Five Ten Canvas Guide Tennie Review

Do they pass the test?

With my legs spread and teeth gritted together, I tried to relax, but two questions kept running through my mind. How important is this, really? And, were these the right shoes to wear?

Pabst Smear is the most footwork intensive climb at the Black Cliffs, an area known for requiring precise footwork on slippery basalt columns. As such, it’s a great place to really learn how to use your feet, and Pabst Smear is an important test (for your feet).

I thought a routine screening of my footwork was in order, and decided to try out my new Five Ten Canvas Guide Tennie shoes at the same time. I had already assessed that the shoe was comfortable to hike in, that the midsole was supportive enough to stand in aiders for lengthy periods, and that they were lightweight, but what I really wanted to know was how they performed on rock. I mean, since we pay more for them, shouldn’t an approach shoe be better at climbing than regular shoes? I thought I’d put mine to the ultimate test: climb the smeariest route at my local crag.

Getting off the dirt on Pabst Smear involves pressing both hands and smearing your feet in a flaring dihedral. The route is rated 5.10b, (Eds note: probably more like Colorado 5.11a) and every move up the smooth basalt feels accordingly. I was surprised to find my shoes stuck well to the greasy rock. Five bolts worth of pressing and stemming led to an uncomfortable four inch ledge below an awkward bulge. I rested at the ledge and looked down the columnar formation, feeling impressed with both my new shoes and my climbing. I’ve climbed the route several times, but while wearing approach shoes was a new experience. I had to be more careful of my foot placements and was much less sure of myself, but at the same time it was exhilarating, bringing me back to the same excitement I felt during my first attempt at the route years earlier.

The last twelve feet of the climb go over a bulge and back into the dihedral where the route finishes at rap hangers. It’s two large dynamic movements for taller people but can be some serious climbing for shorties. I made the two moves and clipped the hangers. On rappel, I found myself overly giddy and celebrated my success on the ground with a few silly pictures.

As it turns out, my Pabst Smear results were abnormally good. I found that climbing old routes in new ways can be fun, and that my Five Ten Canvas Guide Tennies were indeed good for climbing, proving themselves to be a shoe that you can keep on your feet well after the approach is over.

Retail is $109.95. For more information and tech specs, check out 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 for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!


4 Responses to Five Ten Canvas Guide Tennie Review

  1. Nice review but I would like to add a few important details. This shoe is supposed to be more breathable and durable than its leather counterpart. So far I have found this to be true which is great considering that the leather sibling blew out rather quickly at the ball of the foot on both the in and out step. The common occurrence of the de-lamination typically associated with the Guide Tennie seams to be a thing of the past so far. Rands and soles are staying put after months of heavy use. I wore them up an aid attempt at the Glass Menagerie on Looking Glass Rock in NC and found them not so adept at standing in aiders but switching from aid to free moves inspired supreme confidence especially when have to bust out a smear for an awkward aid move to retain balance in the steps.

    lgophil October 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm
  2. I think the real question for these shoes is how they stack up to the leather model. Any thoughts on that?

    rob in pb October 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm
  3. How is canvas more durable than leather? Seems counterintuitive. This is a real question; I’m not being a jerk (nuance is not the strength of email and lnternet posting…).


    Brian October 18, 2012 at 11:00 am
    • @Brian – Canvas is indeed more durable, and that’s the report I’ve gotten back on these shoes.

      @Rob in pb – So they are more durable, and the canvas breathes better as well, so your feet stay happier. And happy feet are, well, happy feet!

      BJ Sbarra October 18, 2012 at 11:05 am
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