The 5.10 Guide Tennies have long been my favorite approach shoes. I like them primarily for two reasons: the burly sticky rubber on the bottom of the shoe, and the downright durability. They are the kind of shoes you can use and abuse, and with each model the shoe just seems to get better.
The “Guide” is a perfect shoe if you’re climbing a big wall, or if your approach demands third or fourth class terrain. As the name suggests, if you’re guiding easier fifth class terrain (5.3 – 5.7) they work well in those situations too. I know some friends in the guiding world who use these shoes for the approach, climb and descent.
5.10 has greatly expanded the “Guide” line. I tested out the Black Asphalt version of the shoe; the leather, low top model. After several months of approaches I’ve barely even made an impact on the shoe. Not surprisingly, I had my previous pair of guides for three years of hard use, and they finally blew out after a four-day climb on El Capitan. (see pic.)
The sticky Vibram rubber is thicker and more beefed up than before, and their Smedge Zone Toe delivers as promised, with “precision edging power”. Even with a shoe that feels more secure the fit has not changed at all; they are still as comfy as previous models.
Something I’ve also learned to make my approach shoes last longer: don’t wear them unless you need them. These have a healthy price tag ($130) and while they are worth every penny, wearing them up a moderate trail to your favorite local crag just wastes the rubber. Save them for wall climbs and approaches that really require an approach shoe. Also: these shoes are a bit heavy to carry on your harness, so in places like the Black Canyon where you’ll be climbing with your shoes attached to you all day, again, go with something lighter.
The “Guide” line has expanded quite a bit, with several offerings ranging from a mid-top to a canvas exterior rather than a leather one. There’s also the Exum Guide that looks to offer a ton of ankle support ideal for moving through rocky third and fourth class terrain.
All in all, a favorite has only gotten better through the years.
Five Ten, Guide Tennie (men’s) on backcountry.com
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