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Hands-on Gear Review
Five Ten Guide Tennie Review
Cons: Not as light as some competitors
Bottom line: This is the best approach shoe for scrambling and climbing.
The Five Ten Guide Tennie gets our Top Pick For Climbing. This product started the approach shoe category 30 years ago, and the small changes over the years have refined its all-around performance and shaved off a little weight. The Stealth C4 sole smears better than any other on all types of rock, and the edging ability is top notch as well and climbs a little better than the Editors' Choice Award Winning La Sportiva TX4, but isn't as comfortable for hiking and carrying heavy loads.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The current version of this time-tested classic is a little more comfortable and supportive for hiking and carrying loads than before while retaining the majority of the climbing performance that has made it so popular. The Best Buy La Sportiva Boulder X is a much more supportive shoe for carrying loads or covering many miles, but is heavier and doesn't climb as well. Finally, the super light Evolv Cruzer Psyche is a fantastic shoe for kicking around the boulders between burns or toting up long multi-pitch routes if saving every ounce is your focus.
Climbing ability is where the Guide Tennie shines. The Stealth C4 sole with an edging pad up front smears like no other and edges better than all.
The toe profile of the latest version is a bit higher volume than in the past, limiting the crack climbing performance.
Our Editors' Choice winner edges very well. The midsole provides enough support to stand on medium sized edges but is more sensitive than heavier models that edge well like the Boulder X. The previous version of this approach shoe used a full sheet of C4 dot rubber on the entire sole, and the new molded sole's edging pad provides a little better edging capability. If edging ability is your main concern, size these down half to a full size from your street shoe size. You'll sacrifice hiking comfort, but this relatively high volume shoe edges better when fitted smaller.
No doubt about it, many climbers consider the Stealth C4 rubber used on this approach shoe the gold standard for smearing ability. In our tests on the slick granite of Yosemite Valley and the rough Quartz Monzonite granite in Bishop, the Guide Tennie smeared better than all the other test shoes. Across the range of rock types we play on outside, this is the best shoe for smearing.
The new Guide Tennie has a taller toe profile than the previous version by a few millimeters, meaning it doesn't fit as well into cracks as the previous version. But for flared cracks, the sticky rubber toe rand and moderately stiff forefoot provide excellent crack smearing ability. The redesign that gives this higher toe profile also provides significantly better hiking ability, and we are happy with this trade-off.
We found this shoe comfortable for hiking and scrambling over uneven terrain. There are better approach shoes for hiking in this review, especially in muddy terrain or on loose dirt, but the Guide Tennie gets the job done.
Seven lacing eyelets allow you to cinch the toe down when it's time to climb or loosen the upper for comfort while hiking. This model is shipped from the factory with thin, abrasion-resistant laces. While the lace durability is appreciated, we found these laces a little challenging to get to hold a knot when new, and skinny enough to be uncomfortable on tender fingers after a day of climbing. If you aren't crack climbing in these and don't need the abrasion resistance, we recommend replacing the factory laces with a fatter lace that'll be kinder to your fingers. The Guide Tennie is one of the models we tested with a gusseted tongue, a feature we appreciate that helps keep sand and trail debris out of the shoe. The tongue and ankle collar also use synthetic materials rather than leather, allowing this shoe to breathe better than most.
The models we tested that focus more on hiking performance - the Salewa Firetail 3 and La Sportiva TX4 - received higher comfort scores. The Salewa Fire Tail 3, the most hiking shoe-like of the approach shoes we tested, is an excellent choice for folks that get to and from their climbing areas on relatively smooth terrain with little-exposed scrambling. The La Sportiva TX4 is an incredibly comfortable hiking shoe that climbs /almost/ as well as the Guide Tennie.
This shoe earned a support score in the middle of the products we tested. While there is substantial cushioning in the midsole for hiking comfort, the forefoot is fairly flexible. This contributes to its great smearing ability but doesn't provide a platform for carrying heavy loads. This said, many climbers have solid feet, and find this shoe supportive enough for carrying moderate loads. There are always tradeoffs, and we like the moderate support and moderate sensitivity of this shoe.
If you want a do-everything shoe, and foot support is more important to you than climbing ability, consider our Best Buy, the La Sportiva Boulder X. The Five Ten Camp Four is also a much more supportive approach shoe if you love Five Ten products and do not need great edging.
Weight & Packability
The Guide Tennie weighs in at 28.8oz, making it the second heaviest shoe in the review. We'd prefer a lighter shoe clipped to our harnesses, like the Arc'teryx Acrux SL.
The lightest shoe is the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, but it doesn't offer nearly as much support for long hikes and heavy loads as the Guide Tennie.
Our Editors' Choice winner is best suited to climbing areas that have 4th class terrain on the approach and descent. This is where the benefits of its great climbing performance come into play. In Joshua Tree and Red Rock Canyon, we prefer this shoe over all others. For most climbers, these are excellent shoes for the exposed slabs above and below routes in Tuolumne Meadows.
Two of the main strengths of the Guide Tennie - smearing performance and lightweight - have their trade-offs. This shoe can be resoled when the rubber wears thin, and if you are gonna beat them up on rough rock, Seam Grip 'em. Even with our durability concerns, we still feel this is an excellent product for go-anywhere, do-anything use. Only our Editor's Choice Award winner, the La Sportiva TX4, performs better.
Guides who climb a lot of routes well within their abilities and don't want to fuss around changing shoes frequently during the day love this shoe. It strikes the correct balance: great climbing and pretty good hiking.
The Guide Tennie is very affordable. At $120, it is a steal for the excellent climbing performance it delivers.
The Five Ten Guide Tennie is the best approach shoe for climbing and scrambling that we tested. Small improvements over many generations have left us with a shoe that hikes well and is more durable than past versions. We're glad the shoe that started the approach shoe category is still going strong and a great option for wall climbers, alpine scramblers, and valley rats alike.
— Matt Bento
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