The Best New Climbing Shoes From OutDoor 2015
The OutDoor trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany is where all of the most exciting new climbing gear gets announced and this year's show was no different with plenty of brand new innovations and updates to lots of existing gear. The EpicTV team were there in force, eager to get first look at the new products and pick out the very best from all of the offerings on show. Climbing shoes were everywhere this year with all of the major brands bringing out new models and making updates to their existing designs. Here are our pick of the bunch from 2015/16's newest climbing shoes.
11 - While the Five Ten Stonemaster Rental won't be available for purchase to the public, (it's being sold directly to climbing walls), it was undoubtedly one of the more novel products we saw at the show. Designed specifically as a rental shoe, the Stonemaster Rental is aimed firmly at beginners with a flat rand and comfortable, symmetrical shape. It's not just the needs of the consumer that have been considered however but the needs of the climbing wall. The Stonemaster Rental is constructed from a thick, non-marking rubber which serves the dual function of preventing the shoes from wearing out as quickly as standard models and keeping climbing walls free of horrible black rubber marks from new climbers dragging their toes up the wall. Even better, the canvas upper is completely washable so renting shoes no longer means dealing with the foot funk of a hundred previous users.
10 - Although similar to the Velcro version in many respects, the new Vapour Lace from Scarpa does have some notable differences to its sister model. Scarpa have introduced a full as opposed to three-quarter length outsole on the Velcro model making it ideal edgy face climbs. The fit of the shoe looks to be very similar to that of the Vapour Velcro so if you've been happy with this shoe but would prefer a lace up version, you shouldn't have any problems when making the switch.
9 - It wasn't just updates from Scarpa and while the Helix bears the name of an older Scarpa shoe it is essentially a new design. The Helix really stood out to us as an ideal shoe for intermediate climbers and has received just as much attention to detail as Scarpa's top-end performance shoes. Like all great intermediate climbing shoes, the Helix has an excellent balance of comfort and performance. Its padded tongue and asymmetric lacing ensure that as the advancing climber starts to spend longer periods on the wall, they will be no less comfortable, while the excess edge on the outsole is ideal for the progressing climber looking to perfect their footwork. In a market swamped with aggressive bouldering shoes, it's great to see Scarpa designing shoes for those who want a comfortable, precise shoe to help them improve their climbing.
8 - Between the Stonemaster Rentals and the new Verdon, it appears that Five Ten are making a move towards designing shoes with very specific uses in mind. The Verdon is so specific in fact that it is named for the climbing area where it would be of most use, France's Verdon Gorge. While the shoe will doubtless prove its worth in plenty of other climbing areas too, it is unquestionably ideal for the pocketed limestone of the Verdon. The shoe has an extremely keen edge, ideal for small footholds and comes to a sharp point at the front for excellent performance on pockets. With many limestone sport climbers lamenting the loss of the Blanco from the Five Ten range, the Verdon may be just what is needed to plug that gap.
7 - The Quantum is another new shoe from Five Ten which, like the Verdon, has a strong focus on edging. Made in collaboration with the Huber brothers, the Quantum is based on an old Five Ten model of the same name but with a few key updates. The shoe has been widened to give a more comfortable shoe with a less aggressive downturn than the previous Quantum. While this new model will doubtless still perform on steep, technical ground, it is far more of an all-round shoe than its predecessor. Like the Verdon, the toe box has been brought to more of a point and the midsole stiffened to provide excellent support when edging suggesting that it will also perform well on slabs and face climbs. For those looking for an all-round shoe with a comfortable enough fit to tackle hard multi-pitch climbs, the Quantum is a great option.
6 - Scarpa and Five Ten aren't the only brands giving old names to new shoes and Evolv have named their latest bouldering creation after an old favourite from the brand. The Agro is an extremely aggressive shoe with a highly asymmetric and downturned design comparable with shoes such as the Five Ten Dragon or the Mad Rock Shark only seemingly EVEN more aggressive. The shape of the Agro is achieved by a tensioning system that pulls in three different directions simultaneously. The shape of the shoe means that it is obviously most well suited to advanced boulderers, particularly those who are generally tackling steeper problems and roof climbs. The target audience shows in the rest of the design with a wide central opening to make getting the shoes on and off as easy as possible and let's face it, with this aggressive a fit, there are probably going to be times when you'll want to get them off pretty darn quick!
5 - As well as bringing out newer designs, Evolv have also been updating some of their established shoes, particularly the Shaman. The major updates to the shoe come in terms of its fit. Evolv have removed a portion of rubber from under the arch of the shoe allowing the fit to more closely follow the natural curve of the foot. They have also raised the Velcro closure straps to a higher point on the shoe, forcing the foot more firmly into the toe box with the aim of improving sensitivity and power-delivery through the toe. The last major change also comes at the toe where Evolv have increased the size of the toe-patch to make toe-hooking even easier than before. Aimed at top-end sport climbers and boulderers it will be interesting to see how those who are used to the Shaman's current design react to the changes.
4 - With the Atomyc Red Chili have added something to their climbing shoe range that has been missing for a little while, a true performance bouldering shoe aimed at the top-end, modern climber. With a more aggressive downturn than most of Red Chili's other models the Atomyc also features a tight-fitting opening with a single Velcro strap as closure designed to force the toes to the very end of the shoe. The synthetic upper and design of the rand are intended to help the Atomyc retain its shape over time, while leather foot beds limit slippage inside the shoe. At only 120€ the Atomyc is undoubtedly great value for a high-end climbing shoe and we can't wait to see how it measures up against comparable designs like the La Sportiva Solution.
3 - Another new shoe aimed squarely at the bouldering market is the Scarpa Drago. Similar in design to the Scarpa Furia but with a single Velcro strap as closure, the Drago has both the flexibility and profile of the Furia but with rubber extending higher at the toe and heel. This makes the Drago an ideal shoe for bouldering and will doubtless find favour amongst those already using its sister shoe, the Furia.
2 - Although Tenaya were first established in 1997, to many climbers they may seem like a relatively new brand with their more recent designs exploding in popularity amongst the sport climbing and bouldering communities. The new Iati continues Tenaya's strong reputation for precision and performance with an added emphasis on comfort. Designed by the same team that brought us the award-winning Oasi, the Iati is being touted as an all-round performance shoe and while its tight heel and moderate downturn mean that it will never be out of place bouldering, we expect that the Iati will find its true home amongst sport climbers where its comfortable fit and superior edging will make it an obvious choice.
1 - La Sportiva launched two incredible new shoes at this year's show, the Otaki (above) and the Skwama (below). The most exciting feature of both of these designs is La Sportiva's new 'S-heel construction.' This novel feature uses a very firm rubber on the inside edge of the heel which resists being deformed under torsion and so provides greater stability on heel hooks. With a less aggressive downturn, the Otaki looks to be aimed towards a mixed market of boulderers and sport climbers, with the Skwama undeniably a bouldering shoe However, if the new S-heel feature lives up to its promise, we expect both of these shoes to make their biggest impact in the bouldering scene.