May 14, 2021

Best Women Approach Shoes

Typically, approach shoes are a hybrid of hiking and climbing shoes. Like hiking footwear, they are durable, supportive, and comfy. What's more, they feature a snug fit and sticky rubber-like climbing shoes. This combination of features provides better foot placement on rocky routes.

Besides, the best approach shoes normally has a rubber toe cap, which is handy in shielding the foot when penetrating cracks. So, which are the best women's approach shoes? Unfortunately, there are plenty of variables that have to be weighed to arrive at the best approach shoes for women. 

Fortunately for you, we have tested and reviewed numerous women's approach shoes and compiled a list of the best ones. But we didn't stop there; we have as well written a comprehensive buying guide to make it easier for you to find the best women's approach shoes. If you are looking for men's shoes, read our buyers guide for the best approach shoes for men.

Let's get started!

List of the 5 Best Women's Approach Shoes

#1 La Sportiva TX2 Women's Approach Shoe

The La Sportiva TX2 is the lightest approach shoe in the TX line. Each shoe weighs 9.8 ounces and features a minimalistic build, though it is a feature-rich approach shoe. It is extremely breathable and performs like a trail-running shoe. 

Again, this shoe is reliable when hiking for long hours due to the extra stiffness on the toe box and the Vibram rubber compound. The downside with this impressive pair of approach shoes is that they're not quite durable, particularly when abused. However, they are for women with strong feet who like the minimalist design. 

Moreover, they have an elastic loop for convenient carry on the harness, making them ideal for climbing on terrain with walk-off descents. Overall, this is a reliable, supportive, and functional approach shoe. 

What we liked:

  • Comfortable;
  • Lightweight;
  • Impressive climbing ability.

What we didn't like:

  • Not quite durable;
  • No sturdy outsole and cushion. 

#2 La Sportiva TX4 Women's Approach Shoe

Here we have yet another climbing shoe from the TX line. It offers spectacular protection, durability and is ideal for almost anything, from toting up climbs to hiking for long hours with heavy luggage. It features the Vibram rubber compound, and it is one of the tackiest we've tested for hiking and scrambling.

In addition, this approach shoe has a wide toe box allowing for unique comfort during your adventure, which is impressive for an all-around approach shoe. 

La Sportiva TX4's leather breathability is below-average, and it may soak in water during long adventures if exposed to the elements; however, it is impressively tough. Overall, this is a top-quality all-around approach shoe, offering versatility, durability, comfort, and support. 

What we liked:

  • Durable;
  • Supportive;
  • Leather upper offers a snug fit.

What we didn't like:

  • Expensive;
  • Breathability can be compromised during hot weather.

#3 Arc'teryx Konseal FL 2 Women's

The Arc'teryx Konseal approach shoe has a hybrid build that integrates a snug fit, traction, and support of approach footwear with the comfort and agility of trail-runner shoes. This combination makes this approach shoe a great all-around shoe for scrambling, trail running, and alpine climbing. 

The sole is made of Vibram mega-grip rubber with a restructured drag pattern that improves performance across different routes. With the mesh upper and foam heel combined with its lightweight build, the Konseal FL is agiler and lighter than most footwear in this review. 

Regardless of its thorough build, Arc'teryx Konseal approach shoe still has a few disadvantages, such as reduced durability. Also, the toe box is streamlined, which might be too tapered for some. On the other hand, for mountain scrambling and various ascents, its blend of performance and weight is hard to beat. 

What we liked:

  • Excellent performance;
  • Lightweight;
  • Supportive.

What we didn't like:

  • Less durability;
  • Unimpressive precision.

#4 SCARPA Crux Air Approach Shoe Women's

This amazing approach footwear from Scarpa is an incredible all-around approach shoe. The upper is made of suede, and it stretches minimally; and while this might sacrifice comfort, it guarantees a snug and secure fit.

When it comes to the outsole, the Crux Air features a modernized Mega-grip rubber which is rather impressive. The shriller treads allow for remarkable performance on softer routes such as snow and wet leaves. 

Also, for summer adventures, the Scarpa Crux Air is extremely breathable and lightweight. The climbing ability of this approach shoe is excellent, and this, combined with an inexpensive price tag, makes it one of the best approach shoes for women. 

What we liked:

  • Affordable;
  • Lightweight;
  • Breathable.

What we didn't like:

  • Not comfortable for extended adventures.

#5 Black Diamond Women's Technician Approach Climbing Shoes

The Technician is a functional and affordable approach shoe ideal for technical scrambles. It is specifically built for scrambles since it has a flat sole for better precision, a streamlined toe box for stability, and rubber on the front part of the shoe. 

In addition, the upper is made using sturdy and breathable Enduro-Knit material. Remember that this thorough design translates to reduced comfort; therefore, if you like scrambling and prefer hiking for a short while, the Black Diamond Technician is the way to go. When it comes to sizing, we recommend sizing up half or one size more if you're not looking for a tight fit. 

What we liked:

  • Ideal for technical rock;
  • Inexpensive;
  • Excellent precision.

What we didn't like:

  • Not comfy for long adventures.

Types and Uses of Women Approach Shoes

There are different types of approach shoes for women, and each is designed for a different purpose. Here they are:

1. Hiking-oriented approach shoes 

If you prefer hiking to climbing, you should go for hiking-oriented approach shoes. Typically, they have a more spacious toe box and comfortable fit, allowing your toes to spread effortlessly. Also, they feature smooth and arch support for hiking for extended periods.

The larger notches in the rubber sole usually offer improved traction when walking on wet routes or downhill. Nevertheless, what you count as an advantage when hiking might be a disadvantage when climbing. 

2. Climbing-oriented approach shoes 

If you require approach shoes, you can climb in; climbing-oriented approach shoes are the way to go. They are typically more rigid, tight-fitting, and lighter. In addition, they may feature dot-patterned indents in the rubber sole. For this purpose, read our approach vs. climbing shoes article.

These indentations guarantee plenty of contact with the rock, thus generating additional friction. And as we all know, friction is necessary when climbing. But, these approach shoes are not suitable for wet terrain. Usually, the more technical your adventure, the more rigid the shoe is supposed to be to support your feet effectively. 

3. Descent shoes 

This is a combination of climbing-specific and hiking-specific approach shoes. While you might not wear them at the bottom of the climb, you may fasten them on your harness and carry them to the top of the climb. Here, you will change your climbing shoes and wear decent shoes for the walk-off back to the bottom. 

The perfect descent shoes are lightweight and relatively tacky for slippery rock surfaces. The pair we found to feature these qualities is the La Sportiva TX2 which is incredibly light and doesn't give up the structure. 

Best Womens Approach Shoes-p

4. Snow and ice 

At times returning to the bottom of the terrain might be tricky. Then, passing through glaciers and snowfields was the work of mountaineering boots, but no more. Nowadays, this can be done using snow and ice approach shoes.

Some of this footwear is robust enough for maneuvering through swift parts of snow without needing crampons. For this, we have the TX4 approach shoes. They are robust enough to maneuver kicking steps and walking through glaciers. Besides, crampons would fit well, considering they have a reinforced toe and spacious heel. 

5. Big wall climbing 

When jumaring and aid climbing, it would be best to have shoes with a rigid midsole to keep your feet comfy. When testing our approach shoes for this review, we found the La Sportiva TX4 to be ideal for big wall climbing.

However, even though the TX2 are stiff in the midsole, they do not provide sufficient lateral support. Since climbers usually carry a lot of gear, weight is typically not a significant factor on big walls. 

Women's Approach Shoes Buying Advice

There are several factors to consider before making a purchase, including;

1. Approach shoes value 

Price is typically a significant consideration when buying anything. We think of value as a blend of value and price. Basically, this is the performance the shoe offers per dollar. Most of the approach shoes we tested in this list ranked almost similarly, which might make your decision a bit challenging. 

Among the top values we found was the La Sportiva TX2. Why? Because it is cheaper than most shoes in this review. Besides, it is an excellent all-rounder approach shoe for almost any climbing adventure. As seen above, it is incredibly versatile, and its climbing ability is impressive. 

2. Approach shoes climbing ability 

Climbing ability is the other variable. Your approach shoe should have an above-average climbing ability, especially if you prefer technical climbing. This can be determined by the rubber compound used in the shoe as well as the size and pattern of the indentations on the rubber sole. 

Typically, narrow lugs are ideal for climbing, while larger lugs are perfect for hiking. The shoes you purchase should be tacky for scrambling and light enough for climbing comfortably. The other things to consider are smearing, light edging, and sensitivity.

Furthermore, if you plan on utilizing your approach shoes for descending, check the rubber's gripping capacity and stability. In addition, how well they perform on dry or wet rock is essential because the weather might change at some point during your adventure. 

3. Approach shoes hiking comfort 

If you are more into hiking than climbing, you need an approach shoe that offers comfort, support, and protection. Typically, approach shoes are supposed to be reliable and support you when walking, even when carrying a lot of gear. In addition, they should be comfy enough to wear for long hours during your adventure but not too long since this beats these shoes' purpose. 

You can go for hiking boots if you plan to hike for a long time. But, again, approach shoes for hiking should also offer a decent amount of shielding from rocks, branches, and bushes. You can also go for water-resistant shoes since they help keep off elements like snow and water. 

4. Approach shoes support 

Normally, the support you require is determined by the load you will be carrying during your adventure. If, for instance, you have a full backpack and other gear for a long adventure, support is essential. 

Even though support is mainly related to hiking, it can significantly affect the shoe's ability to climb. If an approach shoe has a more rigid midsole, it will offer additional arch support, preventing your feet from getting tired. 

When climbing, this shoe will come in handy, particularly during crack climbing or edging if it has a snug fit. On the other hand, a more rigid midsole could affect the shoe's ability to smear if it restricts part of the rubber from touching the rock. 

If you are going to a place with snow when wearing your approach shoes, the rigid midsole is useful in kicking steps to maneuver lower-angle patches effortlessly. Every shoe's ranking in this review accounted for 20% of its total score. 

5. Approach shoes weight and packability 

The weight of your approach shoes is vital when they are inside your climbing pack or on your harness or when you are wearing them. Hiking while wearing a shoe that weighs less than one pound will feel less tiring than having heavy hiking boots, and this goes for carrying the shoes as well. 

Weigh in the weight of the approach shoe precisely if you are spending a lot of time carrying them or climbing in them. Most of the time, the more this ration leans towards carrying over climbing, the lighter the approach shoes you should buy. 

For this, you should consider the La Sportiva TX2. On the other hand, they are a few downsides that come with reducing weight. The lighter the shoe you choose, the less durability, stability, and protection it probably provides. Depending on how you intend to use them, if you need your shoes to be high-performance, avoid streamlining too much. 

Conclusion

Approach shoes, just like climbing and hiking shoes, are tricky to choose. Hopefully, this guide will help you find the best women’s approach to climbing shoes.

Our #1 Product Recommendation in the Best Women's Approach Shoes Category

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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