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Approach shoes

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What are approach shoes?

Approach shoes are lightweight, supportive shoes designed for trail-to-crag comfort and stability. They’re ideal for tackling treks through dirt and gravel trails, rocky scrambles and slabs, or even moderate climbs.

What’s so special about climbing approach shoes? Hiking boots and hiking shoes may be hardier and more protective, but they come with a heft that you probably don’t want to be lugging up to the crag and back. And the harder, more durable rubber compounds that make up the soles of hiking shoes are prone to slippage on steep faces of rock. Climbing shoes on the other hand, while certainly lighter and grippier, are more restrictive and would likely tire your feet out if you tried to take them on the trail. (Which, to be clear, you should definitely avoid. The rubber would give out eventually if your feet didn’t first. Use your climbing shoes only for climbing).

This is where approach shoes come in. They’re typically made with sticky rubber soles (much like that of a climbing shoe) to keep a solid grip on rugged terrain, but their light-yet-rigid construction allows you to traverse technical routes with ease. They even have pull-on loops on the heel tabs for convenient carabiner clipping.

Now that you’re equipped with some approach shoe know-how, check out some options from popular brands like La Sportiva and Scarpa.