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Hands-on Gear Review
Arc'teryx Acrux SL Review
Cons: Not supportive enough for long hikes with heavy loads
Bottom line: A great shoe for climbs with long walk-offs.
Known for high quality and attention to detail, Arc'teryx is like the Lexus of outdoor clothing, and the Acrux SL is like a sleek Lexus SUV, well made, but lacking the four-wheel drive. These lightweight kicks are great for clipping to our harnesses and still offered plenty of support for the slog up and then scree slide down on our ridge scrambling adventures. While it has a few ounces on the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, we were happy to trade the weight for a little extra support, and it receives our Top Pick for a lightweight shoe. For a beefier more supportive shoe for humping big loads and standing in aiders and busting a couple of free moves, check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, the La Sportiva TX4.
RELATED REVIEW: The 8 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Men
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Acrux SL scores well in the Lightweight and Packability metric and surprised our testers with its hiking comfort. While not as stiff as the Boulder X or the TX4, this shoe does well under light loads, but since it's a light and flexible model, it doesn't edge as well as stiffer contenders. We feel the balance of weight and hiking comfort make it perfect carrying up climbs with extended walk-offs. Though not as light as the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, this shoe makes up for the extra ounces by being very supportive for its weight and takes the Top Pick For Lightweight shoe.
Light and low profile, these shoes fit into thinner nearly-hand sized cracks better than most, but they aren't especially stiff, so their edging ability is compromised.
Overall, they still climb as well as the Editors' Choice award-winning La Sportiva TX4.
Since the Acrux SL is lightweight, it's more sensitive than the Boulder X or Scarpa Gecko, but that makes standing on edges harder unless you size the shoes smaller, compromising hiking comfort. It is stiffer than the Evolv Cruzer Psyche and edges better as a result. An even more rigid model like the La Sportiva Tx4 lets you edge better while still being sized for hiking.
This soft, flexible shoe lets you throw down a whole lotta rubber on the granite slabs. The Vibram Megagrip outsole isn't as magically sticky as the stealth C4 found on the Five Ten Guide Tennie, but it's still sticky enough to keep us calm and collected on easy and exposed alpine scrambles, and is the same rubber featured on the La Sportiva TX4.
The Acrux SL has a low toe profile and a narrow fit, allowing it to weasel into thinner hand sized cracks more easily than higher volume shoes like the Salewa Firetrail 3 and the La Sportiva Boulder X. It also has a slightly narrower fit than the models above, so your foot doesn't roll around as much as it would in a wider shoe when torquing your feet in the cracks. The leather uppers on the Scarpa Gecko, Boulder X, and the Guide Tennie made our testers feel more comfortable in cracks than the Acrux SL. Additionally, the seamless upper construction makes it, so there are few points of weakness to catch and rip open after hundreds of feet of crack climbing.
Our testers were pleasantly surprised by the comfort offered by this light and compact shoe. The Acrux SL is significantly more comfortable than the similarly sleek Evolv Cruzer Psyche thanks to an EVA midsole and a one-piece stretchy upper.
Our feet stayed locked in place, and we felt no hot spots, even right out of the box. Our lead tester wore these on a late-season traverse of Mt. Emerson, encountering talus, scree, and often venturing off route to explore steeper terrain. The Acrux SL felt secure while bounding over bigger talus, kept him from slipping on gravely slabs, and climbed well without being so snug that they hurt his toes. These shoes were as comfortable as heavier shoes like the Five Ten Guide Tennie and the La Sportiva Boulder X. Under a relatively light load (a rope and a rack), The Acrux kept our testers comfortable for miles. We wouldn't hesitate to bring these shoes on long days in the High Sierra, involved approaches into Cochise Stronghold, or slogging up to desert towers in Castle Valley.
This shoe is not ideal for carrying heavy loads on long approaches. The sensitivity and weight that makes it great for scrambling and light on our harnesses come at the price of support and rigidity, and our testers generally prefer a stiffer shoe. The La Sportiva TX4, the Five Ten Guide Tennie, and the La Sportiva Boulder X are all better choices for humping loads to the base of El Cap and standing in aiders all day. But for those who can never have enough shoes in their quiver, this shoe is perfect for all-day climbs with long walk-offs like the ones found in Yosemite Valley.
While the Evolv Cruzer Psyche is 5oz lighter than the Acrux SL, the Acrux offers significantly more support, without being /that/ much heavier, and taking our Top Pick For Lightweight Descent Shoe. The Cruzers had our tester's heels slipping and ankles wobbling. The Acrux offers a more supportive platform for racing down descents, getting us back home to food and beer faster.
Weight and Packability
This shoe weighs in at 22.2oz per pair in a men's size 9.5, 5oz heavier than the lightest shoe in our review, the Evolv Cruzer Psyche..
However, it's still the second lightest approach shoe we reviewed, and Arc'teryx has packed loads of comfort and support into those 5 ounces that our sore footed testers appreciated while scrambling down gullies and scree surfing at the end of a long day. This balance of weight /and/ hiking performance is what earns it our top pick for lightweight over the Evolv Cruzer Psyche. On a harness, the Acrux SL has a low profile, and we were way more psyched to carry these shoes around than the more massive, bulkier La Sportiva Boulder X and the Salewa Firetail 3.
This shoe works best for easy scrambles or as a descent shoe. While the Evolv Cruzer Psyche the is lightest, our testers feel that this shoe is light /and/ supportive, taking our top pick for lightweight. For alpine adventures where you'll need to bring both climbing and approach shoes, the Acrux SL is ideal. These shoes stow out of the way on our harnesses and still give us a comfy ride back down to basecamp. Our testers thought these shoes had a "super techy euro look" and preferred the more stylish Evolv Cruzer Psyche when going directly from the crag to the bar.
These shoes have Arc'teryx quality at Arc'teryx prices, no getting around it. At $170, they're almost $100 more than the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, but it is much more durable, more supportive, and better for hiking. For a do-it-all tank of an approach shoe, check out our Best Buy Award Winner, the La Sportiva Boulder X.
The Arc'teryx Acrux SL has a unique look and feel due to its single piece upper construction. While it's not the best climber of the bunch, we liked it as a descent shoe due to its great support and comfort. While we hate free climbing with shoes clipped on our harnesses, at least with the Acrux SL, we're guaranteed a comfy walk off the mountain at the end of the day.
— Matt Bento
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