/ Approach shoes
i) should I expect to wear thick hiking socks, or just normal socks (obviously critical to what size I get!)
ii) beyond "comfortable fit", what should I be looking for? Any brands to like/avoid?
I've had my Evolv shoes for some years now and they've always served me well. They're also good for scrambling as they have Evolv rubber (or maybe that's just an illusion in my head). I wear walking socks - so somewhere between "normal" socks and thick hiking socks.
Needle Sports are currently doing 5.10 Domes for £50 - seemed to me like a good price, so I bought myself a pair and found them to be excellent. For reference, I take a UK 8.5 in the new Pinks and 9 in the Whites, got the Domes in 8.5 and found them to be a good fit with normal socks.
+1 for half domes. The tread initially wears down fast. But then lasts ages. Great shoes! And 50 quid for approach shoes with rock rubber these days is a steal.
Doh! Meant to say 5.10 approach shoes, not Evolv!
If you want shoes to walk in to crags, carry up for walking off then I'd disagree with the above posts. A lot of 'Approach Shoes' made by climbing manufacturers are actually pretty poor for walking in as they have soles and treads more suited to climbing, the 5.10 Guide Tennies for example are rubbish on grass, mud etc. That's not to say they are poor shoes,if you want to use them for easy climbs, scrambling then they're brilliant.
I've always gone for trail shoes/walking shoes for what you suggest. Inov-8 and Salomon are pretty lightweight, something a bit burlier would be TNF Hedgehog or similar. I wear a mid weight walking crew sock, I find it a good balance between cushioning, warmth and easy on/off.
I love my Scarpa VORTEX XCR, properly waterproof comfy things that last for years, even the waterproofness - had a few pairs. Essential for many UK venues IMO, and I always wear them in the mountains (more of a walking sole, not a sticky rubber job). I only wear walking boots when confronted with serious bog.
Only problem is lack of a tag to clip them to my harness.
This ++. Most approach shoes are totally useless for what you need them for in the UK, which is walking into a crag, normally up/across a steep grassy/muddy slope. Then clipping them to the back of your harness, climbing a route and walking back down a steep slope again.
I normally use Inov-8 330s or similar for this. Make sure they have a loop on the back so you can clip them to your harness.
For easy routes/scrambles I have a pair of Patagonia approach shoes which are excellent. But they're less great on grass and mud.
Just to walk in, not climb - any lightweight trainer or fell shoe
To climb in/with - Evolv Cruzer (Cheap, light comfy)
Inov-8 *model* 330. What model, the 330 is the weight in grams for a pair of size 8's.
It's like saying ive got a Ford 1.9TDI. Are we talking a suped up Ford Ka, or an crumy Ford Ranger.
Inov8 f-lites are terrible for walk ins, and mudclaws are great but not on paths. Rocklites and Mudrocks however are pretty swish for most things including walk-ins.
I'm looking for some new all round shoes, and undecided between Salomon XA pro 3d, or some Inov8 rocklites. I'm really liking the Salomon's fast lace system, for getting between routes/boulder problems, without the laces getting all muddy.
My 5.10 half domes are great for everything, though get a bit hot in summer. Got them last winter for walking around the slush in town with, for which they dealt well with.
+1 to what others have said
"Approach" shoes are for wearing all day on long easy rock routes, including doing the actual climbing in them.
If you want shoes for approaches to UK crags, then you want fell or trail running shoes, as light as possible with decent grip.
Could not agree more, love my Tennies, but on wet grass, slimy rock, its certainly entertaining.
The wife has the lady version of these and she loves them too.
I second what everyone says about the tennis, great on the walk up to stanage or doing the sky ridge but rubbish doing any proper 'walking'. I now have the Scarpa Zen pro and they are ace. Good sole and heel for walking, close fit so no foot roll and more sticky than tennis for climbing.
Inov8 roclite 295 for walk-ins and off, normal socks. I use also them for general mountain walking, they are brilliant.
Agree- I use old pair of Walsh Raids for the walk in and now clip Evolv Cruze to back of harness for descent off crag.
I do find my tennies to be really comfortable though. They do pretty good on dry rock or scrambling about as others have said. Sucks in the wet.
If you are after a approach shoe type boot, I really like Inov 8 288 (now called 286). Great for a bit of ankle support and muddy wet terrain or just grass etc whilst so light with good grip. Can be worn with both thick and thin socks. Not done much scrambling in them but they will most likely be trashed quickly as they are not designed for abrasive stuff.
i) Thin socks are fine if you are not prone to blisters.
ii) Scarpa Zen fits me like a sock :-) I choose a tight fit so I can use them for easy climbing as well as for hiking.
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