Thursday, March 5, 2009

Climbing Shoe Technologies

I've been wanting to post about this for a little bit now. As many of you know I'm a complete dork when it comes to climbing shoes. They occupy way too much of my time and I over-analyze each little thing about shoes. There have been a couple of new shoes coming out though that have caught my eye.

First up is the Five Ten Project. I'd seen pics of "Nicros Nic" wearing them last year on Justin's blog and was wondering what they were. Come to find out earlier this year that they are the new performance shoe from Five Ten. As of late I haven't been super impressed with Five Ten's offerings but this one is a little different. They've created a new last for this shoe and it has kind of a unique story to go along with it. The Project comes with a 2 millimeter outsole and no midsole. Yep, no midsole at all. By taking out all of the extra material they've made a shoe that is apparently way more sensitive than anything out there. They are also using a new rubber and are touting it as stickier and more durable than Stealth HF.

For the first time since the original V10 I'm excited about Five Ten and I'm actually really interested in getting a pair of these. While I don't think that they'll be a great workhorse, they should make a nice compliment to the quiver. I'm gonna go ahead and guess that they won't edge too well but should excel on steep terrain. Everyone seems to be sizing them down a size and a half from the Dragons to accommodate for stretch.

Next up is the La Sportiva Speedster. Right now it's debuting in Italy/Europe and is set to start shipping here in the states come fall. Sportiva got rid of the Venom for 2009 and is hoping that the Speedster will take the Venoms place. It looks like La Sportiva is making a move for the sensitive shoe market as well with this shoe. Same as the Project it does not have a midsole, but instead of a 2mm outsole the Speedster will have a 3mm outsole. I'm going to guess that durability is going to be a bit better with the Speedsters since it has XS Grip and also has a little bit of a thicker sole.

After loving the Cobra and then being really disappointed with the Venom, I'm curious how this shoe will fare. I have a lot of friends who really loved the Venom but it never seemed to fit my foot that well. It had a tendency to flatten out really quickly and lose its downturn. This is going to happen to any shoe, especially a slipper, but I was never a fan. Also, I may be the only person out there that really likes the green color.

Now on to the funky stuff. I came across this today and couldn't believe it. After formerly working for Vasque I'm pretty intimately acquainted with the BOA lacing system. I think it works pretty well for Snowboard boots and works moderately well for trail runners. I never really thought I'd see it on climbing shoes. I guess someone was bound to do it, right?

Check out the Millet Boa 1st climbing shoe. I'm kinda speechless right now and don't know what to think. I can't think of any reason why you'd add the Boa system as opposed to Velcro or Laces. Rather than making something that's functional and useful, it seems like they made something different, just to be different. It'll be interesting to see if this catches on but I'm guessing this will go the way of the Keen climbing shoes that never made it to production a few years ago.

I'd climb so fast if I had those!!!!


  1. keen = worst "climbing" shoes ever?

  2. note: the mantra s and its predecessor also had no midsole. not an innovation, though, as i commented on narc's page, it looks like with a better heel and better big toe knuckle rubber coverage, each company has improved on the genius of the mantra s.

  3. Ahh! I totally forgot about the Mantra/Mantra S as I never had them, sadly. You're definitely correct though, Sportiva has paved the way with this. I'm glad that both companies are going further with it though. I'm curious to see how they both climb.

    The keen shoes were definitely a giant leap backwards for climbing. Not sure i've seen many "upturned" shoes. Just think about the mega super sick smearing you'd have!!!!!

  4. I own a pair of the Millet Boa 1st and all I can say is that I love the Boa system in them. I hated my lace ups because once I got mine on I had to just about rip my foot off jut to remove the shoe. The Boa actually wraps around your whole foot including behind your heel. Once these are tightened down they won't come off. But once you release the knob they come off as easy as velcro. Just wish Evolv would make a shoe with it....