Garmont Dragontail

As we all trip over each other to get into a pair of trail shoes there’s a category of footwear that should be our friend, but seems to have slipped off the radar a little bit: the approach shoe.
Approach shoe is a rubbish name, it says all the wrong things, particularly “I’ll get you near the mountain but don’t take me onto it”. The truth is that approach shoes are made for the mountains, are more robust than trail shoes and the uppers will fare better over time on rockier routes. They often tend to have stiffer midsoles and scrambling-friendly outsoles, something you’ll like or you won’t. They are a little heavier than trail shoes, but lighter than boots, give free ankle movement as nature intended, and usually come in jazz fusion colourways so what’s not to like?

It’s good to be testing Garmont, it’s name I’ve had on a my feet many times over the years, not least as they made Karrimor KSB’s at one time. The range looks familiar as there’s evolutions of older models in there and fresh at the same time, and from their approach shoe range (Mffff) here’s the Dragontail.

It’s got a sticky rubber Vibram sole with a rock-friendly toe area, but it’s got a good pattern elsewhere, I reckon these would have been great on the recent Assynt trip where we were on a mix of pretty dry grass and rock for three days. The upper is thick suede and mesh, no waterproof liner (there’s a GTX version), just a treatment on the suede which is good, and there’s a thick rand over the robust toe bumper. The lacing goes down to the toe, which apart from giving a rock-shoe tight fit if you want, also lets you dial the whole shoe into your foot shape.
The fit is good for me, quite low volume as you’d expect, but the heel cup is deep and holds well, even with the big scoops around your ankle bones that really free-up foot movement. The fit is enhanced by Garmont’s ADD Anatomically Directed Design, which featured on the last Garmont-made KSB’s. Put simply, ADD introduces a little more ergonomics and asymmetricality into the shoes to try and work with the weirdness of our foot design rather than tame it. My feet are so used to being in different shoes all the time now, it’ll be interesting to see how the little ADD quirks feel.
There’s a bit of cushioning under the foot, but still plenty of trail feedback, they’re stiff-ish but still have enough toe flex for easy walking and not trying to suck the shoe off of your heel with every step.

So, these look very usuable, they look rather nice in general when it comes to it, red with yellow laces? Oh yes.
More thoughts on these as I go, more Garmont coming soon too.

11 thoughts on “Garmont Dragontail”

  1. Approach shoes are grand but I can’t help thinking they suit continental mountains better…. I have a fantastic pair of 5.10 Camp Fours which are brilliant on rokc and first choice for the Dolomites or Pyrenees, but the suede, nubuck and cushioning in the uppers would be a soggy horror on the boggy start to the climb up Canisp! Surely better with the lighter, faster-drying upper of a trail shoe for that terrain?

  2. Aye, these will definitely lean towards rock and away from bog I think.
    I dunno what the water absorption of these will be though, they’re not overly padded, but not rock-shoe skinny either. The drying time after immersion will be the clincher, I’ll get an update on that soon.
    Comfort is king I suppseo, anything else you cam compromise on. A bit.

    Dare I say they’re too pretty to stick in a bog?!

    You know if wouldn’t take too much work with a scalpel to make those toe patches on the outsole less scrambling specific…

  3. Just found an old pair of knackered KSB’s that were made by Garmont while rooting in my cellar. THE best fabric boots ever imho. When my current Raicle’s bite the dust i may try a pair of Garmont boots, if they fit, as their build quality was superb and they lasted for ages.

  4. yey and yey!!

    im off to try some yellow boots on sunday as my red salomon ones died during the coast to coast so got a refund and need some new ones.

    yes i know trail shoes are the future but i just cant get away with my inov8’s or xa pro’s in the winter round here.

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