sidebar

OutdoorGearLab Home

search
< Go to Hiking Shoes

Salewa Wildfire GTX Review

Salewa Wildfire GTX Black/Citro
Price:   $169 List | $160.84 at Amazon
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Light, snug-fitting, and breathable, glove-like lacing, like Velcro on rock
Cons:  Poor traction in mud and snow
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Salewa
By Brandon Lampley ⋅ Review Editor
Friday

Our Verdict

The Salewa Wildfire GTX is a shoe that bridges the hiking shoe and approach shoe categories. The third lightest product we tested, it's designed to be low profile, fit your foot like a glove and climb low 5th class rock. It is a specialty shoe and doesn't provide much midsole cushioning in favor of maintaining sensitivity for climbing. It's not the best choice for most hiking, but it does its intended job very well. The Salewa Wildfire crack climbs and edges as well as most approach shoes.

The Keen Targhee 2 and The North Face Ultra 109 GTX, our Best Buy and Editors' Choice winners, are better choices for a light hiking shoe used primarily for hiking and light backpacking.


New Colors for the Salewa Wildfire GTX - November 2016
The Wildfire GTX is no longer available in the color we reviewed; keep reading to find out more.


RELATED REVIEW: The Quest for the Best Men's Hiking Shoes of 2017

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Measured Weight of Pair, Size 12 Waterproof Lining Upper
85
The North Face Ultra 109 GTX $120
Editors' Choice Award
2.3 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Mesh and PU-coated leather
83
Keen Targhee 2 $125
Best Buy Award
2.3 lbs. KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane Nubuck and textile
83
Vasque Juxt $110
2.1 lbs. None Suede leather
78
La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 $150
Top Pick Award
2.5 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Footwear Nubuck Leather/ 100% recycled Nylon Mesh/ Uretech
78
The North Face Hedgehog Hike GTX $140
2.2 lbs. GORE-TEX Full-grain leather, textile mesh, synthetic overlays
76
Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo $210
2.7 lbs. Waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX Nubuck leather
75
Keen Marshall WP $130
2.3 lbs. KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane Lightweight mesh, synthetic overlays
73
Salewa Wildfire GTX $169
2.2 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Microfiber Forefoot, Ballistic Mesh, Exa Shell
69
Merrell Moab Ventilator $100
2.1 lbs. None Dura leather and mesh
68
Adidas Outdoor AX 2.0 GTX $120
2.15 lbs. GORE-TEX Extended Comfort Air mesh and synthetic upper

Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Version of the Salewa Wildfire GTX vs. the Older Version


We did some investigating and determined that there have been no changes to the Wildfire GTX other than updated colors. It is now available in Black/Citro, Indigo/Nugget Gold, and Reef/Mimosa.

The latest colorways of the Salewa Wildfire GTX are pictured below.
Salewa Wildfire GTX Black/Citro
Salewa Wildfire GTX Indigo/Nugget Gold
Salewa Wilfire GTX Reef/Mimosa


Hands-On Review



The Salewa Wildfire GTX is a light, high-performance, waterproof approach shoe that covers trail miles in relative comfort.

Performance Comparison


Headed out for a high country bouldering session. The Wildfire handles trail miles comfortably and is great on rock.
Headed out for a high country bouldering session. The Wildfire handles trail miles comfortably and is great on rock.

Comfort


This is a snug-fitting, low-profile shoe designed for moving fast in terrain that requires lots of scrambling on rock. The slim toe box and low volume upper fits average to narrow feet well. The shoe is supportive enough for long distances and carrying a pack, but has minimal cushioning under foot.

The lacing on the Salewa Wildfire GTX begins way down by running through the rubber toe cap. Five traditonal eyelets continue up the midfoot, and the seventh and upper eyelet is unique. Similar to the Targhee 2, it is connected to thin webbing that extends around the heel and down to your arch. We love what this design does for the Targhee 2, and this version works even better.

The mostly mesh upper allow the GORE-TEX liner to breathe much better than most. We found this to be one of the cooler shoes we tested for warm weather days.

Weight


At 2.2 lbs per pair, this is the third lightest shoe we tested. Keeping the profile narrow and upper to a minimum for climbing performance makes these light.

Support


The Salewa Wildfire GTX has a flexible forefoot and moderately stiff midfoot. This makes it sensitive and precise when climbing. We don't really have any complaints about the this model's support for long hikes and carrying loads — there is enough, but the average user will probably enjoy wearing other models more. The La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 provides more foot support, is better cushioned for long miles and while not an approach shoe, was our second favorite for 4th class climbing.

Testing the traction of the Wildfire and North Face Ultra 109 side by side. Both have excellent traction on granite slabs.
Testing the traction of the Wildfire and North Face Ultra 109 side by side. Both have excellent traction on granite slabs.

Traction


The sticky, soft Vibram Tech Approach Evo sticks to rock like no other, even to wet granite slabs. This shoe delivers OK traction on the trail and the heel does a little better job at controlling slips while descending gravel than other approach shoes. Your feet will stay dry when hiking through mud, but the muddy traction is terrible.

Versatility


This is a specialty shoe, and it performs that job very well. You can run in them a bit, there's more cushioning in the heel than the rest of the midsole. This is not the shoe we'd choose for a hike unless we needed to climb something along the way. Its snug fit and flashy colors make it a poor choice for casual wear, and the soles wear fast on pavement.

This sticky rubber toe just wants to be stuffed into #3 camalot cracks!
This sticky rubber toe just wants to be stuffed into #3 camalot cracks!

Water Resistance


Water resistance is a strong point. The uppers resisted absorbing water for a good long while and the liner never leaked.

Durability


An impressive combo of features on the upper make this a very durable shoe considering its light weight. A sticky rubber toe cap extends further back than the others we tested. A hexagonally textured rubber rand extends all the way around the shoe and protects the lower portion of the mesh upper. Over and above this, a grid of PU rubbers is glued to and protects the mesh from abrasion. The Vibram sole is not as durable as others, but that's an acceptable trade-off for the great friction. This shoe even sports a silverized antimicrobial treatment to keep the funk down.

Lots of high-tech protective features on the mesh upper make this shoe quite durable.
Lots of high-tech protective features on the mesh upper make this shoe quite durable.

Best Applications


The Salewa Wildfire GTX is great for easy backcounty climbing with long approaches. It's a brilliant approach shoe for places like Tuolomne Meadows in California with lots of exposed scrambling on approach and descent. This would also be a perfect shoe for fast one-day summer ascents of routes like the Upper Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton or the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney.

This model is designed for scrambling and climbing more than pounding out trail miles.
This model is designed for scrambling and climbing more than pounding out trail miles.

Value


At $168, you might consider this a great deal for comfortable, durable, waterproof, rock-slaying approach shoe. But it's limited in versatility, and other more affordable models fit most hikers' needs better.

Conclusion


The Salewa Wildfire GTX is a great climbing, comfortable approach shoe that can also handle many miles on the trail. It's got just enough support for carrying reasonable loads into mountain bivouacs. The waterproof version we tested kept us warm and dry, and the version without a GORE-TEX liner is even lighter, more breathable, and awesome for summer climbing.

Other Versions


Wildfire GTX - Women's
Salewa Wildfire GTX - Womens
  • Cost - $160
  • Women's version

Wildfire
wildfire
  • Cost - $129
  • Non Gore-Tex version

Brandon Lampley
  • Share this article:
You Might Also Like

Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Amazon $160.84  -  5% off!
Backcountry $168.95
CampSaver $168.95
Compare prices at 5 sellers >

*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.



Review Categories

Men's Clothing

Women's Clothing

Shoes & Boots

Camping & Hiking

Biking

Travel

Fitness

Climbing

Snow Sports