Gear Review: Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex Shoes

June 9, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex

Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex

Hiking/Scrambling Shoes
Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex
$149, 1 lb. 11 oz. (men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 6-13, women’s 3-9
salewa.us

You can find really tough, durable shoes, or really lightweight shoes, but rarely will you find a shoe that can legitimately make both claims. The Firetail breaks that rule. From hiking and scrambling around Utah’s Arches National Park and Idaho’s Castle Rocks State Park to a 22-mile, 5,000-vertical-foot dayhike in the Columbia Gorge, I subjected these shoes to the kind of abuse that would begin shredding other lightweights. Yet other than being dirty and a bit scuffed on the rubber toe bumper, my Firetails still look and perform like new. And although sporting the pedigree of an “approach,” or scrambling shoe for climbers, this is actually the kind of versatile, comfortable, all-around low-cut that all dayhikers should give a serious look.

From hiking on or off-trail—including going straight up the use trail called the Rock of Ages in the Columbia Gorge, a stretch of which gains 2,000 feet in less than two miles—to sticking confidently on steep, granite and sandstone slabs, the shoes proved comfortable and sturdy. A plastic and wire support cage linking the heel and top lace rings to the midsole wrap the foot securely, to prevent the slipping that causes blisters, while leaving decent wiggle room for toes so they don’t get hammered on long, steep descents. Lacing extends to the toes, similar to rock-climbing shoes, helping dial in a close fit in the toe box when you want a little more sensitivity for scrambling steep rock. The Firetail rises a step above many low-cuts with a nylon-and-fiberglass plate in the EVA midsole, giving me support for carrying a 35-pound pack stuffed with climbing gear, and preventing my feet from feeling beat up even after that 22-mile day in the Gorge.

Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex

Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex

The abrasion-resistant, synthetic uppers, with a rubber toe bumper and wrap-around, Kevlar rand and PU framework grid, are armored for hard abuse—I bashed my toes repeatedly on rocks and roots in the Columbia Gorge without even feeling the impact. The Vibram outsole combines wide, shallow lugs for traction in dirt with smoother rubber under the toes and heel to stick on rock. Plus, a slightly in-cut heel aids in downhill braking. The forefoot sensitivity is good enough for easy fifth-class climbing—I climbed up to 5.6 in them—but the toe box is a little too bulky for sticking to small edges when rock climbing.

The Gore-Tex membrane kept my feet dry splashing through creeks and mud, but makes the shoes a little sweaty on warm days. The shoe comes with two sets of thinly padded insoles that nest together, allowing some customizing of the medium-volume fit. If you’re looking for a lightweight but exceptionally tough hiking shoe that can handle anything, you can hardly do better than the Firetail EVO.

 

 

See all of my reviews of shoes for hiking, scrambling, trail running, and ultralight backpacking, including a similar model, the Scarpa Zen Pro.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

   

 

4 Responses to Gear Review: Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex Shoes

  1. Jeff Hernandez   |  November 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    What widths are these offered in and did you feel they ran true to size? Look forward to the test of the Mid Goretex Firetail.

    • michaellanza   |  November 5, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Hi Jeff, look to Salewa’s website for detailed sizing info. I found the shoes ran true to size.

  2. Sean   |  July 15, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    How would you compare/contrast these with the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor?

    • michaellanza   |  August 8, 2014 at 6:20 am

      Hi Sean, both the Firetail EVO and the Ultra Raptor are excellent shoes. I think the primary difference is that the Ultra Raptor is better for running and fast-paced hiking. Its traction is very good for a hiking shoe, but if you want a shoe for hiking and scrambling steeper, technical terrain, 3rd- and 4th-class, I’d suggest the Firetail EVO. And I don’t think the Firetail would be comfortable for running too much.

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