I Review: Five Ten Guide Tennie Mid Approach Shoe
I thought approach shoes were dumb. Something climbers wore while hiking to let everyone know they weren't just out hiking like the rest of the peasants, they were on their way to a bad-ass climb. Out of the way hikers! Approachers coming through!
I was wrong. Good approach shoes are incredibly useful. For example, when Whitney and I embarked on a 3 day - 3 mountain objective to do Humbolt, then Crestone Peak, then Crestone Needle in three days, we did not know what shoes to wear. For the hiking portions, we wanted to wear our mountaineering boots that have metal shanks in the bottom to protect the soles of our feet. But, the Crestones have some more technical sections and doing those in clunky boots is just a bad idea. So, I got myself a pair of trail runners thinking that would be a good compromise. The trail runners did okay on the technical portions of the climb, but I was quite literally crying at the end of the 3rd day coming down from Needle because the bottom of my feet were so bruised they were bleeding in places.
Approach shoes would have been perfect! Approach shoes have stiff soles to protect the bottom of your feet from rocks but are sticky rubber and have toe edges so you can cruise technical portions way better than in normal tennis shoes. I can specifically recommend these 5.10 approach shoes as being AH-mazing.
Brent got these shoes first and found them to be a real game changer so I caved and got a pair. We both went for the high-top version of these shoes for ankle support on descents and they have been great in that regard. (they also come in a low version if you are prone to ankle blisters - see them here)
We have used these shoes climbing up 14ers that have some scrambling or more technical sections; as climbing shoes on easier slab, crack, and face routes like the Flatirons; and yes, approaching climbs in the gnarly boulder fields that flank all the cool climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park. Another example, these shoes are perfect for an objective like Capitol Peak where you need really good foot purchase as well as support and comfort for long miles. I also think approach shoes are the best choice for dry canyoneering. They let you bridge gaps and stick to the wall.
These shoes are very comfortable. I get blisters easily and the only problem I have had with these is if I don't wear a sock taller than the shoe, the top edge of the shoe will rub the back of my achilles too much. They are warm but I haven't gotten any heat blisters in them. They have good arch support and the leather conforms to your foot once you break them in.
Con: The laces are dumb. I think they are supposed to be super strong or something but they used really thin cord and tying the shoes tight feels like you are slicing your fingers with one of those metal wire cheese slicers. Brent is super tough and thinks I am a baby - sometimes he will tie them for me. I might just switch out the laces.
Ultimately, I highly recommend these shoes to anyone who spends time walking or climbing on rocks and doesn't want their feet to bleed and don't like to fall.