I recently reviewed Salewa’s “Firetail” approach shoe–and I really liked it as a more hike-focused rig. The generous crew over at Dynafit/Salewa liked the review but called to say, “If you like the Firetail, you’ll love the Wildfire.” Who am I to argue? I’m an avowed shoe-whore, so naturally I dropped by to snag a pair to test.

The first difference I noticed in the Salewa Wildfire ($130; 14.75 oz. with insole) is a stickier Vibram “Tech Approach EVO” sole, with more of a climbing/friction sole in the forefoot than the version on the Firetail. I’ve logged couple laps in the rock gym and a bit of scrambling and first impressions seem to suggest it is stickier, but I haven’t scared myself on any 5.8 yet–so stay tuned.

soleThe “superstructure” of the Wildfire feels like it flexes a bit more, giving it more of a running-shoe feel than a hiker. The white and red exoskeleton spans a bit more of the foot, while the rear-foot support system (the “3F System Evo” as Salewa calls it) doesn’t feel quite as rigid, without seeming sloppy. These two features, plus what feels like a slightly cushier heel give the Wildfire a bit more sensitivity–great for climbing and we’ll see for hiking with a heavy pack.

Another interesting design element with Salewa’s techier approach shoes is the “Multi-Fit Footbed.” The shoes come with a standard insole, plus two yellow inserts, allowing you to add or subtract volume from the shoe’s fit. They’re flimsy little foam jobs, but surprisingly they do tailor the fit a bit. I decided to run them with my custom orthotics, but if you have a fairly standard foot, the ability to fine-tune one’s own fit, right out of the box, is cool.

The black insole sits atop the foam, optional inserts.

The black insole sits atop the foam, optional inserts.

 

Too soon for a complete review or endorsement of the Wildfire, but I’m liking them so far. The softer, more sensitive feel doesn’t feel like it will disqualify them from heavier approaches and the construction/design hints at better climbing. Stay tuned to find out. I’ll hammer these this fall and give a more detailed and definitive verdict later in the year.

Tomorrow: probably heading down to Pikes Peak to check out some ice. The Park is off-limits, so looks like we’re road-tripping. Pics to follow.