In recent times the approach shoe has broken free from its esoteric climbers-specific categorisation and, for many, has taken the place of the lightweight fabric boot – offering instant comfort, better sensitivity and breathability, whilst giving a more street friendly look and still providing a good level of technical performance. Of course the term “approach shoe” covers a massive spectrum of product, from mass produced generic £20 affairs, to the more technical multi-tasking end market, which range from £65 upwards. Even within the top end bracket there are many sub-categories, with shoe models being specifically tailored to suit differing needs, from warm dry weather to colder wet weather, long walk-ins to scrambling and so on. Due to our heritage Rock + Run tends to stick to the more technical or climbing applicable approach shoes, that is we generally offer a range of shoes which will get you to the crag but also offer a decent level of performance on the rock. Whether it be jugging up El Cap, scrambling in the Lakes or incorporating a days walking with a few easy solos we like to think we’ll have something to suit.
The Five Ten approach shoe range has always fitted well with our ethos and in the long standing Guide Tennie we have one our best selling footwear models. Over the last couple of years the Five Ten range has seen somewhat of an overhaul and the Guide Tennie is now the sole survivor of the original “sticky rubber” approach shoes that defined a genre. Of the newer models (Prodigy, Insight, Savant and Camp 4) I have personally hammered a pair of the excellent Prodigy’s into submission and due to their recent demise have moved on to test out the newest edition to the range, the Camp 4. I’ve had my Camp 4’s for around two months and after using them in the UK and Switzerland for walk-in’s, easy climbing (i.e. warming up) and generally hangin’ out, I can honestly say they’re probably the best pair of approach shoes I have ever owned! Despite the massive popularity of the Guide Tennie it doesn’t really suit my needs. I tend to do a fair bit of walking to get to crags/areas, and as we all know walking any distance in a Britain can involve quite a lot of bog dodging and negotiating wet slippery surfaces. Thus the low profile and dotted tread of the Tennie doesn’t really offer enough beef in the sole or support in the upper. Right: The Camp 4 is equally suited to standard British walk-in conditions as it is on arid rocky terrains: Having used the Prodigy on varying terrains (high Sierras, Texan desert, Alpine foothills, Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire moors) and in varying conditions I feel I have a pretty rounded view on what it was suited too and for me, in spite of generally ticking all the boxes of what is a good approach shoe, it had one irritating failing – stability. I found the thickness of the EVA and narrowness of the sole at the rear of the shoe conspired to make for the odd hairy moment on uneven ground, although (having heard reports to the contrary) I am prepared to accept this may have been down a slight incompatibility between myself and the model. In any case there were defiantly at least a few areas in which the shoe could have been improved, step forward the Camp 4…
Whilst looking quite similar to the Prodigy the Camp 4 purveys a massively superior fit, with instant out-of-the-box comfort and stability. The last seems pretty average in width and volume and should suit most foot types. The heel incorporates Five Ten’s new proprietary technology, a molded PU external heel cage that adds rear-foot support and stability, allowing you to lug heavy loads for long distances, without the need for a regular high-top ankle supporting boot. I found this new feature to be stable and secure, and whilst I’m not convinced this negates the need for high-top boots altogether, it certainly helps in supporting and hold in the foot in place.
The outer sole is the sticky co-molded Stealth C4/S1 with internal shank, similar (but wider) to that used on the Prodigy. This uses an oval plug configuration/pattern on the tread which I found to be equally at home on both boggy and rocky terrain. One of the big concerns often voiced when it comes to sticky rubber sole units is the durability. Interestingly, on my Prodigy’s (which have the same configuration tread and thickness of rubber as the Camp 4) the upper wore out well before the sole was anywhere near wearing smooth. The midsole is a compression molded EVA which gives a good balance between support when walking and sensitivity when climbing/scrambling, although due to the chunkier feel this shoe it is not as suited to actual rock climbing as it’s sleeker cousin, the Guide Tennie.
Right: The Camp 4 making light work of straightforward scrambles: The build quality of all the new Five Ten approach shoes seems very good - we haven’t had any returns to date - and a marked improvement from the old days of rapidly delaminating Mountain Masters. The uppers are constructed from good quality Nubuck leather, which offers burley durability and breathability, whilst also being pretty weather resistant. The lacing is a traditional riveted hole set-up which gives longevity, is easily adjustable and offers minimum faff.
In condensing the above blurb I would conclude by saying that the Camp 4 is an awesomely fitting, keenly priced and well constructed approach shoe. It offers a excellent balance between a walking and climbing/scrambling shoe, but if you’re after something for predominantly the latter activity the more sensitive Guide Tennie may be a better option. If I had to offer one point that could be conceived as a negative it would be the weight (940g-UK9), however, for me personally, this was not an issue.
This version of the Camp Four is no longer available. View our current range of Five Ten Approach Shoes