Just in for test are the AKU Arriba Mid XCR. I wasn’t expecting them, and when I took them of the box to look them over the first thing I noticed was that really aggressive Vibram sole unit. It’s got a decent heel breast and the toe has one of those high-friction “climbing zone” patches, but here it’s broken up a little so should still have some grip off-rock.
Staying with the sole, it’s very low profile, no big fat padding adding 2″ to your height, and the heel is only marginally higher than the front too. This is very much in line with current thinking, taking a little inspiration from the control and feel of barefoot running and translating into a do-it-all mid cut shoe for regular folks.
The upper is a mix of suede and fabric, stiffened at the toe and heel where it’s also protected by a rubber rand. The lightly padded tongue is gusseted to just above the orange lace loop (all webbing loops for the laces with two metal hooks at the top) and the upper id lined with Gore-Tex XCR for waterproofness and hopefully good breathability.
The Arriba’s are in Aku’s Active Collection, and are probably on the more boot-y side of multi-activity mids, as opposed to trainer-dervied mids. I like the low profile sole and the thinner uppers, they feel like a good boot/lightweight crossover and that’s what we need, not enough good models in that gap.