A staple of any climbers footwear collection is the 'approach shoe'.
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the original Flyers were the first specific shoe for climbers to be called approach shoes
Now, I go back to the days of Nike X Trainers being de rigeur on Malham catwalk and have owned many pairs of trainers, boots and approach shoes for my various mountain activities, from trotting up to Alpine huts, having a pint in The Vaynol to massaging my ego by stupidly climbing Consenting Adults in a pair. I was asked to review the Boreal Flyer approach shoe, Boreal have a vast footwear range and the Flyer is one of many approach shoes they make, indeed the original Flyers were the first specific shoe for climbers to be called approach shoes way back in 1986. They have reincarnated the name to produce a shoe that will appeal most to a climber that needs a technical, all terrain shoe that could be used to tackle a variety of mountain activities.
The box arrived and contained the shoes (strange that) and a free sample of waterproofing spray. It's worth noting that all Boreal footwear comes with a six month guarantee, so read and keep that label! They look stylish with dark red/grey split leather uppers, a full, 4 piece rand, covered toe box, stitched branding and reflective lace bands. They most certainly wouldn't look bad down The Vaynol, looking very stylish with jeans on.
Looking at the technical aspects of the construction, they are board lasted and made with high quality 2.0mm split leather; the midsole is a flexible PXF and sandwiched EVA which makes them rigid enough to provide support when crossing steep ground, but flexible enough to smear on easy slabs; the sole is Vibram Friction (I don't know why it wasn't FX Quattro, perhaps it's too soft for rugged use) and felt very sticky on dry rock. It had good cleats and a clean climbing edge. It also had a gusseted tongue, although it wasn't waterproof – which is an advantage if you suffer from sweaty feet. The heel pull-on tab was low profile but easily accommodated fingers and crabs. They felt rugged, light and roomy.
When I was asked to complete the review I set myself several mountain tasks that I felt the shoe had to perform in; these were:
They coped very well with the mountain day, they felt secure on my feet and I could easily adjust the fit depending upon whether I was climbing or walking. They performed well enough on technical foot moves although they felt roomy and a little clumsy on very small edges (more of this later). The security was very much enhanced with the HFS (Heel Fit System) and at no time did I feel any heel lift in the back of the shoe – a common problem for my narrow heels – so I didn't endure any blisters, even after 8 hours walking. Crossing scree was a breeze and the sole was sticky enough to boulder hop with confidence. In fact they have fast become my standard summer walking shoe and in conjunction with a pair of SealSkin socks coped with a reasonable amount of wet ground.
I didn't endure any blisters, even after 8 hours walking
If I had any complaint, it was that the toe box felt very roomy. It is very important to size these if you are thinking of buying a pair as I ended up getting a half size smaller than my usual trainer size. This roomy feeling definitely affected any fancy footwork manoeuvres I tried; although this has improved as the shoes have worn in, but I wouldn't want to be soloing anything technical in them.
I've had them for over three months now, they're showing little signs of wear and are continuing to perform very well with all the activities I use them for, in fact I haven't worn any other trainers since I got them.
Burly enough to cope with all the mountain activities a climber is going to use them for
So to round off – an excellent, well made shoe with a fine pedigree. Burly enough to cope with all the mountain activities a climber is going to use them for. You're not going to look too geeky down the pub, just don't expect to be leading your first HVS in them!
What Boreal say:
Use for technical approaches and easy climbs. Paths,trails and off-road. Street use.
Sizes: 6-12 UK inc. half sizes
Weight: 895g per pair (size 7)
Upper: Premium quality waterproof 2 mm Split leather with Teramida SL. Integral padded tongue and all round rubber protection. New HFS padded heel system for a perfect fit.
Inner: PU Air Net for ventilation and comfort.
Midsole: Boreal PXF.
Sole: Vibram Friction. Rubber sole with dual density, shock absorbing EVA.
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