The big question is, what do you want from an approach shoe? Right, so the first thing, and one of the more important (as I’m sure most will agree), is the sticky rubber sole. This, in essence, is what really separates the ‘approach’ shoe from your common or garden ‘running’ shoes, or ‘takkies’. You need that sticky grip to be able to confidently boulder-hop, scramble and climb. ‘Non-approach’ shoes just do not compare. And you can quickly differentiate between a serious mountain-goer and a casual hiker by their footwear.
Of course, after some decades of R&D, one now also expects a lot more from an approach shoe than just sticky rubber. We want great fit and stability, comfort, an effective lacing system, a good functional toe rand, and significant durability. And, of course, with all these factors we also want them as light as possible and a little ‘bendy’. So, not too demanding, are we?!
BD’s new Prime approach shoe, is a little bit of a hybrid. It basically fits all the criteria, but it is not quite as robust as you would like from a dedicated approach shoe that you can punish on gruelling approaches and long, rough descents. That is because the Prime is not a dedicated approach shoe. The Prime is a ‘lifestyle’ shoe which fits the bill perfectly as a shoe that can be worn around town, to the climbing gym and also to your local crags and boulder areas.
They have flat, dotty rubber soles featuring Black Diamond’s Black-Label-Street rubber, which have proven their longevity on the Session approach shoe from last year. Besides the substantial rand wrapping the entire front of the shoe, the front part of the sole has a nice smooth section on the toe box, and grips supremely well on rock, and the flexibility of the shoe and the rounded toe makes it great for scrambling and climbing. The generous tab on the back makes it really easy to pull onto your foot and for clipping to your harness.
The soft, lined suede uppers and the padded tongue are really comfortable, and the lacing system cinches up easily to pull the shoe snugly around your foot. As it is a cross lifestyle/approach shoe, the soft EVA midsole is designed with sensitivity and comfort in mind, but also has good support.
I have used them for a while now and have visited many crags in the Montagu area (some quite off the beaten track), have taken them on a short trip to the Cederberg, and they have also been my go-to urban jollers from morning to night. I would definitely recommend you try out the new Primes if you are in the market for a pair of approach shoes. They are great performers and look really stylish.
Materials: Suede leather, EVA midsole, BD Black-Label-Street rubber
Elastic heel strap makes it quick and easy to get the shoes on and off
Weight each: 302.5 g (10.7 oz)