The Salewa Wildfire Edge is a great hiking shoe to put on if we know we will be scrambling in rocky terrain and need the confidence that our foot will stay put on the rock. These are some of the most nimble shoes we reviewed, and are akin to an approach shoe that is designed for climbing on technical routes. The low-top cut and the lack of waterproofing make them specialized for dry conditions, and their stiff sole, which makes them excellent for edging, does put the performance in front of comfort. This is a niche shoe, and is the best choice for a hiker or climber who wants to move freely on exposed routes.
Salewa Wildfire Edge Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Excellent traction, breathable
Cons: Not waterproof, can feel uncomfortable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This shoe gets edged out by the competition when it comes to comfort. We like many aspects of the shoe, such as the easy lacing system that allows for a snug fit when getting ready for a challenging climb, and the innovative 3F system pulls the lacing around the back of the heel, making for an even more secure fit in the heel. The MFF+ (multi-fit footbed) is one of the nicer footbeds we have worn. The stiff sole that makes this shoe great for climbing also makes it one of the least comfortable shoes to wear for miles at a time. It does lessen the impact of sharp rocks jabbing through the sole, but it can feel clunky, and our feet felt fatigued at the end of a long day wearing these on the trail.
These Salewa shoes weigh in at 2.02 pounds in US men's size 11. These are not the lightest shoes but are certainly not the heaviest. We find the weight to be worth the extra stability and climbing ability that they provide over models with less grippy soles.
These hiking shoes are supportive in some ways and quite unsupportive in others. The sole of the Wildfire Edge, which includes an Edging Plate in the insole for more stability, reduces the pain of feeling every single rock through the sole. The narrow sole makes these shoes nimble and responsive, though this width combined with the fact that these shoes are cut very low on the ankle means that they will be more susceptible to rolling ankles that other more supportive shoes that have moderate ankle protection as well. We feel that these shoes are best for confident hikers and climbers who do not carry heavy loads.
Traction is an area where these shoes prove themselves worthy. Using a Pomoca Speed Mtn outsole, these shoes have the stickiest rubber we found in any of the test shoes. This rubber grips incredibly well onto the rock, and the sole simultaneously is able to edge and smear thanks to the Edging Plate in the insole. The sole of the Wildfire Edge features relatively shallow lugs, that are capable in moderately slippery conditions but are outmatched by mud and other trail conditions that require heavier-set lugs. We paired these shoes with a pair of microspike crampons to ascend a moderate snowfield, but that is at the edge of their comfort zone.
This is not a very versatile shoe, as it is limited by its lack of water resistance, its lack of support when carrying a big pack, and its diminished comfort when putting down long miles on the trail. It is best for those who anticipate mostly dry conditions, and who require the best performance on steep and rocky terrain that they can find. Those who plan on sticking mostly to trails, who carry overnight packs and who want the added protection from a waterproof liner can look to several other good options found in this review.
Without a waterproof liner, this shoe is not waterproof, and it scores low in this metric. There are waterproof versions of this shoe, however.
These shoes can hold up to the standard rigors of life on the trail but may have some durability issues if used regularly in abrasive terrain. We used these shoes to climb Mount Whitney as well as numerous other routes in the Sierra Nevada and Red Rock Canyon, and found the suede wearing out on the outer edge of the foot. The laces are quite thin, and the lacing eyelets are made from cord rather than from metal, so with a lot of jamming into cracks, these will likely break and be unreplaceable. We feel that we could get one solid season of heavy use out of the Edge before they are worn out.
The Wildfire Edge is a great shoe for the technical hiker, and the extra traction provides good value. That said, these are a niche pair of shoes that aren't as suitable for general hiking applications as many other shoes on the market. This makes them most valuable to a smaller group of people.
This sticky rubber hiking shoe is one of our favorite shoes for traveling in complex technical terrain, as they climb as well as a approach shoe but can handle moderate approaches on trail as well.
— Ryan Huetter