$110 | www.patagonia.com/footwear | 4½ Stars
A climber’s approach shoe is asked to do more jobs than Jesus, the guy on whose shoulders rests both the salvation and destruction of the human race, depending on which sect you listen to. The lowly approach shoe, on the other hand, must be as comfy and sturdy as a hiking boot, grip dirt, mud and lichen like football cleats, smear like a rock shoe and pack away tighter than Old Richard’s hatband. That’s a tall order, and it’s nothing short of miraculous when a shoe comes close to filling the bill.
Patagonia’s new shoe, the Karakoram, performs all these duties with surprising aplomb. I hiked up to 18 miles carrying a heavy pack with this shoe and then used it to climb 5th class rock. The sole, made of Vibram Idrogrip climbing rubber smears well, but is scribed with a unique tread that grabs trail dirt and lichen-covered stone like the hand of Fatima slaps the foreheads of infidels—that is to say, aggressively.
Patagonia pimps the lacing system as a way to customize the fit, but after months of use the shoe has become a little sloppy, and I’ve almost drawn the laces together over my narrow foot in an effort to tighten up the lateral sway. If you have a wide to medium foot, this might not be a problem. Overall, the Karakoram is a standout jack-of-all-trades and deserves an ardent, if not religious, following.
- Abrasion-resistant polyurethane-coated suede leather upper.
- Brushed rubber toe and heel guards for durability.
- Lace-to-toe lacing system provides a secure fit.
- Trekdry mesh lining infused with charcoal wicks moisture and controls odor.
- POLI-CORK 70 percent recycled open-cell-foam footbed has carbon to neutralize odor and cork to move moisture naturally.
- Bi-Fit 80 percent post-consumer recycled polyurethane waterproof insole board lends support and stability underfoot.
- Vibram Idrogrip climbing rubber outsole provides excellent grip; combination-lasted for support, stability and flex in the correct zones; medium to narrow width, tapered toe box, medium arch/instep.
- 30 ounces/pair.