Climbing has always been my passion since I was old enough to jump on a climbing wall. Although climbing shoes are great for the actual climbing, I always struggled to find the right shoes for approaching the climb. Another issue I had was that I needed to carry two pairs of shoes with me when I wanted to have a lightweight bag. Approach shoes eliminated both of those issues and I have never been able to turn back since.
The versatility of approach shoes gives you a hybrid between hiking boots and climbing shoes. It makes my climbing trips much more enjoyable because I only have to take one pair of shoes when I go out. Not only does it make my bag lighter, but it also gives me extra grip and traction when going through different terrains. There are so many different features to choose from as well which gives me the ability to choose a pair that is better for a certain climbing condition.
I invested in more than one pair of approach shoes because I enjoy hiking and climbing in different environments and conditions. These last few years of climbing have been so amazing that I decided to make a list of my favorite approach shoes.
Approach Shoes: Detailed Buying Guide
1. Style: Choosing the right style depends on everything from durability to climbing ability. Buy the style that is designed for your needs whether it be hiking, climbing, or both.
2. Upper Materials: Rubber outsoles are connected to the upper. The upper is what offers breathability and can affect durability and water-resistance as well. Mesh is the most breathable, while leather is more durable and better for protection.
3. Outsoles and Traction: Different outsole designs offer better traction in different climbing environments. Dotted models are great for rock climbing, whereas sharp tread designs allow better traction in snowy or wet environments.
4. Fit and Sizing: If you need them to grip better when climbing, we recommend a tighter fit. They will not be as comfortable as looser versions, but they allow you to perform better.
5. Edging: Flat Rubber patches are attached under the area of the shoes that houses the big toe. These are perfect for edging and can be used for climbing and hiking as well.
6. Waterproofing: In most cases, you will wait until it is good weather before climbing, but waterproofing is still important. If it starts raining or you come across a small stream, this feature will come in handy.
7. Breathability: While keeping your feet cool and somewhat dry is a priority, shoes with more breathability can have disadvantages. They are more likely to let dirt and small stones in, which will irritate your feet.
8. Weight: The weight of your shoes is important when you need to hike or climb for a long time. Lightweight versions are much better if you will be carrying them often, but the downside is that they are not as strong.
9. Stiffness and Stability: Having internal support is an advantage when you are hiking or climbing on terrain that is more technical. At the same time, they are flexible enough to bend but be stable.
10. Toe Protection: Models with a rand extending over the entirety of the toe box will keep your toes protected. They also allow you more traction when climbing over rocks and boulders.
11. Functionality and Performance: It is obvious that if you use hiking-oriented approach shoes for climbing, they won’t be as functional. Look at the style and other features of these shoes to find the right fit for you.
12. Comfort: Having a comfortable climb is important, but too much comfort can detract from functionality. If you are primarily on flatter trails and not climbing too much, a more comfortable fit is ideal.
13. Durability: When you invest in this type of footwear, you will want to use them for as long as you can. The more durable the model is, the longer it will last, and the better it will work.
14. Lug Pattern: Smaller lugs will allow better traction when climbing but are not as helpful for hiking. Lugs with a larger profile make hiking easier for the most inexperienced people.
15. Rubber: Sticky soles are one of the main pros to climbers and hikers that these products offer. Using sticky rubber for the soles lets you climb and hike safely without slipping.
16. Warranty and Budget: A warranty is always a good thing when spending your hard-earned money. Your budget is also important. The price of the best approach shoes ranges from $50.00 to $300.00.
Why Buy Approach Shoes
Designed to be a cross between hiking boots and climbing shoes to offer you the best of both worlds. Although many people believe there is no point in buying them, they are a great way to carry less on a climbing or hiking trip. This makes them ideal for situations that require both a lot of hiking as well as climbing.
Comfort is the main feature of approach shoes because they are meant to be used on long hiking or climbing trips. The protection that they offer your toes and heels makes them better for climbing over rocks or loose gravel. Overall, they are a great investment for avid hikers and climbers.
Care & Maintenance Tips
- Waterproof your shoes. If you happen to buy shoes with leather uppers, you should condition or waterproof them. If you don’t do this, they can easily stretch or even shrink by absorbing water when you use them in wet conditions.
- Clean them after using them. The sand that can accumulate on your shoes can damage the material after a while. The cleaner you keep your shoes, the longer you will be able to use them. Taking the insole out and shaking them once in a while can help keep your shoes clean inside as well.
- Only wear them for approaching. If you use them more than you need to, you will wear them out faster. Another disadvantage to using them a lot is that dirty soled are less likely to grip the rock properly.
- Get a bag for your shoes. Keeping them in a bag when you aren’t using them will keep them clean and protect them from sunlight.
A Word from Climbingreviewed
The variety of styles and materials that are available to hikers and climbers will make it easy to find a good fit. Each option on our list has its features that make them ideal for specific situations. Our favorites are the Five Ten Men's Guide Tennie Approach Shoes, and the Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse. They are the best approach footwear out there for men and women today.
Always consider the points in this buyer’s guide before you settle on a brand or design. Make sure you are getting good value for your money without compromising on the longevity of the shoes. Finally, remember to budget well that won’t be too heavy on your pocket.
1. What’re the differences between hiking boots and approach shoes?
Ans. The main difference between these shoes and hiking boots is the rubber sole that you find on approach shoes. This is specifically designed to help you grip rock as you make your way up to the beginning of the climbing spot.
2. What’s the best way to approach shoes to fit?
Ans. You need to be able to wiggle your toes, but not move forward in the shoe at the same time. The best socks to pair with these shoes are mid-weight socks that are not too thick. Remember, they need to be comfortable as well as practical.
3. Can you go hiking with approach shoes?
Ans. Although these shoes are not designed for lasting long if they are used in hiking situations, you can use them for hiking. Approach shoes are especially helpful if you plan on hiking in rockier areas.
4. How long will you be able to use approach shoes?
Ans. The general estimate puts the life of these shoes at more or less 6 months. This time is dependent on how often you use them and also on how well you maintain them. If you take care of your shoes, they can last much longer than 6 months.
5. Can you use hiking boots instead of approach shoes?
Ans. It depends on the approach that you will be hiking to get to the start of the climb. If there is a higher chance that you will need to climb over a few boulders and rocks, approach shoes are the better option. In cases with normal trails, hiking boots will suffice.
6. Are hiking shoes or hiking boots better?
Ans. The better option is hiking shoes because of their flexibility and soft feel. They are more comfortable and do not need to be broken in, making it less tedious to hike in them. Most shoes are ideal for dry weather, but some people believe they are good for wet conditions as well.
7. Can you wash your approach shoes with a washing machine?
Ans. You can wash them in the machine if you remove the laces and soles and use cold water. Your regular laundry detergent will work fine for these shoes and add a towel to prevent them from damaging the machine as they spin.