First Look: Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review

Meet the Arc’teryx Konseal FL, a light and nimble approach shoe for quick travel in steep terrain. We got our hands on a pre-production sample to give it a test.

Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review
Arc’teryx Konseal FL

The Arc’teryx Konseal FL combines low weight and a flexible chassis with ample cushioning for quick approaches to mountain objectives.

The shoe offers stability appropriate for moderate loads typical of rock climbing adventures and lighter trekking into the higher ranges. Its athletic fit and feel are closer to a trail-running shoe than a hiking boot.

The shoe hits the market in February 2018.

Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review
Arc’teryx Konseal FL have sticky Vibram soles

I tested the Konseal FL over two months. Across Texas, Nevada, and Washington, I hiked and scrambled on all types of terrain during rock climbing and alpine trips. The loads ranged from 15 to 40 pounds on my back.

I have the classic “duckfoot”: narrow heels, wide forefoot, thin from top to bottom, and low volume overall. This shoe’s straighter last and moderate volume fit my feet well.

In short: The Konseal FL ($165) is a light approach shoe with good cushioning. But the comfort comes at a cost: It loses some sensitivity due to the foam insole.

Arc’teryx Konseal FL: Light, Quick, and Nimble Approach Shoe

Approach shoes, like most gear, compromise between several performance criteria. Cushioning and climbing sensitivity are often at odds with hiking stability.

The Arc’teryx Konseal FL has quite a bit of cushion, similar to trail runners. This sacrifices stability and sensitivity. In testing, the cushioning made for a comfortable ride. The injected EVA midsole and 4-mm OrthoLite 3-D molded insole absorbed impacts generated by fast hiking on trails, boulders, and scree.

But this dampened sensitivity. It forced me to use my eyes (and prior experience) to maintain confidence on dicy foot placements.

Lacing extends only to the base of the toes. This hurt climbing ability a little, but the toe profile worked well for toeing pockets and jamming into cracks.

Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review

The stability afforded by its injected TPU chassis was on the lighter, more nimble side, forcing attention when boulder hopping or hiking with heavier loads. There is no arch-supporting structure inside the shoes; climbers with unstable arches may want to opt for aftermarket insoles.

The shoes are light. A pair of size tens weigh 1 pound 10 ounces on a scale—that’s 13 ounces per shoe.

For this tester, this combination of attributes worked best for high-paced approaches with loads of 40 pounds or less.

Great Traction on Stone and Hardpacked Trails

Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review

The Konseal FL utilizes a Vibram Megagrip outsole with shallow lugs. In testing, they provided excellent traction on dry stone and hardpacked trails. The area under the toe has a solid climbing zone, which helped when smearing or edging during fourth- and fifth-class maneuvers.

Traction suffered on any wet surface or when there was loose gravel or dirt covering hardpack, but the soles rarely clogged with mud or debris. A square edge on the heel aided traction during steep descents, especially on softer surfaces.

High-Quality Construction and Durability

Outdoor enthusiasts hold Arc’teryx’s manufacturing quality and attention to detail in high regard. The Konseal FL maintains that reputation. The unlined ripstop mesh upper with synthetic nubuck overlays provide moderate breathability and shed abrasion extremely well.

Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review

Raised TPU sidewalls create a toe cap, which mitigated abrasion and provided impact protection. The shoe’s only signs of wear after the testing period were surface dirt and scrapes on the toe cap.

Acr’teryx’s stitching is consistent and straight, and its bonding is exceptionally clean. Even the laces felt high quality although they are on the slippery side.

Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review

The Verdict: Arc’teryx Konseal FL Approach Shoe Review

If low weight, cushioning, and a nimble, athletic feel outweigh the need for high stability and climbing sensitivity, the Arc’teryx Konseal FL is a worthy contender.

Traction on dry stone is exceptional, and the high quality of construction and materials promotes longevity. Lastly, the Konseal FL’s minimalist design approach yields a clean look that is just as appropriate on urban streets as it is in the boulder fields.

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