Best for above the bushline
At a glance
Plusses: Grip, comfort features, built-to-last construction.
Minuses: Narrow fit, heavy.
916g (m), 738g (w)
Features: A full rubber rand protects the suede leather uppers while Salewa’s 3F heel hold system cradles and supports the foot. The firm Vibram outsole provides a sharp-edged grip on rock, steep slopes and even via Ferrata routes with a special instep lug. It uses fabric lacing hardware with one pair of metal eyelets at the top and lacing-to-the-toe allows for a customised fit. A Gore-Tex lining provides waterproofing and a debris-blocking stretch gaiter covers the tongue. A PU midsole promises long-lasting support.
Fit: The size UK8.5 (US9.5) provided a good fit along the length of the shoe, but I found them too narrow for my broad feet. The foot opening is constrained by the gaiter and only opens so wide, offering little flexibility to wriggle my foot inside. For narrow footed users, it’ll work well.
Comfort: The shoe has several comfort features: an Ortholite footbed, padded tongue and ankle and the customisable lacing which helps reduce pressure points from the ankle to the toes.
In use: These look and feel indestructible. There is very little torsional twist which allows the wearer to edge their way along steep slopes or scrambles and the forefoot flex is moderate, allowing toe-only footholds on rock. The firm, sharp-edged sole offered uncompromising grip on walks at Castle Hill and Arthur’s Pass.
Though the fit was tight for my broad feet, the shoe was still comfortable to wear and, with the 3F system pulling the shoe in tight from heel to toe, it felt more like a glove than a shoe.
The rubber rand took the brunt of my rock-hopping hikes, leaving the uppers relatively unscathed.
The gaiter covering the tongue effectively kept debris out of the shoe.
Value: An expensive shoe offset by its solid construction and technical attributes that suggest it will go the distance in rough environments.
Verdict: A purpose-built alpine approach shoe suitable for all types of rocky surfaces – from granite to loose scree scrambles. Choose this if your trips take you into the high country.