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Guide Tennie
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Contact: Five Ten
Guide Tennie
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Guide Tennie
Five Ten

My trusty Adidas are over 3 years old and totally falling apart, and the Teva's that I bought on sale at LL Bean to replace them weren't worth bat-guano. So when Five Ten offered me a pair of their new Guide Tennie approach shoes to test, I was psyched. My perfect shoe hikes well, has a traction sole with sticky rubber and and upper that hopefully will last more than one season. I was really interested to see how close the Tennie came.

Fit first... I've always worn a 10 or 10 1/2 in sneakers. Both my old Adidas and my Specialized mountain bike shoes are size 10. Because of availability, the first pair of Tennie's I tried were 11's. The heel cup fit snug, the width seemed fine, and amazingly the length even seemed to be OK. With all that, I was surprised to find that my toes felt a bit uncomfortable, width wise. While I could hike uphill and on the flat just fine, when I went downhill my toes felt scrunched. Compared to my old Adidas, the Tennie has a significantly narrower toe box. On careful examination it bore a striking resemblance to Five Ten's own Spire climbing shoe. Regardless, it was a bit too uncomfortable for extensive hiking, so I tried an 11 1/2. Ahhh...relief! Even with a pair of medium weight hiking socks there was no binding and the length was OK. Based on my sizing, I'd suggest buying half to a whole size larger than your normal approach shoe. Be sure to try moving on a downward incline to check the toe feel before you settle on a size.

Walking around the cliffs, with and without a pack, the Tennies feel just fine. The sole is not too stiff and the laces are set up so you can get the shoe snug enough to be extremely stable. This affords a level of performance that is not available in a lot of approach shoes. In addition the synthetic upper dries out fairly, even when thoroughly soaked.

I've been taking my son over to the Whitehorse slabs regularly, so it was a prefect place to try them out on rock. Moving up and down the rock with him in front the Guides felt solid and gripped well, even on smooth steep granite. And why not? With C4 Stealth rubber for soles they were bound to stick. That's the same stuff that I have all my climbing shoes resoled with. I was so impressed that a few days later I decided to wear them while rope-soloing Beginner's Route. They were stiff enough to edged and smeared like champs, and it was great that I didn't have to bring another pair of shoes for the walk off! Another time I wore them on the Catalonian slab, below Hotter Than Hell. Again I was impressed with the edging and smearing capabilities. I don't think I would try them on Hotter Than Hell, but they were certainly solid on 5.6. The only thing I've noticed is that the "dotty tread soles" will occasionally catch on edges if you "shuffle" down very featured surfaces. I've learned to pick up my feet when I'm walking.

I recently wore them on a night rescue in the rain and they performed admirably. The hike to the top of the cliff with a well laden pack over wet roots and rock was no problem. The area we rappelled down was wet and often very slimy, but I never felt insecure. Even moving down through loose dirt and moss on a tree ledge in the dark was no problem. In fact they were so comfortable I simply forgot that they were a new pair of shoes!

With only about 5 weeks of use it's hard to tell how they are going to hold up. I've been wearing them everywhere and the soles look effectively unworn. However I have noticed a small place where the rubber is glued to the leather upper on the toe that is pulling up just a smidgen. What this will look like in a year is anybody's guess, but hopefully it won't be as bad as some of the Nike's that I see a lot of the other guides wearing.

Conclusion:  Five Ten has a winner here. The Guide Tennie hikes great, climbs moderate rock surprisingly well and will look good around town. This is simply the best all around approach shoe I've ever tried, and I've tried quite a few. At a very tolerable $89 MSRP it's a superb value. I give it a solid 5. Nice job Five Ten.

Details: Synthetic Propex upper with Leather reinforcement, Stealth® C4 dotty tread soles, Compression molded EVA midsoles, Technical toe rand, Ankle to toe lacing, Sizes 5-13

Al Hospers
August 2003

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