See my previous blog post on Gear for the Mountains.
I hike a lot of difficult terrain: granite slabs, boulder fields, loose dirt and rocks, class 3/4 climbing and so on. And I almost always hike alone, so I take shoes and other gear very seriously—one slip from a shoe or boot and I could be spending my day photographing vultures at close range (see also the SPOT beacon which I’ve neglected to carry for some time now, but which I heartily recommend). So I don’t mess around with my shoes; I get what absolutely minimizes risk of slippage.
After years of hard used, my pair of medium weight Five Ten 'Camp Four' approach shoes is finally wearing out, so when a sale popped up, I ordered a pair of the Arc Teryx ACRUX FL GTX approach shoes. I ended up liking the color and outstanding build quality quite a lot, but performance in the field exceeded even my high expectations. There is also the lighter-weight ArcTeryx ACRUX SL.
In the field and rocks and dirt and snow
I was apprehensive about the grip on rocks because regular Vibram soles becomes slippery on rocks when wet; I had to abandon a new pair of another brand hiking shoes with Vibram soles for that reason—the risk was just too high, with too many near injuries from slippage. But the Arc Teryx ACRUX FL GTX stuck great on rocks, even when freshly wetted from spring runoff or a snow field traversal.
With no break-in period whatsoever (not even a walk inside the house!), I took them along right out of the box for a strenuous canyon climb over mixed rocks and loose soil, granite bedrock, snow fields and boulder fields. Hiking up to 11,500' elevation for miles. With a single thin cycling sock. Surely a recipe for blisters? But it was not so—no blisters and not even a hint of soreness anywhere in spite of being brand new and the very first outing. The shoes were super comfortable, which I attribute to the inner liner, which offers a snug and supportive fit. The best hiking shoe fit for my feet I have ever experienced; they fit great and felt better than shoes long since broken-in. No break-in needed with these puppies.
The Arc Teryx ACRUX FL GTX is the best all-around hiking shoe I’ve ever used: comfort, grip, waterproofness, durable build, strong heel for snow-stomping foot placement, sticky grip on rocks, etc.
- Tip: grab the two loops for fast and easy foot insertion. Once understood, it is super easy to get the shoes on.
- Excellent ability to stomp steps into steep snowfields; good strong heel for mashing in on semi-running downhill snowfield fun.
- My feet stayed dry thanks to the GoreTex liner: spring snowfields (fairly hard packed but soft on top), muddy spring trails and so on. Outstanding. Yet my feet never felt clammy; the shoes breathe amazingly well and what little water they absorb dries out quickly in the Sierra air.
- Grip on boulders wet or dry was outstanding. I could stomp through a sun-softened snow field or shallow water and immediately get onto bounders or granite bedrock with confidence—I never slipped even once.
- The right combination of grip and stability and foot protection even on sharp pointy rocks and edges.
The Arc Teryx ACRUX FL GTX are now my “go to” shoe for all around use. While I really like the Five Ten Men's Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe for bouldering and granite slopes (lighter weight in particular), the Guide Tennie shoes are not good for pointy/sharp rocks because of a much lighter-weight sole, and they lack any resistance to water (even heavy dew). The Arc Teryx ACRUX FL GTX is definitely a better shoe for mixed terrain in which the feet need more protection, yet they are nearly as sticky on rocks, and work great on loose gravel and rocks, raw granite, muddy trails etc. Just for the heavy morning dew hassle, these shoes 'rock'.
Downsides: they are heavier than the Five Ten Guide Tennie, which is to say much lighter than hiking boots, so it’s a minor point. They also require two hands to pull on because of the snug liner, so they are not a good quick on/off shoe for around the campfire (but experienced campers know that two pairs of shoes are well advised if only for wet feet reasons).
The tread pattern (below) is similar in the forefoot to the Five Ten Guide Tennie—great for granite and boulders and such. It also works very well on loose rocks and dirt. The heel section is stronger and allow excellent “dig” for stomping into steep snowfields. I encountered no conditions in which this combination had any issues. [A full-on hiking boot might in theory dig into loose soil better, but that’s just a non-consideration in the Sierra and such hiking boots totally suck for boulders and angles/slanted granite bedrock (poor grip, stiff soles). I use full hiking boots only in deep snow and very cold conditions because in general, full hiking boots sucks for the Sierra].
The Arc Teryx ACRUX FL GTX hiking/approach shoes are robust. Note the clean lines with no extraneous cruft as with most shoes. Only time will tell how well it holds together, but they omit all the messy intersections and stitching that wears out on most shoes; things are nicely bonded together so nothing to catch or snag on brush or sharp rocks or similar.
FEATURES OF THE ARCTERYX MEN'S ACRUX FL GTX APPROACH SHOE
- Designed for technical approaches and day hikes with the durability and adaptive fit GORE-TEX liner to make every venture comfortable and well supported
- The GORE-TEX liner uses minimal seams and adhesive to secure the membrane, which in doing so maximizes its waterproof and breathable surface area
- Keeping the science of the foot in mind these were constructed with durability, breathability, and efficiency for safe traveling in even the harshest of environments
- The interior liner is separate, which provides an adaptive fit that allows for incredible breathability and weather protection.
- The waterproof and breathable membrane extends to the full height of the separately constructed liner which delivers the best in climate control and waterproof-ness.
- The liner is made from a stretch nylon mono-mesh that will not conform or absorb moisture
- Not to keep bragging about the liner, but the liner does not have a tongue, which reduces the build up of heat and pressure on the top of your foot to keep you comfortable.
- The upper features a non-woven Durable Water Repellent Finish (DWR) microfiber, PU coated nylon yarn, and high abrasion TPU film for the utmost in maintaining air permeability, abrasion resistance, and moisture dispersion.
- The outer shell is durable while the inner liner is comfortable, the separation of the two providing awesome quick-drying support.
- The midsole cushions and supports while also providing superb flexibility, shock absorption, stability, and traction thanks to the injected EVA foam.
- The seamless one piece upper protects the EVA midsole by sealing it away from punctures, exposure, and pesky abrasion.
- Strategically shaped for stability, traction, and enhanced breaking with the smooth rounded heel strike
- Custom moulded rubber toe and heel caps prevent the toe from collapsing over time and adds protection to the exposed areas of the upper midsole
- The sole is Vibram Approach with Megagrip compound, which features lateral durability and anti-slip lugs, sharp heel brake and mountaineering heel brake for superior traction and braking.
Terrain: Off Trail, Mountain, Trail
Product Technology: Vibram, GORE-TEX
Footwear Height: Ankle
Weight: 15.2 oz
Manufacturer Warranty: Lifetime
Midsole: Compression-molded EVA
Features: GORE-TEX, Waterproof, Cushioned, Removable Liner
Best Use: Backpacking, Hiking, Mountaineering and Alpine, Approach Hiking
Drop: 14 mm
Footwear Closure: Lace-up
Toe Coverage: Closed Toe
The shoes float, and can be submerged right up to the edges without water penetration, making it possible to walk through water up to about 2.5 inches deep without getting wet feet.