I've recently received two awesome new approach shoes from adidas Outdoor to try out, and although rock season is coming to a close here in New England, I still had plenty of opportunities to try these shoes out.
First off, some general impressions about the adidas Outdoor approach shoe lineup. There are a couple of things that jumped out right of the bat. The first was the footbed. Typically, I replace the footbed of every shoe I own with a pair of Superfeet. The adidas shoes have a much beefier, and more supportive liner than almost every approach shoe I've ever purchased. I've toyed back and forth with Superfeet or no Superfeet, and for the most part I seem to be happy with the stock liners. Next up was the general fit. I have a wide foot for a size 9, so I did find the shoes to be a bit narrow. It took a day or two of wearing the shoes around town to feel like they were truly broken in. While I do wish they were a bit wider, overall the fit is snug and I think most folks will find they are right on point. Last, the overall construction. These shoes stood out as being heavier and beefier than most. If your looking for an ultralight approach shoe, adidas Outdoor probably doesn't make it. While I haven't had the opportunity to romp around in these shoes for a full season, I'm hoping that the heavier weight means that they will last a bit longer than most of the shoes I've used in the past.
Here's my initial thoughts after trying these shoes out for a few days each.
First up is the Terrex Solo. This is the lightest approach shoe on the adidas lineup. It feels and fits a lot like a classic adidas running shoe. These shoes as made of mesh, and you can actually see through them if you look closely. I liked how easy the laces are to tighten and felt like these shoes fit more snug than most approach shoes I've worn. For hot summer days or long approaches, I think the mesh siding will keep my feet from overheating, which is a pretty common problem in most beefy approach shoes. The tread design is somewhat interesting, as you can see below, but the stealth rubber is a huge perk. I'm not positive what particular blend of stealth is used, but these shoes have better grip on rock than anything I've ever worn. That being said, these shoes were not nearly as stiff as I would have liked. This shoe is truly just that, an approach shoe and nothing more. While the snug fit and stealth rubber make this shoe feel amazing on the walk up, the lack of stiffness in the sole makes this shoe a tough sell when it comes to climbing moderate 5th class terrain. Without a doubt this will be my top choice for hot summer approaches on humid Vermont days, particularly when the crag is a bit of a haul. The weight of this shoe is pretty on par with others, and would also be a shoe I would have no problem tossing in the pack, however, I would avoid climbing in this shoe because of the lack of stiffness. For those of you who wore the grey canvas 2012 Guide Tennie, you'll find that this shoe feels very similar, but is lighter and more breathable.
Next up, the Terrex Scope GTX. As the name implies, this is a fully waterproof approach shoe. It fit's similar to the Solo, but is noticeably heavier and beefier. I am a huge fan of this shoe. As someone who wears through shoes quickly, I'm pretty happy with the well built upper as well as the tread pattern. I have a feeling these shoes will last for quite some time. This shoe is noticeably stiffer than the Solo, and I had no problem climbing up to 5.7 in these shoes, which are also equipped with a stealth rubber sole. There is a more traditional "hiking" tread pattern on the bottom of these shoes. I found that these shoes had slightly less grip on rocky approaches, which one would assume has to do with the decrease in surface area on the bottom. However, in dirt and mud, these shoes feel more like a traditional hiker than an approach shoe. Overall, adidas did a good job of finding a strong balance between hiking and approach, and built a shoe that performs will in all categories. I do have a few issues with this shoe however. I don't love the lacing system. It's hard to really cinch down the shoes and get that secure snug fit you really want when your relying on your shoe in technical terrain. I also am not a huge fan of the tongue on this shoe, and strongly prefer the design on the Solo to the Scope's. Overall, this is a great do it all approach shoe. Compared to shoes like the Scarpa Crux or Guide Tennie, you'd probably find the fit and stiffness to be pretty similar, however the Scope is fully waterproof, and is a slightly lower profile. It will certainly be interesting to see how these hold up over time!
FULL DISCLOSURE: These shoes we're provided by adidas Outdoor at no cost, however the opinion above is no one's but my own.