Pros: Smearing, scrambling, ankle support, hiking comfort
Cons: Laces don’t tighten well, come untied easily if you don’t double knot
On a cold January morning, I was warming up on a V1 at Moore’s Wall, NC.
I didn’t want to put on my climbing shoes yet because I’m a big baby and I was wearing warm wool hiking socks inside my approach shoes. The problem had a high, albeit large, heel hook. I brought my leg up, pulled hard with my heel, and sunk my hand in the top out jug.
My foot stayed secure inside my shoe, and I continued warming up wearing the Five Ten Guide Tennie GTX Mid’s. Besides one complaint (the laces), Five Ten has made an incredible climbing and hiking shoe hybrid.
Read on for the full Five Ten Guide Tennie GTX Mid review. Or, to compare the shoe to other top options, check out our article on the best approach shoes.
The shoe’s beveled toe and stiff Stealth C4 rubber make edging more secure in this shoe than in other approach shoes I’ve used.
Though it clearly doesn’t feel the same as edging in a climbing shoe, I have had success edging on easier boulders and routes.
This is where the shoe truly excels.
5.10’s Stealth C4 rubber combines with the security of the shoe to make smearing a breeze. In addition, the lack of an arch on the bottom of the shoe allows for greater contact area with the rock, generating more friction.
I find in general when wearing approach shoes that smearing becomes more prevalent in my climbing. I never slip in the Guide Tennies, whether it be on a bouldering warm-up, or an easier multi-pitch climb. The smearing ability of this shoe gives me the confidence to wear them on easier routes.
I used to fall on my ass all the time in my last pair of approach shoes, just ask my wife! The Guide Tennies have kept my butt dirt-free.
I think it’s hard for a lot of approach shoes to navigate wet rock and ground because when rubber gets wet, it gets slippery. The tread on the bottom of the Guide Tennies allows the shoe to stick to most surfaces when scrambling. When I need to high-step with a pack on, I know that the shoe will hold.
Just last week I was hiking to the base of a climb at Looking Glass, NC. It had been raining the last few days, and the rock was wet. There was some easy scrambling for about 15 feet, followed by a steep bouldery high step to top out at the base.
I was carrying the rack, helmets, and water on my back; thankfully the rubber held and I made it up safely.
I use this shoe as my hiking shoe. It gives excellent ankle support, and I can hike for miles carrying a trad rack and a rope without my feet hurting.
I hiked in light snow, and the Gore-Tex liner did its job and kept my feet dry. The material is also breathable, which means my sweaty feet aren’t stinking up the car on the drive home.
Sizing & Fit
I wear a size 10.5 US street shoes, and wore size 10.5 Guide Tennies for this review. For most people, the shoe should feel true to size.
My feet are normal width, though my left foot is one full size larger than the right. Sometimes this means that my right heel will slip around in the back of shoes that I purchase, at least until I break them in.
The Guide Tennies, however, hug my feet into place and I have had no issues with my feet sliding. I felt like they were already broken in out of the box. There weren’t any hot spots on my feet after the first time I went adventuring in them.
I do recommend wearing hiking socks, or at least socks that go above your ankles so that the shoe doesn’t rub against your skin. One time I couldn’t find any clean longer socks and my ankles rubbed uncomfortably against my shoes for the whole approach.
My least favorite part of the shoe is the laces. They are thin, and I find it difficult to tie the shoes tight enough because of the lacing system. The laces always seem to slip and loosen just before I tie the knot. They also come untied easily, making double-knotting a must.
I find myself wishing they designed the shoe with hiking boot laces instead. The website shows the shoe tied with the laces behind the tongue like a skating shoe, which would give the shoe a loose and comfortable fit. (It also shows off the 5.10 logo, so maybe they are just tied that way for marketing purposes.)
For both hiking and climbing, I need a shoe that provides tightness and security, not just comfort. Thankfully, pulling hard on the laces and carefully placing your finger to avoid slippage achieves that security.
I have worn the Guide Tennie GTX Mid’s for the entire winter bouldering season and into the spring season. I wear them every time I go out climbing, and have smeared and scrambled my way through all sorts of rocky terrain.
The shoes have started to show some signs of wear, but have held up where it counts. The foam on the inner side of the shoe has started to crease, and there are a few small punctures and tears in the foam from thorns or rocks.
That being said, there is still plenty of rubber in the toe box for smearing and edging, and there aren’t any structural issues with the shoe. I think these shoes will last easily for another year, if not more.
I recommend these shoes to any climber who wants an approach shoe that is able to provide comfort while hiking long distances as well as climbing performance.
I think it is worth it to buy the Mid over the original Guide Tennie for hiking purposes because of the ankle support you receive. If you want to save a couple of bucks, the non-Gore-Tex version of the Guide Tennie Mid’s retails for a bit less, and comes in five different colors as opposed to the GTX Mid’s one black/red scheme.
The Gore-Tex liner was unnecessary most of the time, but then again I live in North Carolina. I think I will be happy that I have the liner when I go to Tuolumne in June and there’s still snow on the ground.
This review was conducted by an infrequent contributor to the site.