Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, comfortable, great for long multi-pitch routes, stylish, smears well, great value
Cons: Durability (if using it hard on hikes,scrambling), not ideal for long approaches
Best Uses: Urban style approach shoe that also climbs well and is ideal on multi-pitch climbs
The Cruzer is one of the more eye-grabbing approach shoes we have seen in a while. At first it just looks like a fashion innovation: the first company to bring Tom's style to the climbing world. It's a sleek looking shoe: part hipster and part ninja. For some, this may be reason enough to buy it. But even more impressive to us is how it climbs. Thin upper material and a tight fit gave a shoe that climbed in the same league as our top rated approach shoes, which surprised and delighted us. The Cruzer is now among our favorite approach shoes as long as you are not overly concerned about durability and take good care of them. For $75, it is an awesome value especially considering how much use you can get on the rocks and around town.
It's almost in its own category. The closest comparison would probably be the Five Ten Daescent which is also light and has some urban style. The Cruzer is lighter and climbs better, especially because the lacing and design makes the whole toe area feel more precise. The Daescent has more support and more of a skater look than the Tom's look of the Cruzer. We anticipate the Daescent being a little more durable but have not worn it long enough yet.
For more burly climbing needs and durability, we would still lean toward the La Sportiva Ganda if you have a big budget or the Five Ten Guide Tennie.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
These shoes smear about as well as any we tested. Because of their precise fit, we could climb just a few letter grades below our limit in the climbing gym (where even plastic "edges" can be smeared). Outside, they performed very well. We went to Eagle Lake above Lake Tahoe and climbed a number of 5.10 cracks and face climbs in these. It is VERY rare that an approach shoe can climb that well for a 5.11 free climber (of course Tommy Caldwell can climb 5.13 in flip flops). These climbed so well in the gym that we started doing some sessions in them instead of climbing shoes. Yes, we couldn't climb quite as hard, but we climbed surprisingly well and our feet stayed very comfortable.
The edging ability all comes down to sizing. It is a soft shoe, so if you size it big these don't edge that well. But we sized these small and were amazed how well these edged. You can't necessarily stand on a tiny edge, but you can do a combo of smearing and edging that is surprisingly effective for an approach shoe.
These don't have much support or heel cushion. For some people that is a deal breaker for long hikes. But we like minimalist shoes, even for running and hiking. We would rather feel light on our feet than have a giant heel cushion. Because these shoes have a dot trad sole they do not have the best traction, especially on steep dirt. The traction gets even worse as the shoes break in and you wear down the low profile dots.
After a few days of crack climbing, we did start to notice the rand delaminate a little. Our feeling is these will not be very durable as your heavy rotation scrambling shoe. They especially seem to get beat up in cracks where the lighter canvas and rubber joint take a lot of abuse. But if you are not crack climbing in these we expect durability to be average.
Compactness and Weight
These are among the lightest approach shoes out there. They also pack down to nothing. These are probably our favorite shoe for taking on a multi-pitch climb as they weigh almost nothing when clipped to the side of your harness. The heal is so thin and flexibly, you can fold it down and turn these into slippers. This is very convenient at the crags. Few approach shoes let you do this.
We normally wear a 9.5. A 9.5 in these is tight. At first we were bummed. But then we saw just how well these climbed when tight. If we were getting these as a more around town shoe, we would definitely go a half size up. Maybe even a full size.
These come in four colors: black, red, toffee, and slate (gray). The women's come in purple and turquoise.
The Cruzer - Women's, $75 are the women's version.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 28, 2014
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