Out of the box
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a shoe by its box? Maybe when it’s from Arc’teryx. I’ve loved my Arcteryx jacket, I’ve used for years ice climbing. I opened up my pair of Arcteryx Acrux FL GTX Approach Shoes, excited to what they can do. The separate inner liner is a new twist, designed to help keep your foot dry. I just needed to find a wet place to put their claims to the test.
On the trail
I headed out to Grove Greek canyon on a rainy day, perfect to see how well they’d hold up to wet rock, mud and rain. My first impression as I was heading up the well paved trail was that they were more stiff than my past approach shoes. I’m used to very flexible leather shoes, with rock climbing rubber. It seems on the spectrum of hiking to climbing shoes, these were falling closer to the hiking shoe. They’ll take a bit of breaking in, but were still comfortable and didn’t get any hotspots.
It didn’t take long for me to get bored with a normal trail. These are approach shoes right? Let’s push them a little. If only I had some ‘death scree’ to scramble up. Oh look! I must have picked a line that looked pretty tough, because friendly hiker yelled up asking if I was okay. Either he thought it looked sketchy, or thought I looked like a noob heading for trouble. My ego and I think it’s the former.
Off The Trail
I’ve hiked up and down endless hills of mud, scree and weeds, looking for caves or trying to get to a crag. The Acrux did as good as or better than my other shoes, and on par with my expectations of the shoe. It had plenty of traction on slippery grass and mud, and would give me good foot holds in the sliding scree. I scrambled up to some small cliffs to see how they’d do on rock. The sole seemed stiffer than other approach shoes, so I was concerned they wouldn’t have the grip. I especially want a shoe with good grip doing slot canyoneering in Southern Utah. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they were sticking to the wet rock. And so far in the rain, wet foliage and mud the shoe was shedding water as advertised and keeping my toes warm and dry. Scrambling back down further showed how well they would stick to rock, wet grass, mud and loose rocks as I descended faster than expected.
How Wet Can it Get
Finally before heading back to the car, I wanted to see just how far I could push the shoes before my socks would get wet. So down to the creek I went!
Once again the traction on the wet rocks was better than I was expecting, based on how hard the soles are. But I was able to walk on the rocks without slipping into the stream. But that’s not a good test, so slip or not I dropped into the stream. Water would wash over the top of the shoe, but wasn’t getting into the shoe. It worked as well as the claims. Of course if I put my foot in past the ankle, water can get in through the top. But even when I did that, I didn’t notice much. At the end of the trail when I took the shoes off, my feet were dry!
•More stiff than I’m used to. More like a hiking shoe, than a crag shoe.
•Because of this it takes longer to break them in than other shoes in the same category
•Harder to get on and off with the inner liner
•Price. Arc’teryx is usually worth the high price tag, but it’s still a lot of money
•Good traction on trail, mud, rock, wet grass etc
•Keeps your feet dry
•Inner liner while harder to get on, also gives you a good fit.
This will probably become my go to hiking shoe. And I’m going to love it for caving, as it gives good support, durability and traction. Canyoneering I still want to try it, to see if it can compare to my Five Tens. On something like the Grand Teton it would do really well getting you to and beyond base camp. For local crag climbing I’ll probably prefer a simpler, more flexible shoe I can get on and off easier, and with rock climbing rubber.