Feelgood approach shoes that hug the heel for your next dirtbag adventure.
- Attractive, bold design
- Options for different laces
- Elasticated upper to slip on shoes – ideal for van life
- Wide footbed won’t suit everyone
- Grip on lugs limited to dry conditions
- Ankles can feel unsupported going uphill
Having evolved into a multi-functional shoe, Five Ten ‘Tennies’ are now seen on mountain-biking tracks and forest trails, as well as on the feet of people walking in to sample some gritstone.
One of the best approach shoes in our guide, they’re easy to slip on and off, thanks to the elasticated cuff at the top of the foot, with a padded tongue. The laces are flat and chunky, meaning they hold well and are easily adjusted, thanks to the eyelets that hold the shoe well. A rubber rand, typical of the Tennies, help with the shoes’ overall resistance to scuffs and rough terrain.
Tennies have evolved plenty over time, and while it can be easy to dismiss them in favor of more ‘technical’ approach shoes now available, they still pack in a lot of features. The high-friction Stealth S1 rubber outsole, for example, provides unbeatable grip in wet or dry conditions, and supplies security when walking across dry rocky terrain, whether it be a quartzite boulder or a rocky strewn path.
While they are up against La Sportiva and Salewa shoes designed more for high-octane adventures than the more casual lifestyle the Tennies were conceived to facilitate, these iconic shoes still have a place as a single pitch, easy-going comfortable approach shoe, and will continue to have a firm following.
• RRP: $120 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Weight (average, per shoe): 400g/14.2oz
• Materials: Leather upper; Textile lining; EVA Midsole; Stealth S1 rubber outsole
• Colors: Women’s: Night cargo, Core black & active orange / True green & real magenta / Khaki, core black & hazy yellow; Men’s: Carbon, core black & ash gray / Multi, ash gray & active purple / Khaki, core black & acid mint
• Compatibility: Approach, climbing, outdoor general
On the trails
The original approach shoes – the Five Ten ‘Tennies’ – are back (now owned by Adidas) and they’ve danced into the room in dazzling display of colors. For dirtbags who like their approach shoes as relaxed as their outlook, these are comfortable, wide-footbed approach shoes that feel almost slipper-like, meaning they are perfect for running in and out of the van and messing about below the crag.
We took the new shoe for a series of crag and trail test drives in the Peak District.
On test, the Five Ten Tennies womens’ shoes were both breathable and waterproof thanks to the leather upper and Textile lining. They felt super comfortable – simply due to their design, which allowed the toes and front foot to have plenty of room to spread out thanks to its extended toe rands.
The Five Ten Tennies felt at least a half a size bigger than some other shoes of the same sizing on test. Yet, despite this, the shoes were not as ‘baggy’ as I expected, with a comfortable, heel-hugging back and a flat neutral footbed for feet at the front of the shoe. For tired feet that have a tendency to ‘expand’ during hot weather, these would be perfect for all day comfort.
These aren’t necessarily the go-to approach shoe for a bad-weather day, but they performed pretty well on test thanks to the materials. They were able to cope with a surprising amount of abuse, thanks to the durability of the leather upper. Due to the sock-like construction around the tongue they were surprisingly good at preventing water getting in, but would struggle to keep the foot dry if the shoe was fully submerged ed or worn in torrential bad weather.
Tested during a trip on the gravelly paths towards Holyhead Mountain in Wales, and again in the Peak District, the Five Ten Tennies exceeded expectations in rough, open craggy terrain, thanks to their all-day comfort from the strong lacing and standout design.
After some initial apprehension about getting them dirty (who would want to get the pale suede muddy?!) these shoes managed to withstand a fair amount of impact, thanks to the EVA midsole and cushioned heel.
They were able to cope with long descents, providing all day comfort with their noticeable cushioned heel, although a lack of arch support may not suit everyone. Other approach shoes offer more arch support for those who require it, although the spacing within the shoe allows users who may not have a neutral profile to add additional insoles inside, without making the interior height spacing of the shoe super squashed.
As approach shoes go, the Five Ten Tennies were firm favourites for routes that required a lot of scrambling on rough terrain, the Stealth S1 rubber outsole, reminiscent of a gecko’s feet with its circular pads, seemed to grip onto the rock as well as a rock-climbing shoe.
To conclude, the Five Ten Tennies are an attractive, performance-focused pair of approach shoes that have come out surprisingly high in the test. Despite first appearances, they offer a power set of features that will bring a smile to your face.
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