I’ve been wearing these approach shoes for three months. Usage has included extended bouts of bush-bashing in soaking wet Fiordland jungle; long approaches to single-day rock climbs in the Darrans; multi-day tramping trips on reasonably well-formed tracks, one short transalpine trip involving glacier travel; and general use like going to the crag or the supermarket.
The first thing you’ll notice when fitting these shoes is the ‘multi-fit footbed’. This is a thin rubber innersole that can be used in addition to the regular innersole. I appreciate this feature as I have found the shoes fit me better without the extra liner. Perhaps I have high ankle bones though, because two of my regular climbing partners who also use these shoes have complained that even with the two liners in use, their ankle bones rub painfully on the top edge of the shoe—something to watch out for when fitting.
These shoes are stiffer than the approach shoes I have regularly used in the past (Five Ten Camp Fours). I found it took me some time to get used to the torsional stiffness. The platform of the sole feels very small, by that I mean there is not much difference between the plan shape area of the shoe’s sole relative to your foot’s sole. The best way I can describe this is that the shoes feel quite ‘tippy’, so the whole shoe will roll on uneven ground, whereas a softer soled shoe will conform more to undulations and therefore provide more stability.
Of course, most design elements like this have a trade off. In this case it’s that for steeper scrambling these shoes are excellent, I felt comfortable doing some easy but real rock climbing in them. They also performed especially well traversing nasty hard gravelly scree slopes. And I felt confident walking on short sections of snow and attaching crampons to them for moderate summer glacier travel.
I have a pair with a Goretex layer, and I’ve been amazed at how well this works. I’ve never bothered with a waterproof low cut shoe before, figuring water will come over the top too easily. Often I begin a long climbing day walking through dewy grass and with ‘speed’ gaiters and Goretex shoes, my feet actually now stay dry and comfortable. After a full day of crag hunting in the rain in Fiordland bush I was soaked everywhere except my feet because of these shoes. I could hardly believe it when I pulled off dry socks at the end of that mission. I now wear them every morning to walk across the lawn to the letterbox and keep my feet dry. These shoes seem to be very durable. I know a few people who have had theirs for years and have commented favourably on how long they last compared to other approach shoes.
A straw poll of outdoor footwear in use in the streets of Queenstown suggests these are very popular shoes. They’re probably the most commonly worn approach shoe in New Zealand now, and for good reason. I suggest extra caution when fitting and testing these shoes, particularly in the ankle bone and Achilles area. But if, as they say, the shoe fits … well, you should be on to a winner with these kicks. - Review by Kester Brown