Crag footwear can be a funny thing, it’s nice to have a comfortable boot or trainer for the hike in, but then when you end up scrambling or sliding down rocks in your trail shoes something a little more grippy wouldn’t go a miss. So you get to the crag and bust out the flip flops (or crocs apparently) to save all the shoe swapping that’s going on, but end up flip flop scrambling over to the next sector with rope in one hand, and a guidebook in the other. Arc’teryx have looked to solve all this faffing with an all-in-one approach shoe, the Arakys.
Comfort & Fit
The Arakys looks and feels like a cross breed between a standard low rise approach shoe and a slipper, the idea here is that you have a sturdy semi-ridged sole for hiking and scrambling with a softer upper to give the qualities of both slipper and approach shoe. The shoes are very comfortable, and difficult to compare with anything we’d tried before; the OrthoLite® soles provide excellent support and comfort, whilst the quick adjust buckle makes them fast to put on whilst the inner is soft to touch and the shoe is fine to wear with or without socks.
Build Quality & Durability
As with the other Arc’teryx kit we’ve tested, the build quality is excellent throughout as you’d expect. Having pinched technology from specialist companies (which makes sense to do) you know the Vibram® sole and outer will last the milage, whilst the replaceable OrthoLite® soles can be swapped and changed out as needed. With a tall rand running completely around the shoe, the thinner upper is well protected and from the initial month of testing, it looks like these will last a while.
With an air permeable upper, and a soft leather footbed, the Arakys do breathe very well allowing airflow around the feet whilst hiking, or whilst in ‘belay’ slipper mode, which is particularly useful post-climb to allow sweaty feet to air out a little between sending. It’s worth mentioning here that usually we’d have a section on weather resistance, but these shoes really aren’t meant for rainy days – sure they will shed a shower, but for hiking in prolonged rain (as it’s been forever here in Chamonix) you’re going to get wet feet.
The strength of this shoe definitely resides in the sole and footbed, both of which are comfortable, sturdy and have excellent traction on varied terrain. The compromise comes with the upper, as the shoe doesn’t quite hug the foot or offer the same lateral support as a low rise hiking boot or trainer, the shoe doesn’t feel as secure or as supportive as a purpose build hiking or trail shoe. That said, it’s a minor compromise, especially on approaches under an hour the upper is just fine.
Arc’teryx have used Vibram®’s (apostrophe after the retail symbol? …anyway) appropriately named MegaGrip™ sole for serious stickyness on both mixed terrain and rock. What is so so nice about approach shoes in general is that you usually get a climbing edge and climbing rubber to scramble your way about the crag (or even to get to some of the more remote pitches that require easy soloing to reach). The Arakys are no exception, and in fact excel with this sole and they do provide a lot of confidence when scrambling around the crag.
With it’s more then acceptable hiking performance, and good climbing performance, the Arakys provides an excellent solution to bringing a multitude of footwear to the crag. The collapsable heel /slipper function is a really nice touch and truly does cut down on wasted time messing around with footwear, leaving you with more time to eat, climb or complain about run outs. More importantly, could there be an end in sight for crocs at the crag?