Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

One Shoe To Hike and Climb: Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

The new Guide Tennie takes a step back to its more sensitive, stable, and robust past. The climbing approach shoe inspired confidence on the rock and hauled heavy packs comfortably during our review.

Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

For decades, the Five Ten Guide Tennie enjoyed the accolades of rock climbing guides. But some recent updates added bulk, cushioning, and weight, producing a shoe that some found less sensitive and less stable.

The new Guide Tennie, released in the fall of 2017, is a step back toward the original, with more sensitivity and stability while retaining the treasured Stealth sticky rubber outsole. We tested a production sample for this review.

In short: The Guide Tennie is a durable approach shoe with fit and features that deliver significant climbing ability on a stable platform. These characteristics make it suitable for professional guides as well as climbers who demand greater performance than standard hikers or trail runners.

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Review: Five Ten Guide Tennie

As a working climbing guide, I tested the shoe over two months, logging both guide days at Central Texas limestone and granite climbing areas and while hiking in Baja, Mexico. Pack loads ranged from 20 to 40 pounds, in both dry and damp conditions.

The verified weight of our pair (size 10) is 1 pound 13 ounces. They cost $120.

Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

Guide Tennie Review: Climbing Fit and Sensitivity

I have a classic “duck foot” – narrow heel, wide forefoot, and low volume overall. But I still found the Five Ten Guide Tennie to have a snug fit in every dimension.

The nine pairs of lacing eyelets that extend to the base of the big toe add to the secure feeling, particularly when smearing hard on stone. The padding around the ankles is thick, helping with the planted feeling within the shoe.

The compression-molded EVA midsole is on the firm side and is relatively low profile under the ball of the foot. This gave the shoe vastly greater sensitivity than the previous version.

Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

The Guide Tennie is still not as sensitive as other available approach shoes, but increased sensitivity often comes at the cost of stability, protection, and sturdiness. Five Ten does a solid job of managing these compromises, straddling the middle ground amongst all the characteristics.

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The low-drop midsole and straight last, combined with the snug fit, delivered ample stability on the trail and while traversing slabs.

The suede upper stretched little, and with the help of a rubber toe bumper and moderately stiff heel counter, the foot stayed centered over the midsole. I found the stability appropriate for loads up to 40 pounds on terrain typical of subalpine approaches (and more when hauling loads on flat ground).

After repeated abrasions against rough stone, the suede upper proved durable. This came at the cost of breathability, with hot feet a common occurrence when the temperature was above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The suede also protected against light precipitation.

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Stealth Rubber: Sticky Outsole

A trademark feature of the Five Ten Guide Tennie is the Stealth C4 Dotty tread outsole. I have not found a better option for traction while smearing rock. This ability to stick to stone, combined with the snug fit and sensitivity, inspired confidence on slabby approaches.

Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

The close-fitting forefoot, rubber rand, and hand-beveled climbing toe lend confidence during moderate edging.

The upper’s profile and suede tackled modest foot jamming well. Toeing pockets was possible when they were generously sized, but the tall toe profile made smaller pockets challenging.

The Dotty tread pattern is shallow; loose dirt or gravel over hardpack presented challenges. Although the tread pattern didn’t pack up often, the lack of square edges in the tread pattern proved slippery in any amount of mud.

The Stealth C4 did slightly better on damp stone than other outsoles, but close attention was still prudent.

Overall Impression: New Guide Tennie

The Five Ten Guide Tennie is what I consider a “working class” approach shoe. It’s utilitarian: The sung fit, firm midsole, and suede leather upper prioritize function and durability.

The original Guide Tennie had the working rock guide in mind, and this current iteration follows suit. If traction on stone, durability, and equal climbing and hiking ability are on the list, give the updated Five Ten Guide Tennie a try.

Seiji Ishii

Seiji Ishii is the climbing and cycling editor at Gear Junkie and has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor adventure and sports, from participant and competitor to coach and trainer, and finally as an editorial contributor. His interests have spanned cycling, climbing, motorcycling, backpacking, and training for all of it. He has also designed outdoor and off-road motorcycling gear. He lives in Wimberley, TX, with his daughter and a small herd of pets. Read more of his musings at