Editors' Choice Classic: Five Ten Guide Tennies Approach Shoe

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Five Ten Guide Tennies Approach Shoes

An approach shoe in its purest form

A small slip on the descent from Sentinel Rock in Yosemite in July 1985, was enough to launch Five Ten as a company, approach shoes as a gear category, and sticky rubber as a necessity for climbing. Charles Cole revolutionized the climbing world in 1986 with his creation of Stealth high-friction rubber, and then he did it again when he slapped it on the bottom of the Five Tennie to give climbers better traction when traveling to and from climbs. Although the Five Tennie was relatively successful, the uppers fell apart easily, so climbers would take the rubber from them and put it on their climbing shoes. Since that model lacked the burl and brawn that climbers truly needed, Five Ten answered the call with the Guide Tennie in 1995. “I have worn them religiously since they came out,” one climber said. “Who doesn’t?” 

The dot pattern on the sole was the first of its kind, and it proved to offer the highest friction and most purchase on slick, slabby rock, while the flat zone up near the toe provided a climbing area for edging. A snug fit and rubber up over the toe means you can climb moderate routes, jam cracks, and do technical scrambling with ease, and a thick but breathable upper protects your feet without succumbing to abuse. And they’ve gotten better with age—now they come in a canvas low-top, leather low-top, and a leather high-top. “You simply cannot get a better approach, scramble, easy-climbing, big wall, and everyday shoe.” 

$120–$140; fiveten.com

Further Reading:
Editors’ Choice Classic: The Climbing Gear Hall of Fame