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This story originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of our print edition.
“When I think of ‘approach shoes,’ this is exactly what I envision,” one tester said of the burly but nimble Gecko, worn at various crags in the Pacific Northwest. “They feel tactical, like I could scamper up anything.” At 13.5 ounces for a half pair of men’s size 9, these are relatively heavy, but offer protection and durability. These were the best climbers in the test, with lugs in the midfoot and rear for the trail and a flat climbing area underneath the toes for technical edging, plus over-the-toe rubber for cracks. A dual-density midsole offers stiffness and support for climbing (the stiffest shoes in the test). One downside to that rigidity is that these were uncomfortable for long days with heavy packs. Suede uppers were supple after a few weeks, and loosening the laces made for easy transitions between climbing and belaying, while tightening the laces increased security for vertical terrain. After four months of abuse, the Gecko showed no degradation. The combination suede and polyester mesh upper was breathable, but testers found it performed best in cooler temps and shoulder seasons.
For approaches that involve a lot of scrambling, scree, or sections up to 5.8, the Gecko is the stiff, supportive, protective, durable, and burly shoe for the job. For cushy comfort and lighter weight shoes, look elsewhere.
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