Editor’s Choice: Scarpa Rapid Approach Shoes

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Most approach shoes are uncomfortable to walk in for long distances. And that makes sense, given their typical construction: a thick upper designed for extreme abrasion resistance, and a tight toe box and flat, stiff sole intended for climbing precision on fourth- and fifth-class terrain. The design is effective on small foot holds but clunky, heavy, and hot the rest of the time—not ideal for casual hikes or outdoor hangs.

Scarpa’s new Rapid ($159) offers a solution. It’s light (10.4 ounces per shoe), airy, conducive to fast hiking or even running, and flexible enough to lend confidence on slabby, smeary rock—a situation when stiffer approach shoes can actually feel less secure. In fact, we loved the Rapid not just for climbing but for hiking as well.

That’s because it looks—and strides—like a trail-running shoe, with a rockered, dual-density EVA midsole, a slightly roomy toe box, and a thin mesh upper and tongue that breathe well and avoid the excess material that can make other approach shoes feel cumbersome. The Rapid’s shock-absorbing midsole and airy upper held up well and dried quickly on a steep, wet four-night backpacking trip in the jungle of northern Panama. “I packed a whole blister-care kit and never had to break it out,” said a tester. Note: that light build is most at home on fast-and-light missions and day hikes.

But the Rapid also boasts a sticky Vibram Megagrip outsole, which kept testers’ feet planted on low-angle rock, and a TPU insert at the toe to increase edging stiffness without compromising underfoot flexibility or toe-box breathing room. “We were pulling moves in our approach shoes that I would not ever want to do again,” said one tester after a hairy, fifth-class approach to 12,195-foot North Peak in the Sierra. “But I was surprised that the Rapid performed so well on edges.” We love this shoe because it simplifies our decision-making process when gearing up for the mountains. It’s a quiver of one that’s perfect for trips that will have running, hiking, and climbing on the menu.

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