Arc'teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX - Women's Review
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Arc'teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX - Women's
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|Pros||Sturdy mid and outsole, modern athletic style, waterproof membrane||Excellent traction, responsive and stable support, breathable waterproof protection, comfortable right out of the box||Excellent traction, very supportive, breathable design, comfortable for various foot shapes||Versatile, nimble, excellent traction, excellent waterproof protection, supportive midfoot||Ample traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive, overly flexible upper, limited support, runs long||Expensive, sizing runs large, 100% recycled polyester laces may require replacement||Not waterproof, minor durability issues||Single-pull lacing system has limited adjustability, fit favors narrow feet, not recommended for cross-country travel, less breathable||Bulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyelet, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||A soft, athletically inspired hiker with limited stabilizing features but responsive traction, perfect for quick transitions from trail to town||A stand-out hiking shoe that features ample comfort, great traction, a stable base of support, and a high quality, durable, and waterproof mesh upper||An excellent choice for those looking to navigate popular trails that feature polished granite or slippery sandstone||A comfortable, supportive, and waterproof shoe that offers excellent and responsive traction in a sleek, modern package||Supportive and affordable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to numerous foot shapes, hikers, and backcountry experiences|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Aerios FL...||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Aerios FL...||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Weight (per pair, size 8.5)||1.44 lbs||1.68 lbs||1.42 lbs||1.54 lbs||1.78 lbs|
|Upper||Recycled Polyester Mesh, 0.4mm TPU Protective Film||Abrasion-resistant mesh||Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand||Synthetic textile||Leather, mesh|
|Lining||4mm EVA Recycled; Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex Surround||Nonslip mesh||Gore-Tex||Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane|
|Midsole||Compressed recycled EVA||EVA||Traverse Injection MEMlex||EVA||EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram Megagrip rubber||Vibram XS Trek||Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System||Rubber Contagrip||Vibram TC5+ rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For shorter hiking excursions, we found ourselves reaching for the Arc'teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX. These shoes are lightweight, waterproof, and provide enough space for the toes as well as moderate cushioning to deliver a comfortable base of support for some of our favorite weekly jaunts. Ultimately, we didn't find them supportive enough for longer, more technical hikes, and they would not be our first choice for ample support while carrying a heavy pack. However, when considering shorter day hikes on well-maintained trails or about-town errands, these were an easy choice that met our needs.
It's hard to over-emphasize the importance of fit whenever evaluating a trail shoe for comfort. Fortunately, some shoes offer enough flexibility and give within their designs to accommodate a wider variety of foot structures, perhaps with some degree of aftermarket modification. The Aerios FL 2 is one of these shoes. Like many European brands, it seems to run long and slightly narrow. For many, this works great, even if it might require buying half a size down to ensure proper fit if you find yourself between sizes. But what's interesting is once you pull the shoe on, the synthetic upper has such a softness and flexibility to it that the toe box itself feels more spacious and accommodating than it appears out of the box, even for those with a slightly wider forefoot.
Weirdly, however, that same soft, spacious upper we were so stoked to slip our feet into out of the box very quickly proved itself to be a shortcoming once we were in motion, just too flexible and loose to secure our foot properly to the base. One tester reported having no choice but to stop repeatedly during a short hike to retighten the laces, calling out the exaggerated pronation, slight ankle rolling, heel gapping, and slippage that developed due to the lack of topside structure. And while the super long laces are easy enough to adjust, the tongue is not padded well enough to protect the top of the foot from such exertion. Not the kind of precision fit we want for a long day on the trail.
The Aerios FL 2 is lined with a thin Ortholite insole, as is common in many hiking shoes. It offers limited arch support. The compressed EVA midsole is also not as cushioned as a normal EVA sole. So, while the result is a shoe that feels somewhat responsive, with significant flexion under the forefoot, the flip side is that there's a higher likelihood of foot fatigue during longer days. Given the excessive topside volume and this lack of supportive cushioning underneath, we think an aftermarket insole is a great choice to help fill out the shoes and lock in one's feet for increased comfort.
The newest update to the Aerios includes a durable 100% recycled polyester fabric upper to make the shoe lighter and more durable than the previous version, which was built of only a single layer Cordura mesh (0.8mm microfibre lining). Given the design's focus on reducing weight, we suspected the shoe might cut corners in other ways. So we were a bit surprised to find the Aerios FL 2 still sufficiently stiff and supportive underfoot for shorter days on the trail.
While it doesn't have much to speak of in terms of arch support, the synthetic upper of the Aerios features raised perimeter sidewalls that offer a little additional protection and support. Its compressed EVA midsole and integrated TPU shank also do a decent job of balancing grip and stability while offering some protection from debris on the trail. Overall, this shoe resembles the design of a trail runner rather than a rugged and durable hiking shoe, emphasizing aesthetics and minimalism over support and performance. These shoes are not our first choice for demanding and technical hikes, but they are a solid consideration for those who just want enough support underfoot for shorter day hikes before heading into town to meet up with friends.
When evaluating a trail shoe for maximum traction, we tend to look for depth and variation in the lug pattern as well as positioning. Furthermore, we assess the overall stickiness and performance of the rubber on the outsole because we understand this component is key to navigating slippery slabs, polished stone, and wet terrain. The Aerios FL 2 delivers a decent performance, utilizing a Vibram Megagrip outsole with a sufficient and well-spaced lug pattern across the base and a relatively soft, satisfyingly sticky rubber construction.
Though this wasn't the "grippiest" shoe in our test collection, it served us well when tackling average day hikes. While it is not uncommon for sticky rubber to lose some performance and grip when the temperatures plummet below freezing, we did notice that the base of the Aerios became rigid, and the sticky rubber offered less grip while moving through uneven terrain in cold temperatures. That said, most of our trail time was logged during the warmer months of the year, and we found the outsole to offer adequate traction on well-groomed trails.
Although the Aerios FL 2 isn't among the very lightest hiking shoes we tested, the additional weight in the design offers improved performance without losing its city style. However, weighing 1.42 pounds per pair for a US women's size 8.5, the rigid base didn't feel as light underfoot as some other more athletically designed trail shoes we tested. While not our first choice for big mountain days on technical trails or extended backcountry trips carrying a heavy pack, this shoe provides enough performance for short, daily excursions like dog walks or post-work hikes with friends on easy terrain.
The Aerios FL 2 GTX has a Gore-Tex membrane that successfully sheds water and prevents moisture from penetrating the waterproof upper. So not surprisingly, this shoe performed flawlessly in our five-minute bucket test as well as in every stream crossing on our hikes. Additionally, we noticed that the synthetic mesh upper remained dry without absorbing any of the water from submersion.
Keep in mind, if you live in a rainy part of the world and your plans involve regularly hiking in super wet conditions, you may consider a shoe (or boot) with more height, as the Aerios has a lower flood level of 3.25 inches above the outsole. Still, for shallow puddles and the occasional rain, we trust this shoe to protect our feet from the elements. Additionally, if you find yourself hiking in warm and dry conditions, you may consider a shoe that doesn't have such a solid waterproof membrane — your feet will become quite hot and sweaty due to the lack of breathability within the design.
Lightweight synthetic shoes are often seen as less rugged and road-ready than their leather counterparts. But newer technologies in material and design have started to shift that narrative. The new Aerios FL 2 is a part of that story. While the overall shoe design between versions 1 and 2 remains essentially the same, the newer version is constructed of 100% recycled polyester fabric rather than the single layer of Cordura mesh as before. The result: a lighter-weight, more durable hiker that's ready to tackle buffed-out and well-maintained trails without hesitation.
We took the Aerios out on lava rocks through pokey bitterbrush and boulders without any sign of snagging or abrasion. We saw no delamination in the welded upper nor any unusual signs of wear in the base. However, the rubber of the Vibram Megagrip is relatively soft, and its lugs are somewhat shallow compared to others in the testing group. We suspect regular use on concrete and asphalt could wear down the material quickly and reduce the effectiveness. Something to consider if these are going to become your go-to city hiker.
Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX?
Although not the most supportive hiking shoe out there, the Aerios FL 2 performs rather well during shorter outings. However, this shoe isn't a cheap hiker, nor is it one we'd recommend for technical terrain or extended days on the trail. Arc'teryx is a luxury outdoor brand catering to those looking for top-tier style and performance. As such, the Aerios is a durable, lightweight everyday trail shoe that will look sharp in the dirt, around town, and would make a great addition to any collection for those who have the budget.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If finding a lightweight shoe is your focus, but you require more support for tougher technical terrain, the Salomon X Ultra 4 would be a great choice. If weight and cushioning are equal considerations, the Hoka Anacapa and the On Running Cloudwander should be on your shortlist. Or, if you have longer trail days ahead and don't mind a little added weight in exchange for excellent performance, the La Sportiva Spire GTX will step up your game significantly and leave you a good deal more wiggle room in the toe box.
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