:
A lot of cushioning to provide comfort.
The heel should be slightly elevated.
The tread should be decent to provide enough traction.
The toe rand should be decent as well to protect from bashes and bumps.
The materials used to make the approach shoe should be durable and rugged.
The approach shoe should enable your feet to breathe easily.
If you are looking for a scrambling or hiking shoes, consider the following features;
For good smearing, the shoe should have a grippy sole.
The tread should be less bulky than the approach shoes for hiking.
For foot placements and edging smaller hold, the shoe should have a stiff and articulated toe.
Always buy approach shoes that are within your budget. The approach shoes reviewed above range from $40 to $400.
The best approach shoes can be found by the following features
The following features will help you in buying the best approach shoes:
Body type matters
Women’s feet are generally smaller than men’s feet. Therefore, your feet’s size will depend on the type of approach shoe your purchase. If you have wider feet, consider buying wider approach shoes and if you have narrower feet, fitting shoes will be suitable to prevent your feet from moving.
Since men and women have different feet shapes and sizes, there are products specifically designed for men and women. Hence, women should buy women’s approach shoes and men should buy men’s approach shoes.
Upper and outsole materials
The upper and outsole material used to make approach shoes is a factor that differentiates the various brands in the market. Look for approach shoes that the upper and outsole materials are water-proof and breathable.
Goretex is the best material used to make uppers for approach shoes because it is lightweight, water-proof and breathable. However, there are other materials to consider as well.
Lace-up: this versatile style will enable you to loosen your laces when your feet get hot and swell up or when you are walking and can be seen on the Adidas Men’s Approach Tennis Shoe. But if you are climbing or on a difficult pitch, crank down the instep and the toe to improve the performance of the shoes.
Strap: they are also known as ‘hook-and-loop’ and they offer on or off convenience. They are suitable for gym climbing and bouldering when slipping the shoes in between the climbs.
Slip-on: mostly known as a slipper, these shoes give the lowest profile and a greater sensitivity as well as an elastic closure system. Slippers are great and fun for training as the feet get stronger faster because the slip-on shoes do not have the traditional midsole and stiff sole. The low profile that they have is due to the absence of laces or straps which makes them good for thin cracks.
Sizing variety and fit comfort
If you are buying approach shoes for the first time, try them first before buying. This is because there are different variations of sizes depending on the shoe brands. If you are buying the approach shoes online, try them first at a store before ordering.
Also, check the sizing chart if it is provided at the information page and read reviews about fit. To make your approach shoes fit well, lacing all the way will allow you to make adjustments.
The footbed is another feature that will affect how your approach shoes fit. If your heel is not in good condition, buy heel inserts to make it better. Approach shoes are comfortable and offer good performance when they are perfectly fit.
The outsole design matters, as well as the rubber compound, used to make an approach shoe. The lug pattern in an approach shoe is a huge factor to be considered because it affects its versatility and climb-ability, as shoes such as the La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X have a sole pattern specifically designed to help climbers.
The lug pattern in some other shoes such as the Scarpa Crux works better on the trail than on the rock.
Most climbers and hikers want their shoes to be as lightweight as possible. This is because lightweight approach shoes make climbing and hiking easy as well as keeping the backpack weight to a minimum when carrying the shoes.
The materials used to make the uppers will determine the weight of the approach shoes. Read the product specifications as most will give the exact weight of the shoe, if not read the product reviews by other customers.
Even during the dry season, you may end up having to cross small streams or even come across puddles in rocks. Apart from being uncomfortable, wet feet can lead to blisters and water-resistant approach shoes will protect you.
The breathability of approach shoes refers to the ability of the shoe eliminate and release moisture from inside the shoe without letting water into it. Having a breathable approach shoe will prevent your feet from smelling and keep them dry.
Most people choose approach shoes because they are breathable compared to other types of shoes due to the materials used to make them. Read reviews of shoes to know their level of breathability before purchasing them.
Some approach shoes have extra hard material to protect your toes from injuries when climbing or hiking.
Check the terms and conditions for any approach shoe that you buy to see whether they have any return policy when the shoes don’t fit or tears the first time you wear them.
Approach shoes caring tips
Since approach shoes are not that cheap, you will need to take good care after purchasing them to ensure that they last longer and still perform better. The following are a few tips on how you can care your approach shoes:
Keep them clean
Your approach shoes will get you through tough environments such as sand, mud, dirt and wet terrain and they can all add up to make your shoes dirty. When the day ends clean your shoe by spraying it with a hose and leave them to dry completely.
If you want to speed up the drying process, stuff them with newspapers and turn them from side to side. Also, at the end of the day remove the insole and shake your shoes well to prevent the accumulation of sand, grime and dirt which can abrade the material easily.
If the upper side of your shoes is made of leather, it is important to treat them with a leather waterproofing/conditioning product. This is because if the leather is not treated, it can be heavy by absorbing water causing shrink and stretch. Gear Aid and Nikwax have a line of products that you can use.
Seam gripping the seams
To protect climbing shoes from abrasion caused by cracks, climbers often use seam grip for the seams. This practice often increases the longevity of climbing shoes. You can do this practice as well for the approach shoes, especially if you want to use them for jamming and climbing.
Also, if you will use your approach shoes for wall aid climbing, the toes will blow faster if not given additional support. Gear Aid products such as Freesole or Seam Grip can be used at the wear and tear prone areas when you purchase the approach shoes and many times after.
Before you buy the best approach shoes fit for you and your feet, here are a few responses to the most frequently asked questions.
As a beginner, you can still hike or climb with other regular sports shoes but approach shoes give the best grip. However, if you will be climbing or hiking for a day, there is no need to spend more money n buying approach shoes that you may not wear again.
For wide feet, thin socks for hiking are suitable for you.
For narrow feet, thick socks for hiking are ideal for you.
If you have warm feet, synthetic socks such as Coolmax will take the moisture away from your feet.
For cool feet, hiking socks made of wool material will help hold the warmth and insulate your feet.
Make sure that the hiking socks that you wear fit you well and does not constrict your feet. If you are going for long day trips, take with you a back up socks o keep them dry and for your feet to be comfortable. This is because moisture and friction can cause blisters to your feet.
Hopefully, this article has given you all the essential information that you need to know about the best approach shoes currently available to purchase.
Our verdict on the top three best approach shoes is: