7 Best Approach Shoes for Fall 2018
Can you feel it? The cooler mornings, the shorter days, and the smell of turning leaves. While some may associate the coming of fall with pumpkin-spiced beverages, we here at Huckberry are thinking of our last hurrahs at the crag. But to get to and from the best climbing season of the year, we’re getting there in our comfy approach shoes.
What are approach shoes? In short, they’re a mix between a hiking boot and a climbing shoe. Ditching the traditional heavy leather and over-ankle protection of a boot, they utilize lighter and more breathable materials, creating footwear that may be less supportive than your hardcore hiking kicks but a whole lot more comfortable. When compared to your climbing shoe, they borrow the sticky rubber and slimmer silhouette for nimble scampering but eschew the suffocating tightness.
In short, this hybrid style is meant to deliver a blend of comfort and performance. The outdoorsman’s favorite has become so popular that they’ve become the de facto footwear for the mountain town life, but they still make a killer camping shoe. You can see all our approach shoes, but if you need some guidance, we’ve created a fall 2018 approach shoe guide, pulling our favorites — from the most core to the most cush — and extolling them by their merits. After all, the mountains are calling, along with the weekend, and the season is upon us.
Naglev: Unico Kevlar Hiker
Pushing the adventure category, the Unico Kevlar Hiker is your fast-moving, do-anything survivor. Its one-piece, sock-like upper keeps trail grit out admirably, while the speed-cable laces cinch the foot to its deep-knobbed, super grippy outsole. Rocks and roots? Not worth the worry with its sticky rubber toecap, which protects before wrapping to the back, creating even more stability. We love the wool sockliner, which wicks sweat while fighting stink.
La Sportiva: Tx3
Italy’s La Sportiva has shod generations of outdoorsmen as they’ve summitted some of the world’s gnarliest peaks, and the La Sportiva approach shoe — Tx3 — continues this legacy. A heavy-duty hiker through and through, the medium-lugged outsole is multi-directional, meaning that it bites in on the ascent and, when hammering downhill, utilizes its reverse lugs to control speed. Enthusiasts of the La Sportiva climbing shoes will recognize the trademark curving lace pattern, as well as the climbing-inspired sticky rubber toe cap.
Forsake: Waterproof Range Low
While the Waterproof Range Low has hiker chops, it is absolutely the shoe we want on our feet walking around Telluride. As its name suggests, the waterproof/breathable membrane keeps feet dry from both puddles and light showers, but it’s the comfort that sold us. An EVA midsole—the same material that running shoes use for their cushioning—makes strolling around town a pleasure.
Teva: Arrowood Mid 2
Teva has always made one hell of a water shoe, but the Arrowood Mid 2 represents a pleasant departure from our expectations. This midtop sneaker, now in its second iteration, is heavier than some—its leather-and-canvas upper adds heft—but it makes up for it with rugged good looks. Under the leather, a waterproof membrane exemplifies its performance chops, while the full-mesh inside is surprisingly airy. With its shallow lugs, we’d relegate this to light hikes, but it’s hard to think of a better-performing around-town hiker.
Salewa: Mountain Trainer GTX
Salewa boots are a hit in the hardcore hiking market, so it surprised us to see the company pack its trademark performance features into the Mountain Trainer GTX. Those letters at the end hint at a fully waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex membrane. Inside, a supportive dual-density midsole is kept firmly in contact with the ground by a Vibram outsole. Most companies only offer features like this on their top-of-the-line alpinist boots. Salewa stuffed them into the most feature-rich approach shoe we’ve ever seen.
On Running: Cloudventure Waterproof
On Running may have made its name on the road running scene, but its foray into the trail running sphere is impressive with the Cloudventure Waterproof. What grabs the eye is its unique cushioned outsole, which uses compressible tube-like structures to soak up contact. Those “clouds” are anchored to the ground by multidirectional lugs that grip front, back, and sideways for the ultimate secure footing. Autumn showers are no problem with a waterproof upper.
Danner: Mountain 600 Low
Looking at the Mountain 600 Low is like looking at footage from mountaineering’s early years. While its leather upper looks more heritage than cutting edge, Danner kept its eye on performance, placing a waterproof barrier underneath so that moisture doesn’t seep through. The one-two punch of Vibram midsole and outsole works together hand-in-glove for a surprisingly nimble hiker. While this may be the heaviest shoe on our list, it also felt the most secure, in part because of the classic red laces in chrome-like eyelets.