Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Comfortable, stylish, light
Cons: Not great edging, not great for long hikes
Best Uses: Hiking down from multi-pitch climbs, short hikes, wearing around town
Sanuk teamed up with Evolv and Chris Sharma to make the only "casual shoe" we know of with sticky rubber: the Sanuk Base Camp. At first glance, these seemed like a bit of a gimmick. We asked "Do you really need sticky rubber on an urban stylish shoe?" However, we then realized that because these are so light and compressible, they are actually an awesome approach shoe for multi-pitch climbs. Only the Vibram FiveFingers KSO was lighter but we feel the KSO is much less versatile (can't wear with socks when it's cold and can't wear out at night on the town). If you want a shoe that is almost as light, check out the Five Ten DAescent Men's which is much more capable on the rock. The DAescent is also pretty stylish but can't be worn in as many urban settings. The Base Camp is not be confused with a real approach shoe that climbs well like the Five Ten Guide Tennie or an approach shoe that hikes well like the La Sportiva Exum Pro. That said, it is the approach shoe I use the most just because it is light, really comfortable and can also be worn out at night on the town. If those three things are important to you, it's maybe the most versatile light duty approach shoe around. It is one of our favorites. The big problem is that the sole delaminated on us after a few months of medium use. Unnacceptable. Hopefully this was just a bad batch.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This shoe stands out for its comfort. It is by far the most comfortable approach shoe we tested. It is the shoe we most looked forward to putting on after climbing unless we were putting on flip flops (our favorite is the Reef Fanning Sandal). It is also stylish. It is the only approach shoe we feel we can wear out at night and the shoe we found ourselves most often wearing during the day for everyday activities.
This shoe is light. It is not quite as light as typical Sanuk casual shoe because this shoe has a beefier sticky rubber sole. However, it is still among the lightest shoes we tested. It has clip in loops on the back of the shoe so you can wear it on the side of your harness for multi-pitch climbs or if you want to put it in your day pack it compresses very small. It was this shoes lightness that made us even consider it an "approach shoe" because it does work great on moderate descents.
At first the velcro closure on the side seemed a little dorky and unnecessary. This was mainly just because we have never seen a casual shoe with velcro. However, we eventually found the velcro to be essential. It was lets you get the shoe tight enough to be able to walk down trail.
The sticky rubber works as advertised, these definitely will get you down slab descents in Tuolumne with reasonable confidence (but most people will probably only want to wear them in a non-exposed non-life-threatening 2nd and 3rd class situation).
All that comfort comes at a price: these are not to be confused with an approach shoe that you can confidently climb exposed fourth class or easy fifth class in. They perform very poorly if climbing cracks or chimney's. If the approach involves anything technical you won't want these. They are also not great for long and involved hikes. They give little protection against water and snow. Wear them across a lawn in the morning and your feet will be soaked. They are not to be confused with a serious approach shoe.
We had a major failure after a few months: the sticky rubber sole started delaminating from the shoe. I tried using shoe goo to get it back on but no luck. I will be sending these back and seeing why the shoe came apart so fast.
We had a little defect with the pair we received, the foam inside bubbled up a little. This could have been a manufacturing defect or could have been because they were left in the heat during the shipping process. We contemplated returning them but overall decided to just use them as they were and sure enough they broke in great.
The sizing on these seems a little off. I normally wear a 9 in approach shoes. In these, a 10 just barely fits and a 9 is way too small. So if you are between sizes, I would go up a size.
One friend who owns these thinks the "Chris Sharma" signature on the tongue is kinda dorky. Other people may want these specifically because they have a Sharma signature on them. We don't really care either way. My signature is close enough to Sharma's that some people have asked me "Do you have your own signature line?" I wish. It is shoe I would gladly put my name on if I didn't have to keep my "no sponsorship" policy with this whole gear review thing.
These are ideal for climber's who already enjoy this style of casual shoe who also want to be able to approach the crags. They are great for multi-pitch climbs with short approaches and non-exposed or technical descents.
At $70, these expensive for a casual shoe. Most other shoes like this cost $55-60. However, they could be considered at the budget end of climbing approach shoes. So it really depends what you value. If you just want a pair of casual shoes, we would probably go with a less expensive Sanuk. But if you love this style of shoe and want to be able to approach the crags, this is a pretty good deal if it can delay or avoid the purchase of a $100+ approach shoe.
Chris Sharma talks about climbing and a little about the Sanuk Base Camp
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 17, 2012
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