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Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex approach shoes review: they look good and perform better

Precise-fitting and stiff-soled, Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex are comfortable and technically capable approach shoes

Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex
(Image: © Salewa)

Our Verdict

The Wildfire GTX is a comfortable tech approach shoe, designed to cope with muddy, wet, varied conditions in a sturdy, anti-rolling design that will provide extra assurances against slippage and climbing-shoe like precision in its fit.

For

  • Great support
  • Fantastic design
  • Climbing lacing
  • Vegan construction

Against

  • Fit is a bit narrow

Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex: first impressions

A shoe conceived and born on the mountains, the Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex promises comfort, technical coping abilities plus well-considered design – is this what we’ve been scrambling to get our hands on? 

The Salewa Wildfire, which sits proudly in our list of best approach shoes recommendations, blends traditional approach-shoe components with modern, climbing shoe–influenced design to result in a shoe built for agility and confidence on day walks and technical scrambling approaches, as opposed to long, arduous days out in scorching weather. (And if you’re wondering about the differences between approach shoes or hiking shoes we can help you understand what an approach shoe is intended for via those two links.)

A dual-density compression-moulded EVA midsole cushions your feet nicely on rugged trail surfaces. The breathable mesh upper and well-designed Exa shell over an injected 3D Cage provides both stretch and torsional stability for feet that require a little support without sacrificing weight concerns. 

Like many Salewa products, the Wildfire oozes plenty of alpine coolness, with its rugged versatile POMOCA Speed MTN sole for grip, traction and sure-footed climbing precision on technical mountain approaches, scrambles, traverses and climbs. 

It has a climbing zone at the toe, which ensures good edging performance – ideal when every step counts in technical terrain. Its POMOCA Butilic compound rubber provides better grip on rock in both dry and wet conditions, while the aggressive tread lugs offer improved traction on mud and softer terrain. 

The Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining provides sufficient waterproof and breathable protection which meant my feet felt comfortable despite their narrow fit for an approach shoes. Climbing lacing further supports the wrapping fit, especially at the forefoot and allows you to fine-tune the toe for greater precision in technical terrain. 

Inside, the breathable OrthoLite footbed provides superior cushioning and wicks away moisture, helping to keep your feet cooler and drier. According to Salewa’s tagline, the Wildfires are made to an ‘Alpine Fit’ specification, and they should be 100% blister free. 

Best-suited for technical approaches when a B1 boot might be deemed overkill, the Wildfire is a full-featured approach shoe that has the technical design and performance to provide security to tackle the next ridge you walk along. 

Specifications

• RRP: $170 (US) / £160 (UK) / €170 (EU)
• Weight (average, per shoe): Men’s 395g / 14oz Women’s 345g / 12oz
• Heel-to-toe drop: 11mm
• Materials: Exa Shell Over Injected 3D Cage upper with a breathable Gore-Tex mesh; EVA midsole; OrthoLite footbed; Pomoca Speed Mountain outsole
• Colors: Men’s Black / Black Olive & Walnut / Green & Black / Myrtle & Flux Green Women’s Blue / Grey
• Compatibility: Technical approach

Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex: on the trails and crags

The Wildfire GTX is a comfortable tech approach shoe, equipped with a versatile POMOCA Speed MTN sole for grip, traction and sure-footed climbing precision on technical mountain approaches, scrambles, traverses and climbs. 

The climbing zone at the toe really comes into its own when you’re edging around rocks on technical approaches and scrambles, and this sets it apart from many other shoes – this is a proper approach shoe, made for those who intend to climb.

Breathability

Testing the Salewa Wildfire across two varied weather windows – one period of bright beaming sunshine, one wet and overcast stint in the Lakes – meant these approach shoes were subjected to a variety of weather conditions, including some very wet and warm conditions.

Thanks to the use of Gore-Tex, the Salewa Wildfire were super breathable and protected against even the wettest submersion. Use of the OrthoLite comfort foam insoles provided ample cushioning and support for the arch, which prevented my feet from getting super tired after a day of hiking and climbing.

Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex on the trail

Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex on the trail (Image credit: Jessie Leong )

Waterproofing

During testing, on a series of particularly rain-sodden paths around Buttermere, the Wildfire GTX performed exceptionally well. Going past slippery rhyolite moraine, flooded gravel paths and wet wooden bridges were commonplace – but the shoes showed no sign of ‘absorbing’ the additional moisture. I was also concerned the shoes might show water damage, yet they seemed fairly resistant to water penetrating the membrane.

Fit

Although they felt fairly small, these shoes gave me the reassurance I needed for the rough mountain terrain I was covering. The lacing and the Exa Shell Over Injected 3D Cage felt like it was designed to really cushion the foot, so once I got used to the shoe and started to wear it in, it no longer caused me any worries.

The incredibly stylish Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex approach shoes

The incredibly stylish Salewa Wildfire Gore-Tex approach shoes (Image credit: Jessie Leong )

Performance and style

Salewa’s Widlfires are some of the most distinctive, handsome-looking shoes I have come across recently – but they also noticeably have the technology to deliver on performance. The glide traction technology helped stabilise my balance when descending glaciated slabs, with a new sole design that marked it out from the others.

Formula POMOCA was clearly designed in a lab – and the technology reflects the research gone into making sure the foot is supported in the natural rolling of the foot. By looking at how the foot moves – in an S-shape linked to the centre of pressure – the sole is supported both with a traction zone and gliding S path. Feet that have a tendency to pronate suddenly felt supported, meaning rough terrain and anxiety about lower foot injuries are placated thanks to Salewa’s innovative technology.

The Wildfires also provided some pretty distinctive comfort-focused features in the form of a padded accent tongue, which had lightweight, non-bulky foam pads and Salewa’s minimalistic logo in silver, whilst the precise easy to adjust flat laces felt secure and minimalized stopping required to redo loose laces.

The only slight grumble I had was that the Salewa Wildfires only have a small loop on the back of the shoe, which can just about be clipped to a harness using a small karabiner once you finish your approach and swap to climbing shoes, but if they featured a bigger piece of tape, this would add even greater versatility.

Overall

Overall, the Salewa Wildfire were one of my favourite approach shoes on test – some small adjustments to improve the multi-disciplinary aspect of these shoes and they will almost certainly be a firm go-to approach shoe.