So you’re looking for a pair of shoes to wear kayaking? With so many options out there, from kayak specific shoes to runners to … well you get the point …it can be a little challenging to pick the right one. Especially considering shoes don’t come cheap these days. Let me explain a situation that occurred to me a few years ago that had me really thinking about my shoes.
Aescent Approach Shoe Review - David Farkas
I was in the high Sierra on an overnight and we were portaging a rapid in a walled in canyon. I had on a pair of shoes from a well-known manufacturer that I had been creeking in all season. As I shouldered my boat and began the walk across a steep sloping section of smooth Cali granite, my foot slipped and I lost my balance and my footing. Within a millisecond I was careening down the granite watching my kayak ahead of me lead the way into the river. I’ll not go further into detail suffice it to say that I got out and re-evaluated my footwear. I’ve been with 5.10 ever since that day and will never look back.
It’s the end of a calendar year wearing the 5.10 Ascent approach shoes and I gotta say I’m really happy with them. I had a pair of their first generation Ascents and these are a huge step up in design and performance. Let me break it down for you:
The Ascent is a good water shoe because it combines tough and durable materials on the upper with mesh in the right places for draining. And…they do not get substantially heavier when their wet!!! After a season of abuse they are in exceptional shape. The glue on the soles hasn’t delaminated which is always a problem with water shoes, the stitching is solid and holding on, and the shoe looks and performs remarkably.
Support & Hiking
The Ascent has a redesigned sole that combines a nice heel cup and toe box with a solid shock absorbing footbed. The true test of a kayak shoe is whether it can handle the daily abuse of kayaking day runs, teaching, and kicking around camp as well as the punishment your feet take hiking in 10+ miles for that sweet overnight. The Ascents really surprised me in this category. In Durango, most of our creek runs are hike in runs but none are more than a few miles. The Ascents eat up the terrain and are so good that I tend to not even think about them. However, when I got to California, I was timid. I’ve love toenails and had horrible blisters from shoes in the past. On my first hike in (10 miles) the shoes surprised me. No blisters, my toes nails were intact and not sensitive and my feet felt good even when they got wet crossing creeks and tramping through wet grass. I did a few other long hike in runs and they continued to support my feet.
Every one knows that 5.10 rubber is the stickiest stuff out there. Their climbing shoes and mtn biking shoes are legendary. Put this rubber on kayak shoes and your feet stick like glue to anything. They’re so sticky that other companies (Astral, etc) are buying the rubber and putting it on their shoes. The cool thing with 5.10 is that their R&D department never sleeps. They’re constantly formulating new rubber and the Ascents have a compound that is both sticky and durable. After a whole year…my shoes still have their dimples on the soles!!!
Keep the laces loose and the Ascents feel like a skate shoe. There’s plenty of room and they’re really comfy. The toe box is wide which is great when stuffing in a sock, a neoprene sock or the Gore-Tex socks from a dry suit. However, with that said all you have to do is tighten the laces and the shoes changes to a serious approach shoe. The high back on the heel cup supports your Achilles tendon and prevents the shoe from coming off whether you stuck in muck, or swimming a rapid. They don’t come off.
The Ascents resemble a skate shoe and I like wearing them so much that I have a 2nd pair as kicks around town.
These shoes rip and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for something that’s bomber and going to last. They don’t come cheap though…as nothing well made is cheap these days.
-Lightweight, dry quickly, solid construction, super sticky rubber, comfy barefoot, roomy for socks etc., twin heel tabs to pull on and clip to dry.