Easily the most surprising shoe I’ve reviewed, the Arc’teryx Acrux SL is an incredibly versatile technical approach shoe. While light enough to live up to the SL (super light) name it’s still burly enough to be a great shoe for longer approaches and scrambles. With sticky rubber, a great tread pattern and a comfortable fit it‘s become my go-to when I want a light shoe that climbs well but one that can also tackle wet grassy meadows, muddy trails, steep talus slopes and anything else that I might find on a big day in the back-country.
- Weight: 325g per shoe (US size 9.5)
- Sole: Vibram® Megagrip™
- Midsole: EVA Foam
- Upper: One piece thermolaminated rubber & PU coated yarns
- Lining: Tongue free non-removable liner
- 3D moulded Ortholite™ footbed
- Triple patterned sole (not counting the smooth climbing zone at the toe)
Fit & Feel: I’ve always found that the distinctive look of Arc’teryx shoes somewhat reminiscent of a rubber boot. Because of that resemblance I half expected the Acrux SL to feel a bit like a rubber boot, hot and unyielding. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was way way off. The shoes breaths very well and fits nicely so long as you don’t have a super wide foot or overtighten the laces. Don’t expect them to stretch though, while they do relax a little bit the fit in the store is basically what you get. The shoe also holds the heel securely in place. This eliminated any rubbing or chaffing and was confidence inspiring when using the Acrux SL’s to scramble or for easy fifth class climbing.
Performance: The combination of some really sticky rubber with an absolutely fantastic triple tread pattern make the Acrux SL’s incredibly versatile and functional. As with all approach shoes there is some smooth rubber in the “climbing zone” located in the big toe area. This transitions to a familiar poke-i-dot pattern mid-foot followed by a more traditional trail runner tread pattern under the heel. This means that the Acrux SL’s not only perform well on rock but also on muddy trails, steep rocky downhills and grassy slopes. They are also incredibly water resistant everywhere except the tongue area which is great when walking through wet or dew laden grass and bushes.
Tongue: The Acrux SL’s sport a thin liner that wraps around the top of the foot and replaces the tongue. This liner gives the shoes a very secure feel regardless of how tight the laces are done up but does not provide any padding along the top of the foot. I found that I had to be careful when tying up the SL’s as I could easily get them too tight and create pressure points over the bridge of my foot. I think I would prefer flat laces instead of the stiff round ones that came with the shoes.
In testing I really put these shoes through the paces. I used them on long approaches and hiking trips, technical scrambles, easy fifth class climbing and even walking around town. The shoes always performed amazingly well which tempted me to push them harder and harder and take them into areas where I would typically use a light boot. In the end I put a small tear in the side of one of the shoes scrambling through a large granite talus slope that had some very sharp quartz crystals. Not the fault of the shoe at all as the terrain really called for burlier footwear. The only reason that I was wearing the Acrux SL’s was because they just kept performing so well.
Pros: Water resistant but breathable, great fit and extremely versatile
Cons: Stiff round laces, I’d prefer flat laces
Overall: While it’s not the lightest approach shoe on the market it is by far the most versatile that I’ve come across. The Acrux SL has become my go-to for just about every trip that involves a variety of terrain…which is most trips. If you’re looking for a light shoe that works really well over any mixed ground (rock, mud, hardpack, grass, etc.) this is it. If you’re just looking for something that’s going to spend more time in your pack than on your feet check out the Evolv Cruzer Psyche.
A sample was provided for testing but this of course does not influence my review. Product photos by bonsta.ca. Cover Photo by Raf at thealpinestart.com.