It’s time once again to put on my gear-testing hat, or, in this case, my gear testing shoes. I tried out Arc’teryx’s new Arakys Approach Shoes in a variety of scrambles and scrabbles, and my feet felt just splendid.
First of all, for those naysayers, approach shoes are a great invention. They can’t replace your long-distance hiking shoes, nor are they built to take on long approaches, but for bouldering, single pitch outdoor climbing, and quick routes at the climbing gym, they are the perfect thing. They have the thick, durable sole and toe protection of climbing shoes, but they’re more comfortable, flatter, and have more arch support. In short, compared to squinching your feet into climbing shoes, these feel like a dream. This Arc’teryx model, in particular, is orthopedic, cushioned, and has a massage-like effect on your footsies. Plus, you can wear them barefooted, so if you’re looking for the belay slipper of your dreams, this just may be them. Once I put these on, I didn’t really want to take them off. Like, at all.
As for their grip, I jumped off a few boulders, onto a few more (and promptly dropped my camera, so that little outing went undocumented), and I have to say that the Arakys’ are incredible grippy. Their sole not only has grip going up the side, but the bottom is marked with circular outsets to catch the angles of whatever surface you’re on: ice, gravel, granite, limestone are no match for this sole. Pictured below are the approach shoes gripping the very flat brick walk though the garden, but, hey, look at ’em go.
I’ve discussed the sole (my #1 favorite part of this shoe), but my second favorite feature is the “laces.” I’m using quotations there because these aren’t like any laces you’ve seen. They’re flat, wide, and ribboned in an adjustable corkscrew up the shoe. They lay flat, keep the shoe tight, and raise up the shoe in just the right place to give you some extra arch support when tightened. Plus, they’re pretty cute.
Finally, more on the cuteness. The Arakys shoes come in a variety of neon tertiary colors. There’s a puce and an electric turquoise (as shown) — if you’re going to get an approach shoe, why get a boring color? You want to be able to find these in your closet, trunk, campsite…But, if that’s not your thing (FINE), they come in gray and black (but, really, are you trying to match or something?).
All in all, after a few outings and a few city walks, I’m very impressed. These are versatile, durable, and built to do their job: climb, grip, don’t slip. For scrabbles, scrabbly hikes, slippery days, and colorful days, these are my new go-to. In them, I feel like spiderwoman. I just need those suction cup hands and I’m good to go.
They’ll set you back $150, but you won’t need another pair for a long, long time. Maybe ever. Anything that keeps me from having to go shopping is worth it.