Now that you have read about approach shoes here, and feel completely confident in your knowledge of approach shoes I want to delve more in depth by discussing/reviewing one model in particular. It will be a limited test as I recently injured a finger and so am not able to take the Crux’s up any climbing routes per se. What I did do was try and emulate that very scenario.
Montagne Verte, north of Mont-Tremblant, is a perfect place to test the Scarpa’s out as there are two very distinct parts to the light hike- and approach on dirt and a summit push on exposed rock, two surfaces approach shoes were designed for. Let’s see how the Scarpa Crux does:
No beginner should try this deadly loop. As you can see from the picture it is for serious hikers only and not near any civilization or road access (please disregard the car and road access). It is actually a beautiful loop that lasts from an hour to two depending on your fitness level. It ascends nicely so a lot of evaluation is crunched into this little hike, but let me tell you, the views make it totally worth the calf burn. What you should also notice is the picture is that the Crux’s are actually easy on the eyes. I say that in a surprising tone because many other approach shoes on the market look like a pizza drank too much tequila and threw up on itself. I love the Crux’s because they are über technical, but I can wear them on fancy dates at Burger King as well.
The first thing you will notice about these technical approach shoes when you put them on is the feel. They feel great. It feels like any other light hiker on the market, the only difference in my opinion is a noticeable firmness under the front of the foot (which we will get to shortly). The laces go down nice and low at the tip of the shoe allowing you to lock down your foot inside when needed in climbing or scrambling situation, and to further aide in this ratcheting they integrated Kevlar straps around the foot that really do the job well. After walking around with them you find a nice balance of firmness and yet there is no loss of underfoot feeling or tactility, a nice touch for a hiker who wants to feel more attached to what they are walking- I hate nothing more than walking in shoes that feel like planks with no sensitivity.
Yes this is a totally stupid photo of me trying to illustrate that the Scarpa Crux has a serious amount of grip. It gets this grip from its Vibram Vertical sole, a design made exclusively for Scapra. It is a stickier rubber than found on hiking boots so excels on rocky surfaces. Two other fantastic features of the sole is its ease at shedding dirt (a feature much appreciated by climbers because dirt/mud significantly reduces grip), and its three dimensional lug pattern that improves grip and braking power in three distinct directions. Does that sound corny, maybe, but think about that next time you lose your balance on a steep, rocky traverse and the shoe miraculously grips under your poorly placed foot.
Two words that may need explaining. Edging is extremely important to a climber who wants a good foot purchase on a tiny foot feature: it involves using the inside (or outside) edge of you shoe near the ball of the foot. In the cheesy picture I am not edging with either foot (but for a good pic see the close up here). The Crux have an excellent firmness under the forefoot. In the pic of the Vibram sole you can see the way the sole is actually reinforced on the inside edge and follows around the toe box area. These reinforced, stiff areas are what make this an invaluable approach shoe.
Smearing can be seen if you look at the pasty white chicken legs. It is more of a friction move used by placing as much rubber down as possible when no features are available. As we covered in the last Grip section, the shoe grips like a hyperactive child on a candy bar.
I have used several pairs of approach shoes back in my climbing hayday and I can honestly say that this was my all time favourite because it does everything well. Some approach shoes climb really well, but walking in them is like walking in ski boots, while others feel like slippers but are as good as flip flops when it comes time to scramble up the rock. The Scapra Crux nails every aspect. Hiking up Montagne Verte with a romantic dinner packed on my pack was super comfy, and when I reached the top rocky section they gripped and performed on all the technical sections I could find.
What I appreciated the most about the Crux was that it is not only a valuable shoe for the climber. I would, without any hesitation, buy this for day hikes and general outdoor use. They look respectable and smart so you can use this shoe almost anywhere without people looking at you funny (just me?).
They look great, they feel great and they perform great. I guess if I had to leave you with one last idea to capture the essence of the Crux I would say that it is the perfect road trip shoe. One shoe that can be used to do the museums in Chicago, hike the peaks in Colorado and get you to the base of any crack in Utah. The Swiss Army knife of shoes.
Some of Mark's other articles