WILDFIRE EDGE APPROACH SHOE
A technical approach shoe with looks to match.
(This story originally featured in Wild #185, Spring 2022)
By Anja Fuechtbauer
First impressions matter. And my first impression of Salewa’s Wildfire Edge approach shoe was this: These things are sexy. I mean, really. They have a suitably high end aura, the colour combination of teal and red/orange is right up my alley, and they look like what I’d imagine the offspring would look like if I left my day hiking shoes alone for a cosy night with my climbing shoes. I guess that’s not surprising given the alpine climbing and technical approach intent of the shoes.
Before I’d ever got to see them in the flesh, though, I had to figure out which size to get online. I’m usually an EU39.5, but that size—along with some other in-between EU size options—was not available. I used the size chart tool on Salewa’s website, which allows you to enter a different brand of shoe in a size that fits you, along with some general info about your feet to make a recommendation. In this case, it recommended to go with size EU 39; it fit me surprisingly well.
When the shoes arrived, right away the yellow featured insoles with instructional icons caught my attention. Salewa’s Multi Fit Footbed Plus (MFF+) allows for customisation of the shoe to a narrow fit or medium fit via two interchangeable layers. For me, I wasn’t interested in the narrower configuration; for the last ten years, I’ve been religiously wearing Merrells, which are on the normal-to-wide side. Anyway, in short, for my foot shape, I found the shoe to be incredibly comfortable.
The lacing system works well to tighten sections of the shoe, allowing for good customisation of the fit without the shoe overall being too tight or loose. The Switchfit Technology feature changes the shoes from walking to climbing mode by tightening the laces at the rear eyelet. When you do so, your foot gets pulled forward in the toe box, making the Wildfire Edge closer to a climbing shoe than a walking shoe. Unfortunately, the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named ruined my planned trip to Arapiles to thoroughly test this feature. But I found that the theory checked out when I played around in the shoes closer to home near Newcastle.
I also appreciate the heel loops, which come in handy to clip your shoes to your harness or pack when off on a multi-pitch adventure. Taking them out to the local crag between rain showers was a pleasure. They happily kept my feet dry through the puddles and mud, and offered great grip on the handline downclimb along roots and rock. They were, however, quite slippery on the wet rock next to the stream. But then again, I am holding them up against my 5.10 water tennies that I use for canyoning and kayaking, and they are made for that stuff; stuff the Wildfire Edges are clearly not designed for, even if the POMOCA Speed MTN sole does advertise improved grip in both wet and dry conditions. Maybe just don’t take them stream hopping. Oh, and you might want to consider what season you’d want to use them for. Despite the shoe’s tongue being mesh, with its upper being suede leather, you definitely stay toasty in them. They mightn’t be ideal for really warm conditions.
Overall, however, I am extremely smitten with these shoes. Slipping them on is a pleasure, and I am hoping that the no blister guarantee will hold up for longer outings as well.
NEED TO KNOW
Technical hiking and climbing approaches
WEIGHT (PAIR; AS TESTED):
760g (EU 39)