Dolomite are one of those underrated brands that deserve to get more attention. They make high quality products that are well designed and built to last. In the reviews of the brand that we've done in recent years (namely the Steinbock, Veloce and Kendal) each have received glowing reports. But until now I was yet to review anything from Dolomite myself, so I was excited to get my hands on a pair of the Velocissima - especially after the interview we conducted back at our Trade Show Reports earlier in the year.
The term 'approach shoe' gets bandied around a lot these days, but it doesn't really do the Velocissima justice, as it's capable of much more. Its full-length lacing and low volume fit make it well suited towards not just scrambling, but outright climbing too, with a fully reinforced toe-box and a low profile midsole which keeps you impressively close to the rock. And unlike some shoes of a technical nature, it's also at home walking, with enough substance to offer support for your foot (i.e. it's light, but it's not too light); however, it's not what I'd necessarily call a hillwalking specialist - as is the case with most approach shoes, designed in drier countries than ours, its forte is undoubtedly on rough, rocky and technical terrain. Its woven construction makes it well suited towards warmer conditions, being both highly breathable and quick drying (when it inevitably gets wet). In winter this can feel a little cold, but in winter it's likely that you'll be wearing boots instead.
The weave construction and sock fit is a fascinating and quite forgiving one, with a bit of stretch, but not too much. Part of this comes down to its full length lacing, but it also comes down to its relatively low volume, which helps to keep your foot secure on more technical ground. The sock fit is great at keeping your foot in place, but can also make your foot a bit tricky to get in - particularly when new - but this eases with time.
In terms of sizing there are two ways you could approach the Velocissima. By sizing them half a size down you get an incredibly technical feel which would be amazing for climbing and scrambling, but would require a bit of wearing in for the longer walk-ins. This is what I opted for, partly because at the time I first received them this was the only size that was available. Were I to have had the choice I'd have liked to have tried on my actual high street shoe size, as I suspect this would have had more instant comfort on the walk-ins, but could have felt a little less precise on technical ground. Either way, the size I got (half size down) wore in after a few outings and has felt comfortable ever since.
Just to repeat the message we always like to remind people of: it's always worth trying to get to a shop to try a pair on - especially now that they're all open again!
When I first heart about the weave construction I must admit I felt a bit concerned, particularly given the technical nature of the shoe, because use within such terrain tends to be quite high-wear, and I wasn't sure how durable the weave construction would be. Even when they arrived I continued to be a little concerned, not least because of their weight, but several months on - and a lot of hard use later - they're showing no signs of wear.
Looking at the construction in a little greater detail perhaps I should have had more faith. The fact they're seamless means that there are fewer points of weakness. There's also a variation within the weave so that they're tighter around the base, making them more abrasion resistant, and then looser around the top, which is more breathable. Only around the lacing do you see exposed stitching, but the construction looks absolutely bombproof. It's also worth mentioning that they are made in Italy, something which is obvious when you pick them up, as they feel like a product constructed to an extremely high standard.
The Velocissima features Vibram Megagrip, with a climbing zone at its front and a more rugged tread around the rest of the sole. It's relatively flat in its profile, without a distinct heel, which doesn't make it the greatest shoe on wet grass and mud; however, that isn't (realistically) what it's supposed to be used for - it's just that this is the sort of terrain we inevitably cross in the UK to get to most of our rockier terrain. This will undoubtedly put some people off, particularly in the UK, but this isn't to say it's without any grip - it's just that it takes quite a lot to grip on wet grass and mud when at extreme angles! The tread on the Velocissima is certainly more effective on mixed terrain than the flatter 'dotty' soles found on many approach shoes.
The midsole itself is incredibly low profile, which means that in use they feel nice and sensitive, due to the foot being that bit closer to the rock. This obviouly means that there's a little bit less cushioning for when you're walking, but that's always going to be a trade-off with this sort of footwear.
At 720g a pair (in UK 8) the Velocissima is light, but not super light, and this is a major part of its appeal. The fact corners haven't been cut within certain features (such as the reinforced toe box) means that it still provides ample support for technical use. Another benefit to a bit of extra weight is the knock-on effect that this has to durability, and I foresee the Velocissima lasting a long time and multiple resoles.
It's hard to find fault with the Velocissima, particularly on technical ground, where it really does perform incredibly well. It's light, but not too light, and in spite of its weight still manages to provide ample support. When it comes to walking it's just a case of sizing them according to what you're looking for: a more precise fit for technical ground or a slightly more relaxed fit to let your feet spread whilst on the approach and descent. Were there to be a downside it would have to be price, because £160, is it at the top end of the pricing spectrum for this sort of footwear. I'd argue that from its construction alone it's worth it, and it'd definitely last through a fair few resoles, but as always that decision will come down to whatever your budget happens to be (and whether or not they fit).
Designed for both climbing and hiking, this lightweight shoe has an essential upper with no stitching in Perspair® woven technology which ensures breathability and, in combination with the dobule lasting rubber toe, the ultimate protection against cuts and abrasions. The brand new Crossover sole Dolomite by Vibram®, in MegaGrip compound is specifically conceived as a bridge between approach and hiking, providing the optimal balance between traction and grip. Moreover the stretch tongue and the full wrapping lacing system guarantees a close-fitting up to the toe, enabling a higher control and precision on each step. First-choice features that all together give raise to a shoe designed to live the mountains quickly and safely.
- Sizes: 3.5 - 12.5 inc half sizes
- Weight: 720g / pair size 8
- Upper: Perspair© Woven fabric - Stretch fabric
- Lining: Air mesh lining
- Sole: Die cut Eva midsole - Vibram© Crossover bottom - Megagrip rubber compound
- Footbed: Moulded Eva
- Flex index: medium