So I'll admit first off that I committed a rookie mistake with these shoes.... the first time I put them on was in the Lupine Meadows trailhead when I was about to start a 20 hour day climbing the Grand Teton with 5 of my buddies. I was worried I'd end the day with shredded, blistered, and broken feet.... but I didn't.
With the Firetail 3, Salewa decided to open the toebox quite a bit, which lends to a more comfortable fit for more users. Hiking up dusty trails, loose talus, and wobbily boulder, I found the shoe to be grippy (both on rock AND dirt) and supportive, but all together not too much different from a hiking shoe. In the past I'd felt that most approach shoes were far too stiff and ungainly when actually hiking; these shoes felt to be a happy medium.
After refilling water at the Lower Saddle we meandered over to the base of the Petzoldt ridge. I was leading the second party and watched the first leader pull through the moves. "You know what," I thought "I'm going to give this a shot in my approach shoes". It was cold and we had a long day; I really didn't want to fuss with climbing shoes. I started up the climb and within the first few moves I had to pull over an awkward bulge with "thin" feet; I was unsure if I could trust the shoes. I communicated to my partners that I may want to switch to climbing shoes, but I decided to calm down and give it a true effort. Stuck the feet and pulled the bulge, no problem. After that it was easy to trust the shoes, my buddy said I "became a different climber" I had every bit of confidence that the shoes would perform; all of Petzoldt and all of the Upper Exum were easily within the realm of the Firetail 3's.
Throughout the day I encountered cracks, slab, vertical, overhanging (ever so slightly), and these shoes never let me down. I'm seriously impressed with how well they climb. When I felt I needed a little bit extra, the lacing pattern really allows you to snug the shoe down without choking off any parts of your feet.
The downfall of most approach shoes is... on the way down. No traction, lots of slipping, and a sore lower body. Again, with the Firetails on it felt like any old hiking shoe. Only difference is the beefy rubber toecap... which I am extremely grateful for because I'm pretty sure I kicked every rock and tripped over every root on the way down.
These are now my true *approach* shoes. Not light hikers or trail runners or whatever, these are for approach and easy alpine climbing. Any trip that features 5.6-5.8 alpine climbing, this will probably be the only shoe I wear. Long hikes on trail/talus/boulder that features scrambling, these are the shoes I will bring. I don't want to put unnecessary miles on them around town or when strictly trail hiking... because these shoes are *that* good.
Size these at your true shoe size or maybe a half size down. I'm a 11.5/12 (depending on width) and I chose the 11.5. Definitely a bit snug for me but not too small.
Reach out with any questions or comments, I'd love to help you reach your climbing goals.