These cheeky fellows have been used for a year now, like a lot of stuff around here it’s long overdue for a write-up.
This is the Arc’teryx Arcrux2 FL approach shoe.
When these first arrived I opened the box and was immediately whooshed back in time to the late eighties and early nineties. Back then we all wore plastic double boots when climbing in winter. I’ve still got a pair of purple and lime Scarpa Vegas in the garage. They are brittle and useless nowadays, but I still keep them for reasons unknown, they were without a doubt the most unwieldy and heaviest pair of boots I’ve ever owned. I did however feel like a proper mountaineer when I was stumbling back down to the Coire Cas car park in them after having ticked off something in Sneachda. The double boot concept was great for warmth (although not breathability) and they were handy if you were bothying too, you could wear the inners as bothy boots. The reason for all this reminiscence was that the Arc’teryx Arcrux was based on a similar model, a removable inner liner shoe and a tougher shell wrapped round, but in a trail/approach shoe format. Could that possibly work? The only way to figure that out would be to strap them on and hit the hill.
The official specs try hard to make it sound super-technical, but ultimately we have a single piece upper, made with laminated PU-coated nylon. It’s bonded to a Vibram sole, and the removable liner is soft and probably most critically, it contains a Gore membrane. So the outer shell is waterproof and the inner is as water resistant as any other Gore membrane lined item. Seems to bode well for chossy conditions. Due to the construction, seams are not an issue so the likelihood of unwanted chafing or rubbing is minimised.
Enough waffle about the build, I’m sure you’ve scrolled past it all to see how they got on in reality. When it comes to walking, the Arcrux is a medium weight shoe with excellent grip. They are not the lightest I’ve worn, but they are sturdy and take the bumps well. They are relatively stiff when you start out, but they do warm up and become more comfortable as you go along. That becomes less of a problem over time, they need to be broken in to some degree. It’s still particularly noticeable on very cold mornings when camping, they feel stiff and awkward until you’ve been moving for a while. The sole is excellent in terms of both dry and wet grip, they even pass the wet schist test, which means I’m happy to charge around rocky sections in them, and they are a good performer for scrambling. The tough outer is a boon here.
The inner is comfy and it breathes a bit. I still don’t like Gore membranes in footwear, but I see the design sense here. You have the benefit of being able to remove the inner when you set up camp and wear them as a tent or camp shoe. In theory you could dry them out in your sleeping bag overnight too, but I’ve never quite managed that, I either didn’t want something filled with stinky bog water in my bag or they didn’t quite dry overnight, they do seem to take a while. You could carry a spare pair of inners I suppose, with the weight penalty being fairly low. The fit is good for me at my standard size and they don’t feel too wide on my narrow feet.
When it comes to downsides, the first is drainage. The outer is good, but having a big hole in the top to put your foot in means that it’s pretty easy for water to get in, particularly if you are bog-trotting. Easy to get in, not so easy to get out.
Secondly, the heat is an issue for me. These get warm. I’m not sure if it’s the double boot design or the materials of the upper, but they do get hot. I’ve not had a single blister or chafed bit so it’s not creating any major problem, but I’m not a fan of hot feet. I’ve found I skip over them if it’s warm outside, but they are a good choice for the cooler seasons and they perform pretty well in the snow too. These aren’t the cheapest shoes on the market but their sturdiness means they are lasting well, so there’s good
Overall, it’s great to see a new angle in the design of approach shoes, I think that Arc’teryx have taken a brave step into the footwear market and should be applauded. They aren’t perfect, but the grip and robustness makes them a solid choice for climbing approach work and scrambling. I think it would be wise to keep an eye on what Arc’teryx will come up with next.