This story originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of our print edition.
Yes, Arc’teryx is making shoes! No, their, ahem, approach, is not like anything you’ve seen before. The construction and design are comprised of an inner liner and an outer shell. With two models, the FL is fixed inside, but in the pricier Alpha FL model, you can change out the liner depending on performance needs (more insulation, waterproofing, breathability, etc.). We tested the less pricey Alpha FL and its built-in, lightly padded mesh liner and found it performed well on slabs and low-angle surfaces. The Vibram “approach” sole has the climber’s perfect trifecta of large lugs in the back for braking on the downhill, dot rubber in the mid and forefoot for excellent purchase on slabs, and a flat edging platform beneath the toes. (A standard, fully lugged “hiking” sole is also available.) “Complete comfort at first wear thanks to the mesh liner with thin foam, and the super-beefy sole package provided support for heavy loads and protection from trail obstacles.” Testers liked the rounded heel, which allowed for a more ergonomic foot strike and decreased the pounding that feet and legs take on steep and fast descents. Burl caveat: If you like an agile, precise feel underfoot, these may feel a bit clunky, as one tester noted.
You wouldn’t expect such beefy, sturdy shoes to be so comfortable from the get-go, but the padded inner lining and midsole offer ample support and make them easy to wear for all lengths of approaches and all weights of packs.
$190 (non-GTX), $220 (GTX); arcteryx.com
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