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I have a low volume foot, so the ability to cinch these down properly is amazing! The grip and feel is fabulous a great balance of support and freedom. My new favorites for a wide range of hiking and mountain SAR
Great hiking shoes, no break in needed. Awesome dual fit system, the toe to mid part of the feet is very useful to me.
Cliff NOTE version: While the Rock DFS is not 'Camp 4 perfect', it’s HANDS DOWN the only thing that comes remotely close to the Camp 4; and as such, I'm VERY PLEASED with it! On a 10-point scale, (with the Camp 4 being my ‘gold standard’, 10 out of 10), the Rock DFS is between a 9.0 to 9.25... so still very respectable.
The Rock DFS is EXCELLENT in terms of traction on treacherously steep slopes with loose footing, both up & down, and on the climbs (edging/overall climbing performance). Camp 4's are still better… but NOT due to any 'flaws' with the Rock; but rather, due to a "super-feature" I RARELY see in other approach shoes: "flared" treads. It's not something I utilize very frequently; (and as such I didn’t feel particularly "compromised" in the Rock due to its lack of 'flared' treads)... but the flared treads of the Camp 4 definitely give it an advantage (on both the loose footing and on certain climbing maneuvers).
The Camp 4 also has better protection: “360 degrees” of THICK rubber on the toe/lower sides/back) and nubuck on the uppers; superior to the Rock DFS… but the Rock DFS, (with THICK rubber in the toe area, decently thick rubber on the lower sides, and swede uppers), is still far superior to MOST OTHER trash options out there (YES, it REALLY IS THAT HARD to find a shoe these days that offers even just ‘THE BASIC THREE’: decent protection, deep lugs for traction on loose footing, and excellent grip on rock). Start adding in other criteria like: hits the sweet spot of stiff (enough to protect foot bottoms) & flexible (enough to maintain precision); provides optimal weight distribution / doesn’t make you prone to twisting ankles; and offers enough cushion to be suitable for ultra day hikes while excelling at Class 4 climbs; and the list of options dwindles to almost nothing pretty darn quick. The Rock meets/exceeds ‘the basic three’ AND these extras.
The Rock’s grip, while very decent across the board, is perhaps the "biggest" shortcoming: there was some occasional instances of slippage on technical (Class 3+ / 4-) climbs on certain rock types (where the Camp 4 Stealth rubber is virtually slip-proof). Fortunately, the degree of slippage in the Rock was BOTH infrequent enough AND minor enough that it did not faze me; although if I were asked to make a list of my top 10-20 *scariest moments of all time (*related to climbs/scrambles) and then asked to repeat those exact moments in the Rock DFS, would I get away with it like I did in the Camp 4's...? I sure hope so!
The other shortcomings were fit-related; (but fortunately, issues I could resolve fairly easily):
1. The first is rather crazy (given that I have slightly NARROWER than average heels): the insoles (within the first 1-2 miles of use) started making my heels sore. The soreness felt like it was stemming from the heel cups being too narrow; almost like they were gradually "crushing" my heels; and by the 4-5 mile mark, I had major blisters on both heels. I'm NOT prone to blisters period; and the rare times I do get them are usually in the toes, rarely in the midfoot/arches/sides, and NEVER in the heels. BOTH the Rock and the Camp 4 have Ortholite insoles, and I don't have this issue with the Ortholite insoles that come with the Camp 4s (or any other shoe for that matter). Also, for the past 5-6 years, I NEVER wear socks, ruling out any 'differences in sock type' entirely. Removal of the insoles brought instant relief... but not for very long because without the insoles, there was not enough protection for my foot bottoms on the ROCKY low desert terrain. Fortunately, I had a pair of insoles on hand from my last shoe candidate (Garmont Dragontails); and, while this shoe was an epic fail in many regards, the insoles from them equated to PROBLEM SOLVED in the Rock DFS: NO MORE heel pain/blistering, superb comfort, and enough protection for the foot bottoms!
2. The other fit-related issue was also something I've never experienced before either; and this occurred on my LEFT foot ONLY: the inside top of the shoe 'dug holes' in my skin just below the inside part of my left ankle bone. It definitely felt more along the lines of a surface irritation caused by the top of the shoe cutting the skin (VS that DEEPER pain you feel with true pressure points). Despite the two bloody sores on the inside part of my left ankle, the small section of old sock I'd cut up and sandwiched between my skin and the shoe did the trick in preventing further irritation and allowed me to compete the trip without feeling further pain/soreness; and it miraculously stayed in place, only needing to be re-adjusted 1-2 times for every 8 hours of hiking.
In summary, while I'd still choose the Camp 4 over the Rock DFS in a heartbeat, there are still enough positives about the Rock DFS that I'd stock up on it in a heartbeat if it suddenly became discontinued, (especially given that it's the ONLY thing I've found to date that comes close t...