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Hands-on Gear Review
Salewa Firetail 3 Review
Cons: Thick sole and flexible forefoot are not good for climbing
Bottom line: This shoe will get you and your pack to the crag in comfort.
The Salewa Firetail 3 is a wide fitting, comfortable hiking shoe, with sticky rubber and a durable upper. Our testers enjoyed wearing this shoe while lugging packs full of cams all over Indian Creek. For their the primary function of approaching the rock climb, the Firetail 3 succeeds, but when it comes to climbing and scrambling, our testers felt they were just ok, and felt much safer in the Five Ten Guide Tennie or our Editors' Choice, the La Sportiva TX4.
RELATED REVIEW: The 8 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Men
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Salewa is the only brand in this review category that doesn't make rock climbing shoes. Consequently, the Firetail 3 shines in metrics like comfort, durability, and support, but fell short regarding actual rock climbing compared to products from Five Ten, Evolv, and La Sportiva. If you have a wide foot and need a shoe that can handle the occasional third class terrain of the way to the crag, the Firetail 3 could be what you're looking for.
These shoes aren't our testers favorite for climbing in, and they did not score well in the climbing metric due to some of the features that make them so nice for hiking in.
The Firetail 3 is a supportive shoe with a thick, padded midsole. This translates to mediocre edging ability and clunky operating. Our testers could see the edges they were standing on but sure could feel them as well as the could in a thin soled shoe like the Evolv Cruzer Psyche.
Again, we love sensitivity when we're trying to climb into five class terrain in our approach shoes. The supportive midsole doesn't allow for the flex and responsiveness that we get with the Guide Tennie (which also has the stickiest and softest rubber).
This is a high volume shoe with a thick, high profile toe. Our testers couldn't weasel these puppies into anything smaller than a number 3 hand crack. That being said, the sturdy leather uppers can take way more of a beating than a canvas shoe like the Evolv Cruzer Psyche.
These are one of the most supportive shoes in the approach shoe category. Blah blah blah supportive midsole kept our testers in relative comfort as they jugged lines and stood in aiders. The Firetail 3 is also a good shoe for carrying heavy loads to backcountry objectives, or just lots of big cams up to the cliff at Indian Creek.
The Firetail 3 excels as a hiking shoe. It has a wide fit, and high volume; a men's 9.5 felt dead on accurate to size, and it's good for miles of comfortable hiking, with or without a heavy pack. 14 lacing eyelets offer a range of adjustability. The upper eyelets connect to a cord that wraps around the heel much like those found on the La Sportiva Boulder X and the La Sportiva TX4, but we didn't notice much difference in the heel tension when we cinched down the laces. The tongue is padded and feels excellent at the base of the ankle, and the lower part of the tongue is mesh, offering our hot and tired dogs a little fresh air during a long day in a leather shoe.
Weight and Packability
Weighing at 27.4 oz, the Firetail 3 lighter than the La Sportiva Boulder X and were way more likely to carry it on a multi-pitch with a walk-off than the Boulder X or the Guide Tennie. However, these shoes are bulky and very noticeable when clipped to the back of a harness. If you want a dedicated, decent model we recommend the lightweight and low profile Evolv Cruzer Psyche or the slightly heavier but more supportive Arc'teryx Acrux SL.
These shoes are perfect for long approaches to the crag or hiking deep into the backcountry with a heavy pack. If you can avoid the need to take your approach shoes up the rock climb (rappel!) then the Salewa fire tail 3 is a good choice and will take you where you need to go in comfort
$140 gets you a durable, breathable, comfortable shoe that's ready for miles of hiking with enough support for the heavy loads. While they aren't our favorite for climbing, we feel they are constructed just as well as shoes that near the $200 price range.
The Salewa Firetail 3 has the comfort of a hiking shoe with a few added features borrowed from the approach shoe world. Great support, durability, and sticky rubber will take you farther than the standard hiking shoe, but if you need to do any technical climbing in your approach shoes, we recommend the Five Ten Guide Tennie or the La Sportiva Boulder X. For the best balance of hiking comfort and climbing ability, check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, the La Sportiva TX4
— Matt Bento
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