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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
Salewa Wildfire
Photo: Salewa
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Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 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
#12 of 14
  • 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.

Color Updates

A current color choice for the Wildfire is shown above. Though the colors have been updated, the shoe design remains the same as the model we tested here.

February 2020

Compare to Similar Products

 
Salewa Wildfire
This Product
Salewa Wildfire
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $129.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$130.00 at Amazon$159.00 at Amazon$140.00 at Amazon$129.95 at Amazon
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Pros Hiking ability, supportLightweight, comfortable, supportive, climb wellStiff for edging and standing in aiders, excellent for scambling, good hiking supportAwesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great supportSupportive, durable, very sticky rubber
Cons Doesn't climb very well, weight and packabilitySynthetic uppers not as durable as leatherMore narrow than the rest of the TX line, expensiveRelatively heavy and bulkyHeavy
Bottom Line While comfy on the flats, these are not what our testers wanted to wear in exposed, steep terrainOnly snow and ice can stop these approach machinesThe TX Guide is a great option for all but the widest of feet, offering hiking support and sticky rubber for confident scramblingSpecializing in heavy loads and big wall climbing, this model is also a well-rounded favoriteIf you find other brands run too wide, these may be the best choice for long approaches
Rating Categories Salewa Wildfire La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 Scarpa Crux
Climbing Ability (35%)
4
9
9
8
9
Hiking Comfort (25%)
8
8
8
10
8
Support (20%)
8
7
8
9
8
Weight And Packability (20%)
3
9
7
4
3
Specs Salewa Wildfire La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 Scarpa Crux
Outsole POMOCA Butylic compound rubber Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel Vibram vertical approach
Upper Material Mesh, EXA Shell Polyester mesh synthetic TPU, PU Leather Leather
Weight per Pair (in oz) 26.6 oz (size 9.5) 20.3 oz (size 9.5) 24.8 oz (size 9.5) 26.2 oz (size 9.5) 27.2 oz (size 9.5)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Mid Height Available? No No No Yes No
Midsole POMOCA Speed Mtn sole Mem-lex/C2 Combo Cord dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank Traverse injection MEMlex 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...
These are the only shoes we've tested with a plastic exoskeleton. After some hiking and scrambling, we could take it or leave it.
Photo: Matt Bento

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.
Photo: Matt Bento

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

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

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

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