In an attempt to bridge the gap between technical walking shoe and lightweight running trainer Five Ten have produced the Access Approach Shoe. "They look fly", according to an unnamed Sheffield local; but how do they perform as an approach shoe? Here's my verdict.
The Access Approach Shoe is available with either a mesh or a leather upper and comes in several different colours. It's easy to see the design influence from Adidas with the Access, so if you want a shoe that you can wear both at the the crag and in town, this is a good option. I've been testing the leather model ('carbon' colourway), designed to offer more durability and warmth than the mesh version, which is extra breathable and faster drying, making it better suited to warmer conditions and arguably also better for hillwalking when you expect it to get wet.
Five Ten describe the Access as having a "technical fit", meaning they will feel quite snug straight out of the box. I recommend that you try them on before you buy, or, if that's not possible, err on the side of caution and go a half size up. I'm usually somewhere around a size 5.5, and the size 6 Access felt slightly tight to begin with; but the uppers stretched quickly and have been very comfortable.
The Access shoe features a Stealth S1 rubber sole, which provides great traction on rocky, slabby terrain in both wet and dry conditions. Five Ten's signature dotted sole - adding both durability and stickiness - also performed surprisingly well on steep, wet, grassy slopes and dirt trails, as I discovered on Lundy island recently. I should mention while we're on the subject, that Stealth S1 apparently offers superior grip on bicycle pedals too (if you're into that kind of thing.) The EVA foam midsole has a high rubber content, meaning that the shoe has plenty of shock absorption for hopping between boulders and a subtle reinforced toe cap also gives the shoe - and your toes - protection from wear and tear.
That said, one of my main concerns with the Access would be durability. The Access shoe is incredibly lightweight, and herein lies both its biggest advantage and greatest disadvantage: the shoe is very comfortable to wear but, if you're spending any serious time on rough ground, then don't expect the Access to last more than a few months of heavy use. Also, because the shoe is made of such lightweight materials, it doesn't provide much support for the muscles in your foot and ankle, leaving your lower limbs feeling exhausted after a long day if you're used to more supportive footwear. The insole is easy to replace, so you might be able to use something more supportive to help this issue, especially if you like strong arch support. The "rubberised exoskeleton lacing system" makes it easy to tighten the shoe for extra torsional support, but the structure of the shoe is too soft for this to be of much use on longer walks.
The Access is a super stylish, super lightweight trainer with an amazingly grippy sole. They are the perfect shoes for short walk-ins, easy low level scrambling, shorter hill walks on less testing terrain and generally farting about at the crag. However, for more serious long ridge routes, mountain crags, and steep scree approaches I'd recommend a more heavy duty approach shoe.
The Stealth® S1™ outsole on the Access features a climbing zone for added durability, technical edging and smearing performance. Deep heel lugs penetrate the dirt for stability on descents. The lightweight EVA midsole has a high rubber content which increases shock absorption and adds durability. The reinforced toe cap coupled with the rubberized exoskeleton lacing system make this a highly protective and supportive approach shoe.
- Stealth® S1™ rubber outsole with Climbing Zone™ toe
- Rubberized exoskeleton lacing system for added torsional support
- Reinforced toe cap protection
- Perforated nubuck leather upper
- Technical fit - May want to size up a half size
- 366g each (Size 9US)
- Price: £90
Originally from Edinburgh, Penny is a yoga teacher based in Sheffield.
After discovering the film Stone Monkey at age 4, she has been climbing for almost all her life. Although her primary focus is on sport climbing and bouldering, she has also dabbled with trad both at home and in North America.