The 10 Best Approach Shoes

Updated April 16, 2018 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Approach Shoes
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. A must-have for rock climbing, river traversing, and tackling mountains, these approach shoes are specifically designed to offer high levels of traction, comfort, and breathability for outdoors enthusiasts. Available in a variety of designs to suit any taste and at prices to meet myriad budgets, they are also a good choice for walking, hiking, or simply strolling around town. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best approach shoe on Amazon.

10. Evolv Women’s Cruzer

If you want a pair that is as suitable for the grocery store as it is on the trails, then the Evolv Women’s Cruzer are a good bet. They manage to look stylish while still offering all the benefits you need from a rugged option.
  • collapsible heel for slip-on use
  • comfortable to wear without socks
  • soles may scuff floors
Brand Evolv
Model Cruzer Purple-W
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Adidas Outdoor AX2

Designed specifically for hiking versatility, the Adidas Outdoor AX2 provide a solid amount of traction on almost any surface. They’re lightweight, breathable, and waterproof, so you can wade through small streams and boulders along the shoreline.
  • molded sock liner for comfort
  • good choice for rafting trips
  • not the most durable option
Brand adidas outdoor
Model AX2 Breeze-M
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. La Sportiva Boulder X

La Sportiva Boulder X boast a special lacing system that allows you to get the perfect, most comfortable fit possible. The trade-off you'll have to make, though, is that the laces wear out more quickly, so expect to invest in replacements often.
  • perform well in urban settings too
  • snug and secure fit
  • a little on the heavy side
Brand La Sportiva
Model 838
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Scarpa Zen

The Scarpa Zen offer the best of both worlds, as the leather uppers are incredibly durable, even in harsh conditions, while the Vibram Spyder II midsoles give you the kind of flexibility and foundation that can only come out of a lab.
  • plenty of lateral support
  • good for multiday hikes
  • not ideal for extreme temps
Model ZEN Hiking Shoe-M
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Five Ten Guide Tennie

The Five Ten Guide Tennie blend maximum comfort with reliable grip and control, so you can tackle those precarious hikes with less fatigue. They feature a proprietary toe design that delivers precision edging power and adds to overall durability.
  • cozy compression-molded midsoles
  • lightweight for easy maneuverability
  • ankle support is not great
Brand Five Ten
Model Guide Tennie Leather-M
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Salewa Wildfire Vent

The rubber toe caps on the Salewa Wildfire Vent keep moisture out, while also offering some protection to your little piggies and limiting the chances that they'll get smashed accidentally. This makes them a smart choice for early morning hikes or climbs.
  • good for narrow feet
  • lots of arch support
  • tongue can irritate top of foot
Brand Salewa
Model 63420-955-10.5
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Adidas Terrex Scope GTX

The adiPRENE cushioning on the Adidas Terrex Scope GTX gives your heels a little pillow to walk on, adding some shock absorption to the exceptional comfort. They breathe well, so you can climb in the summer months without cooking your feet to death.
  • brace ankles well
  • excellent in water and mud
  • comfortable and wide toe box
Brand adidas
Model BB0785-10.5
Weight 7.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Salewa Firetail EVO

If your adventures often take you through high brush, the Salewa Firetail EVO are more like hiking boots than sneakers, with a tall shaft that offers some protection to your ankles. They even have a removable insole, so they're perfect if you need to use special orthotics.
  • flexible forefoot
  • dry out very quickly
  • good winter traction
Brand Salewa
Model MS Firetail EVO Mid GTX
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Scarpa Crux

The Scarpa Crux are ideal for bouldering and scrambles, plus they work fine for a variety of climbing conditions with their sticky Vibram outsoles. To give you a more secure fit without sliding around on your feet, they lace all the way to the toes.
  • comfortable for long hikes
  • strong forefoot webbing with kevlar
  • pair well with casual clothes
Model CRUX-M
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Five Ten Aescent

The padded tongue and collar on the Five Ten Aescent will keep your dogs from barking, even after a full day of climbing and walking. They're incredibly sticky, so you'll be able to maintain footing regardless of how sheer that cliff face might be.
  • excellent for biking too
  • accommodate wide feet well
  • heavy-duty stitching
Brand Five Ten
Model Aescent-M
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

What Are Approach Shoes And Who Needs Them?

There's a good chance that if outdoor adventure is your thing, you already know what approach shoes are all about. For the uninitiated, approach shoes are basically footwear that combine the best features of sneakers and boots.

One of the coolest things about approach shoes is their versatility. Boots are advantageous in rough terrain, but they can be cumbersome and difficult to maneuver. They can also get pretty stuffy when it's hot out. Trainers, on the other hand, are perfect for walking on level ground, but can wear out quickly when conditions are rough. This conundrum is what precipitated the invention of the approach shoe, an option with the durability of a boot, but the comfort of a sneaker.

Approach shoes are a smart solution for those times that casual shoes and specialized boots don't quite fit the bill. Climbers should rejoice, too, as approach shoe varieties exist that incorporate some of the characteristics of climbing shoes.

Who should invest in a product like this? Hikers are a great place to start. In fact, anyone planning on trekking across uneven terrain should familiarize themselves with the approach shoe. If the areas you like to explore are somewhat rugged or rainy, you could definitely benefit from packing a pair of these hybrid kicks. When the weather gets wet, approach shoes won't become soggy and heavy; they'll keep you comfortably dry instead. Any lover of the outdoors will tell you that there are few activities as unpleasant as trudging around in a set of water-logged hiking boots.

Similarly, casual sneakers don’t provide the same degree of protection against the elements as do approach shoes. It's time to turn in those old, worn-out trainers and awkward hiking boots for a product that's truly the best of both worlds. Give this dynamic breed of footwear a shot and see if it doesn't up your adventure game.

What To Look For In A Pair Of Approach Shoes

Luckily for shoppers, there are plenty of approach shoes on the market. What you need to bear in mind in order to find the right pair is which features are most relevant to you and your interests. Be realistic about how often you'll use your new shoes and in what types of conditions.

If you intend on wearing the shoes primarily on level ground, you'll find a modest amount of cushioning to be sufficient. Those who gravitate towards more intimidating landscapes know how critical it is to wear well-cushioned shoes for shock absorption. In rockier areas, it's important to be able to move freely and to be protected should your foot accidentally land on a jagged edge.

If you can't stand wearing a shoe that shifts around on your foot, choose a model with laces that start at the toe. More lace area equals greater control over the fit.

Moisture is a two-fold issue that includes both rain and sweat. There's no need to suffer damp feet when there are approach shoes available that effectively combat moisture. Water-resistant options are out there, in addition to selections with built-in moisture-wicking fabric that absorbs sweat.

These shoes come in so many distinct styles, you're bound to find one that suits your fashion taste perfectly. Some models boast a rugged appearance, while others have a more feminine look. Beyond shape and design, approach shoes can be found in an array of colors, too. If you have concerns about safety, pick a pair with neon accents or reflective strips for maximum visibility when you're out after dark.

If The Shoe Fits...

All adults should know how to tell if their shoes fit properly or not. For those in need of a refresher course, here are a few tips to help you find the perfect fit.

You should measure both of your feet to figure out what size you should try on first. Be mindful of the fact that often one foot is slightly bigger than the other. The difference is usually insignificant, though some individuals might discover they require a shoe that’s a half-size larger for one of their feet. It should also be noted that as we age, the size of our feet can change, so it’s wise to take the time to measure your feet every now again to ensure you’re still wearing the right size.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but not all brands size their products according to the same guidelines. So, don't automatically assume that if a shoe has your size printed on it, it will fit. Always keep your measurements nearby and pay attention to user reviews to glean additional information about whether a particular designer's footwear runs small or large.

If you have growths on your feet, like bone spurs or bunions, order a size that’s large enough to comfortably accommodate your condition, as shoes that are too small may cause pain to worsen over time.

The first time you try on your shoes, take a short stroll around the house to test their performance. Also, make sure that when you’re standing up, there’s a quarter-inch to a half-inch of space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe. This will afford your foot enough room to move around as you walk, reducing the risk of blisters and discomfort.

This might be the most critical tip: don't count on being able to break in your new shoes. If they don't feel comfortable the first time you put them on, chances are they won't feel that much more pleasant the 100th time around. By contrast, if the pair feels good on day one, you're likely to enjoy wearing them for years to come.

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Last updated on April 16, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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