We all knew it was going to happen one day:
After a couple of years of near constant use, including a good period as my daily driver, I was teetering dangerously close to the might-fail-in-the-field line with my beloved Acrux FLs, a line you never want to cross with shoes, and had to replace them. I’ve written a great deal about these shoes (HERE, HERE, and HERE, for example) and I’m not going to repeat all of that here. However, now that these shoes are being retired I think it’s a good time to take a look back and decide what worked and what didn’t.
For those of you who are new around here, you know know that I primarily used these shoes as light canyoneering and water shoes. That means they were wet a lot, which puts unique stresses on the glues used in construction. I’m happy to report that the shoes held up pretty well to this underwater assault, with three exceptions.
All three of these problems popped up well after most people would have considered these shoes “worn-out” and to this day they are not causing any significant problems. This is not always the case for shoes that spend time in the water…
…and I’m sure the fine folks at Arc’teryx will appreciate knowing where the shoes fail when you use them to failure. Outsole durability was good, especially for a rubber as grippy as Vibram Megagrip.
As a hiking shoe, the Acruxs do leave a little bit to be desired. They are heavy and stiff out of the box, requiring a substantial break in period. In fact, wearing my new pair right now, I am shocked at how stiff they are. Once broken in they do offer excellent stability, especially when carrying heavier loads. That being said, if you are looking for a shoe just for hiking, you can probably do better.
As a camp shoe, the Acrux’s are complete overkill. I would only recommend them for this task if you will be doing significant activity durring the day and you do not want to bring multiple pairs of shoes.
As a water shoe/light canyoneering shoe the Arcuxs remain best in class. The tough outer shell, which causes these shoes to be a little to stiff and heavy to excel as a hiking shoe, protects your feet exceptionally well from all the submerged rocks you will inevitably trip on. The elastic around the inner is an effective gasket for keeping rocks and pebbles from entering the footwell without being as annoying as a neoprene gaiter. In their non-waterproof guise they drain exceptionally well. Lastly, the Mega Grip soles are the best compromise between grip and durability I know of.
In short, after killing a pair I’m happy to report that these shoes are excellent. Truth be told, I bought them on a whim to pair with my Bora Mid 1,000,000 step review, but over the course of these last two years the Acruxs have become one of my most used pieces of gear. No, they aren’t perfect at any one thing, but they are very very good at almost everything. Since starting LP these shoes have been the most pleasant surprise I have had testing gear, and I hope Arc’teryx has a follow-up in the hopper.
Thank’s for the memories, old friend. We did some neat stuff together.
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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, has occasionally written for Backpacker.com, and even more occasionally written for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.