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Home » Mountain Standards » Stable on Steep Terrain, Hard to Fit: Five Ten Guide Tennie Mid-GTX

Stable on Steep Terrain, Hard to Fit: Five Ten Guide Tennie Mid-GTX


The author climbs fourth-class slabs below Eagle Wall at Red Rocks.

[Photo] Nick Malik

MSRP: $179.95


While working as a guide I choose footwear that connects me to the terrain, inspires confidence in movement, and is comfortable enough to be worn for long periods of time. Recently I was able to test the newest member of Five Ten’s Guide Tennie family, the Mid-GTX. I used the shoe while preparing for, during, and after my AMGA Guide Exam this fall at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada.

The primary reason that I come back to the Guide Tennie year after year is the shoe’s overall climbing ability. For the Mid-GTX version, Five Ten uses the same Stealth C4 dot rubber that they use on other models. It’s my experience that Stealth C4 rubber climbs better than Vibram’s line of rubbers but doesn’t last as long.

One guiding assignment on my Exam was Inti Watana (5.10c, 12p). The approach and descent involved long sections of third- and fourth-class climbing on terrain where the guide’s stance is often incorporated into the belay system. With the Guide Tennie Mid-GTX, I had confidence in my stance and could provide appropriate guide and client security.

After my exam I climbed the Red Rock classic Levitation 29, which has a two-hour approach up third-class scrambling in a wash and fourth-class slabs. On both slick and featured sandstone slabs, the Guide Tennie Mid-GTX smeared better than any other approach shoe I have worn.

The shoe is constructed of Nubuck leather uppers and a GORE-TEX liner for waterproof protection. Though the desert of Red Rock Canyon isn’t the ideal place to test waterproofness, the shoes stayed dry through multiple dunks in the creek.

The author hikes across rolling slabs at Red Rocks.

[Photo] Niels Meyer

To improve performance, Five Ten extended the rubber toe rand along the side of the shoe in 2013, but they didn’t extend the rubber enough to protect the leather when the shoe is jammed into cracks. They also changed the lacing system, providing a greater custom fit.

In order to get the climbing performance I desired, I went down a full size from my normal street shoe, but even that wasn’t enough because they broke in more than I was expecting, stretching significantly in one month. I could probably drop down another half size in the future if I really wanted to prioritize climbing ability over comfort.

Although I like the ankle protection and support that the Guide Mid-GTX provides, the shoes would be better if they were easier to fit, had a chiseled toe box for improved crack climbing performance and higher rands to protect the leather uppers.

Pros: Excellent smearing; good ankle support; waterproof construction

Cons: Over-sizing; boxy toe area; soles wear out quickly