Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Very lightweight, waterproof
Cons: Soft sole
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Aerios FL GTX is a very comfortable hiking shoe right out of the box. Inspired by lightweight running footwear, it feels incredibly light on the foot, and the soft Cordura upper is smooth and soft against the foot. The fit is medium volume and we feel that there is plenty of room to move around, but not too much room that blisters would be a concern. These shoes are highly waterproof, but even when we wear merino wool hiking socks do not feel like our feet get as sweaty and clammy as they do when wearing other shoes with a Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable liner. These breathe quite well, and we feel that this makes them usable in dry conditions as in wet ones.
The lacing system is easy to use and stays secure, and the footbed is quality and comfortable. Our only significant issue with the Aerios in regards to comfort comes from wearing these shoes in sharp and rocky terrain, as the softer sole lets those stones poke through. These are better on the trail than off, unless the terrain is smooth and consistent.
These hiking shoes are the lightest hiking shoes we have yet reviewed. Each year hiking shoes are getting lighter and lighter, and the Aerios FL shaves off nearly an ounce from our previous lightest model. This drop in weight comes from the use of synthetic materials that allow for abrasion resistance without the thick, heavy materials like leather and suede.
Losing too much weight does come with some diminished returns, like support and traction, as the midsole and outsole structure that gets lightened limits its effectiveness in extreme situation, but for those who value lightweight gear for long days in the hill, these shoes are a great choice and do still offer a good blend of performance.
The Aerios FL GTX offers good support for its weight. It uses a TPU shank for support and stability, and a compressed EVA midsole for cushioning. Unlike other shanked hiking shoes we have tested, these feel rather soft and do not offer much in the way of torsional stability like some of the heavier models. This translates into an on-trail feel that puts more reliance on foot strength than putting all of the stability on the shoe, so in this sense, they do feel much more like the trail runner style shoes that inspire them. The rockered sole flexes easily and does not give the stable edging platform that some of the more technical-oriented hiking shoes might provide. Is this necessarily a bad thing? We don't think so - there is a time and a place to wear these shoes, and for us, that is on long trail hikes with a light pack weight.
The sole is slightly wider than the foot, making it less likely to roll an ankle while wearing these shoes than others, and although it is a low-cut hiker is does cradle the bottom of the ankle giving the feeling of support.
The sole of the Aerios FL is made from a well-known rubber compound, called Vibram MegaGrip. This rubber blend is found in a number of approach shoes that are designed for use in technical climbing terrain, so its performance is proven. We find it to be sticky enough to grip in a variety of conditions, both wet and dry.
The sole is made from lower profile lugs, which improves its performance on smooth surfaces where additional surface area contact is required, but these small lugs keep it from charging through mud and loose surface conditions that a shoe with more aggressive lugs.
The softer feeling sole allows you to smear the shoe on rock slabs with ease, gripping very well, though, in situations where you might need to edge or kick in a step, they do not bite as well, making you work a bit harder to gain a foothold than with a shoe that features a more solid sole.
While these are not the shoes we want to take out on a hardcore overland route that might see firm snow, we feel they are a pretty versatile shoe. We don't only wear a hiking shoe when on a hiking trail - in fact, most of the time our testers are wearing hiking shoes, they are out running errands, walking the dog, going for a bike ride, or any of the other things a nice, robust shoe is good for. This casual looking shoe is perfect for all of those things, and with some really cool colors that are unusual for an outdoorsy shoe, are actually very stylish. Ostensibly this is an ultralight hiking shoe that the PCT thru-hiking crowd is sure to enjoy, but it is also just a great all-around shoe.
The Aerios FL has a Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable membrane that keeps water out. It is only a hiking shoe, so it has a moderate flood height of 3 inches which is much less than mid-cut shoes, but the waterproofing is high-quality and effective. We tested this standing in a mountain stream and even after 5 minutes of submersion we did not experience any leakage.
This modest flood height gives it protection from walking through dewy grass, wet trails and the odd puddle, but if you plan on doing a lot of wet weather hiking in a really rainy environment, then any low-top hiker is probably going to get wet from water running down your pant legs into the cuff.
The outer of this shoe is made from Cordura, a lightweight but durable fabric. Similar to many of the synthetic fabrics being used in light shoes, this fabric is going to have a shorter lifespan than the average leather or suede hiker, but in our test period, which included an ascent of Mount Whitney via the Mountaineers Route (a 3rd class scramble in loose and sharp rocks), we did not experience any short-term durability issues.
This shoe is a good value, without a doubt. It is superlight, very comfortable, has great looks and is worth the premium price if these are things you value.
The Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX hiking shoes are astonishingly light. We can hardly notice them on our feet at the end of a long day of hiking on the trail. They are a perfect choice for the lightweight hiker who demands comfort as well as performance for an on-trail hiking shoe that gives them the all-season waterproofness as well as the breathability that they require.
— Ryan Huetter