These Boots Were Made for Climbing

Prompt: Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes, and where they’ve taken you.

For a climber, there is nothing as important as the right pair of climbing shoes. Like in ballet, running, and cycling, different brands suit different feet. However, that doesn’t stop me from having a wandering eye. In my time, I have tried Boreal, Evolv and Scarpa shoes. They were all good shoes that suited different aspects of climbing; however, each one of them didn’t suit me. This post will outline why I chose to try each shoe and where they took me. Finally, I’ll say which shoe is my current go-to/favourite.

The Evolv Heras

Evolv Hera

Evolv Hera. Source: CragX

These shoes are described as a women specific shoe with a focus on performance without an aggressive fit. It’s designed for anyone with narrow and low volume feet. Like most evolv shoes, the sizing seemed pretty big when I was trying them on. I went down 1 1/2 sizes to get them to fit right. They don’t stretch that much either and they only stretched about 1/4 size during the time I wore them. They also give 1% of all sales to the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation. Woot. Furthermore, they’re relatively cheap compared to other brands.

I wore these back in 2008. I was still leading at this time and also bouldering. I found the rubber really good for both. I liked the non-aggressive fit as I could wear them for slabs/roofs and overhangs without having to change shoes. The only design niggle was the heel. One of the reasons that I had to go so small was because my heel would fall out when heel-hooking. Not great. Another niggle I had was a lot of pain on my big toe knuckle. I felt like these shoes started to give me bunions and I had to stop wearing them for a while and revert back to my older pair.

However, they were the shoe I chose for our trip to Orpierre and they served me well. They floated nicely when my OH chucked them in the river and I had to try and retrieve them, and they didn’t smell too much in the midday sun.

The Hera is a great cragging shoe. I liked the velcro as I could quickly undo them and belay with my heels out. My OH also dropped them in the river below my feet. Photo: A Cross

I don’t think I’ll try them again. If I went back to Evolv, it would have to be for something like the Shaman.

The Scarpa Vapour V Wmn

scarpa vapour v wmn turquoise

Scarpa Vapour V Wmns. Source: Scarpa

These shoes are described as an asymmetric, and ‘moderately down turned’ shoe which offers ‘great instant comfort.’ They have excellent heel fit and are really good for heel hooking.

I was in so much pain here. The Scarpas are excellent shoes. They heel hook so well; have a great edge and have great rubber. They just didn’t suit my feet. Photo: A Cross

The downside to these shoes is comfort. They really didn’t fit my foot and I tried for ages. I started to break them in back in January when it was really cold. I hobbled around the Foundry and the Works in pain. I tried them outside and they were so sore. They bent my big toe back and it got slightly infected. All in all, they really don’t suit me! My OH has a pair of the men’s version and he loves them. I think the style of the toe box is not suited to my square(ish) feet and because of that, they get bent into an unnatural shape.

However, the rubber is truly awesome and I did feel really secure on my feet (while also in a lot of pain!). Heel hooking is great in them and I can truly attest to the minimal stretch of the leather. I wish they had stretched just that little more and then they would have been great.

The Boreal Kintaro

Boreal Kintaro. Source: UKClimbing.com

My friend is sponsored by Boreal. She wears the Kintaros to train in and suggested that I give them a go when my last pair of shoes were dead. They’re much more down turned than the previous shoes that I have worn. I also had a similar problem that my big toenail kept getting bent back. But the most annoying issue that I had with these shoes was the fact that I didn’t feel secure on my feet. I couldn’t ‘feel’ the rock under my feet. I didn’t like how numb they made my feet feel and I never felt that great heel hooking or toe hooking.

The Kintaro is marginally better at smearing. I didn’t think it was going to skid all the time, but I still wasn’t as happy compared to wearing my Anasazis. Photo: A Cross

Kintaro in Font 2. Photo CanadianKate

I was never happy with the heels on the Kintaro. Here, I’m supposedly heel hooking, but it looks more like I’ve got my heel on without any weight going through it. Photo: A Cross

I also felt that the rubber didn’t stick that great so I would skid off holds that I felt like I should be able to stand on. This sucked! And, it also didn’t help with my head that much either.

I took them to Font, I climbed around the Peak in them and after a while, I had to conclude that I just didn’t like them. I didn’t even like them for climbing indoors and training with. I’m going to try them again today at the Works and see if my opinion has changed, but on the whole, I don’t think they suit me.

The Five Ten Anasazi LV Velcro

Anasazi LV Wms - Teal

Anasazi LV Wms. Source: FiveTen

Five Ten describes the Anasazi as excellent for people with narrow feet and low insteps. I certainly find this to be the case. It also has a narrower and longer toe box, higher arch and lower heel cup. All of these things make it a super comfy shoe. For me at least.

Breaking my Anasazi's in while in Font. They're so good for heel hooks. Photo: Photo CanadianKate

Breaking my Anasazi’s in while in Font. They’re so good for heel hooks. Photo: Photo CanadianKate

I love them because they’re really comfy and super versatile  I don’t have to break them in for long and they seem to last ages. I generally go through 2 pairs a year, if that and they do me for indoors and outside as well. I know some people really dislike the heel, but for me, it really works and I feel very secure heel hooking.

Theses are the workhorse shoes. They do all things, and most of them well. They are super comfortable – and pretty good at heel hooking, toe hooking, slabs, roofs, aretes -you name it, they’ll do it pretty well.

Yes, it’s not the most down turned shoe in the world, but it makes up for it with its comfort and versatility. I’ve worn them in Fontainebleau, Squamish, North Wales, Peak gritstone and limestone, Pembroke and in Scotland. All in all, I think they’re one of the best shoes around at the moment.

However, my eye is wandering again. I’m tempted to keep with Five Ten, because the fit is pretty awesome for me, but try something like the Dragon. Does anyone have any opinion on them?

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