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Salewa Wildfire Review

If you don't plan on doing any exposed scrambling in your approach shoes, these are comfy for the long haul.
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Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Hiking ability, support
Cons:  Doesn't climb very well, weight and packability
Manufacturer:   Salewa
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 5, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Climbing Ability - 35% 4
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support - 20% 8
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 3

Our Verdict

The Salewa Wildfire is comfortable hiking shoe for longer approaches without much climbing. This pair offers comfort and support that several other approach shoes trade for enhanced climbing ability. It doesn't climb as well as models from climbing specific brands like La Sportiva or Five Ten. We enjoy scrambling, bushwacking, and even a little trail running in these shoes, but when it comes to exposed slabs on late night descents, we turn to other models with stickier rubber and better overall climbing performance.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Salewa Wildfire
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $129.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$130.00 at Amazon$140.00 at REI
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$97.45 at Amazon
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$120.00 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Hiking ability, supportLightweight, comfortable, supportive, climb wellAwesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great supportSupportive, durable, very sticky rubberDurable, great traction in dirt and mud, excellent value, workhorse approach shoe
Cons Doesn't climb very well, weight and packabilitySynthetic uppers not as durable as leatherRelatively heavy and bulkyHeavyHeavy and bulky, especially when carrying on your harness or in a pack
Bottom Line If you don't plan on doing any exposed scrambling in your approach shoes, these are comfy for the long haul.These are the best approach shoes out there for the majority of climbers.This model combines all-around performance with the ability to handle big loads and big walls.A good all-round approach shoe, especially for folks with narrow feet.These durable shoes are well-equipped for miles of hiking and scrambling at a great price.
Rating Categories Salewa Wildfire La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX4 Scarpa Crux La Sportiva Boulder X
Climbing Ability (35%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Hiking Comfort (25%)
10
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8
10
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8
10
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10
10
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8
10
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7
Support (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
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8
10
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10
Weight And Packability (20%)
10
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3
10
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9
10
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4
10
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3
10
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1
Specs Salewa Wildfire La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX4 Scarpa Crux La Sportiva...
Outsole POMOCA Butylic compound rubber Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel Vibram vertical approach Vibram Idro-Grip V-Smear dot pattern
Upper Material mesh, Exa Shell Polyester mesh Leather Leather Leather
Weight per pair (size 9.5) 26.6 oz 20.3 oz 26.2 oz 27.2 oz 32.8 oz
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Mid Height Available? No No Yes No No
Lining Material Mesh Non-slip mesh Non-slip mesh Recycled polyester Mesh
Midsole POMOCA Speed Mtn sole Mem-lex/C2 Combo Cord Traverse injection MEMlex EVA Micropore EVA
Sticky Rubber? Toe Rand? Yes, Yes Yes, Yes Yes, Yes Yes, Yes Yes, Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


These are the only shoes we've tested with a plastic exoskeleton. After some hiking and scrambling  we could take it or leave it.
These are the only shoes we've tested with a plastic exoskeleton. After some hiking and scrambling, we could take it or leave it.

Climbing Ability


The Wildfire uses POMOCA rubber, a compound that doesn't grip as well as Vibram or Stealth, at least in the experiences of our testers. This significantly detracts from the Wildfire's climbing scores.

Edging


One tester described these shoes as "stiff but not so sensitive." He means that the shoe is supportive enough to toe into edges, but the thick outsole makes it difficult to feel secure on the hold as you would with lighter weight, less supportive model.

While excellent hikers  these shoes fell clunky on easy 5th class.
While excellent hikers, these shoes fell clunky on easy 5th class.

Smearing


Slab climbing is where the type of rubber on the shoe most impacts performance, and in our "solo the Northwest Books of Lembert Dome test," our tester felt downright gripped on the short slab section of the route. Our lead tester wished he had a rope, or at least a different pair of shoes.

Here we appreciated the extra friction on slippery limestone while approaching the sport crags around Mesquite  AZ.
Here we appreciated the extra friction on slippery limestone while approaching the sport crags around Mesquite, AZ.

Crack Climbing


The rubber over the top of the toe on these shoes gives it some protection from the violent twisting and jamming of crack climbing. These shoes are high volume and comfortable, but this limits their ability to climb hand-sized cracks. Combine that with their sub-par edging; we'd like to keep our TC Pros on for the offwidths too, thank you very much.

Hiking Comfort


The Wildfire excels when it comes to hiking comfort. They have a highly adjustable lacing system and a plastic "exoskeleton." Both features contribute to a stable hiking experience. One tester comfortably ran ten miles in these shoes when he forgot his trail runners. The mesh uppers ensure that the Wildfire breathes well, much better than the leather options. If high mileage is a bigger concern on your approaches than security while scrambling, these are a decent shoe for humping heavy loads over longer distances. But! With the La Sportiva TX4 you can solidly hike and scramble, so why not have your cake and eat it too?

Support


The EXA shell technology combined with the stiff, thick (for an approach shoe) outsole make for a supportive shoe. The Wildfire is ready for long approaches and heavy loads. One tester spent multiple weeks hiking heavy loads up to 50 lbs (mostly water) up to sport crags in the Utah hills and found the support more than satisfactory.

These shoes offer excellent traction on mud  gravel  and pretty much every other surface we encountered.
These shoes offer excellent traction on mud, gravel, and pretty much every other surface we encountered.

Weight & Packability


These shoes have a pull tab/clip-in loop on the heel, though it's a bit hard to slide a carabiner through compared to larger loops. The high volume, thick sole, and large lugs don't exactly make for a sleek package when clipped to your harness. For those of you paying attention to ounces (as you should be), these kicks add 26.6 oz (size 9.5) to your harness.

These shoes felt heavy clipped to a harness  and the small pull tab is a little cumbersome to clip with a carabiner.
These shoes felt heavy clipped to a harness, and the small pull tab is a little cumbersome to clip with a carabiner.

Value


This is a seemingly durable hiker. However, its value pales if what you need is a climbing-capable approach shoe.

Conclusion


Salewa produces capable, well-constructed hiking shoes, and they'll get you to the crag in comfort, no doubt. But the Wilfire just isn't up to the climbing standards laid down by brands that also make climbing shoes, and this prevents it from scoring as high overall.


Matt Bento