Here’s a quick review of the 5.10 Aescent, based only on walking around town, and jumping on a few rocks. I’ll have a better sense of field performance in a few weeks. (See this follow-up review.) With first impressions, though, this is a very promising shoe.
I love the 5.10 super sticky Stealth rubber. Nothing else I’ve tried compares. Over the past several years I’ve been hiking and backpacking in their Savants and Camp Fours. For wet stuff like canyoneering in water, I’ve liked the Savants (now discontinued) for their fast drying mesh. Said mesh though hasn’t lasted long for my. Even reinforcing seams and critical areas with Aquaseal or Shoe Goo, their durability sucks, and I get about 15-20 days of hard canyon hiking out of a pair. I wouldn’t find that acceptable for any other shoe–which says something about how much I appreciate the 5.10 rubber.
The other problem I have with the Savants is the mid-sole is too squishy. I suppose this increases comfort. But it makes the shoe less stable and less predictable laterally. Granted, this may be a result of my 210 lbs., and the fact that on more technical canyoneering trips I might start with a pack weight of 50 lbs on top of that. Nonetheless, this sloppiness doesn’t play well with my breakaway ankle.
The Camp Fours on the other hand have the same awesome sole but with a fuller leather upper. Great protection, and the upper is very durable–the out Stealth sole wears out first. The construction also offers my lateral support than the Savant. The leather isn’t as breathable, though, and it doesn’t dry out very quickly. This comes into play when you’re in and out of water throughout the day, and especially when you’re flopping down in camp with wet feet and boots–if you don’t let them dry on your feet you risk some serious shrinkage. Given the choice between the Camp Four and the Savants, I have migrated largely to the Camp Fours.
But I was intrigued enough by the newer Aescent to give it a try. So far, I’m impressed.
The first note, the Aescent appears to be true-to-size. This is worth mentioning because the other 5.10 approach shoes seem to run very small for me, as much as 1/2 to a full size small. They really need to get more consistent at sizing in general and certainly across models!
As hinted at in the picture, my Savants start blowing out early, generally with the mesh tearing away from the rest of the shoe. The Aescent provides a bit more leather (suede) in the typical failure points, and this is something I’ll be evaluating in the next few weeks in the Grand Canyon and then in Joshua Tree.
The Aescent are very comfortable right out of the box, moreso than the Savants or Camp Fours (which aren’t bad, mind you). Of course, this is for my wider than average feet. The sole has much less cushioning, and the foot rests about 1/4″ closer to the ground. For me, this is a good thing. They seem much more stable.
The outer sole has the same 5.10 grip I’ve come to appreciate and seems to have a good compromise of stiffness v. feel. My feet know where they are, and I can feel variations in the footing, but sharp rocks and stones don’t telegraph uncomfortably. The dot sole–common to many of the 5.10 approach shoes–doesn’t have much tread, though, and no raised heel to speak up, and that doesn’t bode well for lose gravel or mud, especially on the downhills. They’ve felt fine with a 40 lbs training pack, and I think they’ll be fine with a lighter pack too! (Not going technical on this next trip–looking forward to starting with 30lbs and finishing with less than 15, instead of the 50/38 of the Olo trip!).
They are also super light, relatively speaking, 1/3 less than the Savants. Those ounces add up over thousands of steps per day.