Dave puts the Salewa Wildfire approach shoes to the test to see if they are his final choice.
Lightness, anatomical last, and an aggressive outsole design make it the final choice for approach
Last year we reviewed the Salewa Firetail approach shoes, I concluded that the shoes were a great all round approach shoe suitable for a range of mountain activities.
The Salewa Wildfire has also been in the collection for several years and the new version have been tweaked and updated for 2014.
I tested the technical approach version of the shoe with the climbing sole, they also come with a more hiking friendly EVO sole that is more like a hiking/trainer sole. I tested my usual size UK 8 or EUR 42 for fit and the fit was excellent. Straight out of the box they were a great fit, I could easily tweak them further by removing the additional insole which was Velcro fitted to the main insole. This allowed for a more comfortable toebox fit. The lacing also allowed a good fit by the laces extending down to the toe, just like a climbing shoe. This meant that I have a relaxed fit for the hike in and then conch them tight for any scrambling to the base of the route. The toe profile is a little wider than the Firetail so if they have been too tight you should get on well with the Wildfire.
Style wise, they look and feel like a trainer, they have a protective toe rand and a nice patternated rand around the rest of the shoe. At first I thought this just wasn’t going to cut the mustard as I’d seen this type of fancy rand just peel away before. This rand however has lasted a tough summer of me constantly wearing them for all my expedition and climbing work both professional and for recreation. I really like it, it’s a nice way of adding more protection and adds to the style. I was sent the Emerald Green shoes, which I must say were a little bright for a Brit. I have, however, had lots of compliments as too the colour and they do stand out from the crowd. I don’t wear them recreationally though! They come in Blue and Green and a more muted Black for those of a shy nature.
The heel was well cushioned with an PU heel unit and the heel cup was nice and rigid. I have actually been able to use these for running in (they are a little too heavy for longer runs) and they’ve been fine. The Achilles area was well padded and again very comfortable in use. I could walk all day in the Salewa Wildfire and have spent all summer working in them for long days in the mountains and crags. The 3F webbing looks a little gimmicky and I’m not sure of the absolute benefit, it may offer a little more support around the heel and distal area but I couldn’t tell when they are on. The usual criss cross pattern added a little structure to the Salewa Wildfire and has increased the durability significantly. I have grown to like the patterning and hope Salewa don’t change it as it’s distinctive and makes the shoe look like a technical shoe and not just recreational. The only bugbear has been the pull tab on the heel – I would have liked to see this a little bigger, bar tacked to the heel and offset so the shoes sat more neatly on my harness when carried.
The materials are burly and hardwearing, that doesn’t mean they’re heavy though. The stated weight is 401g per shoe and the trusty CGR scales weighed my UK 8 shoe in at 400g, so nice and light. The one piece mesh hasn’t shown any sign of wear and I’ve testing them all summer and early autumn. The crucial toe area is further reinforced with synthetic leather and this extends into the gusseted tongue. All the inner is treated with NXT silverised odour control and this seems to have worked as they smell very fresh (although I do not suffer from smelly feet) and I’ve worn them in some quite wet weather.
The sole had an EVA midsole which was stiff enough for edging, in fact the Salewa Wildfire were great for climbing in and I’ve really enjoyed using them for my instructional work. They sole is still Vibram and was very sticky. It has a dotty pattern on the edges with little wear and a dedicated climbing zone in the toe area and around the heel. They have performed very well for both technical approaches, tricky descents and rough boulder fields. I can’t fault the sole unit and gave the shoe five stars for this area.
Overall I’ve used the Salewa Wildfire for a wide variety of mountain activities and they have been a constant companion throughout the season. They have proven to be comfortable, technical and robust and I reckon I have another season left in them. They are a great update on the original and apart from the tab they have been pretty faultless.
The shoes come in sizes UK 6 to 12 in half sizes from 6 to 11.
They also come in a more hiking friendly EVO style and both also come in Gore Tex (GTX) versions for extra protection from the elements.
SRP: £115.00, GTX £135.00
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