approach shoes reviews

Scarpa Mescalito hiking shoes.

Review: Scarpa Mescalito Hiking Shoes

Hiking/Approach Shoes Scarpa Mescalito $169, 1 lb. 13 oz. (men’s US 9/Euro 42) Sizes: men’s US 7-14/Euro 40-48, women’s US 5-10/Euro 36-42 backcountry.com Sometimes a piece of gear seems better every time you use it. That’s what happened to me with these low-cut hiking shoes. From dayhikes on the slickrock and sandy trails of Zion to the packed dirt and …

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Salewa Wildfire hiking and approach shoes.

Gear Review: Salewa Wildfire Hiking-Approach Shoes

Hiking/Approach Shoes
Salewa Wildfire
$129, 1 lb. 11 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 6-12, women’s 3-9
moosejaw.com

The term “approach shoes” can misleadingly imply that those shoes aren’t made for dayhikers who largely stick to trails, perhaps only occasionally wandering off-trail, when actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. For years, I’ve found that shoes lumped into this category are my favorite picks for typical dayhikes of any distance, on trails ranging from packed dirt to rocky, and I’ve liked them for performance aspects that should appeal to most hikers: good fit and breathability, protective uppers, and outstanding traction. Hit those targets while making the shoe lighter and it’s even more attractive. That’s why I tried out the low-cut Salewa Wildfire on hikes ranging from a nine-mile, roughly 2,500-foot jaunt to Observation Point and Hidden Canyon in Zion National Park to hiking and scrambling on spring days at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve.

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Gear Review: Scarpa Epic Lite Shoes

Scarpa Epic Lite shoes.
Scarpa Epic Lite shoes.

Hiking/Approach Shoes
Scarpa Epic Lite
$135, 1 lb. 14 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 39-47/US 6-13, women’s Euro 36-42/US 5-10
moosejaw.com

The hardest footpath to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi, North Carolina’s 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell, runs you through a gauntlet of character-building trail conditions lurking in those rough Appalachian Mountains. Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail entails climbing a cumulative 3,500 vertical feet over 12 miles on an earthen rollercoaster that traverses 13 summits above 6,000 feet, over ground littered with wet, slick leaves, while hopping the occasional small pond of mud and carefully treading over slippery roots and granite slabs. I could hardly have thought up a better place to try out Scarpa’s new Epic Lites. And I’ve worn very few models of shoes over the years that handle all kinds of terrain as nimbly as these.

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Gear Review: Five Ten Access Hiking Shoes

Five Ten Access
Five Ten Access

Hiking/Approach Shoes
Five Ten Access
$140, 1 lb. 10 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 4-14
moosejaw.com

Five Ten bills the Access as a go-anywhere, do-anything shoe, so I thought I’d test the authenticity of that claim on an 8.5-hour, 20-mile, 4,500-foot, mid-September trail run-hike of the Alice Lake-Toxaway Lake Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—including, midway through our day, a 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak. I was honestly a little nervous about committing my feet to these shoes for such a long day, mostly out of concern that they’re not really designed primarily as a trail-running shoe. As it turned out, my feet were as comfortable as they’ve ever been on an ultra-hike or long trail run. Here’s why.

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La Sportiva TX3

Gear Review: La Sportiva TX3 Hiking Shoes

moosejaw.comHiking/Approach Shoes
La Sportiva TX3
$135, 1 lb. 9 oz. (men’s Euro42/US 9)
Sizes: Euro men’s 38-47.5, women’s 36-43
backcountry.com

If a shoe manufacturer asked me to design my ideal, low-cut hiking shoe, I’d say it should be lightweight, with good flex yet enough cushion and support for rugged dayhikes and ultralight backpacking. I’d want it supremely breathable, reasonably armored against abusive terrain, and to have an outsole that grips any surface. I’m still waiting for a shoe manufacturer to ask me. But La Sportiva seems to have read my mind with the TX3. That shoe jumped to the top of my list after several dayhikes, including a 16-hour, August ultra-hike of the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot, nine-summit Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s rocky and wet White Mountains, and a 27-mile, 16-hour traverse of western Maine’s Mahoosuc Range.

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