UKC

Arc'teryx Arakys Approach Shoes Review

Arc'teryx's new Arakys is an ultra-light approach shoe that boasts some innovative features. They look both smart and unusual: so how do they perform? In a nutshell, while they are not suited to actually climbing in they are an excellent, lightweight approach shoe that's really well suited to warmer summer conditions.

Arc'teryx Arakys in The Pass, 191 kb
Arc'teryx Arakys in The Pass
© Charlie Low Photography

Uppers

Despite being thin, the uppers are made from thermolaminated ripstop fabric. After several months of use I've found them very hardwearing on rough terrain and all types of rock. The material is very breathable, and they can be worn all day comfortably without your feet overheating. Although not fully waterproof, they are quick-drying due to the the thin material.

The Arakys have a quality feel, made with what Arc'teryx calls the 'Adaptive Fit Lite.' This refers to a stretchy one-piece construction that allows a perfect fit whatever your foot shape. On me they felt instantly comfortable and secure, requiring no "break in period" at all. Comfort and fit is definitely where these shoes excel.

High comfort levels with this one-piece, stretchy pull-on shoe, 174 kb
High comfort levels with this one-piece, stretchy pull-on shoe
© Charlie Low Photography

One novel feature of the Arakys is the hook-and-webbing fastening system. It is designed to eliminate faff and can be done up one-handed on belays. I really like this feature; the memory buckle allows the shoes to be slipped on quickly and easily and creates a snug fit around your foot.

Super easy fastening that can actually be done up one-handed!, 218 kb
Super easy fastening that can actually be done up one-handed!
© Charlie Low Photography

Sole

Inside, the leather footbed is super comfortable, even when worn barefoot. Outside, the Vibram rubber sole makes these shoes sticky and extremely grippy on technical terrain. The rubber seems quite thin though and I wouldn't recommend walking any great distance in these shoes. A two-hour long approach on flat ground left me with fairly achy feet! The tread is also quite shallow, meaning they are not ideal for tackling wet grass or muddy terrain - the sort of ground common on UK crag approaches. The Arakys are really best seen as summer approach shoes, ideal for short periods of technical terrain - and used as such they function excellently.

Sticky Vibram rubber soles are great for technical approaches, but the tread is not very deep and the rubber is quite thin, 212 kb
Sticky Vibram rubber soles are great for technical approaches, but the tread is not very deep and the rubber is quite thin
© Charlie Low Photography

Fit

The shoes fitted perfectly in my usual street shoe size. I usually take a wide fit, but with the fully adjustable straps it's likely they would be equally comfortable on a narrower, lower volume foot too.

Another unique selling point of the Arakys is the collapsible heel. This actually functions surprisingly well, collapsing to a clog and reforming easily. Initially slightly sceptical of this feature, I found myself wearing them as clogs a lot while at the base of the crag. It's great being able to step down the backs of the heels without worrying about ruining them - it's a definite plus for camping trips too!

The Arakys make comfy clogs for chilling!, 156 kb
The Arakys make comfy clogs for chilling!
© Charlie Low Photography

However, one thing which doesn't work so well is that the heel pull loop is attached slightly too far down the heel. This means that the top of the heel always gets folded over uncomfortably when you pull the shoes on.

A small, annoying downside - the top of the heel gets folded over when you pull them on, 170 kb
A small, annoying downside - the top of the heel gets folded over when you pull them on
© Charlie Low Photography

Performance

The Arakys are great for tricky scrambly crag approaches and rough rocky terrain. Their snug fit and sticky rubber means they feel very secure. They perform excellently when scrambling, boulder-hopping or on via ferrata. However, although they're billed as being capable of 'easy bouldering problems or quick routes on the gym wall', I've found that the sole isn't really rigid enough for this. I tested them repeatedly for climbing and bouldering, both indoors and out, and while the shoe has good edges and it's certainly good and sticky, I don't find it supportive enough for secure climbing on smaller foot placements. I would not choose to do more than scrambling or very easy climbing in them.

Unfortunately I don’t find the sole rigid enough for climbing or bouldering, 174 kb
Unfortunately I don’t find the sole rigid enough for climbing or bouldering
© Charlie Low Photography

My favourite feature of the Arakys is that they are incredibly lightweight, at only 460g for the pair in UK size 5.5. As such they are one of the best shoes you can chose for multi-pitching. I barely notice their weight when clipped on my harness and, due to their nifty transformation into clogs, they are very easy to slip on and off at belays too. I took them up the Comici on a recent trip to the Dolomites, and a 22 pitch route on the Tofana di Rozes. Mega light!

photo
Perfect multi-pitching shoes, you barely notice the weight of the Arakys on your harness
© Charlie Low Photography

Summary

The Arakys are an extremely comfortable shoe with a secure fit that should suit most foot shapes. The easy fastening and collapsible heel are handy features, and their sticky rubber makes them an excellent choice for short technical approaches, and even the very easy end of climbing and scrambling. However due to their flexibility there are limits to their performance on steeper ground.

While they're not ideal for wet weather or long muddy UK mountain crag approaches, I would definitely choose them as my summer approach shoes. In addition, being super-lightweight, they are a superb option for a pair of shoes that you're going to end up carrying on long multipitch routes.

This is the kind of terrain for which they're ideal..., 190 kb
This is the kind of terrain for which they're ideal...
© Charlie Low Photography

Arc'teryx say:

Arc'teryx Arakys product shot, 216 kb

The versatile Arakys is a unique approach shoe designed for scrambling into crag and bouldering terrain, with a grippy sole that can even play on easy bouldering problems or quick routes on the gym wall.

The Arakys has a distinctive one hand closure and memory buckle feature that allows for fast, easy removal and efficient shifts from climb to belay. A collapsible heel turns the shoe into a comfortable belay slipper. The leather footbed is barefoot friendly, and the air permeable laminated upper is comfortable in summer conditions.

  • Lightweight
  • Air permeable
  • Leather footbed provides barefoot comfort
  • Collapsible heel allows shoe to be worn as a camp and belay slipper
  • One hand closure with memory buckle is secure and easy to engage and release
  • Vibram® MegaGrip™ rubber compound is durable and grippy
  • Vibram® Arc'teryx Light Approach Outsole combines climbing and trail performance
  • Highly durable EVA foam midsole absorbs shock while providing precision stability
  • Laminated heel and toe caps secure fit and and deliver precision support
  • Seamless one piece upper with thermolaminated construction is highly abrasion resistant, durable, light and hydrophobic
  • Arc'teryx Adaptive Fit Lite employs a zonal stretch liner that forms to key areas of the foot for a customized, supportive fit
  • Available in men's sizes 6.5 - 12.5 and women's sizes 3.5 - 8.5

For more info see: arcteryx.com

UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Ellie Fuller


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