Arc'teryx Konseal FL Review
Cons: Doesn't edge well, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Konseal is great for scrambling, smearing, and crack climbing. It's protective and supportive in cracks, and the Vibram Megagrip is sticky when smearing up exposed slabs. The 360-rubber and beefy toe cap improve durability from repeated exposure to climbing.
This shoe is our not first choice for those planning to spend a lot of time on their big toes. The thick toe cap is a tad clunky for an otherwise streamlined shoe and decreases sensitivity more than we like for optimal edging. There's also a fair bit of rocker in this shoe, particularly in the toe, which means you must raise your heel higher than desired for the toe-edge to lay flat on the rock edge. This is the opposite of what we find in our high-performance climbing shoes that feature downturned toes. The negatively affects balance and weight distribution when climbing. For those looking to optimize climbing performance size at least a 1/2 size down from your street shoe. This shoe runs long and could leave unfilled space in the toebox decreasing sensitivity and performance.
The Konseal smears very well despite its more traction-oriented outsole. The rocker, or more turned up outsole under the ball of the foot, keeps the shoe in ideal shape for smearing. Maximum rubber contact is easily made and its attendant friction from the Vibram Megagrip outsole makes the shoe great for lower angle slabs found on many approaches.
The Konseal sports 360-degrees of rubber for durability for repeated abuse in cracks. The toe rand is one of the thickest of the shoes we tested. The rubber rand provides great protection and comfort to your toes when jamming.
This shoe provides a great ride, especially for its low weight. The Konseal provides less cushion and comfort than you'd expect from a heavier approach shoe or straight-up hiking shoe but is a great ride to those who prefer less weight on their feet for nimbler footwork when hiking and scrambling. The generous heel-toe rocker provides a smooth ride and the ability to double as a trail runner in a pinch. We ran our local sub-hour trail run multiple times in this shoe without protest from our feet, knees, or hips. The polyester upper doesn't provide any waterproof protection, but it does dry out faster than organic uppers should you submerge your feet in water, sweat profusely, or plan to travel across snow.
If you plan to put high miles with heavy loads in your approach shoes, other shoes provide more support. While it's designed for the mountains, it's targeted towards fast-and-light users. For the heavy-and-slow among us who pack the extra snickers and boxed wine, and favor support over light footwear, there are other approach shoes which score higher in support and comfort. That being said, the shoe is quite stiff torsionally and supportive enough throughout to be considered for any approach you could throw at it.
Weight And Packability
For the weight conscience among us, the Konseal is hard to ignore. While not the lightest shoe we tested, it's within 4 oz of the lightest model we tested. This is a great option for those looking for a shoe to clip to their harness, while not wanting to completely sacrifice comfort and support on the way to the climb.
This is an expensive approach shoe. That said it has many endearing qualities and is a potential one-stop-shop for your next approach shoe. The Konseal does many things well, and the quality Arc'teryx craftsmanship is evident. This shoe will deliver more than enough miles in the mountains to deliver on its premium price.
The Arc'teryx Konseal FL is a great all-around approach shoe. It's a great option for long approaches, scrambling, easy technical climbing, clipping to your harness, and using as a backup trail runner in a pinch. And, unlike a lot of approach shoes on the market, this one actually has some aesthetic appeal.
— Sean Haverstock