Hands-on Gear Review

Salewa Firetail 3 Review

This shoe will get you and your pack to the crag in comfort.
By: Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 25, 2017
Price:  $139 List  |  $90.32 at Amazon - 35% Off
Pros:  Supportive, great hiking shoe, breathes well, durable
Cons:  Thick sole and flexible forefoot are not good for climbing
Manufacturer:   Salewa
64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Climbing Ability - 35% 5
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support - 20% 7
  • Weight/Compactness - 20% 6
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  • 2
  • 3
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Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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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 are super comfortable for hiking in  but not the best climbers.
These shoes are super comfortable for hiking in, but not the best climbers.

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.

Thick soles but a softer midsole make it difficult to edge in these shoes.
Thick soles but a softer midsole make it difficult to edge in these shoes.

Edging


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.

Smearing


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).

A high profile and vented uppers are not good features for crack climbing.
A high profile and vented uppers are not good features for crack climbing.

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.

Support


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 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.
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.

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

Vented uppers make this shoe a good choice for the sweatier-than-average climber.
Vented uppers make this shoe a good choice for the sweatier-than-average climber.

Value


$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.

Conclusion


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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Most recent review: November 25, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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