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Approach shoes: mesh vs leather upper

Original Post
Hrishi Chandanpurkar · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

Its been a while since I chucked my hiking boots for two trail runners: Salomon XA 3D Pros and NB MO790. But I have following issues with them: 1. Poor traction on loose scree (but does great on larger talus). Most recent example of this was while scrambling the Sawtooth ridge (class 3; between Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans in CO). Had to resort to off-trail boulder hopping to avoid scree 2. The shoes are sized up to compensate for my EEE wide feet, but the lack of to-the-toe lacing means the feet move around too much during downhill (but I’ve gotten away with minimal blisters so far) or when precision is required. 3. Mesh uppers are great for ventilation, but have poor water resistance during stream/ puddle crossing- I can feel the wetness as soon as they hit the water. 4. I don’t really trail run, so don’t take any advantage of the primary purpose for which they are optimized. So now that the time has come to replace them, I am looking into approach shoes to overcome these limitations. Intended purpose is long summer hikes- such as CO 14ers and scrambling, and some weekend backpacking.

The recently launched La Sportive TX3/4 seem to be great for my intended use, and are wide enough. But I am having a hard time deciding between mesh vs leather upper. Leather upper looks perfect in terms of water resistance, durability, and protection, but I’m concerned they will be too hot for summer hiking (I like wearing thick hiking socks, even during summer, but am open to change this if needed). With mesh upper, I am concerned about water resistance while shallow puddle crossing (would the rand around TX3 be enough to keep the water out? don’t care about performance in rain), overall durability, and its ability to constrain my foot in place for tighter situations.

Alternatively, provided leather uppers breath okay in summer, I am also thinking of Scarpa Zen Pro (low cut) as the shoe for summer (above purpose) as well as winter hiking (its soles seem to provide better traction on snow; could go well with microspikes), but not sure of its traction on loose scree.

Sharing your experiences/ preferences/ suggestions with either would be helpful!

Austin Baird · · SLC, Utah · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 95

Look into the La Sportiva Mutants and Akashas. They're trail runners, but stellar approach shoes. Akashas are more comfortable but the Mutants are better for scrambling.

Tapawingo Markey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

If you truly have a 3E foot I don't think the Sportivas will work for you but the mutants and tx2 are sweet so you might as well check them out.. I bought some Pearl Izumi M2s (trail runners) which have a wider forefoot and then had them resoled with the Five Ten Dot rubber, I'm loving them so far and they climb up to 5.5 pretty well.

If you truly are crossing lots of streams, snow patches, etc...Id go leather. Just wear a lighter sock to handle the temps/moisture. I like Drymax or Swiftwick for those hot days with less breathable uppers. On the other hand the mesh dries out much more quickly.

Jack Stephenson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 25

I have the TX4s and hiked 14ers in them this summer. I also wear good socks (smart wool, feetures, etc). Never heated up too bad

Mitchell E · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 28

It's true that mesh uppers don't have much water resistance, but they do dry much faster. Once leather shoes get wet, they'll stay wet for a long time.

I have a pair of Patagonia Rovers (now discontinued, unfortunately) that I absolutely love. They have a wide foot box and mesh upper. The only reason to prefer a leather upper IMO is for its durability, especially if you'll be using it in cracks.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

I will all ways reccomend my la sportiva hypermid.

Hrishi Chandanpurkar · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

@Jack Stephenson, awesome!

Thanks for recommending new options, folks. I'll check Akashas and Mutants. They seem to have wide toe box from what I read online. Hypermids look too narrow.

@Tapawingo, you are correct about La Sportivas being narrow, but TX3/4 models are different from other Sportivas in the sense they seem much wider around toe box. I tried 10.5 of TX4 at Neptune Mountaineering, and it fitted well side-wise, but was a bit too long. Hence will go to Denver REI tomorrow to try out size 10 in TX3. I think TX2 is narrower than TX3/4. Cool about wearing leather in summer.

One thing that I don't understand is why stores are carrying either TX3 or TX4. REI doesn't have TX4 listed at all!

Hrishi Chandanpurkar · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

Went to Denver REI and tried TX3, Mutant, Akasha, and WIldcat. For the same size (10/43) all others are narrower than TX3 in the toe box, or have really lower volume (I have a prominent instep as well). Ended up getting TX4 from Wilderness Exchange (right opposite to Denver REI!). I felt the leather upper held my foot in place better than the mesh upper. Lets see how it goes. Thanks for your input folks!

Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

The biggest thing I dislike about the mesh is how the dust goes right through and makes feet and socks filthy. I have Wildcats an love the way they hike - also have Boulders and like them as well. But as usual it all comes down to whether the fit is right for you.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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