No surprise that climbing-shoe specialist Five Ten produced a hiker that excels at scrambling and smearing. But testers were shocked by the Insight’s grip in wet, icy conditions, too. “I hiked 10,000 feet down and back on the snowy South Kaibab Trail,” says a ranger who didn’t even pull out his trekking poles. The unmatched traction comes from a sole that blends Five Ten’s Stealth rubber (known for stickiness, but not durability) with a harder rubber that stands up to serious miles.
The tread pattern amplifies traction; a smattering of dots optimizes friction, a smooth strip on the toe aids edging, and a sticky rubber toe guard helps nail footholds. “It was ideal for scrambling up a 50-foot wall on the Escalante Route,” says one tester. A slight rocker (a curve of the sole) promotes easy toe-off and comfortable striding. Eyelets at the instep let testers lock into the heel cup to prevent toe bang on descents (see right). An EVA midsole absorbs shock, and a thin PU layer protects against rocks. Best for: Carrying sub-35-pound loads and narrow, low-volume feet.