Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Climb great, low-bulk
Cons: Durability, not enough cushion for big approaches
Best Uses: Big wall climbing, alpine rock, cragging
Manufacturer: Five Ten
The Five Ten Guide Tennie is a great approach shoe for easy 5th class climbing. It is the favorite of many guides because you can confidently climb easy routes without needing to put on free climbing shoes. I have even climbed The Nose on El Capitan a few times in only these shoes I only led the upper half of the route, which requires less free climbing than the bottom half. It is good for a few big walls but generally will not last more than five, about average for an approach shoe.
I have used them a ton on easy Sierra routes and walls. They are perfect for long Tuolumne 5.5 or 5.6 routes. If you are looking for a shoe to just get you to the crags or want a shoe for massive hikes, we would go with the Evolv Escapist, which is $20 less expensive and better on long approaches (but does not edge or climb nearly as well as the Guide Tennie or a climbing shoe). If you want a shoe that is more durable and works better on big walls, get the Five Ten Camp Four, La Sportiva Boulder X or the Scarpa Zen. If you want a shoe that is light for multi-pitch climbs with moderate descents, get the Five Ten DAescent Men's. For the ultimate climbing approach shoe, go with the La Sportiva Ganda. That said, the Ganda is twice the price and at $200, they are almost scary to climb in as you worry about babying them so much. In conclusion, for the price, the Five Ten Guide Tennie is probably the best climbing approach shoe out there for busting 5th class moves.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This approach shoe climbs better than about any other for several reasons:
They are great for multi-pitch climbs with a walk-off because they are relatively light weight and not too bulky. This makes them convenient to put in an extra pack or clip to the side of your harness. They weigh about 1.5 pounds for a pair (size 10) whereas most other shoes like the La Sportiva Boulder X weigh over 2 pounds. They also perform moderately well at parkour or free running stunts with the sticky, low profile, dot tread.
What makes these shoes climb so well also makes them not ideal for long approaches. Their thin soles leave your feet tired if you cross large talus fields and the absence of big tread makes them slippery on steep dirt. That is the tradeoff for having them climb so well. I would rate these middle of the road for durability. They probably won't fall apart after one big wall or giant approach, but probably will start coming apart after four big walls. This is about average for approach shoes but a shoe like the Five Ten Camp 4 is much more durable.
These excel on long routes with lots of easy 5th class and not too big of an approach. I like them on big walls because they give you confidence to step out of your aiders and bust a few free moves. However, they are thin so if you are standing in aiders for leads of two-plus hours your feet will get tired. They are ideal in a place like Tuolumne Meadows with short approaches and descents and lots of easy but exposed slab climbing just below and above the climbs.
This shoe is a good value if you will do lots of scrambling and generally take care of them. If you are doing a lot of big walls, which puts a ton of wear on shoes, they are expensive considering that you might trash them after only a few walls.
Check out this year's more lightweight and breathable version, Five Ten Guide Tennie Canvas. This new canvas shoe also comes in a high-top version, the Guide Tennie Canvas Mid, $140.
If you're looking for the women's version of the Guide Tennie, check out the Five Ten Guide Tennie - Women's, $115.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: April 18, 2014
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