Reviews You Can Rely On

Salewa Firetail 3 Review

This shoe will get you and your pack to the crag in comfort
Salewa Firetail 3
Credit: Salewa
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $139 List
Pros:  Supportive, great hiking shoe, breathes well, durable
Cons:  Thick sole and flexible forefoot are not good for climbing
Manufacturer:   Salewa
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 25, 2017
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
  • Climbing Ability - 35% 5.0
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Support - 20% 7.0
  • Weight/Compactness - 20% 6.0

Our Verdict

Salewa discontinued this version of the Firetail in 2018.

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.

Our Analysis and 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.

Salewa Firetail 3 approach shoes - these shoes are super comfortable for hiking in, but not the best...
These shoes are super comfortable for hiking in, but not the best climbers.
Credit: Matt Bento

Performance Comparison

Climbing Ability

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.

Salewa Firetail 3 approach shoes - thick soles but a softer midsole make it difficult to edge in these...
Thick soles but a softer midsole make it difficult to edge in these shoes.
Credit: Matt Bento


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).

Salewa Firetail 3 approach shoes - a high profile and vented uppers are not good features for crack...
A high profile and vented uppers are not good features for crack climbing.
Credit: Matt Bento

Crack Climbing

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.

Salewa Firetail 3 approach shoes - the sole of the firetail 3 is sticky vibram reptile rubber. it is...
The sole of the Firetail 3 is sticky Vibram Reptile rubber. It is not made from reptiles but features a smooth zone for edging at the toe.
Credit: Matt Bento

Hiking Comfort

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.

Best Applications

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 Firetail 3 is a good choice and will take you where you need to go in comfort

Salewa Firetail 3 approach shoes - vented uppers make this shoe a good choice for the...
Vented uppers make this shoe a good choice for the sweatier-than-average climber.
Credit: Matt Bento


$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
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More