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This story originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of our print edition.
“I wear these to work, on the approach, then climb up to 5.6 or 5.7,” said one tester after scampering around on some of Boulder’s classic free-soloing terrain: The Dome in Boulder Canyon and on the First, Second, and Third Flatirons. “Any time getting there involves fourth or low-fifth class, I reach for the Crux, and the canvas version means I can comfortably wear them in any climate.” To-the-toe lacing dials in a perfectly snug fit, and a small network of forefoot webbing with Kevlar offers increased support by connecting directly to the laces at midfoot, so when testers cranked the shoes down, they “could feel the whole upper being wrapped tighter around the foot.” Add a sticky rubber sole with a flat climbing zone at the toe and a burly toe rand, and you’ve got the best climbers in the test, from jamming and edging to slabs and choss. A canvas upper with mesh in key zones (around the ankle and on the comfortably padded tongue) made the Crux incredibly breathable when feet were putting off a lot of heat, but the tough canvas material also provided plenty of protection and durability for excessive rock abrasion. Get a leather (slightly less breathable, slightly more durable) version for $6 more.
These are the closest to technical climbing shoes in the test, with a long-lasting upper that’s breathable and easy to wear for hours at a time. If you’re going to be climbing in approach shoes (Tetons, Wind Rivers) or have any technical terrain ahead, these are the answer.
Review: Our Top 5 Approach Shoes