There’s a tangible excitement that comes with the arrival of a new season. For climbers, spring often means being able to access crags that you couldn’t get to during the winter. We have a nice local spot around here that features gently overhanging limestone routes in a stunning setting, but you can only get there from April to November. It’s one of my favorite local crags, and we usually spend a couple days a week there during the summer. We had heard the road was dry much earlier than normal, so we decide to head out for the first day of the season.
The warm ups at this cliff feel incredibly familiar by the end of the year, but the first time out, it was like getting reacquainted with an old friend. The movement is a little hesitant at first, but soon flows as easily as a good conversation. There’s a joy in remembering a certain pocket, a hidden crimp, the way you toe in to a particular hold.
The first couple routes I climbed in my old pair of shoes, but moving on to the steeper climbs, I decided to give the Five Ten Blackwings their outdoor debut. They had showed up while the indoor season was still going strong, and I ‘d been pleased with how they climbed on steep plastic. The fit is very comfortable, and the aggressive nature of the shoe allows you to really pull with your feet on steep terrain.
And indeed, right away I could tell a difference on the steeper, pocketed stone, easily toeing in to the holds and allowing me to move upward with more confidence than I’d had on the previous several routes. I’ve since used them numerous days in Rifle, and they’ve become my shoe of choice for the glassy limestone we know and love.
The Stealth HF rubber is of course rather sticky, though I seem to be blasting through it a little quickly on the toe. Over the course of several months, the shoe has held its aggressive shape well, which isn’t always the case with this style of footwear. Also, the material on the toe box is burly, has proven quite durable and should keep even the most gratuitous of toe hookers smiling.
Overall, this is an excellent shoe for steep sport climbing and bouldering, offering the perfect combination of comfort and performance.
Sizing: These shoes run small, and wont stretch very much, so size up accordingly. I have an 11.5 street shoe, and 12′s are just big enough after breaking in, I could probably even wear a 12.5. For reference, I wear a size 12 Quantum.
Retail is $164.95. For more info and specs, check the Five Ten website.
Disclaimer: Wait! Do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, this product was provided to SplitterChoss.com for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!