Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shoe Obsessions

I'll admit it, I have a shoe problem. At one point a couple years ago I had 12 pair of climbing shoes. Somehow I had a justification for all of them. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I did. Since then I've made an active effort to cut down on my gear. Currently I'm climbing in 2 pair of shoes.

I'm lucky enough to be a gear rep for a bunch of cool companies like Petzl and Mountain Hardwear. This tends to feed my ridiculous "need" for everything new and I'm trying to be better about not geeking out about the new hotness at the start of each season. It rarely works.

Joe Kinder recently had a really nice post about shoes. For those that don't know him, Joe is, and has been for a decade or so, a sponsored climber. For that matter, he's been with most major shoe companies at one time or another. I give him a lot of credit for acknowledging that the Scarpa Mago was one of his favorite shoes ever. It's something most sponsored climbers wouldn't do.

5 years ago I purchased my first pair of Testarossas and fell in love. They were my perfect shoe and I loved every single aspect of them. When I put them on something clicked in me and I just tried harder. With that in mind, they eventually blew up and I wanted to try out some other styles. After a bunch of other shoes I've come back to the Testarossas again and I'm very happy I did. It's like coming back home after a trip that lasted too long and had too many bad choices. I couldn't be happier.

For those that are interested I've listed all the shoes that I tried between my first pair of Testarossas and my newest pair. For reference I personally wear a size 9 or a Euro 42 in street shoe. I wear a 37.5 Testarossa.

Sportiva Venoms - 36.5 - Sizing on these was way off and I could have gone another half size down if I wanted to. Seems like these either fit your foot or didn't. I did appreciate the toe rubber a lot and still think it's the best toe hooking rubber out there. Sportiva has since discontinued these and will have a new aggressive slipper called the Speedster coming out this fall.

5.10 V10(no toe rubber) - 8 - I had idolized these shoes, for what reasons I'm not sure, for a long time and they were a nice, sensitive option for me. After repeated use they became a great all around option and smeared really well, actually. I wore these until my big toe was coming out of the front of the shoes. It was a sad day when I threw them out.

5.10 V10(with toe rubber) - 8 - I hated these shoes. 5.10 did a horrible job and wrecked the shoe, in my opinion. Even after repeated sanding with a dremel tool they were some of the worst shoes I owned. Oh well. Lesson learned. I eventually gave these away.

Sportiva Katana - 38 - I kind of liked these shoes. They were flatter than I was used to but were good all around shoes. They edged really well and were relatively comfy. All that said, they never excelled at anything and in the end were fairly disappointing.

5.10 Velcro Dragon - 8.5 - I had a pair of these for a little bit right before I got my Testarossas and loved them. I found them on ebay and tried them out for a second time. I'm not sure I ever appreciated my Testarossas more. Very underwhelming shoe the second time around.

Sportiva Solutions - 38 - I bought into the hype. Unfortunately these were just too big for me. I should have gotten them about a full size smaller. My toes moved around in them and they just didn't hug my foot. I love the closure and I like the idea. I do wish they'd make the heel a little narrower as it's hard to get into tight spaces.

5.10 V10(no toe rubber) - 8 - Yes, they made the list again. Ebay is a wonderful tool. This time around I should have gone smaller as they do stretch a lot. What struck me with this, though, was that 5.10 has been using the identical last for their performance shoe for almost a decade now. Velcro Dragons, V10, V10 version II, Lace up Dragons and the Jet 7's. Interesting.

Scarpa Boosters - 38 - Loved these shoes. They have a great fit and are fairly downturned. Not the most sensitive shoes I've ever owned but I would definitely get these again. The only issue I have is that ALL Boosters wear out faster over the big toe knuckle. They need to put a patch of rubber there to prevent it. Definitely a recommendation to all other climbers.

That's all of them. I'm a total dork when it comes to climbing shoes and definitely think about it waaaay too much. There are a couple pair that are on my radar right now for the spring. Both the Scarpa Feroce and the 5.10 Project seem like nice compliments to the Testarossa. We'll see what I end up going with though. I've been continually unimpressed with 5.10 lately. I'm way too excited for the spring season to start.


  1. steveface: plz dig deep into the darkest depths of your experience with xs-grip and stealth HF [and whatever else] and post your personal impressions on my blog under the new 'truth about rubber' post.

    additionally, i plan on posting a master list of shoe sizes in various models and brands on my blog which will hopefully serve as a resource for other climbers. i assume you'd have no objection if i cut and paste the info you have above, correct?

  2. I'll dig into my deepest darkest, most absurd depths of rubber experience and post my thoughts socky. And feel free to cut and paste this into your blog. Sounds like a fantastic idea!