Approach shoes inhabit a unique space in the outdoorists gear wardrobe. An approach shoe isn’t a hiking boot, nor is it a climbing shoe or a trail runner. But it must excel at hiking, climbing through steep terrain, be comfortable for all day wear, and offer durability for long days in the mountain. It’s a tall order for a single shoe: be good at everything. After testing the Arc’teryx Konseal FL, I am convinced that this is indeed a shoe that is good at everything.
Arc’teryx Konseal FL GTX Shoe Features:
- Lightweight and highly supportive approach shoe
- Vibram® Megagrip outsole
- Gore-Tex lining
- Molded toe cap
- EVA midsole for cushioning
- Integrated lacing system with gusseted tongue
- Weight: 10.4 oz (each)
- MSRP: $185.00
My funky feet met their match
Let be begin by saying my feet are weird. I was a ballet dancer for 14 years, so I’m used to podal discomfort and ailments. Add in a wide foot, collapsed arch, and pronated ankle? Yeah, my feet are a little janky. Therefore it is so important to me that I have shoes that are comfortable while being functional. I wore the Arc’teryx Konseal FL in a 7.5 and found that it was a good size for all day wear and low grade climbing. I didn’t want to downsize too much for a tighter, climbing-specific performance fit, as it was important to me that I was able to hike long distances in my approach shoes without discomfort.
Word of advice: size down when ordering. I ended up getting a half size down from my usual shoe size, but Arc’teryx’s sizing is a little funky (I’m generally a 39, and their closest option was a 39 1/3) so try them on if you have the option.
The Arc’teryx Konseal FL GTX quickly became my go-to shoe, all day everyday. Whether I was lacing up for a hike to a Donner Pass crag or simply heading to my local park, the Konseals were my shoe of choice. They offered the comfort of a tennis shoe but the technical precision of a climbing shoe.
We’ll start at the toe. The Arc’teryx Konseal FL GTX has a reinforced synthetic toe rubber, which stretches across all the toes to offer additional protection from rocks during burly approaches. I found that, along with the sole design, the outsole protection is what really set apart the Konseals from a typical runner or hiking shoe. In addition to a heavy duty band across the toes, the Konseals also boast a synthetic sidewall for increased durability and stability.
Stability is one area that I felt the Konseals truly excelled. Earlier this year I suffered a significant sprain in my ankle, leaving the area overstretched and prone to reinjury. As I continued in my recovery, I was quick to choose the Konseals when embarking on my outdoor adventures because I felt that the stability they offered me was exceptional. While I was still occasionally rolling my ankles in my runners, I felt that the support and structure of the Konseals was a fantastic asset. This attribute was highlighted by the fact my ankles were a bit sensitive during the beginning of my testing.
The Konseals are stiff yet comfortable. While they were fantastic right out of the box the fit has only improved during break-in. The shoe is super lightweight, coming in at only 10.4 oz each. A bit heavier than the Arc’teryx Arakys Approach Shoes, but lighter than the Konseal AR’s (which boast a nubuck suede upper, instead of the FL’s).
The FL GTX’s — the type I tested — are lined with Gore-Tex and waterproof for hiking through wet and variable weather conditions. At one point I stepped in a sludgy mass of water and mud that swallowed my shoe up to the top laces. Did my feet get wet? Nope, not at all. Not only are they waterproof, but the breathability of these shoes is remarkable. Never did my feet feel too hot or confined in the Konseals, and my feet didn’t feel sweaty after hiking in hot weather. All-day comfort for all-day wear, regardless of the elements.
Arc’teryx didn’t sacrifice any technical assets in their effort to create a lightweight product. Instead, they created a shoe that is balanced. Technical in all the right ways, functional in the ways that matter, light as can be, and still comfortable to boot. Endeavoring to be the best at one of these — technical, functional, light, or comfortable — often comes at the expense of excelling in one or many of the remaining areas. The Konseals don’t try to be the most technical or shave off the most weight. Instead, it walks the beautiful middle ground with delicacy, and the result is a fantastic shoe that performs beautifully.
The Konseal FL GTX’s have a Vibram Megasole comprising the lugged sole. The shoe offered maximum stickiness, and the thoughtfulness of design meant that it was ideal for trail use, boulder hopping, and some climbing. I laced these up for a mellow 5.7 lead and felt confident in my shoes. The sole is smooth and flat below the toes, perfect for smearing or edging. The midsole is rugged lugs, for added traction on unstable terrain.
Honestly, the sole was incredibly impressive. The traction remained sticky in a variety of climes, both dry and wet. Whether I was hauling over dirt or shale or — worst of all — wet granite, I felt that my shoes were secure. The lacing system is dialed in, reaching low along the foot for a specialized fit much like a lace up climbing shoe. If I was getting ready to climb or scramble, I’d tighten the shoes a bit to ensure a secure fit. Walking and hiking, I’d always loosen the lowest laces, near the toes, to allow my feet the added comfort of a more generous fit. I never noticed the lacing system loosening or shifting. That being said, the round laces would frequently come undone if not double knotted. So make sure to tie them twice and you’ll be good to go.
While an overall fantastic shoe, the Konseal FL GTX’s demonstrated some concerning vulnerabilities. First, the synthetic toe rubber split on my right shoe. The cut, likely from hitting against a rock at some point, grew surprisingly quickly. It also constantly caught grasses in the cut, which didn’t affect performance but was really dorky looking. I wouldn’t be surprised if the split continued to progress, which is a bummer because that sounds like an early and unnecessary end to a great pair of shoes.
The second weakness I found with the Konseal’s was in the plastic sidewall support. Although I found the sidewall to be amazing in creating a structured and comfortable shoe, I noticed from the get-go that it seemed prone to wear on either side of the foot by the ball. While they haven’t worn out or cracked yet, they have softened quite a bit since my testing and I’m not convinced that they will remain intact with continued wear and use.
- An excellent, lightweight shoe for all-day wear and scrambling approaches
- The Gore-Tex makes this shoe great for variable weather conditions. Breathable and waterproof.
- Amazing grip and traction with the Vibram sole
- The sidewall seems vulnerable to accelerated wear
- The synthetic toe protection split
- Sizing is a little challenging without being able to try on the shoe
The Bottom Line: Arc’teryx Konseal FL GTX
These shoes are amazing. They’re comfortable, light, and so grippy — an essential feature in a good pair of approach shoes. They did great transitioning from trail to scrambles to low grade leads, and I felt secure in the support and stiffness they provided. The main concern I have with these is long term durability, particularly with the synthetic sidewall and toe rubber of the shoe. Both have demonstrated weakness at best, damage at worst. However, only time will tell with the sidewall, and I’ll just sadly accept the split on the toe rubber. Overall, I really loved these shoes and wore them just about everyday for everything. The Konseal FL GTX’s are an amazing choice for an ultralight approach shoe when you are guaranteed either variable terrain or variable weather (or both!)
Buy Now: Visit REI.com