Thursday, September 30, 2010

Regurgitation Period

Part Two in my little series of posts of "Things That Piss Me Off" is gonna focus more on shoes rather than gloves. Even if I could go on and on about the gloves.

Everyone in the building knows that the two leaders in the climbing shoe game are Sportiva and Five Ten. Everyone else jockeys for third. Currently I'm in a Five Ten phase as I think they've really stepped their game up recently. They've debuted smart shoes that have good tech and are the best in each category.

I used to be a Sportiva fanboy. I used to love their shoes and really loved that they came out with new and exciting stuff with some regularity. The Testarossa, Venom, Solution, Barracuda, etc. They were all awesome shoes that had/have a loyal fanbase. What's frustrating and kinda sad to me is that they haven't really come out with anything super cool in years. Since the Solution really.

Instead they've regurgitated styles like the Muira, Katana, Mythos and the Cobra. What used to be just four styles in their expansive lineup has grown into half of their current line of 20 shoes. Ever since Heinz left them for someone else they've just sort of floated along on his legacy and aging names.

What's possibly even more frustrating is that when they do finally come out with a brand new shoe it turns out to just be a copy of someone else's.

The new Python is the best example of that. I already know that the Sportiva fanboys are gonna get on me about this so I'm going to start out by saying that the Python is more than likely a sweet shoe. I'm sure it's well constructed and will be a very good performer for most of the people that have it.

In SPORTIVA'S lineup, it fills a hole. It does not, however, fill a hole in the industry. I'm not saying that every shoe needs to be this brand new idea, but c'mon, a little innovation can't hurt you. Try to hide the copying at least.

Let's compare.

1 - Outsole - 3.5mm - Same as the Team.
2 - Midsole - .8mm - Thinner than the rest of Sportiva's lineup...just like the Team.
3 - Closure - Single Velcro Strap over the arch - Same as the Team.
4 - Heel - Narrow profile, similar to Speedster - Similar design as the rest of the 5.10 lineup...and the Team.
5 - Toe Cap - Same as the Solution - Also similar to the team, though not quite as beefy. Good and bad there.

So a year after the Team 5.10 debuted to much fanfare Sportiva starts using 3.5 mil outsole, which they've never done before. They also use a smaller, thinner midsole than they've ever made previously. Every single other shoe in their lineup aside from the Speedster uses a 1.1 mil midsole. They very nearly copied the outsole minus the Vibram rubber. I will say that Mystique is by far the stickiest rubber I've ever used. It's still the only rubber I've ever noticed a difference on. Like ever ever.

On top of that they copy the closure system 100%. This is a closure that Five Ten has used on many shoes. The 5X, Team, Project, Jet7 all used this closure. Sportiva would have been better off using the Solution closure in my opinion. Instead they just straight up copied their main competitor.

It's been fairly obvious for the past few years that Sportiva has been putting more energy and resources into the trail running market and it's definitely affected the climbing lineup. I would absolutely love to walk by the booth next summer and see a host of brand new shoes that look cool and perform amazingly well.

This past summer the two booths had a totally different feel from each other. Sportiva was quietly debuting three new climbing shoes. Two of those were the same recreational model, one rental and one retail. Instead they put a huge push into their new trail running shoes that definitely didn't generate the buzz they were hoping for.

Five Ten on the other hand debuted a host of new approach shoes and updated casual designs. Along with that they debuted 7 new climbing shoes, including a true Womens performance model with some of the best fabrics, features and materials on the market. They also created a brand new lower volume last specifically for all the people out there that complain that Five Tens fit too wide.

And if that wasn't enough, for the second year in a row they've debuted at least one model early. Rock/Creek is currently selling the Blackwing in both mens and womens. It's genius on their part as long as they can make production work on it.

Five Ten is coming out with incredibly smart launches full of new styles that garner a ton of buzz. Hopefully Sportiva will start doing more of the same in the near future.


  1. Steve I want an approach shoe that is semi-durable, laces up, but most importantly is light and small and compresses down so can fit in a small pack for multipitch. Please, name my shoe for me. ce


    if you have a narrow (c and smaller, esp in the midfoot) this is the shoe for you!


  4. $170 versus $85. Hmm... Anyone else? ce

  5. Flip flops or running shoes!

    I don't think worn anything into the Black Canyon other than flip flops. So light you don't even notice them when you are climbing.

    For long burly approaches I always where a trail running shoe (Montrail Hardrock, from '05 and still going!). Light, small, comfortable, and durable.

  6. Flip flops are my preferred approach shoe locally but for complicated approaches and particularly complicated descents I hate them. Occasionally I'll just hike and out with my old Mythos, which is fine, but not the best. Good idea on the trail tunning shoe though. ce

  7. I guess it is the Europe Vs. Asia factor in the price. Unless I am wrong on where 5ten is being manufactured. But I hear ya, 170 is steep.

  8. Didn't mean to sound like an ass, looks like you might work for Scarpa. I've had an enjoyed several Scarpa climbing shoes in the past, and I've spent more than $170 on shoes before. Just seems a little steep for this type of shoe, plus it's frustrating to buy shoes without actually trying them on. ce

  9. Chris, I'd say go with the Daescent from Five Ten. More than likely the Scarpa has a little better leathers and materials but the Daescent has worked well at devils lake for me. It's light, has great rubber and packs down small. It doesnt have any tread on the front half so it climbs fairly well.

    I think it's a nice little shoe. fits what you're looking for too.

  10. Thanks Steve. Light and packs down are priority #1 for me. Price comes next, I guess. Durability is lower down since this shoe will be used lightly/infrequently. Also looking at Montrail Mountain Masochist, lightweight trail shoe. Thanks for the betas and sorry for the hijack. ce

  11. not a problem at all chris! I do like a good shoe discussion. If you're on more dirt/trails/stickier rock then the Masochist will work better for sure. If you're planning on using it for talus at the lake primarily then the daescent will be better.

    Masochist will for sure be more supportive as it's got a medial post and a bit more cushioning. If you want to try a pair on go to Fleet Feet, Berkeley Running or the new shop on Atwood, Catalyst. They've all got the Masochist in stock.

  12. Catalyst rocks domes. i was just there a couple weeks ago slanging some ZYM Tabs, which they now happily carry. You guys should try some instead of beer some time. Werd to moms. fools

  13. Are you speaking English sweaty? ce

  14. Eggnuts, please revisit most of my other posts about you being old.

    That is all.

  15. speedster heel is absolutely nothing like any heel made by 5.10. for better or worse depending on the critic, but factually: DIFFERENT.