What makes the perfect approach shoe? Well, it needs to be sticky and durable, sturdy but sensitive, comfortable for walking yet precise for climbing. It must have enough cushion that joints are supported while approaching, but a sensitive enough sole that the climber can feel the rock while climbing. The perfect approach shoe needs to be both a good climbing shoe and a comfortable hiking shoe. That’s a tall order.
The result does indeed achieve all those things, according to Alpinist Magazine’s Mountain Standards program and reviewer Erik Lambert. Alpinist gave the Gecko Guide five stars and, thus, its Mountain Standards Award this week. Mountain Standards taps mountain guides and avid climbers to review what they feel are the best climbing products on the market, bestowing the award on those that earn five stars.
“The Scarpa Gecko Guides are light on the foot, but built like granite; climb like a trad shoe, yet are comfy hiking long distances,” the review said. “They are the most impressive all-around approach shoes I’ve ever worn, and they’ve spoiled me rotten.”
Lambert doesn’t dig into what exactly the technology is in the Geckos that gives them such versatility, so here’s a little more from SCARPA’s standpoint. SCARPA designed the Gecko Guide with proprietary micro-porous polyurethane midsole inserts, giving it a great deal more shock absorption than the standard EVA sole without compromising that close-to-rock feel for precision. There’s a lot more to the technology that went into the midsole in these shoes, but in a nutshell they’re able to provide far greater shock absorption without sacrificing sensitivity on the rock.
“The Gecko Guides are beyond competent at slickfooting a highball boulder problem and warming up at a crag. But this all-around lizard really excels in the mountains, where it handles everything from talus-hopping to technical routes,’ Alpinist’s review said. “Suddenly, there are many more climbs where I’ll pack nothing but the shoes on my feet.”
And that is the very definition of what an approach shoe should be able to do.