The approach shoe is one of those categories that occasionally causes the rolling of the eyes. Is it a marketing rouse? Is there a genuine need for the approach shoe? What are they exactly? Well, the idea is that they allow the walker or climber to get higher up the mountain without either popping on a pair of climbing shoes or, in the other direction, a couple of mountaineering boots.
These are pretty much tailor-made for scrambling, via ferrata, and walking. They are generally defined by a very durable upper that can withstand toe-jamming scrambles, a flat ‘climbing zone’ at the front of the sole for scrambling, and a stiffer sole.
They’re not for trail running, but what we have found is that the approach shoe is an incredibly versatile product. Another consequence, thanks to the nubuck, suede, or leather uppers and solid soles, is that they seem to last forever. These shoes are designed to withstand heavy-duty days on the rocks.
“The uppers are made from a water-resistant suede and with care should last years…”
Scarpa is one of the shoe brands that lead in this category and the team here has been using them for years on all manner of trips. It should also be said, that the styling of an approach shoe tends to be pretty funky too.
The Mescalito is a new shoe from Scarpa designed to attack technical routes, or for people who will be spending a fair amount of time on a mixture of walking and scrambling routes. These would be perfect on the bare rock mountains of Snowdonia.