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Minimalist/Barefoot Approach Shoe

Original Post
Paul Kalifatidi · · Madison - Minneapolis · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Hi everyone,

I have been looking for a shoe (approach, hiking, or trail runner, I don't care) that meets the following description:

- zero drop (like Altra trail runners), I prefer it to a heel stack
- wide toe box (also like Altra), I don't want my toes to be squished together
- leather upper (for durability, preferably with a rand like an approach shoe)
- low top
- sticky rubber (vibram megagrip, stealth, etc.)

What I think I am asking for is Altra to come out with an approach shoe. I love minimalist footwear and being barefoot for the health benefits (less back and foot pain, stronger feet, better balance). While I currently wear bedrock sandals for most things, I have been wanting a bit more toe protection, but don't want to wear traditional approach shoes. When working (climbing and backpacking guide), I wear Altra Lone Peaks. I love everything about them, except for the lack of durability. I looked at Vivo Barefoot, but none of their shoes met my criteria. I think the ultimate approach shoe (for this description) would be a TX2 leather but actually foot shaped and with zero drop.

If anybody has also been looking for something of this sort, I would love to hear what you've found. If you'd like to say "you should just wear Sportiva TX4s", I hear you. I've worn them, I liked them, but want to see if my pickiness yields results.

Let me know what you guys think.

Cheers,

Paul

Noah Yetter · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 105

They don't exist, AFAIK. I would be first in line if they did.

The Bedrock Cairn sandals are the closest. They tick the boxes for zero drop, wide toe box, and sticky rubber, but obviously there are huge limitations to sandals. There are also Vibram five fingers made with Megagrip, if you're into that.

When sticky rubber isn't truly necessary I just wear Merrell Trail Glove 4's which are my everyday shoe.

Evan LovleyMeyers · · Fremont, Seattle · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 25

Sanuk used to make a pair with sticky rubber and leather upper. But they discontinued it. Might be able to find a pair some where.

https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/reviews/climbing/approach-shoes/sanuk-base-camp

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 331

If you wait a little while Altra will come out with an approach shoe.

If you wait a little less of a while, take your fav. minimal shoe and have Rock and Resole put some dot rubber on it.

If you want it now, LS TX2 leather is pretty close.

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 331

Also my Altras would just not be my first pick for anything remotely technical. Sloppy shoes - good for running, not so for scrambling - or even heavy bushwhacking. We had a lot of problems with Altra users in the Alaska bush this past month just walking the rivers and going over passes.

Daniel Melnyk · · Covina · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 50
Noah Yetter wrote:The Bedrock Cairn sandals are the closest. They tick the boxes for zero drop, wide toe box, and sticky rubber, but obviously there are huge limitations to sandals. There are also Vibram five fingers made with Megagrip, if you're into that.

Those sandals look light and minimal. 

My favorite multipitch approach shoe in the Sportiva TX2's. SUPER light weight and packable. There is a bungy things that attaches them to each other.
The only problem is that they wear out faster than the TX3.
Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 30
Long Ranger wrote: Also my Altras would just not be my first pick for anything remotely technical. Sloppy shoes - good for running, not so for scrambling - or even heavy bushwhacking. We had a lot of problems with Altra users in the Alaska bush this past month just walking the rivers and going over passes.

Altra does have an approach shoe coming out called the Wahweap. Looks like they are using the same rubber as the Lone Peak.

I've done some pretty serious scrambling in Superiors and Lone Peaks. Not ideal, but I do feel like I'm able to use my feet to grab the rock and haven't had any major issues. I wear Adidas Terrex Swift Solo now for scrambly approaches, they are fairly minimal. You can still feel the ground and grip with your feet a bit and the Stealth rubber makes life a lot easier. Unfortunately they have a slightly raised heel. After years of wearing Altra, I definitely notice the heel and how it impacts my gait.

duncan... · · London, UK · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 55

Saltic Fura

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 331
Sam Cieply wrote:

Altra does have an approach shoe coming out called the Wahweap. Looks like they are using the same rubber as the Lone Peak.

Did they change the rubber between the lone peak 3.0 and the versions afterwards? I never found the rubber all that sticky in the 3.0's. Long lasting, yes; but same stickiness as any other trailrunner, outside LS's offerings. Any problems with build quality in the latest Altras? I've been told it's getting a bit worse (Which is why I'm on the 3.0's and not intersting in going past). We had shoes fall apart after only a week or so. They seem to be very popular with PCT thru-hikers, but that's not a very technical hike in most places.

I'm not digging the Wahweap's interface from midsole to upper. That's going to get wrecked in anything remotely close to looking like a crack. These shoes look more like lifestyle/aprés activity shoes. I'm not a fan of the Evolv shoes, either. Perhaps the Scarpa approach shoes do a better job emulating the old gym shoes post-hardcore kids in the late nineties wore.

I've done some pretty serious scrambling in Superiors and Lone Peaks. Not ideal, but I do feel like I'm able to use my feet to grab the rock and haven't had any major issues.

I think other than the comparable sloppiness from such a large toebox - which I like in a running shoe (but not in an approach, I find the softness and the thickness of the midsole just not ideal for an approach shoe, if you're doing actual scrambly stuff. We do so much long, scrambly, slabby, climbs with lots of smearing - it's a little different than just hiking up some th to the crag. If that's all you wanna do, I think lots of shoes would work.
Lance Brown · · Santa Rosa, CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20
Fran M · · Germany · Joined Feb 2019 · Points: 0

I just do the approach with my Mythos climbing shoes and clean them before the actual climb. same for the way down. Can't imagine going more "minimalist"

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 2,374

After 40 years you'll look back and wish you had worn lightweight Hiking Boots & stiff edging climbing shoes.

From someone who climbed 200 days a year in slippers/Mocs
& used  - Dot rubber, re-soled Birkenstocks to guide/approach/descend...YMMV

G Nessmuk Sears · · Böblingen · Joined Jul 2019 · Points: 0

Have you looked at Joe Nimble? A bit pricy but look like they fit your specs.  us.joe-nimble.com/products/…

Doug Chism · · Arlington VA · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 5
duncan... wrote:

Saltic Fura



Those look sweet! I cant seem to find anyone in the states who imports them though. 

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 10
Suburban Roadside wrote: After 40 years you'll look back and wish you had worn lightweight Hiking Boots & stiff edging climbing shoes.

From someone who climbed 200 days a year in slippers/Mocs
& used  - Dot rubber, re-soled Birkenstocks to guide/approach/descend...YMMV

As a "seasoned" climber, I'll second this.  I now wear TX3/4 or Zamberlan approach shoes because they actually support your foot more. My main climbing shoes (not gym) are Boreal Ballet Gold and an old pair of La Sportiva Synchros. That is as stiff as they get.

Kyle R · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Hey - check out lems - I got a pair of primal 2s and they have been great! I think she would fit most of your boxes.

https://www.lemsshoes.com/products/mens-primal-2

charlie Adams · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2019 · Points: 0

Try xero shoes. I think they fit your criteria.

William Haskin · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2019 · Points: 0

Look into Vivobarefoot shoes if you haven't already. I own a pair of their swimrun shoes and enjoy them very much. They have a trail shoe as well. I haven't tried that one myself but heard good things.

Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 30
Long Ranger wrote: Did they change the rubber between the lone peak 3.0 and the versions afterwards? I never found the rubber all that sticky in the 3.0's. Long lasting, yes; but same stickiness as any other trailrunner, outside LS's offerings. Any problems with build quality in the latest Altras? I've been told it's getting a bit worse (Which is why I'm on the 3.0's and not intersting in going past). We had shoes fall apart after only a week or so. They seem to be very popular with PCT thru-hikers, but that's not a very technical hike in most places.

I think they've been using the same rubber, and no, it's not particularly sticky. I assume the tread pattern on the Wahweap will be more conducive to scrambling and creating friction on rock rather than trail running. Doubt it will be able to compete with Stealth, Trax, Vibram though. Lone Peak 3.5 were my least favorite. Mine have an issue with the padding in the ankle (gets all lumpy and uncomfortable) and the rubber is separating on the toe. Lone Peak 3.0 held up much better and I love my Superior 3. The newest iterations of both look great and much improved build quality, but I haven't worn them yet.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 184

I was thinking of the Merrel Trail Glove 4.  I tried them on at REI and liked them.  I had another pair of Merrels that I used as light approach shoes for multi-pitch and as packable day hikers when I went backpacking,
Trail Runner 4​​​

Jonathan Brown · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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