Hiking and climbing over extreme terrain is challenging and having the right footwear can make all the difference. Finding a pair of shoes that have the right attributes for hiking and climbing is essential, particularly if you want to scale Rocky Mountains. Approach shoes have these characteristics and the best approach shoes are a necessity for serious hikers and climbers. We’ve put together a selection of approach shoes that will give your feet the much needed stability to help you keep your footing and get the most out of your rustic adventures.
The Best Approach Shoe
When it comes to hiking of any kind, comfort is of the utmost importance. That’s when you’ll really appreciate the technology that goes into ever pair of Vasque Men’s Juxt Multi-Sport Shoes. These approach shoes are super comfortable and offer unbelievable stability thanks to the molded EVA and TPU Plate midsoles. With these shoes on your feet, the only creature more stable on a mountain is a mountain goat. You may also like some of the best cross country shoes from our list, so check them out.
100% suede leather
Vasque OTG (Off the Grid) sole
1.6mm suede leather upper
Highly tunable lace system
Molded EVA and TPU plate midsole for stability
Vasque Off the Grid rubber outsole for added comfort
- Model2.88 pounds
Whether you want to hike for a day or an entire weekend, these Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Approach Shoes will not let you down. Even in damp conditions, your feet stay comfortable and dry, thanks to the fast drying materials and the exception grip go a long way in avoiding slipping on rocks and other surfaces. These are approach shoes that give you all the comfort and stability you need. If you are also a fan of winter sports, check out our reviews of the best snowboard boots.
100% leather & synthetic sole
High-friction Stealth C4 Dotty tread at outsole
Padded tongue and collar
Fast drying materials
Great for rock climbing and long hikes
- BrandFive Ten
- ModelGuide Tennie Leather-M
- Weight5 pounds
If you want a pair of approach shoes that fit like a second skin, these Evolv Men’s Cruzer-M shoes are light and will fit comfortably with or without socks. They feature the strength of canvas, yet they are comfortable thanks to the memory foam insole. The convent heel pull tab makes them essay to slip on and also clip on to your hiking backpack.
100% Canvas with rubber sole
Moisture wicking, microfiber lined memory foam insole
Thin, cushy, minimal-drop flat EVA midsole
Folding heel for slipper like convenience
Heel pull tab for clipping to harness or backpack
- Weight2.88 pounds
Scarpa approach shoes have been developed with serious hikers in mind and these Men’s Crux Approach Hiking Shoe are certain to give your trekking feet all the comfort, protection and stability you could ever want. They feature lacing that goes from the toes to the tongue of the shoe for a complete, precook fit and the Vibram vertical approach sole has sticky rubber for a grip you have to experience to believe. For more amazing sports footwear, check out our top picks of the best triathlon shoes.
100% leather and textile
Forefoot webbing with Kevlar
Rubber toe rand for foot protection
Vibram vertical approach sole
Sticky rubber for long lasting grip
Lacing toe the tongue allows for precision fit
- Weight2 pounds
Going vertical up a cliff requires a degree of stability that few people can master and with the right approach shoes, you will feel your feet grab hold of any surface you choose to climb.
La Sportiva Men’s Boulder X Approach Shoes have an all-leather upper and soft cushioning where you need it the most. You also get an extra secure fit thanks to the Mythos lacing system. If water sports are also one of your passions, check out our guide to the best kayaking shoes.
Sticky rubber toe rands
Vibram Idro-Grip compound
Highly adaptable Mythos lacing system
Sticky rubber adds first-class comfort
- BrandLa Sportiva
- Weight2.2 pounds
An ill-fitting shoe on a mountain is a recipe for disaster so when you want to scale the peaks, don’t step out without these Salewa Men’s Mountain Trainer Gtx Hiking Shoes. The midsole of these approach shoes features Ergonomic Bilight Technology that cradle your feet with long lasting cushioning and the Salewa Flex Collar means your ankle moves as naturally as possible. The insole is removable so you can wash it as needed and keep your shoes smelling fresh between hikes. If you are looking for some high-quality workout footwear, check out our guide to the best cross training shoes.
Leather/textile with synthetic sole
Shaft measures approximately low-top from arch
Ergonomic Bilight Technology
Long lasting cushioning
Salewa Flex Collar
- Weight2.86 pounds
Look great on or off the mountain with these Arc’teryx Men’s Acrux SL Leather approach shoes. They upper consists of strong canvas panels that are durable and comfortable and the Ortholite insoles combined with Vibram sole ensure you get a nice, stable shoe that you can wear anywhere and in any weather.
These shoes can take you from rugged peaks, to gentle trails and on to a city sidewalk without you missing a single step. Be sure to also check out our guide to the best trail running shoes for women for more excellent footwear like this.
Durable technical weave
Lace-up at top
Strong canvas panels on upper
Ortholite insole with Vibram sole
- Model18050-353509-US 8.0/UK 7.5
- Weight2.06 pounds
After hours of hiking your feet can start to swell and when that happens you want a pair of approach shoes with a roomier fit like the Skechers Men’s Go Golf Elite 3 Approach Shoe. The relaxed fit means your toe and forefoot areas won’t get cramped and the low drop design keeps your feet in a nice neutral position, close to the ground. These approach shoes are lightweight with great cushioning that you will enjoy wearing anywhere. Our guide to the best non-slip shoes features more comfortable and stable footwear.
100% leather upper with synthetic sole
2 year waterproof guarantee
Lightweight, responsive 5gen cushioning
Low drop design
Durable grip tpu bottom plate
Great range of colors
- Weight 15.8 ounces
A precision fit is extremely important when you’re climbing those uneven, steep surfaces. These Konseal approach shoes from Arc’teryx have a one-piece synthetic upper that is seamless. It also has an EVA foam midsole and a 3D-molded OrthoLite™ footbed for exceptional comfort. This is a pair of shoes you will want with you on the mountain so you can hike with complete confidence. For those of you who also enjoy fishing, we have prepared our selection of the best wading boots, so check them out.
3D-molded OrthoLite™ footbed
One-piece, seamless synthetic upper
EVA foam midsole
TPU midfoot chassis
3D-molded rubber toe cap
Vibram® MegaGrip® rubber approach-specific outsole
- Model 22247-353404-US 7.0/UK 6.5
- Weight1.8 pounds
These Salewa Men’s Firetail 3 GTX Approach Shoes will give serious hikers the edge. Scale those impressive heights in any weather with a Vibram Reptail Sticky Sole that literally grips those rugged surfaces and the Gore-Tex comfort lining will keep your feet fresh, even on those long hikes. You may also like some of the best walking sandals for women, so don’t forget to check them out.
Textile and synthetic
Vibram Reptail Sticky Sole with Megagrip compound
Gore-Tex extended comfort lining
Climbing lacing from top to toe
3F Total System for additional support
Ideal for alpine climbing, approach, hiking and more
- ModelFiretail 3 GTX-M
- Weight1 pound
Approach Shoes Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of Approach Shoes
It’s not enough to just randomly look at different approach shoes. When putting our selection together, we took certain factors into consideration to make choosing the best approach shoes a little bit simpler.
Brand – You can never be too careful when purchasing footwear, and nowhere is this more important than when you are climbing a precipice. Hiking and climbing require specific shoes so you want a brand that specializes in approach shoes that will not let you down during those challenging hikes or climbs. The brands we chose have been proven to produce exceptional quality approach shoes that are guaranteed to perform.
Price – Most often when you purchase good quality shoes, you get what you pay for. The cost of approach shoes can be somewhat high end, but when you look at their function, this is one pair of shoes where you don’t want to skimp on. Even so, we’ve chosen approach shoes in a different range of prices. Some of the shoes in this selection come with some pretty impressive features, and that is reflected in the price, but there are still some great approach shoes to choose from that you won’t need to see your bank manager to buy.
Reviews – Rave reviews are a good method of checking how well a particular type of approach shoe fits and performs. The more popular a particular shoe is, the more confident you can be in choosing the right approach shoe for you. Many manufacturers make all sorts of claims about the myriad of features their approach shoes have, but only the customers that have purchased and worn approach shoes out in the field can give an honest review of how well the shoes and their accompanying features perform in the real world of hiking and climbing.
Features To Look For In Approach Shoes
Sticky Rubber Soles – Every good pair of approach shoes should have a sole with great grip. Some of the best approach shoes feature sticky rubber soles. This sticky rubber is the heart and the soul of a great pair of reliable shoes that will give you all the grip you need when climbing over the challenging terrain many hikers and climbers like to conquer.
Durable Material – When you’re on a vertical climb, or even a moderate one, you want a good, sturdy pair of shoes that won’t fall apart on your half way through your trek. Some materials may look good, but often, those that look good are made from flimsy materials that are just for show. Look for strong, durable materials that have a little bit of flexibility so that your feet can move naturally but will still stay in shape no matter how rigorous your climbing gets.
Waterproofing – Rock climbing can be a little on the treacherous side even under dry conditions so most climbers and adventurous hikers tend to postpone their outdoor escapades if the weather turns bad. Even so, waterproofing is an important feature in approach shoes as sometimes, the weather can change without notice while you’re on the trails or mountains. If you like to trek around creeks and streams, or don’t mind a bit of drizzle on your hikes, waterproofing is something you simply can’t be without.
Breathability – Hiking and climbing are strenuous activates and hot sweaty feet can become a liability. Look for approach shoes that have breathable insoles and uppers so your feet can breathe.
Weight – Thanks to technological advances in the shoe making industry, we have said goodbye to overly heavy shoes. Newer materials are durable, yet much lighter that shoes of the past which is good news for those aspiring to tackle the many peaks of our planet. The less your approach shoes weigh, the less weighted down you’ll feel after a few hours of hiking or climbing. There will also be the odd occasion where you want to stash your approach shoes in your backpack so once again, the lighter the better.
Hiking vs. Climbing – Hiking boots and shoes are a must for hiking, but when it comes to climbing, you need shoes that are light, flexible and with good grip. The beauty of approach shoes is that they have a lot of features from both hiking and climbing shoes. However, some are more suitable for either hiking or climbing so check to ensure they are exactly what you are looking for.
Approach Shoes FAQ
Q: What are approach shoes?
A: Approach shoes are, in essence, an amalgamation between climbing shoes and hiking shoes. They have some of the characteristics of each type of shoe making them suitable for hiking over trails and climbing steep rocky surfaces as well. The main feature that makes approach shoes unique is the soles which are usually made from sticky rubber designed to grip rocky surfaces.
Q: Are approach shoes good for walking?
A: You can comfortably wear approach shoes for any type of walking you intend on doing whether it be on a hiking trail or in the city. Just keep in mind that approach shoes have a thinner sole and less insulation that is suitable for climbing so they may not be suitable in extreme cold or overly hot conditions.