In the summer of 2023, I purchased Salewa’s Wildfire 2 shoes, I loved the look of them, they were far cheaper than my trusty but ageing TX4 boots and it seemed like a good opportunity to create a product review for my YouTube channel.
After less than an hour of wearing them, I gave up – they’re just not for me.
Here’s What Happened
For my YouTube video, I planned on spending the entire day hiking and scrambling over ever steeper and more challenging rock, both dry and wet.
However, after an hour I noticed issues that meant they weren’t the type of footwear that I like:
1) They’re Very Narrow
I found Salewa Wildfire 2’s were very narrow at the widest part of my foot. In fact, they were a full 11mm (nearly half inch) narrower than my La Sportiva TX4s, as you can see from the photo I took.
I also compared the width of them to all my other footwear, and the Wildfire 2’s were narrower than all of them.
I really noticed this when walking as my ankle felt like it wanted to roll over, although this could be because I’m so used to wearing wider footwear and perhaps I would’ve gotten used to them over time.
On rock, I found smearing was less effective than I was used to and I just couldn’t get them to stick as well as my previous footwear.
I’m a big guy and admittedly, am overweight; the best scrambling footwear for me are ones that allow me to smear as much of the sole as possible so I can maximise the amount of traction on the surface – the narrow Salewa Wildfire 2 shoes just didn’t suit my style of scrambling.
2) They were Slippery on Wet Rock
My second issue is even more concerning – I first wore them in Milestone Gully, a wet scrambling route I had completed many times before but this time, I found I was struggling for grip on wet rock.
Moves that I previously found easy and effortless felt insecure and the soles of the shoes just weren’t biting onto the damp rock.
3) Excessive Dirt Pickup
I prefer footwear with shallow lugs that are spaced far apart so the soles don’t pick up excessive amounts of dirt and grass and when they do, they shed off easily.
From experience, I’ve found that circular lugs work best and those with straight lines tend to hold onto mud/dirt more.
At the top of Milestone Gully, I checked the soles and could see there was lots of trapped dirt and grass between the closely spaced lugs:
Was the excessive dirt pick-up the cause of my traction issues?
Possibly, but I think the type of rubber and the pattern of the lugs is the main issue.
Note the image above and how narrow the shoes are at the front.
What I Did Like About The Shoes
There were a few things I liked about these shoes, but none of these were enough for me to keep them:
1) The price – in the summer of 2023, Salewa Wildfire 2s were 37% cheaper (£103 versus £150) compared to La Sportiva TX4 shoes.
2) The design and colours – I really liked the colours (both frog green and regular green looked great) and the design felt modern.
3) No GoreTex – I’ve been having breathability issues with GoreTex shoes/boots (they hold sweat and take forever to dry out) and the Wildfire 2s I purchased don’t have GoreTex (other models do).
4) Lightweight – these shoes aren’t overly heavy and much lighter than my TX4 boots.
5) Laces to the toe – the laces went nearly all the way to the toe, offering a snug fit where it’s needed most.
6) Dry rock – they were fine on dry rock.
I never finished getting the footage for my video review so it was never published – I was slipping on wet rocks on nearly every step and I felt so insecure compared to my previous footwear that I bailed off the mountain after just one scramble and put my old boots back on.
If that doesn’t tell you how I feel about the Salewa Wildfire 2s, then I don’t know what will.
I went up half a size and while they were fine in length, the width felt narrow.
The shoe came with an adjustable footbed, so one could remove the heal section, which would lower the heel height by about 1mm and create some heal space on the sides. I tried these shoes with and without the orange heal section (shown below) and it made little difference to the comfort.
The rand is a rubber-like material around the side of the shoe that is supposed to offer extra protection but in reality, I found it quite thin compared to other approach/scrambling footwear I’ve owned in the past and any protection would be negligible.
Summary – Not For Me
Going straight from a pair of old and super sticky TX4s to Salewa Wildfire 2s was a real eye-opener, the two couldn’t be more different.
I’m a big guy (6ft2 and overweight) and I really felt how narrow they were and how this shoe, with less rubber in contact with the ground, affected how secure I felt on wet rock.
The soles just weren’t sticking to the rock as well as the TX4s and given that I do quite extreme scrambling, often solo and without rope protection, I’m just not prepared to take the risk.
On easy ground, especially dry rock, they were fine but on routes that blur the boundary between hiking and climbing, I want something a little wider and stickier.
Maybe the TX4s have set the bar very high, I’ve never had a nasty slip in them and I’ve taken them out in some of the wettest, slimiest scrambles.
Maybe a lighter, more nimble person (with narrower feet) would appreciate this shoe, but they’re not for me.
You may also like: My review of La Sportiva TX4 boots.
About Daniel Woodley
This review of Salewa Wildfire 2 was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler.
From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors but scrambling is his real passion.
Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler