When it comes to approach shoes for climbing or scrambling, many people opt for a low-cut shoe as opposed to a more boot-like mid. But the additional protection and support of a mid-height model can be a blessing, perhaps particularly in more rugged mountain settings.
With a cuff height somewhere between a shoe and a full-on boot, the Flyers are very clearly designed with technical mountain use in mind. While this model is available both in a low and a mid-height version, in many ways it feels a natural choice for the latter, since that additional protection will prove its worth over the rough and rocky ground it's intended for.
What is this shoe/boot for? Well if we were a North American website the first thing I would have suggested would be big walling, because they'd be absolutely amazing for that courtesy of the support they offer - which would be great in a set of etriers - and the ankle protection, which would help to prevent the constant scuffing and scraping that life on a big wall seems to bring about. However from a European perspective they are most likely to be used as an approach shoe, for scrambling, on long multi-pitch mountaineering routes (and that's exactly what I've used them for), or, on the Continent, for via ferrata.
If you want something long-lasting and supportive, look no further. These things are built tough
Something that counts in their favour from a UK perspective is their sole. A perennial gripe we have with a lot of approach shoes is the shallowness of the tread on their sole; but the Flyers have a respectable depth which is capable of keeping traction on a soggy, steep hillside. When you transition from approaching to scrambling/climbing, it's got a large enough surface area for it to grip well on rock too. Up front it features a wraparound 'climbing zone'. Key to its success for edging is in the way this is constructed, with the midsole (as opposed to the cushioning) sitting directly on top of the sole, which gives the edge a good, crisp feel.
Whilst I loved the level of support that the previous Flyers offered, there was no denying that it (they?) felt like a fairly full-on mountaineering boot in terms of construction. The latest version has softened significantly, but got the balance much better (in my opinion) so that they still offer ample support, but are much more adaptable than formerly.
It's worth noting that these are unlined shoes. Staff at UKH/UKC are as divided over the merits (or otherwise) of waterproof-lined shoes as the general population seems to be, and since there is no right answer the call comes down to personal preference and intended use. On the one hand being non-waterproof makes them more breathable, which a lot of people will consider the clincher; but on the other, if you do tread in a puddle or a bog then your feet are going to get wet. And being a leather shoe, once they get wet, they don't dry quickly. You can help to mitigate this by proofing the outer with Nikwax Leather and Suede Proof, and while that's not going to make them waterproof per se it does help with reducing water absorption in long grass etc.
Weight and durability
In light of the fact they're bombproof, it'll come as no suprise that they're no lightweight, coming in at 510g each (UK 9). If it's lightweight you're after, look elsewhere. If it's long-lasting and supportive, then look no further. These things are built tough.
The fit of the Flyers Mid is supremely adaptable, courtesy of its full-length lacing, which can be easily customised according to the shape of your foot. That said, there's no denying that it has quite a low volume, particularly around the forefoot. This is what helps to lock your foot into it on technical ground, giving it such a good, precise feel; but there'll be a downside for some larger-footed users. When it comes to width, it's hard to be exact since the lacing gives scope for it to be anywhere between medium and wide. If you've got narrower feet then there is a women's version, which features a slimline last, that might be more suitable.
In terms of sizing, I've found they come up a little small. I went up half a size from my standard UK street shoe size (8.5 to 9) and these fit perfectly.
Perhaps the most obvious feature is the rand, which offers further protection for the shoe's uppers, which are already made out of a durable 1.8mm split leather. There's rubber round the highest wear area around the toe, then a lighter weight TPU wraparound on the sides and at the heel.
The heel features a substantial EVA injection, which further adds to the shoe's comfort and shock absorbency. It's also got a luxurious footbed
I got the Flyers Mid expecting it to be quite a specialist shoe. Perhaps it is, but what's actually impressed me most about them is how much of an all-rounder they are and as a result of this, they're a shoe I've reached for more often than I expected. They're supremely comfortable, handle brilliantly on a wide variety of different surfaces, and offer a good amount of protection and support. The fact that they're built to last, both in terms of its construction and the way in which the shoe has been reinforced, means they're a good investment, because they've got a whole lot of life in them.