“These low-cuts handled a huge mixed bag of conditions during a two-week climbing trip in the Cascades,” says one tester. “The trip involved numerous off-trail approaches on rocky, steep terrain, including wet rocks, mud, roots, boulders, and slick logs. Through it all, they excelled in comfort, traction, support, durability, and breathability.”
A Vibram outsole dotted with suction cup-like nubs offered plenty of friction when she scrambled up rock slabs, but also gripped slick rocks during sketchy river crossings: “I was hopping across wet boulders as surefooted as a goat,” says our tester. And unlike some other sticky soles, this tread showed no wear after months of use (Salewa mixes a durable rubber compound in with the sticky stuff). The generous rubber rand and a stiff, tapered toebox allowed testers to feel secure when bouldering class 2 and 3 slickrock cliff faces in central Arizona.
The midsole, comprised of EVA foam for cushion and a TPU shank for support, “is comparable to that of a midweight backpacking boot,” notes another tester who comfortably hiked through Arizona’s Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness while carrying a 35-pound pack. Testers also appreciated the ability to dial in fit with to-the-toe laces.
A stiff heel cup attaches to an exoskeleton*: It snugs around the back of the heel and provides lateral stability across the instep. The nylon mesh upper in this non-waterproof version (also available in a Gore-Tex model, $149, pictured) was plenty breathable in 80°F temps in eastern Washington and held up to abrasion. $109; 1 lb. 14 oz.; m’s 7-13, w’s 6-11; salewa.us
*EXOSKELETON Made of stiff, molded plastic, this supportive web wraps a shoe like a protective cage, lending stability and durability (and often aiding fit).Combine the comfort and support of hiking boots with the tech features of approach footwear, such as lightness, rugged sticky Vibram soles, climbing lacing, full kevlar protected rands and elastic collar construction, and you get a new unique hiking footwear line which we call hike approach.