These shoes were delivered to the Big Stone Publishing offices, where we produce Trail Runner and Rock and Ice magazines. While intended for the Rock and Ice editors, a Trail Runner editor unknowingly opened the box and assumed they were simply a rugged new trail shoe and promptly laced them on his feet. Once notified of the mistake a couple of days later, said editor refused to return the shoes to the proper entity, saying, “You’d have to pry these from my cold, dead feet.”
Indeed, while many approach shoes are bulky, boxy, the Sticky Cloud bucks that trend, with a more “athletic” fit and feel that melds rock-shoe and trail-running-shoe designs. Out of the box, the shoe features an aesthetic, high-quality look, with a techy-looking, micro-fiber upper sporting mid-foot overlays that integrate with the lacing system.
On the foot, the shoe has a tapered fit in the forefoot that both offers a precise feel in the toe area for edging and enough room for the toes to splay when walking. Over a comfortable, lightly padded, gusseted tongue, the laces extend well forward on the toes, allowing for cinching a secure fit from instep to toes.
Perhaps the upper’s most unique feature is the so-called “Heel Lock” system, where a thin cord runs from the upper eyelet around the ankle and heel and back to the other top eyelet. Tightening the laces at the top sucks in the heel for a super-stable feel. The cuff is asymmetric, higher on the inside than outside; initially, the shoe rubbed a bit on the outer ankle bone but felt better with wear.
The Vibram Megagrip outsole felt sticky on rock, and the lugs are deep and seem ample for hold in muddy conditions. Under the toes a ¾-inch band of flat rubber facilitates edging on rock. While the midsole seems to provide solid protection and cushioning, the shoe flexes easily at the ball of the foot for a nice roll, almost running-shoe like.
If you’re in the market for an approach/hiking shoe, the Sticky Cloud should be on your radar. If you order a pair, just be careful who is around when the box is delivered …
Rock and Ice vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Rock and Ice.