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Summer hiking/approach shoes


I'm in the market for a new hiking shoe this summer. I've been wearing a pair of Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX for the past few years but the tread is finally wearing down. As much I love those shoes (they fit my wider toes well), I'd prefer something lighter and more breathable for the day hikes/weekend trips I'm going on now. 

I've mostly been hiking in the Catskills and Adirondacks lately so I'm looking for a shoe that can primarily handle 10+ miles on wet grass/dirt/scree but is also capable of tackling Class III/IV scrambling if I go off trail. The two pairs I've been looking at are the Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero and La Sportiva TX3. Or perhaps the Scarpa Zen Pro. Does anyone have any experience with these, or recommendations for one or the another, or another shoe entirely? This would be my first foray into the world of approach shoes and I just don't know how they'll perform (or whether I need them) when compared to hiking shoes. 

Thank you! 

6 Replies

Hi @Ben_Vrackie

For my low-top hiking shoes I use approach shoes, because they fit just like a running shoe/sneaker, but have the same rubber as climbing shoes, which means they are super grippy. They are also very light and have good tread on the ground.

Here is an article I like about why approach shoes can be more ideal in certain situations than hiking boots/shoes. Here is another article I like that compares approach shoes, trail running shoes (these are also a great option for hiking shoes), and hiking boots.

The downside of approach shoes is that, although they are lighter than hiking shoes/boots, they tend to still be heavier than many trail running shoes. Thus, if you're looking for a super light option that still has good grip, large tread, a comfortable fit, and versatility, I'd suggest looking into trail running shoes as your go-to hiking shoe.

La Sportiva is my favorite approach shoe brand, but there are many other great brands as well, such as Arc'teryx, Black Diamond, Five Ten, and Scarpa. REI sells a couple of approach shoes by these brands, as well as a couple of other brands.

Personally, my go-to trail shoe is the La Sportiva TX Guide (approach shoe), but I have several other shoes that I will wear for hiking, including La Sportiva's Busido II trail running shoe. The La Sportiva TX3 that you mentioned is also a great, high-performance approach shoe.

Hope this helps!

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Hi @bryndsharp,

Thank you very much for the reply! Those articles were very helpful, both the TX3s and the TX Guide look like terrific options. I understand that for extended treks with a heavy pack I'd be better served with proper hiking boots and I'll likely get a pair of those in addition to a new, lighter pair of trail shoes. 

I hope you don't mind a follow up question, since I have zero experience with approach shoes. In your experience doo you think the TX3s would hold up over several miles on varied ground? I'm sure they're excellent on rock, I just don't know how they would perform on grass/mud/dirt/foliage that's common on the trails in the forests and hills around here. I love scrambling, but realistically that makes up about 10% of my day hikes.

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply! I really appreciate it! 


p.s. your photos are incredible! I have a trip to Torres del Paine planned when travel opens back up


Hi @Ben_Vrackie I'm glad you found those articles helpful.

As for your follow-up question, I would say that I believe the TX3 approach shoe would hold up and do fine in the terrain you have mentioned. However, I think a trail running shoe might be a better way to go if you have few solid rock encounters. They tend to have larger treads and will probably hold up longer in the mud, dirt, grass, and foliage that you have mentioned.

If you decide to buy a pair of hiking boots for longer treks with heavy packs, I suggest investing in a pair that is water-proof, especially if you are going to be backpacking in a region that is wet/where you will encounter water. My favorite hiking boot is the KEEN Terradora II Waterproof Mid Hiking Boot. It's water-proof, has great support, is incredibly grippy, and is super comfortable. I have used these boots for 50+ mile treks and they have never failed me once. I believe that the men's version of this boot is the KEEN Targhee EXP Mid WP Hiking Boot, but I would double check with someone that works at REI about that.

Thanks about the photos! Patagonia and Torres del Paine are amazing. If you want any restaurant/site/other recommendations for the region let me know, I actually lived in Chile for a year back in 2017!

Hope these comments help, and don't hesitate to reach out with other questions you might have!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hey @bryndsharp

I reckon you're right, I would be better served by a trail runner. Thank you for figuring that out for me! There seems to be a lot of variation in drop height and cushioning in this category... I'll have to do my research to figure out what I need, though my guess would be a higher drop and more cushioning since that's what I'm used to. Is the Bushido II your go-to trail running shoe or have you tried Scarpa or Salomon shoes as well? I'm all ears for any recommendations you may have.

You know what, I just might get in touch re: Chile. My plans earlier this year fell through because of coronavirus but hopefully can find time to hike the W or O in December! 

Thanks so, so much for all your help!

Hi @Ben_Vrackie, no problem!

Yes, the category of trail running shoes has a lot of variability. The La Sportiva Bushido II is my all-time favorite trail running shoe. I love it for both trail running and day hikes. If you end up buying this shoe, just make sure you order a 1/2 larger than your current running/hiking shoe. My brother actually just bought the men's version of this shoe from REI and has already fallen in love with them haha. I haven't tried any trail runners by Scarpa or Salomon - I've used several different trail runners made by La Sportiva and have found them to be amazing, so I have just stuck to the brand that I know and trust.

I hope you're able to get to Torres del Paine - both the W and O are amazing! I was in Torres del Paine in November 2017. The weather in November/December is pretty similar, although the weather throughout the park varies greatly from season-to-season. Feel free to reach out if you want any tips about Chile/Patagonia/Torres del Paine/nearby towns/other stuff!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Thank you so much for your help, @bryndsharp! I think I'll have to check out a pair of the Bushidos now haha. I really appreciate you answering all these questions. I will definitely reach out about Chile closer to travel time! Here's to hoping there are no more pandemics in our future!