Boreal Sendai Vent Review

Is it a trainer? Is it an approach shoe? No, it’s the new Boreal Sendai Vent!


With the same great fit and versatile outsole as our regular Sendai model the new Sendai Vent is a lighter weight and softer flex option with an ultra-breathable synthetic textile upper. Perfect for everyday use, light trail walking and climbing approaches, especially in warm dry conditions.


  • Super comfortable
  • Great for all mountain activities
  • Looks super stylish both on and off the crag


  • Could go with bigger heel tabs for clipping to harnesses.

I’ve reviewed quite a few Boreal shoes in the 10 years I’ve been a gear reviewer, I’ve always found the fit and quality to be excellent and I’ve been a fan because of the stratospheric grade increase I experienced as a youth when I saved up 3 weeks wages to buy a pair of Boreal Fires (I shot up from HVS to E2!).

I first reviewed a pair of Boreal approach shoes for UKC many years ago and I’ve always had a pair in the cupboard. The Boreal Sendai Vent is yet another high quality shoe that has been a joy to wear and use for most of the summer climbing season. They have been super comfortable, breathable and good to climb in. All you would want in a technical approach shoe that is as good for hiking in as it is for climbing in.

The Boreal Sendai Vent is an all round approach shoe with a great feel to them. The main woven fabric helps make the shoe have more of a ‘trainer’ feel to them and the sole is stiff enough for steep approaches and easy scrambles. They are more than capable of supporting your feet for a day on the hill, but not so comfortable for running (they felt a little too heavy and clumsy for a run, although if you had to they would be fine as I do when I’m jogging to warm up).

The sole unit on the Sendai’s was great for steep, loose descents.

As I said the Sendai Vent differs from the usual approach in the way the main shoe fabric is woven to give a great soft feel to the shoe. This also makes them very breathable, in fact one of the most breathable approach shoes I’ve worn for quite some time. The material is thicker than my running trainers but then the Sendai will be much more durable than my trail running shoes and last longer too. But the weave works well and the shoe is lined with a mesh to keep everything comfortable on hot days. Of course, it should be said that they are not in the slightest bit water resistant, maybe the odd small splash but anything other than that and you are going to get wet. If you want a more traditional and burly type of approach shoe then the normal Sendai has the same great fit but is made from a soft nubuck leather.

Boreal have really done well with the styling of the Sendai’s with some nice embroidered touches and some retro logo styling on the tongue. The eyelets are all pressed steel and the laces are rounded, which was a little disappointing as these types of laces are prone to loosening off.

The Boreal Sendai Vent are a great looking and functional approach shoe.

Fit wise, I’ve tested a size UK8 (EUR 42) and found them fine. The toe box is tight enough for climbing but there is enough room for movement when hiking. I found a little adjusting with the laces tightened the shoes up quite nicely for rock moves when needed. There was also very little heel lift as the shoes are quite flexible. There is some heel reinforcement to protect from descending scree and the heel tabs were big enough to get fingers through as well a carabiners for attaching to a harness (although these could have been bigger).

The Vibram Password sole is as good as anything on step ground and the climbing zone is pretty solid with good friction even on quite small edges. I could quite happily climb up to Severe in them and they were great on V Diffs when working with clients. The toe box is finished off with a good about of rand, but there is no more which is keeping with the hiking shoe style. The rest of the sole has a good amount of lugs but they are not overly aggressive, they are ‘self adaptive’ which means they conform to the type of terrain you are on. I didn’t really notice this but found them fine for descending damp and muddy crag descents (disclaimer! They are not going to provide much traction on heinous mud or damp greasy rock!!).

They were comfortable when carrying heavy loads.

The insole is removable and has good arch support and this helps the Sendai dry out quicker when damp from water or sweat. The excellent breathability also meant they didn’t smell as much as many of the other approach shoes I have lying around the house or car boot.

In conclusion: the Boreal Sendai Vent shoes have quickly become my go to shoe for cragging, low level hiking (and even high level in warm, dry conditions) and even mountain biking. They look great, are super breathable and the soft nature of the weave makes them ace to wear straight out of the box. These are the best approach shoes I have worn (and I’ve worn a lot) from Boreal – ever! If you like trainers you’ll love these. Brilliant.

The Boreal Sendai Vent comes in sizes UK 6 to 12 in half sizes and colour ranges Green and Grey. They also come in a women’s specific version in sizes UK 4 to UK 8 in half sizes and colours Lilac. All shoes are made in Spain.

SRP £100


Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for over 10 years. He works as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces. When he isn’t working in the mountains he’s playing in the mountains and enjoys all aspects climbing and mountain sports whether bouldering at his local crag or ice climbing; as long as he’s going upwards he’s happy!


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