It would not be a stretch of the imagination to state that I have spent more time in the Five Ten Guide Tennies in the last 10 years than any other shoe! From May to November if I’m heading out with the sole purpose of rock climbing I am wearing these. This staple of my closet has recently undergone some changes and improvements that help guarantee it will continue to be my go-to shoe for all technical climbing. To really point out the changes it would be best to look at the pro’s and con’s of the older version first.
Simply put, they climbed better than any other approach shoe option out there, but lacked durability. I can attest to this as I happily replaced mine about every other year. Considering I would guide or climb in them 100+ days a year I was happy to sacrifice some longevity for how well I could climb in them, essentially being equals to dedicated climbing shoes on almost all routes up to 5.7 in difficulty. In many situations I felt I could climb better in these approach shoes than in climbing shoes. Two examples;
- Moderate slab climbing. The amount of Stealth rubber surface contact you could get with these on sub 5.7 slab climbing made long run outs seem like semi-technical hikes rather than climbs. They actually felt even more secure as the “dots” on the soles wore down leaving a smooth climbing shoe style sole for maximum friction.
- Foot jam territory. No better example than the classic Reppy’s Crack on Cannon Cliff. This crack is notorious for making your dogs bark like crazy when jamming it in snug fitting climbing shoes. Climb it in your wider more protective Guide Tennies and it feels a whole grade easier to me.
There were two disadvantages to the older version. The first was the well known durability issue. I know some guides who were just not willing to keep replacing them after each season of guiding and looked for alternatives. Some would land on the much more expensive La Sportiva Ganda. Other’s would go for the more affordable Scrapa Crux. The durability issue seems to have been addressed as the new version is noticeably reinforced throughout, but especially in the heel and forefoot of the sole.
I’m expecting these to last a bit longer than the older version. I plan on maximizing their life with two tactics;
- Maintenance: Treat them with Nikwax. The uppers of the shoe are made of Nubuck Leather. Nikwax Waterproofing Wax will protect the leather from both drying out over time and from abrasion. I’ve been using this on leather for 2 decades. It darkens the leather a bit, which I like. After trips brush off loose dirt/mud and put them away dry. I’ll reapply the Nikwax at the start of every rock season.
- Selective use: I don’t wear these when I’m not going rock climbing. Ever. Walking down sidewalks wears C4 Stealth rubber down. I have another shoe I prefer to use for dedicated (non-technical) hiking and I’ll be posting a review for that updated model soon! If I save these for only technical rock climbing days I’m quite certain I’ll get 100-150 days out of them.
As with the previous version these shoes can still climb technical rock like no other in their class. The thicker outer sole and heel cup will definitely last longer than its previous incarnation, however it has stiffened the shoe up a bit. The “hand-ground beveled toe” makes this newer shoe edge better than its predecessor with only a small dip in smearing performance. The stiffer sole has another more subtle advantage over the previous sole in regards to foot fatigue. The older version was so soft you could feel every pebble you stepped on during an approach. I once hiked Mount Washington in my older Guide Tennies and could tell the next day it wasn’t the right tool for the job. Every rugged section of the trail massaged the bottom of my feet in a sadistic way. Rugged trail hikes require a bit more support on the bottom of the foot. The new version seems to have found the balance between sensitive-enough-for-technical-rock-climbing, but supportive enough to handle approaches that are a bit rougher than strolling up to Cathedral Ledge.
Another noticeable difference with the new version is the lacing. While the Guide Tennie has always had lacing similar to a climbing shoe Five Ten is using a thin low friction lace that allows the shoe to be snugged up from “Approach Mode” to “I Should Probably Put My Climbing Shoes On But I Kind Of Want To Show Off Mode” with out having to start the snug-fest all the way at the bottom. Subtle, but there.
At 14.43 oz these pack away small enough in my light alpine rock pack to not be noticed, though if the climbing is moderate I’ll probably just keep them on my feet!
Bottom line, the company that has been designing approach shoes since 1988 has redesigned this time tested model based on 2 decades of feedback. While no shoe will ever be absolutely perfect the Five Ten Guide Tennie does pretty well at trying to obtain that goal.
Friendly Foot Giveaway!
No matter what approach shoes you go with one thing is certain. Climbers feet stink. Luckily there is a company called Friendly Foot that understands this, and sells a product that actually works. You can refer to their website for all the details, but all you really need to know is my wife is adamant I never run out of it.
So, to enter to win a bottle of this great stuff just comment below on approach shoes, foot stink, the weather, what ever. That’s it. One comment = one entry. One entry per person. Contest ends at 11:59pm on 11/18/15. Drawing held 11/19/15.
Don’t like leaving it to chance? I got you covered. Use Coupon Code “FF14” at checkout on their website to get a 10% discount on your order. Shipping is free on orders of 4 bottles or more! Pro-Tip, these are excellent stock stuffers for all the climbers on your Christmas list!
Thanks for reading! See you in the mountains!
Disclosure: I bought these with my own money. This post contains affiliate links which help to fund this website.