The Rocker - and its Gore-Tex-lined counterpart, the Rocker GT - is a new fabric-uppered approach shoe from Haglöfs available in men's and women's versions, that uses technology borrowed from parent brand Asics in a technical approach shoe that's lighter and more cushioned than previous Haglöfs models.
- £100 / 820g (pair size 43)
- Fabric and synthetic leather uppers
- Down to toe asymmetric lacing system
- Haglöfs Traction Grip outsole using Wet Grip Rubber with rice husk particles
- Solyte cushioned mid-sole / GEL rear foot cushioning
- Heel webbing loop
Previous Haglöfs approach shoes aimed at scrambling, via ferrata and easy rock routes have tended to use leather uppers and been a little harsh and clumpy on the foot. The Roc Legend, for example, was so stiff and sparsely padded in the forefoot, that it was almost unwearable for walk-ins, while its successor, the Roc Icon though less focussed, is still a fairly solid unit.
The Rocker, on the other hand, is significantly lighter. A single size 43 weighs in at around 410g thanks partly to a fabric and synthetic leather upper. It's also a fair bit more cushioned with technology from parent brand Asics - a running specialist - including a GEL pad under the heel.
Styling is straight from the 'outdoors fusion' recipe book with nods to rock boot design like the skinny laces and down-to-toe asymmetrical lacing mixed with 'trekking trainer' looks. The fit is classic Haglöfs with a roomy, wide forefoot and a narrower heel, but the lacing means you can cinch things up neatly in the forefoot to give a snug, precise fit that feels like it should work well on the rock.
Underfoot, characteristics are similarly mixed. The heel and forefoot both have enough cush for normal walking and should be fine for rocky approaches and even the odd pure hike, but there's still enough stiffness in the sole that you should be able to stand on moderate holds. You won't be edging on tiny ledges, but then that's the pay-off for mid-sole cushioning.
In short it feels like a reasonable compromise, a somewhere in the middle sort of shoe that you can slacken off for the walk-in, then tighten down for some rock action.
Speaking of which, the sole is made from Asics Wet Grip Rubber which has tiny fragments of rice husk embedded in it to cut through the water film and increase wet grip, allegedly, has a de rigeur 'climbing zone' out front and feels reassuringly rough and grippy agains the finger tips. It's probably not going to excel on wet mud, but then it's not really supposed to.
Finally, we like the easy to use heel loops for pulling the shoes on. Not too small or big and feel well attached which is always a bonus.
Comfortable, light and reasonably cushioned approach shoes that seem, so far, to hit a sort of mid-sport between the promise of half-decent performance on easy rock and actually reaching it in some sort of comfort. Good that there's a warm weather-friendly non Gore-Tex version too. It'll be interesting to see how that rice husk rubber works and whether there's enough forefoot stiffness to cope with any sort of edging, traditionally the achilles heel of any sort of cushioned approach shoe we've tried. Watch this sport.
Full details of the Haglöfs range at www.haglogs.com