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The climbing hikers, running sandals, and adventure-racing trail shoes on this page could be dismissed as gimmicky, or maybe just overly specializedcanyoneering shoes?but, believe us, fusion footwear is the future. You're going to see a lot more all-around shoes with climbing soles or drainage holes or sandal-style buckles.
There's not a classic design here, so if you're doing classic activities (climbing Half Dome, through-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail), these dogs won't hunter, walk. Where they excel is in niche sports (yes, canyoneering) and, paradoxically, in non-niche knocking around. Whether you're a rock scrambler who splashes, a trail runner who hikes, or some other kind of eclectic-minded foot owner, something here will suit your tastes.
All prices in U.S. dollars
Runners' feet sweat, right? Well, there's nothing more breathable than nothing. And that's the key benefit of the Teva Wraptor 2, which combines the tread and underfoot support of a trail runner with the upper of, well, a Teva. The straps have been carefully positionedand cushionedto minimize rubbing, while medial posting combats pronation.
Nike ACG Air Cinder Cone: The Mountain Goat Special
Exum Mountain Guides' elite staffers used to resole their Nike runners with climbing soles to create an all-in-one approach-and-climbing shoe for the Grand Teton. The master marketers in Oregon cleverly co-opted the idea; in the Nike ACG Air Cinder Cone they've added a high, protective rand and almost-to-the-toe lacing. Hike, then climb, then hike some more.
Merrell Chameleon Rush: The Quick-Fit Trail Artist
With its eight see-through mesh panels and trail-inspired design, the Merrell Chameleon Rush looks like a running shoe made for sandal lovers, or perhaps a light hiker suffering from water-shoe envy. In fact, it's true multiuse footwear: The neoprene collar and mesh keep out fine debris, while the buckles (the mesh leaves scant room for laces) provide a stable fit.
Designed for Switzerland, now popular in Zion National Park, the Five.Ten Canyoneer is basically a sturdy amphibious shoe ... plus. It melds this climbing company's Stealth rubber sole and a high rand with water-shoe-style buckles and drainage ports. If your perfect day includes hiking, splashing, and climbingin canyons or notthis could be your shoe.
In last fall's New Zealand Eco-Challenge, the winners ran in the Salomon XA Pro. The shoes are springyand protectivethanks to a semi-rigid chassis in the sole. (It's got four arms and is a dead ringer for a replicating chromosome.) The mesh upper is breathable; the lacing system lets you adjust the forefoot and instep areas of the shoe independently.
The closest this group comes to having a classic shoe is the Vasque Vapor, designed for light hiking, fast-packing, and adventure racing. The materials are quick to dry, the Phylon midsole stabilizes the foot, and a grippy, soft-rubber sole boosts traction. The upper is mesh girded by synthetic Nubuk ribs, creating a good compromise between breathability and support.
Photographs by Spencer Jones
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