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Gear review: Patagonia hiking and approach shoes



By Emily Stifler Managing Editor

I loved my Patagonia Cragmaster sticky rubber approach shoes so much I bought another pair of their shoes, the Drifter A/C, which are low hikers. It’s time I write about this wonderful, blister-free footwear.

Made with climbing shoe rubber, the Cragmasters ($155) are ideal for rock scrambling and easy climbing. A low-profile midsole and nylon injection-molded arch shank are supportive and durable for short to medium length approaches, and the toe-to-toe lacing system provides a precise fit when you need to get vertical.

The Cragmaster’s nubuck waterproof leather outers are tough and protective, albeit somewhat hot for mid-summer. The rubber on the soles is very soft – that’s why it’s so sticky – so beware it can mark up floors and doesn’t do well on snow and ice. However, it does remain sticky on wet rocks. Like a climbing shoe they’re meant to be resoled: The body of the shoe is built to last, but the sticky rubber will wear away.

The Drifters ($130) are an all-terrain shoe: These kicks carried me through approximately 30 miles of massive boulder fields in Argentine Patagonia this winter, kicked their way up and down snowfields with crampons strapped to them (not recommended), and hammered out countless more trail miles, all with heavy packs. My knees feel better than they have in years, and the shoes are still going.

With air mesh/nubuck leather outers and polyester air mesh lining, the Drifters are suited for day hikes or overnight trips. More breathable than the Cragmasters, their Vibram Trail Ecostep outsole grips well on any surface, and is cushy – a major plus on long walks.

Patagonia’s website also has an array cute shoes for activities other than hiking and climbing. I might have to do more research.

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