9 July 2012

5.10 Anasazi Rock Shoes - Other rock shoes are available

Introduction

Two years ago I bought my first pair of technical rock shoes. I asked a few people what to get and every one said "Get 5.10 velcros." Turns out they are called Anasazi's now but that's what they were on about. I shopped around and stumped up about £80 quid for a pair from Bananafingers. I  had to go from a 7 1/2 to an 8 until I got some I could get my feet in, even then they were pretty tight. Here are my views and why I have just bought a second pair.

What are they like?

They have 5.10's top spec Onyx rubber on them. Its half a mm thicker than the competition and its very sticky. There is also a weird heel cup which doesn't really snug up to your foot and gives you almost a hook on your foot to use on roofs and when heel and toe camming in large slots. They have a twin strap padded velcro closure which means. You can get them on and off quickly good if you are bouldering. They are pretty comfortable with socks if you ignore your toes. You can adjust how tight they hold your feet and you can nip them up when they stretch a bit. Your toe gets forced into the front of the shoe quite aggressively which can make wearing them for long periods of time quite uncomfortable, I wouldn't be trad multi-pitching in them for example, at least if I was I would be taking them off between pitches. I have a pair of something a bit bigger for those kind of shenanigans.

These are my new pair after maybe 3 sessions

The uppers are a synthetic leather substitute and claim not to stretch, but I found that they probably actually go half a size over a year. By the end of my first pairs life, I could get socks on with them in the depths of a British winter which was actually a bonus. They have a couple of tags on the heel for dragging them onto your feet and you need them as the heel cup stretches over your heel to get it on and then snugs up to the back of your ankle.

Vaguely interesting History Lesson

I have climbed in all sorts of rockshoes over the last 25 years. I started in a pair of baseball boots in 1982. they were pretty rubbish. I remember sticky rubber appearing on the scene in the mid to late 80's it led to a leap of standards and a greater sense of security on marginal smears not to mention the absence of marginal smears in your trousers.

At the time rockshoes were boots, over the ankle and lace up. They used to stretch at least a whole size over their life so before the rubber wore through most of sensitivity had gone. Then you started getting lined boots, then "slippers" came out which were great if you crammed your feet into then and weighed 7 stone. Now we have super sticky rubber and specialist rockshoes for all manner of rock and climbing types.

How do they perform?

Firstly a warning. I climb on grit around the font 6B mark, other rock types and performance levels are not unknown. If you a limestone nut or a Wad or a raw beginner this review is going to be no help to you.
On grit they are really good. I find them too stiff and "edgy" for the first few weeks, I get no feel on a smear or on a really small toe edge. They need to bed in and become supple. Once this happens after maybe a months light use, they are really good. Loads of sensitivity you can gets lots of control on really small holds right on the ends of your big toe and they don't need much rubber in contact either. I found I could stand on things that  I just wouldn't have considered before using them, to the point where you can look round for really small bits and pieces if you are desperate. Inner and outer edging is good although it fades away as the boot ages and they then become really good at smearing. Their stickiness means that if you can get some rubber on the rock you will probably get the move, although clean them really well before you start, they are swines for picking up grit, dust and scrittle. The weird heel is pretty good for hooking and camming of your feet but I guess as I don't do that many outrageous heel hooks given the grade I operate at, it probably comes into its own at higher grades.

First pair -  two years old

My verdict

Compared to the other boots I  have used recently The Evolv Defy (too flexible for me, not as sticky and smelled terrible after a bit) and the Mad Rock Flash (weird heel cup with ridges and heel cut into my achilles) they are head and shoulders above. Yes they are expensive but you can usually find them with 20 quid off if you shop around on the web, you should pick them up for about £85. I think all things considered they are worth the money. They are the best shoes I have worn yet. The only other shoe I keep hearing reccomended is the La Sportiva Katana and I haven't had a go with a pair of those yet.

My first pair of Anasazi's went through on the toe last month. I have bought the same again and sent the first pair off for a resole at the excellent feet first. They will do on the wall over the winter and when I need socks on in February.

So if you want performance and durability there are worse choices than a pair of these.

Update

Just got my Anasazi's back from Feet First a really good resole that ending up costing £52 becuase I had worn through the toe rands. However at a little over half the price of a new pair and already worn in it seems like a good deal.
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