After the demise of the Mountain Master some years back, Five Ten reinvented their approach shoe line, and have been on a continuing quest to improve and streamline the range since that original overhaul. Omitting the various crossover, free running and mountain biking shoes in the range, four shoes have taken centre stage in the approach shoe market over the proceeding years – Prodigy, Insight, Camp Four and Guide Tennie. Of these the Prodigy and Camp Four passed each other (with some overlap) like ships in the night, leaving just the Camp Four, Insight, and Guide Tennie, which incidentally are all now available in a woman's fit. Of these three remaining specifically approach orientated shoes there is a definite logic and distinction in their design and function. Having, over the last few years, used the Guide Tennie, Prodigy and Camp Four in succession, I have been increasingly impressed by each models fit, durability and performance. The following is a brief run down of each shoe as I have used it, culminating in a more in depth look at the Five Ten Insight. Despite its continued popularity as a general purpose shoe, I personally found the Guide Tennie to be the least applicable product for all-round British conditions – the low profile dotted tread is next to useless on the wet boggy ground familiar across the UK. Having said that, if you want a shoe principally for scrambling or more arid conditions the 'Tennie' is a winner. After wearing out my Guide Tennie's I moved on to the Prodigy, which despite a slightly unstable feeling heel (although this did improve as I wore them in) was a far better proposition on the often soft, wet underfoot terrain found across the UK, thanks to it's deeper more aggressive tread. Next up came the Camp Four, which continued to up the ante, offering a far more comfortable and stable fit, whilst still retaining the same UK-centric sole unit used on my previous pair of Prodigy's. The Camp Four appears to be a redesigned Insight, which has had an external PU 'heel cage' added to give a boot-like level of stability over long distances, whilst still offering the lightweight nature and comfort of an approach shoe. So to the Insight, which is the latest Five Ten approach shoe I have been testing. Thus far I have used the shoes for long slogs to Lakeland mountain crags, rock hopping around the boulder strewn coast of St. Bees Head, and also in the Alps for some easy climbing and crag approach.
These shoes are one of the most comfortable approach shoes I have ever had out of the box, feeling stable but comfy from the word go. The sizing is generally about right too, i.e. if your shoe size is a 10, then go for that in the Insight. The forefoot of the shoes is a little wider than average, whilst the heel cup is low(ish) volume and subsequently very well fitting. Insights - Crag ApproachThe lacing goes a long way down the toe box allowing for plenty of adjustment, and the tongue is stitched in, helping to improve fit as well as preventing too much debris falling inside the shoes on scree slopes etc.
I’ve had my pair of Insights for a few months now and have hammered them up to 3 or 4 times a week, and thus far they show little signs of significant wear and tear. As with all 'sticky rubber' soled shoes the sole unit has worn down a little faster than if compared with a harder compound, such as standard Vibram. However, there is still plenty of miles left in the tank, and the increased performance on rock is well worth this small compromise. The newer model in this shoe also has the toe rand sewn down to increase longevity.
Comfort & Water Resilience
As stated above, I have found the Five Ten Insight to be supremely comfortable, even from new. With the lack of external 'heel cage' (as used on the Camp Four) making them feel softer, have a more relaxed fit, and be a little lighter in use. This suited me perfectly, and would explain my slight preference to this shoe over my former favourite, the Camp Four. That said, if you are after a shoe for extended walks on uneven ground then the addition of the heel cage may make the Camp Four a better bet. Neither the Insight nor the Camp Four are waterproof; however the Camp Four is a little more water resistance, by virtue of its more solid upper. This same upper makes the Camp Four a little hotter on the feet and less breathable in warmer climes, in which case it's a simple case of picking the shoe which fits your needs the best.
Overall the Insight is a great shoe, which offers a good fit, excellent traction (across a spectrum of terrains and conditions), and superb longevity in the field. If I were to draw one negative; it would be nice to see Five Ten modernize the tread pattern of the sole used on both the Insight and Camp Four, shaping and angling the lugs, in line with some of the more techy looking Vibram soles in use.