The Access Knit is an approach shoe from Five Ten that looks, feels, and rides like a running shoe, yet provides the ultimate in underfoot security with a sticky dot rubber outsole. The one-piece knit upper on the Access Knit makes this shoe amazingly comfortable on long trail days and in hot weather. This is the first knitted upper hiking shoe I’ve ever reviewed, and I’ll be honest, I started out with reservations. I thought the knit would feel loose with wear and lack stability. I also worried about abrasion protection. Having used the Access Knit for a few months now, this has become one of my go-to shoes and my reservations have been mostly silenced. I’ll tell you why in this review.
Fit and Feel:
Sizing and Weight: The men’s size 12.5 of the Access Knit fits my foot just about perfectly. My street shoe size is a 12, so I did need to size up 1/2 size for an ideal fit. My size 12.5 comes in at 13.6 oz per shoe, but feels lighter than that since most of the weight is in the midsole and outsole. If you plan on using these for climbing and approach oriented activities, you’ll probably be okay with your street shoe size. For hiking, go a 1/2 size up.
Heel: The heel of the Access Knit fits my foot very well without any slipping or side wiggle. When you look at the photos, it looks like there is a big gap between my foot in the shoe. This is just due to the large heel and tongue tabs on the one piece upper. The padding on the inside fits flush with my foot.
Midfoot: The midfoot on the Access Knit wraps my foot snugly, but is very accommodating. I’ve worn these shoes on long hikes, short hikes, and all day road trips, and have never felt the need to make adjustments or take them off. The Access Knit fits and feels like a slipper more than a shoe. There is a bit of built in arch support provided by the shoe and the insole.
*Five Ten also carries a mesh and leather version of the Access. I tried both on, and found them a bit narrow through the midfoot. Other than that, both shoes seemed great. If you found the leather or mesh Access too narrow, make sure to give the Knits a try.
Toebox: When I first tried on the Access Knit, the toebox felt a little slim and low volume. After a few miles, the mesh started adjusting to my feet, and now I couldn’t ask for a better toebox fit. Even on long and steep downhill hikes, my toes always stay comfortable.
The upper on the Access knit is made of a synthetic polyester with a synthetic polyester liner. The heel has a soft and pliable counter provided by a stability wrap that connects to the top of the midfoot and integrates with the lacing. When I first saw the Access Knit, it looked like a shoe that would be seriously lacking in lateral stability. In my on-trail use, my initial assumptions have been mostly untrue.
The heel wrap does a great job securing my foot from heel to ankle, so there is no slop or movement in the back half of the shoe. The lacing eyelets are the real revelation on the Access Knit though. Five Ten uses a very simple, but highly effective pattern of offset lace eyelet placement. This is one of the more secure lacing systems I’ve used, and doesn’t require in-use adjustments.
The heel and top of the Access Knit provides a really secure fit, but the rest of the midfoot is open mesh. For most of trails I frequent, this is more than enough stability. For trails that are steep or off kilter, I feel the front half of my foot sliding around a little more than I’d prefer.
The toebox has a rubberized overlay made of the same material as the heel wrap. This toe guard is pretty thin, but has proven effective against mild toe jams and log kicks. The soft upper does leave my feet a bit exposed though. I’ve been doing a little scrambling and rock hopping here and there over the past few months and really feel it when jamming or dragging my feet against jagged surfaces.
I haven’t been able to find exact measurements for heel to toe drop on the Access Knit. From a crude caliper measurement and based off of my feel, it’s in the ballpark of around 10mm. The midsole itself is an injection molded EVA that feels stable underfoot, but provides the plush feel of a running shoe. The wide last and square heel shape of this midsole provide a very stable and supportive base.
There is no stone guard or rockplate protection on the Access Knit, and this is one area I would like to see improved. When I use this shoe on trails with a lot of sharp and broken rock, it’s doesn’t take long before I start to feel the effects on my feet. For days on slabs or soft trails though, this midsole provides ample comfort and protection.
This shoe is great for up to around 10 miles on rocky terrain, and can do quite a bit more on sandy and/or smooth trails.
The outsole on Access Knit uses Five Ten’s Stealth PH (Phantom) rubber. The PH blend of Five Ten’s legendary Stealth rubber is non-marking, and was originally developed for the military for people needing to move quietly and without a trace. This outsole compound provides incredible traction on rocky surfaces and sandy trails. I’ve been amazed at how sure footed I feel while boulder hopping.
The Access Knit uses a dot rubber lug pattern with shallow lugs that provide a lot of surface area. The dot lugs are what help provide the traction on varied surfaces. Their shallow profile struggles for grip on loose or soft surfaces though. This is definitely a dry weather outsole, as any muddy or soft surfaces provide a serious challenge. I think increased lug depth and a partitioned lug pattern with sections of chevrons or trapezoids would help make this shoe more versatile.
The Five Ten Access knit is one of the most comfortable hiking shoes I’ve ever reviewed. If you’re looking for a shoe that fits like a slipper and will ‘disappear’ on your foot, this is the one. As summer temperatures approach 100 degrees here in our nearby deserts, the Access Knit will be my go-to shoe when visiting. It’s hard to beat this combination of upper comfort and superglue-like performance on the outsole. I wish the midsole had a little rock protection, and more versatile outsole would be nice. I can see past both of these shortcomings though by sticking to dry trails and watching my foot placement.
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