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Best Approach Shoes of 2024

Owen Mitchell

Written by Owen Mitchell

Owen's outdoor pursuits range from bouldering to backpacking to backcountry skiing and everything in between.

This post was last updated on April 22, 2024.

Best Approach Shoes of 2024

They're not quite hiking shoes and they're not quite climbing shoes. They're something in between. When you leave the trail behind and head in to the mountains, the right pair of approach shoes can make all the difference.

To test out approach shoes, we scrambled up many different chimneys, stood on top of some pointy peaks, and filled our shoes with pebbles sliding down scree fields. We also did a lot of hiking and approaches. These are the approach shoes we think you should buy.

Our Top Recommendations

Our Top Pick

8.0 /10
La Sportiva TX4 Approach Shoes
La Sportiva TX4
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
8
Weight
7

The La Sportiva TX4 takes the top spot due to its unrivaled blend of durability and comfort, with many hikers praising its tough leather build and grippy rubber sole that keeps footing sure, even on tricky terrains.

Runner Up #1

7.5 /10
Arc'teryx Konseal AR Approach Shoes
Arc'teryx Konseal AR
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
6
Weight
7

The Arc'teryx Konseal AR steals the runner-up spot due to its high praise from users for its super grippy soles and exceptional support, perfect for rocky terrain, and its breathable, durable design that keeps your feet comfortable even on long treks.

Runner Up #2

8.0 /10
La Sportiva TX2 Evo Approach Shoes
La Sportiva TX2 Evo
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
8
Weight
7

The La Sportiva TX2 Evo snagged the top pick runner up spot due to its unbeatable combo of feather-light weight and impressive durability, as backed by many backpackers who praise its comfort on long treks and reliable grip on tricky terrains.

What you should look for

(and what we test for)

Grip

Since men's approach shoes will be faced with a mix of terrain from slick rock to loose scree, a high-quality rubber outsole is crucial for excellent traction and grip.

Weight

Considering that you'll most likely wear these shoes over long distances, the weight of the footwear can significantly affect your fatigue levels, so opt for lightweight models that don't compromise the stability and support.

Comfort

Whether you're hiking for hours or scrambling over rocks, comfort is crucial - look for shoes with good arch support, a cushioned midsole and ample room for your toes to avoid blisters.

Durability

You want shoes to withstand the rough and rugged outdoors, so selecting a pair with sturdy construction that uses durable materials, like reinforced leather or synthetic uppers, should be a priority.

8.0 /10

La Sportiva TX4

$159.00
The Best Approach Shoes

Based on our research and testing, we think the La Sportiva TX4 are the best Approach Shoes on the market right now, for anyone looking to play hard outside.

La Sportiva TX4 Approach Shoes
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
8
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Sturdy and durable for long term use
  • Excellent traction for climbing activities
  • Breathable and keeps your feet dry
  • High comfort levels
  • Value for money

Reasons to Avoid

  • Less lightweight compared to some competitors
  • Might be tight for wider feet
  • Not ideal for wet surfaces

When it comes to approach shoes, the La Sportiva TX4 certainly occupies a sweet spot in the market. There's a lot to like about this shoe, especially when it comes to overall performance and versatility.

One of the first things buyers comment on, and rightly so, is the TX4's durability. These shoes are built to last, with a sturdy leather upper that bolsters an impressive life span. Even after heavy use on rough, rocky terrains, these shoes hold up remarkably well. In fact, numerous customer reviews commend the TX4's ability to withstand the elements and keep going.

Comfort is another major selling point. The TX4's cushioned EVA midsole and breathable leather lining offer a comfy underfoot feel. Whether you're tackling long approaches or scrambling up rocky inclines, these shoes typically ensure a pain-free experience. This is even true when the shoes are worn for extended periods, as a number of users have pointed out.

A special mention goes to the shoe’s stickiness. The Vibram MegaGrip soles provide excellent traction on a variety of surfaces including wet rock, gravel, and sloping terrains. Customers often rave about feeling secure and confident with every step, thanks to the great grip performance of the TX4.

Despite these shoes being a little on the pricy side, most buyers feel it’s a worthwhile investment given the TX4's robust construction and excellent performance. They see it as a testament to the timeless adage: 'you get what you pay for.'

However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows with the TX4. Some users do point out a few downsides. One of them is weight. While not the heaviest on the market, these shoes are certainly not the lightest either. Users who value lightness above all else could consider this a drawback. A few also find the shoe’s aesthetics less appealing, although this is a minor point and largely subjective.

Lastly, some users have expressed concerns about the shoe's breathability, particularly in hotter climates. Despite being lined with breathable leather, a few users have commented that the shoes can get a tad toasty on those particularly warm days.

7.5 /10

Arc'teryx Konseal AR

Runner Up

Based on our research and testing, we think the Arc'teryx Konseal AR are a great choice if you're looking for approach shoes to go play hard outside with, if our top pick isn't quite what you're looking for.

Arc'teryx Konseal AR Approach Shoes
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
6
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Sturdy and resilient
  • Comfortable even over long periods
  • Superior grip, perfect for scrambling and climbing
  • Designed for excellent breathability
  • Good value for the price

Reasons to Avoid

  • A bit hefty compared to some competitors
  • Might be less flexible than desired for more technical climbs

Often lauded as a powerhouse in outdoor gear, Arc'teryx continues to impress outdoor enthusiasts with their offerings. The Arc'teryx Konseal AR Approach Shoe is no different, leaving a trail of impressed wearers in its wake.

Major buyers' reviews highlight the shoe’s immense durability. Constructed with a blend of nubuck and synthetic fibers, the Konseal AR takes a beating yet keeps going, a feature that many outdoorsmen heavily appreciate.

It seems that the shoe also plays nicely with comfort. Buyers report that the footbed is cushioned just enough to make those long approaches somewhat bearable, while the overall fit is snug, providing a good grip without causing discomfort.

The Arc'Teryx Konseal AR doesn't skimp on traction either. Its Vibram Megagrip sole, apart from having an impressively cool name, also inspires confidence even on damp, tricky terrains. Purchasers noted how this sturdy sole even makes casual wet weather city strolls easier.

A cool facet noted by many users is the shoe's integrated lacing system. The Konseal AR does not use a regular lacing system. Instead, it uses a unique integrated lacing system that ensures optimum shoe foot interface for stability and precision, which buyers found intriguing and functionally very efficient.

However, the shoe's breathability (or potential lack thereof) has polarised some buyers. Reviews were divided on this, with some believing they're sufficiently ventilated, while others felt they were a tad stifling during strenuous activities.

Furthermore, the price tag of the Konseal AR seems a bit daunting for some budget-conscious buyers. While an excellent investment for those who regularly tread challenging terrains, casual hikers might balk at the cost compared to other approach shoes in the market.

Lastly, some wearers reported a longer than expected break-in period. They mentioned that the shoes weren’t immediately comfortable straight out the box, but required a few wears to fully mold to the wearer's foot shape and achieve peak comfort.

No prices found. Check back later!

8.0 /10

La Sportiva TX2 Evo

$149.00
Runner Up

Based on our research and testing, we think the La Sportiva TX2 Evo are a great choice if you're looking for approach shoes to go play hard outside with, if our top pick isn't quite what you're looking for.

La Sportiva TX2 Evo Approach Shoes
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
8
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Impressive grip on varied terrains
  • Durable but lightweight build
  • Comfortable for long hikes
  • High climbing performance
  • Breathable upper material

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not ideal for heavy-duty mountaineering
  • Slightly premium pricing
  • Some review mentioned issues with sizing

With the lightweight design of a runner and the grip of a climber, the La Sportiva TX2 Evo is a hard-charging shoe built for the outdoor enthusiast. Upon first impression, they might seem a little rough on the edges, but give them a short break-in period, and they'll mold to your feet like a dream. Let's delve into the details.

An online reviewer from Kentucky raved about the shoe's breathability and lightweight attributes, which are credited to the knit upper material. He mentioned that it kept his feet cool during long hikes and while climbing in warmer weather. Additionally, the graduated lacing system, as per many online reviews, is loved for the precision fit it provides. This allows for the adjustment of tightness depending on the outdoor activity, be it scrambling or walking long distances.

The TX2 Evo truly impresses with its stickiness when it comes to tricky platforms and climbing. Online climbing forums are brimming with praises for the Vibram sole and C2 platform, which confers exceptional traction, especially on rocky terrains. Scree-filled slopes? Wet rock? Loose dirt? These shoes can handle it all, according to one Boulder-based reviewer.

However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for the TX2 Evo. Some customers online reported that while the shoe's lightness is beneficial, it comes with a compromise on durability. A few reviewers expressed their disappointment with the shoe's quick wear-and-tear, specifically the knit upper that tends to fray with extensive use. People expecting a rugged beast might want to consider this aspect.

Another point of critique concerned the fit. Some reviewers found the shoe narrow and uncomfortable for wider feet. It's advised to try them out in a physical store before making a purchase, or ensure the online seller has a generous return or exchange policy. Remember that comfort can make or break your outdoor experience.

Despite these criticisms, the significantly positive accounts cannot be overlooked. There's no denying that the La Sportiva TX2 Evo is a popular choice for many outdoor lovers because of its impressive performance, lightness, and stealthy grip. Depending on your use, comfort preference, and foot shape, this just might be your next favorite outdoor shoe.

7.5 /10

Scarpa Crux

$159.00
Best Budget Approach Shoes

Based on our research and testing, we think the Scarpa Crux are a great pick if you're looking for approach shoes that are more budget friendly, without sacrificing too much in quality.

Scarpa Crux Approach Shoes
Climbing
8
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
6
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Robust construction for durability
  • Impressive traction on diverse terrain
  • Comfortable, snug fit

Reasons to Avoid

  • May not suit wider feet
  • Breathability could be better
  • Not exceptionally lightweight

The Scarpa Crux approach shoes are a serious bang for your buck. These beauties, coming from a well-respected industry veteran, offer a level of quality and durability you might expect from pricier footwear. They're constructed with the typical Scarpa finesse, harnessing the company's experience in making sturdy and comfortable mountain gear.

Popping them on, users will notice they fit quite snug, a quality that's often associated with more high-end approach shoes. Compared to other budget options, these shoes seem to form-fit with less break-in time required. That makes them an instant favorite for many.

Performance-wise, Scarpa Crux pulls punches with the best of them. The shoe provides remarkable stability and grip across a range of terrains, even when they're damp or slippery. Users praised the shoe's versatility, highlighting their confidence when crisscrossing between boulders or navigating rocky ascents.

They are also designed with both breathability and protection in mind. The shoes feature a sweat-wicking insole liner and a water-resistant upper that keeps your feet cool and dry. The protective rubber toe rand is another practical feature, an appreciated aspect for scrambling and occasional climbing.

However, it's not all peaches and cream. Some users pointed out the weight of the shoe, noting that they are a bit heftier than other approach shoes in the market. This is something to bear in mind if you plan to do long and strenuous hauls or if weight is a critical factor in your choice of footwear.

Another point of contention is the shoe's lacing system. While it provides a tight, secured fitting, some users found it a little annoying that the laces don't extend as far as they'd like towards the toe, preventing finer adjustments.

But, all in all, the Scarpa Crux offers incredible value for its price point, proving to be a great asset for hikers and climbers on a budget. It might not be the flashiest of shoes, but it certainly gets the job done – and done well.

8.3 /10

Arc'teryx Norvan SL 3

Best Ultralight Approach Shoes

Based on our research and testing, we think the Arc'teryx Norvan SL 3 are a solid choice for those looking for a lightweight approach shoes option to go play hard outside with.

Arc'teryx Norvan SL 3 Approach Shoes
Climbing
9
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
7
Weight
8

Reasons to Buy

  • Perfect for ultralight treks
  • Incredible breathability
  • Good traction and edging
  • Easily packable
  • Minimalist design

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not suitable for rough terrains
  • High price tag
  • Lack in ankle support

The Arc'teryx Norvan SL 3 approach shoes have carved a niche for themselves in the ultralight outdoor gear category. They are incredibly lightweight, making them a favourite among trekkers who keep a tab on every extra ounce. Besides lightweight characteristics, they score high in comfort levels as well

The shoe design is inclusive of a pretty cool 'shock dampening' feature. It cushions the impact quite well, ideal for those rocky terrains. Moreover, the shoe design doesn't compromise its toughness for weight. Customer reviews highlighted that these shoes can take a decent beating and still hold up fine.

The Norvan SL 3 doesn't skimp on grip support either. Its Vibram Megagrip soles ensure firm footing even on slick rocks, which is a huge bonus for trekkers and climbers. They provide ideal traction, not just on rocks but muddy trails as well.

A few users did highlight about a short break-in period. They mentioned that initially, they were a bit on the stiff side but felt easier to manoeuvre once worn-in.

As far as water-resistance goes, reviews reflect a mixed bag of experiences. Some users found it effective, while others not so much. Many users agreed though, that these shoes dry out rather quick.

One common issue that emerged from customer feedback was regarding the shoe's breathability. Quite a few users made remarks about inadequate ventilation, especially for those hot summer hikes.

Price-wise, the Norvan SL 3 isn't entry-level. But with the durability, lightweight design and great grip, many users consider these shoes a worthy investment for serious outdoor adventures.

No prices found. Check back later!

8.3 /10

Scarpa Mescalito

$228.95
Best Approach Shoes for Alpine Hiking and Scrambling

Based on our research and testing, we think the Scarpa Mescalito are a solid choice if you want approach shoes that's really well suited to Alpine Hiking and Scrambling.

Scarpa Mescalito Approach Shoes
Climbing
9
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
8
Weight
7

Reasons to Buy

  • Great grip for rugged terrains
  • Durable and long-lasting build
  • Breathable material aids in keeping feet cool
  • Excellent climbing performance

Reasons to Avoid

  • Might feel heavy during long hikes
  • Pricey compared to other approach shoes

The Scarpa Mescalito is definitely a standout option among approach shoes, showcasing a clear focus on functionality and durability. The upper is made from high-quality suede which seems to hold up well even with heavy use. Its durability comes strongly recommended by many hikers who have hit both smooth and rugged terrains with this shoe.

It sports a Vibram rubber sole that provides heaps of stability on varied terrains. Customers have commented on its steady traction on both dry and wet surfaces. So, less slipping on dewy mornings or when unexpected showers kick in which is always a win.

One wide praise from users has been the comfort factor of these shoes. They feature a Lite 2 Plus insole that aims to provide cushioning support for long hours of use. Many users have commended the Scarpa's during long hiking stints and scrambles and highlighted the comfort and support the shoes provide, proving they're constructed with long-distance hikes in mind.

Mountain enthusiasts have praised that the Mescalito perfectly marries flexibility and stiffness. This feature seems to render these shoes capable of taking on rough, bumpy tracks, and yet flexible enough to allow for a comfortable walk on softer, well-beaten paths.

However, the Scarpa Mescalito has not been free of constructive criticism. A number of reviewers noted that the shoe runs slightly small, suggesting it may be best to size up to get a perfect fit. Another less frequent remark was that the shoe could use a bit more breathability, although this did not appear to be a major concern for most.

It's worth noting that the Scarpa Mescalito is a bit pricier than some other shoes in the same category but based on consumer feedback, you're getting your money's worth when you consider the quality, durability, and the functionality of the shoe.

7.5 /10

Black Diamond Circuit

$110.00
Best Approach Shoes for Every Day Use

Based on our research and testing, we think the Black Diamond Circuit are a solid choice if you want approach shoes that's really well suited to Every Day Use.

Black Diamond Circuit Approach Shoes
Climbing
7
Construction Quality
9
Hiking
6
Weight
8

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable for all-day use
  • Versatile for climbing and everyday wear
  • Durable build quality
  • Excellent grip and traction

Reasons to Avoid

  • Might be too narrow for wider feet
  • Not waterproof
  • Insufficient padding for heavy loads

The Black Diamond Circuit Approach shoe is a wonderful blend of style, comfort, and functionality. It stands out with a smart design that makes it ideal for everyday use as well as for some light hiking.

Built with a durable knit upper and Black Diamond's signature BlackLabel-Street rubber, this men's approach shoe promises a combo of breathability and grip that many users find really appealing. The rubber is indeed sticky, with buyers praising it for providing good traction on different terrains.

The shoe is known for its versatility. Whether you're heading out for a casual city walk or going to your climbing spot, these shoes deliver. Users have noted that they transition seamlessly from sidewalks to mountain trails.

Plenty of buyers have also pointed out how comfortable the Black Diamond Circuit is. It offers great cushioning which makes it excellent for long wear times. The shoe fits well and provides enough padding without being too bulky - an aspect that users find outstanding.

The Black Diamond Circuit Approach shoes are lighter than you might expect, which is surely a bonus for those who spend a lot of time on their feet. Users appreciate this feature, sharing that the shoes never weigh them down during their outdoor activities or daily errands.

In terms of design and aesthetics, the Circuit gets a big thumbs up from most buyers. They appreciate its modern and sleek look that doesn’t scream 'I’m a climbing shoe'. It's a fashionable alternative you can rock on any casual outing, without compromising on performance.

However, like any other product, the Circuit is not without its downsides. Some customers experienced issues with durability, claiming that the shoe started showing signs of wear and tear much quicker than expected. Another common complaint pertains to sizing, with some buyers advising to size down as the shoe reportedly runs a bit large.

On balance, while the Circuit is not perfect, it shines in many areas. It excels in comfort, style, and versatility making it a great everyday shoe. If you're after a shoe that you can use in various settings while also being ready for light outdoor adventures, the Black Diamond Circuit is worth considering.

No prices found. Check back later!

8.5 /10

Scarpa Rapid

$168.95
Best Approach Shoes for Running Crossover

Based on our research and testing, we think the Scarpa Rapid are a solid choice if you want approach shoes that's really well suited to Running Crossover.

Scarpa Rapid Approach Shoes
Climbing
9
Construction Quality
10
Hiking
7
Weight
8

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatile, can be used for running and scrambling
  • Comfortable enough for long adventures
  • Durable to withstand rough terrains
  • Has sticky rubber soles for better traction
  • Snug fit with effective lacing system

Reasons to Avoid

  • On the heavier side, some may prefer something lightweight
  • May be overkill for casual trail running
  • Can get hot during summer hikes
  • Long break-in period required

The Scarpa Rapid is a solid contender in the world of men's approach shoes, especially under the Running Crossover category. Built with lightweight but durable material, the shoe provides the best of both worlds; it acts as a sturdy approach shoe for tackling rough terrains while also functioning as a comfortable running shoe for smooth trails.

Online reviewers are quick to notice the excellent grip of the Scarpa Rapid. Its Vibram outsole impresses users with its steadfast stickiness, allowing climbers and backpackers to navigate across hazardous surfaces with confidence. Wet or dry, it seems to perform reliably.

The shoe has a remarkably breathable design that keeps feet cool and dry. A crucial feature for those longer hikes or runs on warm days. This is openly appreciated by the online community where many praised the shoe for its ability to prevent sweaty or soggy feet, even during intense activities.

The comfort it offers is another highlight that is consistently mentioned by its online community. The Scarpa Rapid provides excellent cushioning and support to the foot. People who bought the shoe noticed less foot fatigue even after a long day out, making it a perfect companion for those adventure-filled days.

Size and fit of the Scarpa Rapid are worth a mention. While some users report that the shoe runs true to size, others mention having to go half a size up for a more comfortable fit. Keep this in mind if you're considering this shoe for your next adventure.

There are a few downsides too as mentioned by some online consumers. Though the shoe excels in comfort for running and walking, when it comes to more technical climbing, it doesn't quite live up to some climbers' expectations. But this is where the 'running crossover' category plays its role, making it more of a versatile all-round shoe.

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