I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Mammut's new approach shoe line. Not only do they make some of the finest and most coveted soft goods and ropes in the business they have hopped into the ever flooding shoe market. Bring your "A-Game" Mammut, your gonna need it. With 5.10, Evolv and La Sportiva front running the technical approach shoe race, competitors will need to innovate to challenge the field. Has the Needle DLX made the grade? Lets find out.
The Mammut Needle DLX comes in both Men's and Women's styles and is dubbed by Mammut as "Casual/Urban Approach". As we know from Mammut, casual is not in their job description. I expected to find the famous Mammut technical performance.
Staying as short winded as possible here is my gauntlet for approach shoes.
Sticky Rubber or De-lamination Damnation?
Construction or Destruction?
Support or come up short?
Probably the most important factor in a technical shoe is how well it will grip a variety of surfaces. Most approach shoes focus on tacky grip on exposed rock-- super important for guides, scrambles or alpine climbs. Where approach shoes often suffer is getting to and from the rock. Lack of a lug or relief sole creates a slip and slide hazard on wet ground, dead leaves, mud, descending trails, you get the idea. What the Mammutec sole lacks in stick it make up in aggressive grip. Its not the stickiest rubber in the world but the tread pattern is AMAZING. It is incredibly secure in all conditions and the sticky rubber rand is low profile, allowing foot jamming in steep scrambles. Having said that, I don't think I would lead climb in this shoe but that's what rock shoes are made to do.
The leather upper comes all the way down to the rubber sole which would lead me to believe that delamination could be right round the corner but as of yet I have had no such issues.
Construction or Destruction:
At a glance this performer looks solid, which is what I have come to expect from Mammut. The full leather upper is supple and feels great on the foot. Double stitching around the eyelets will support the constant tightening of the shoe, resisting an eyelet blow out. This is key as the eyelet is simply a hole punched thought the leather. The cuff of the shoe is two piece nylon covering a thickly padded insert around the ankle. The ankle cuff is low volume, so if you have weak ankles this might not be the shoe for you. However the support is generated from a leather "X" design with an active webbing piece that is similar to the Scarpa Techno heel lacing system. This allows you to snug the back of shoe up for more technical, active movement- a nice addition to the to-the-toe lacing system. Brand recognition logos are placed on the toe rand, heel, tongue, and a very nice subtle Mammoth ingrained in the outside upper. Look close in the photos and you will see it.
Support or come up short?
Primarily a crusty trad climber, I usually carry too much stuff in my pack, around 20-30 lbs. Combine that with two knee surgeries and the shoe choice becomes pretty important. The cushion is perfectly adequate in the Needle DLX. The heel support feels a bit tall and as I mentioned above, the heel cuff is low volume so the ankle support piece is something to think about.
Providing awesome support is no issue with a large pack on your back. The Needle DLX is quite predictable and sure footed underneath the load. Moderate stiffness is how I would describe the edging performance and the rocker is casual as well.
WRAP IT UP B!
Tenacious tread pattern for grip on a variety of surfaces
Supple leather upper
Technical lacing system
Weak ankles need not apply
Could be stickier for technical rock climbing
Solid, predictable all around performance in a price friendly (98.99) sharp looking approach shoe. One more option in an expanding gray area of approach/climbing shoes.
Mammut Needle Approach Shoe Available Here
Climb Globally, Shop Locally
Looking Glass Outfitters
69 Hendersonville Hwy
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768