Type: light trail hiker / approach
Bad: light unpadded tongue
Good: lightweight, cool sturdy, cool looking
I picked these up a week or so before the trip at the Sierra Trading Post Reno outlet. They were on sale, and I was in a state of mind that lead me to believe that buying more things would alleviate the stress of the unknown trip ahead of us. I was right.
These shoes are light, sturdy and comfortable. They have a stiff Vibram sole with a dense foam dual density insole and a steel shank. That gives them good traction and keeps small pebbles from poking up to your foot. When walking on rough surfaces all day like hiking and traipsing across Moroccan cities all day, this reduces the fatigue you feel in your feet at the end of the day. Plus they aren’t white tennis shoes so I didn’t look like a gawky American. (in fact US was the last place people usually guessed we were from.)
These shoes are also really light. That is both a good and a bad thing. The upper is thin, and the outside is a burly crdura or something. It breathes well and stands up to abrasion. But it doesn’t offer much protection or padding, so don’t stick your foot in any rapidly closing doors. But they collapse down well for easy packing and they won’t take up much space on the outside of your harness or backpack.
The tongue is also light and thin and that is really the only weak point for this otherwise awesome approach shoe. It is made of the same layers of fabric as the upper and has a ribbing around the perimeter. The problem is that there is no padding or interfacing to add stiffness so that it holds its shape. After a few days the edge of the tongue folded over on mine. You don’t notice it at first, but that little bit of extra pressure builds up over a long day and leaves your whole foot sore.
I was able to take a bit of care when putting them on to keep the tongue from folding and that pretty much solved the problem, but it took some time to figure out and that lead to a couple of really uncomfortable days. The light tongue also prevents you from getting the shoe really good and snug, so you just have to get used to a slightly loose fitting shoe. Not a big deal really.
These shoes did really well in urban and hard surface walking around town and also were great on the long hike we did from Chefchaoeun in the Riff Mountains near Jebel el-Kelaa. They aren’t super soft like a running shoe, but the stiffness of the sole makes them stable and agile.
I recommend these for light hiking and mountaineering approaches. I wore them a few times in the snow before we left on the trip and they had great traction for such a light trail shoe due to the stiff rubber sole and the deep tread. I wouldn’t use them for backpacking because the upper is not really secure enough, even if you are used to backpacking in a trail shoe. Otherwise, these are great and on super sale all over the web. They’re a few bucks cheeper now @ Sierra Trading Post, so grab some.