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Salewa Men’s Firetail 3

- published March 2017

89

2017

RATINGS

Support/Stability
9
Protection
6
Comfort
9
Quality & Construction
7
Performance
8
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
89

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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$139.00
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THE GOOD

  • Comfortable & friction free interior
  • Flatter profile adds to stability
  • Great traction on rocky surfaces

THE BAD

  • Rounded toe profile is harder to jam into cracks and pockets
  • Traction lacking on softer surfaces or mud
  • Mesh limits shoe to warmer/drier climates

THE VERDICT

The Salewa Firetail 3 is a supremely comfortable approach shoe built on a stable platform that checks all the boxes for use in warmer and drier conditions. The shoes produced zero hotspots, even during super steep and long approaches and the traction provided confidence on rocky surfaces. This approach shoe is hard to beat for three season approaches in temperate zones that don’t demand much small crack or shallow pocket jamming.

FULL REVIEW

Support/Stability
The Salewa Firetail 3 midsole’s flatter profile (from heel to toe) and relatively wide and straight last provided surefooted stability even on extremely angled slabs. The extended lacing system, which integrates tension through a yoke around the heel (3F Total System), keep the foot planted on the shoe’s platform. This elastomer yoke along with the stiff heel counter also harnessed rear foot rolling and shifting even while traversing steep side hills. The foot bed midfoot support is minimal so these shoes are better for those with a higher and more stable arch (or opt for aftermarket insoles/orthotics).

Protection
The Salewa Firetail 3’s mesh construction offers welcome breathability in warmer conditions but limits the usability to three season use in temperate climes. The toe box of the shoe is protected by an extended sole and substantial rand, offering welcome protection in this area from haphazard bumping and kicking. A stiffened heel cup offers the same for the rear of the shoe. Midsole characteristics defended well against sharp edges and stones; only extremely heavy loads would cause pressure points. 

Comfort
This is the Salewa Firetail 3’s strong suit. The shoe best fits the classic “duck” foot: narrow heel, wide forefoot but thin vertically. The shoes proved comfortable right out of the box; the friction free interior, shape of the last (on the wide side), and lacing system provided a comfortable solace for feet after a long day stuffed in tight sport climbing shoes. The midsole’s combination of cushioning and flexibility proved just right for all but the most extreme trails with heavier loads. 

Quality and Construction
Material choices of the Salewa Firetail 3 all perform their functions well and the quality of construction is what is expected in a high end athletic shoe. Securing items to the upper is done mostly through double stitching which was tight, straight end evenly spaced. There was one missed stitch on each shoe. Bonding of the midsole, outsole and items to the upper are cleanly executed, with only a touch of glue visible on the toe cap. One minor nick in material choice: the laces are slippery, demanding tight knots to avoid loosening until they are well broken in.

Performance
Vibram Reptail soles with their Magagrip compound gives excellent traction on rocky slabs, boulders and hard dirt surfaces. The flat and tread free front edge of the shoe smeared well, even when new. Care had to be taken when moisture entered the equation on any surface. The midsole density straddles the sensitivity vs. support/protection ratio well, providing ample sensitivity and edging ability while still having necessary support and underfoot protection. The rounder toe profile of the Salewa Firetail 3’s is harder to place into smaller cracks or pockets should the approach demand such moves and the wider last won’t tightly hug your foot for more demanding edging or stemming. Think of this shoe as a light hiking shoe that works well as an approach shoe, rather than a climbing shoe that functions as an approach shoe. 

How We Tested It

The shoes in this test were used during rock climbing guiding jobs in the Texas Hill Country as well as personal climbing days across the U.S. and in Mexico. 

For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our climbing shoe tests, climbing harness tests, crag pack tests, and other related climbing gear tests

The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.

About the Author

Seiji Ishii

Seiji Ishii

Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.

Shop for the Salewa Men’s Firetail 3

MSRP
LOW PRICE

$139.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

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MSRP
LOW PRICE
$139.00
Support Gear Institute. If you make a purchase after clicking on the links above, a portion of the sale helps support this site.

RATINGS

Support/Stability
9
Protection
6
Comfort
9
Quality & Construction
7
Performance
8
GEAR INSTITUTE RATING
89

Weight

1.83 lbs

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