Best Approach Shoes Reviews 2023

Getting from the car to the crag can do damage to your feet if you don’t have the right foot gear. You will want to keep your balance in precarious situations and be safe in tricky terrain. That’s why many of the top designers in outdoor gear developed the high-performance approach shoe, to keep you comfortable in technical terrain. Check out some of the best approach shoe brands on the market right now and, of course, 5 great options to get you started.
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Our Top Choice
Arc’teryx Women’s Acrux GTX Approach Shoes
Founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1989, Arc’teryx has the knowledge of tough Canadian terrain woven into every fiber of its products.
Comes with a wearable liner that wicks away moisture on the interior. Great flexible shoe with shock absorption.
This pair is only designed for women, but the brand offers plenty more for the men.
Separate inner liner
4 color options
5.5-11 US
Best Value
Five Ten Men’s Leather Tennie Approach Shoe
With over 30 years’ experience, Five Ten combines the comfort of a tennis shoe with the durability of a hiking boot to give you the best shoes.
Stealth C4 Dotty rubber sole, reducing the slip factor. Leather is comfortable and breathable.
Not waterproof.
Pull tab for easy on/off
8 color options
4-14 US
Scarpa Tech Ascent GTX
Digging their roots in deep since 1938, Scarpa is still a family-run business to this day with headquarters in Italy.
Enhanced toe protection. Rubber sole provides good traction.
Limited sizes and styles.
Toe protection and mud traction
9-11.5 US
Salewa Men's Wildfire S GTX Technical Approach Shoe
Developing everything from ski poles to backpacks for trekking through the Andes, Salewa has been designing outdoor gear since the 1930s.
Even without socks on, you won’t get blisters. Variable lacing for a snug fit. Outer 3D cage improves foot balance.
Not ideal for sandy conditions.
Vibram sole
3D outer cage
4 color options
7-13 US
Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach Shoe
Based in the US since 2003, Evolv has the world-class climber in mind when designing high-friction, high-performance foot gear.
Cotton and canvas design. Wicks away moisture. Memory foam provides orthopedic comfort.
Not waterproof.
Cotton canvas
TRAX rubber
Super lightweight at 7.4 ounces
4 color options
4.5-14 US

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Watch Our Approach Shoes Review

What is the Best Approach Shoes?

The most important factor when picking an approach shoe is the type of terrain and weather you’ll be encountering. Hot, sandy climates require a lightweight shoe that is super comfortable and wicks away moisture. Rugged mountain climbs in hazardous weather conditions require an extra sturdy approach shoe with weather-proofing. The good news is, there are lots of options to choose from at Top Products. Now that you have read our guide, let’s get straight to our picks.
Our Top Choice
For durability and versatility on technical approaches, you’ll want a shoe that can match your stamina. This Arc’teryx Acrux GTX checks all the boxes with breathability and weather protection. Choose from 4 colors in this women’s approach shoe. For men, check out the feather-light yet durable Arakys Approach Shoe by Arc’teryx with great agility and traction.

Arc’teryx Women’s Acrux GTX Approach Shoes with Weather Protection - Available in 4 colors and Multiple Sizes

Harking back to one of the earliest known birds on record, the name Arc’teryx is derived from the ancient bird known as Archaeopteryx lithographica. A transitional bird from the Jurassic period, this species bridged the gap from dinosaur to bird. It is an appropriate title for this high-performance shoe, as the Arc’teryx approach shoes bridge the gap from relaxed trekking to harrowing and ragged cliff climbs that require great dexterity.

Here we have highlighted as one of our faves, the Women’s Acrux GTX, as it has all-weather persistence and the crux of the climb in mind when it comes to tough approaches. Great traction and stability make this shoe a winner in our books, along with resistance to abrasion and excellent shock absorption. You can select this approach shoe from 4 color options, including: Graphite/Orchid, Sea spray/Tide pool, Raku/Lupine, Light aquamarine/black.

Founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1989, Arc’teryx has the knowledge of tough Canadian terrain woven into every fiber of this popular shoe. Bypassing tough conditions, this approach shoe gets down to the root of the matter with a weather-proof Gore-tex liner that allows air to pass through to your feet for a comfortable ride all the way to the apex of your journey.
Best Value
Somewhere between your favorite tennis shoe and a durable hiking boot, the Five Ten Leather Tennie has a flexible outer sole and ankle-to-toe lacing for maximum support. Shock is absorbed quite nicely with the compression molded EVA midsole. If you want an aerated model with reinforced toe protection, you might also like the Five Ten Men's Access Approach Shoes.

Five Ten Leather Tennie Approach Shoe with Shock Absorption – Available in 8 Colors and Multiple Sizes

Catering to guides and stealth climbers, Five Ten is all about comfort and durability in tough environments that require great foot work. With over 30 years of experience, this company combines the comfort of a tennis shoe with a sturdy hiking boot to accelerate your climbing skills from the car to the crag.

The outer tread of this Five Ten Leather Tennie Approach shoe provides high friction with the Stealth C4 Dotty rubber sole, reducing the slip factor. Weighing in at 14 ounces, you can select this high performance approach shoe from 8 different color combinations, with sizes that cover the full spectrum.

While we are highlighting the men’s shoe model number, Five Ten designs their approach shoes in sizes suitable for women, men, children, and wee-tiny tykes. Check all the options they offer to find the perfect one for you!
This Scarpa Men’s Tech Ascent GTX Approach Shoe has an asymmetric lace system for a glove-like fit that allows you greater maneuverability. The Gore-tex lining is comfortable and can weather all conditions while still keeping your feet dry. For a greater variety in sizes and styles, check out another great approach shoe by Scarpa, the Men's Crux Approach Hiking Shoe.

Scarpa Men’s Tech Ascent GTX Approach Shoe with Enhanced Toe Protection , Shark/Tonic – Available in Multiple Sizes

Bringing together all the best shoemakers in Asolo, Scarpa began with the determination to make a superior climbing shoe that can withstand any conditions. They take great pride in the craftsmanship of their shoes, which are designed to handle gritty Alpine ascents.

Scarpa has been expanding into other global regions, thanks to the popularity of their sought-after approach shoes. Now they have a North American operation based out of Boulder, Colorado (an apropos location for their venture into the mountains of the Americas).

The sticky rubber sole can navigate muddy patches and slippery perches, yet overall it’s still a pretty flexible shoe. Plus, this approach shoe is designed with enhanced toe protection to eliminate wear-and-tear, even if you wear them on a regular basis. You will appreciate the quality leather build and rubber sole as they offer you the much-needed durability in those harsh conditions.
Go blister free even without socks on with the Salewa Men’s Wildfire S GTX approach shoe! There are lots of colors and sizes to choose from with variable lacing for a snug fit. These shoes are lightweight and well-crafted. For more ankle support and deeper treads, check out the Salewa Men's ALP Trainer Mid GTX Technical Approach Shoe.

Salewa Men's Wildfire S GTX Technical Approach Shoe with 3D Cage & Vibram Traction — Available in 4 colors and Multiple Sizes

Developing everything from ski poles to backpacks for trekking through the Andes, Salewa first came online as an outdoor gear company in the 1930s. They began focusing on footwear with crampons in the 1960s, brainstorming with the likes of climbing legend Reinhold Messner to make superior expedition gear. Salewa has worldwide offices and a terrific line of approach shoes that are crafted with a true eye for detail.

The Men’s Wildfire S GTX approach shoe is just one good example of what the brand is capable of. While the inner lining is made of breathable mesh, this tough approach shoe is designed with an external 3D cage to enhance performance and foot balance in tricky terrain. It features a Vibram traction outer sole, and has precision fit lacing for maximum support.

If you like what this pair has in store for you, you will appreciate the different styles and color variations that are on offer. That’s right; you can get it in blue, red, or black, as well as in multiple sizes.
These Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach shoes are wearable and lightweight, allowing you to walk for long distances without much hassle. If you prefer to go lace-free, check out the Evolv Cruzer Slip-on Approach Shoe.

Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach Shoe , Ultra Lightweight Cotton and Canvas Upper with TRAX Rubber Sole – Available in 4 Colors and Multiple Sizes

Based in the US since 2003, Evolv has the world-class climber in mind when designing high-friction, high-performance foot gear. Its shoes are wearable, lightweight, and endorsed by climbers at the top of their game, such as Chris Sharma and Steph Davis.

One of the best features of this Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach shoe is the price tag. While still not cheap, it is more affordable than many of the other approach shoes out there. The upper is made of cotton canvas and the inner sole features microporous EVA material that is moisture-wicking. This approach shoe employs memory foam for a super-comfy fit, and is very lightweight at only 7.4 ounces.

You can easily run and scramble your way to the top with the TRAX rubber traction on this Evolv Cruzer Psyche approach shoe. It comes in 4 different color options with shoe sizes 4.5-14 US.

How Do I Choose the Best Approach Shoes?

Nothing beats comfortable shoes, especially when you are going on a long hike in terrain that can be hazardous and full of surprises. You’ll want to be prepared for all that Mother Nature has in store for you on your next adventure in the great outdoors. That’s where approach shoes come in.

Designed to get you safely to your destination, these are great all-around shoes for rough terrain, such as the kind you encounter when you’re traveling from the valleys to the peaks in unmarked territory.

Let’s say you’ve come prepared with a comfortable climbing harness, a well-made climbing rope, and a snug pair of climbing shoes; now all you have to do is select some sturdy approach shoes and your adventure will be complete. So let’s get into the nitty gritty of what makes a great approach shoe before you buy a pair.
The technology that goes into modern-day footwear can be quite impressive. While there will always be simple, inexpensive options, you don’t want to buy a pair of cheap approach shoes, because you get what you pay for.

With that being said, there are some brands that make somewhat inexpensive approach shoes that fall around the $50 or $60 price mark. These approach shoes are actually pretty nice and will get you to your destination in relative comfort. If, however, you need advanced features such as weather-proofing, attention to detail on the design of the inner lining, and extra sturdy treads that can navigate slippery slopes, you are going to have to shell out a few more bucks.

For a little extra shoe technology, you can expect to spend around $100-$150 for a good approach shoe that will last. Some of the most popular brands cost as much as $200-$250 a pop. Every approach shoe is different, so be sure to check out the finer details of the shoe design before making your purchase.
Comfort is king when you are spending hours hiking through the wilderness. Therefore, you’ll want to take in the details of design before picking the right pair of approach shoes for your next great expedition.

Here are some of the most important details to look for:
  • Outer construction and materials
  • Inner lining technology
  • Depth and traction of the treads
  • Waterproofing
  • Flexibility
  • Lacing
  • Ankle support
  • Arch support
  • Size & style options
Now let’s get into the details of great construction and design in a reliable pair of approach shoes.
Construction and Design
There are so many new materials that are incorporated into footwear nowadays. A lot of these new materials have excellent qualities. One of the most common is the memory foam, a synthetic material that will mold to your foot shape, allowing for a more customized fit. Microfiber is another synthetic material incorporated into many approach shoes. Most microfibers are soft to the touch and lightweight, plus they tend to be strong and durable.

Of course you can go natural, which is the material of choice for many purists. Cotton is comfortable, lightweight and breathable, but not too sturdy. Leather has always been an excellent choice for shoes, as it naturally breaks in over time, is tough, and allows your feet to breathe.

If wind, ice and rain are a probability, then Gore-tex is a great advancement in modern material that will give you a durable approach shoe. Gore-tex is a high-performance textile that has a laminate outer coating which keeps all the elements out. It will keep your feet incredibly dry.

You will also need to decide if you want the comfort and versatility of a low profile approach shoe, or one that is styled like a hiking boot for greater ankle support. Other support features may include a removable inner liner, enhanced arch support and a reinforced toe.

One last thing—if you’re often in wet and muddy terrain, definitely get an approach shoe with extra thick treads to keep you vertical when the going gets tough.
Performance and Ease of Use
When it comes to performance in an approach shoe, it really depends on what sort of climbing and trekking you plan to do. If you are usually close to your ride, and just need a comfortable shoe for walking and scrambling, a tennis-style approach shoe might be a good choice.

For those who are going on big expeditions through unknown territory, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the worst. Shelling out a few extra bucks for Gore-tex or enhanced design features will be well worth it when you’re deep in the woods or mountains.

If you have to trek for miles and change into other technical shoe gear as the terrain changes, then select a lightweight approach shoe with a low profile, so it won’t add a lot of weight, or take up too much space in your backpack.

For extremely hot weather or those who are prone to athlete’s foot, select a design with aeration holes for improved air circulation. Finally, there are some cool styles like slip-ons that are super comfortable and make changing shoes a breeze. It all depends on what you like and where your wanderlust takes you.

Now let’s get on with the show… here are a few well-chosen approach shoes from some of the most trusted manufacturers in the business. Each style has several key features that are highlighted, and explain why they made it onto our list of Top Five Picks for Approach Shoes.

Get the Best Approach Shoes of 2023!

Whether your ideal approach shoe is cotton, leather, or Gore-tex, we have something for everyone in our pick of the Top Five Approach Shoes from trusted manufacturers. One of these is sure to suit your needs, and get you to the summit in comfort and style!

Our Top Choice
Arc’teryx Women’s Acrux GTX Approach Shoes
Best Value
Five Ten Men’s Leather Tennie Approach Shoe
Scarpa Tech Ascent GTX
Salewa Men's Wildfire S GTX Technical Approach Shoe
Evolv Cruzer Psyche Approach Shoe