2009 SUMMER O.R. INSIDER - ROCK SHOES
The truth is, there just wasn’t enough time to see all the companies I wanted to see on this trip. Three eight hour days looking at gear might seem like a lot, but with so many companies and products, it’s just enough to explore the tip of the iceberg. Anyway, here are some of the rock-shoe highlights from my second and third days at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show 2009, in very hot and sunny Salt Lake City.
Boreal — As Jesus at the Boreal booth explained, Boreal was the first company to offer a climbing slipper (the Ninja), and it’s been a long time since they’ve had another one. They finally brought a new one to market, and it’s called the Tribal. Looks like a solid offering, with a bit of downturn. They still have the Ninja, too. Another new shoe from Boreal, the Mutant, has a very interesting closure system worth checking out...
Evolv — Though performance-wise, these re-designed Predators are pretty much the same, the look has been seriously updated. The Predator has long been a very downturned, chisel-toed shoe that offers serious steep-rock performance — now it’s one of the coolest-looking shoes on the market, too. Two non-cosmetic changes worth noting: a perforated upper allows for greater breathability on hot days, and a new heel tread looks like it could improve hooking performance. The Talon has received a similar redesign.
Five Ten — Rumors have surrounded this Smurfy shoe for some time now. When Five Ten pulled their V10 slipper from production, their team athletes raised a bit of a stink — it was their favorite hard-crankin’ kick, apparently. This seems to be Five Ten’s answer: the Team is a downturned, sensitive slipper with a sticky (Mystique) rubber shell. A single Velcro strap lets you lock in the heel. Looks like a top-notch bouldering boot. Let’s see if the team agrees...
La Sportiva — I already tweeted (@UCMAG) about the new lace-up Katanas while at the German tradeshow a week before this one, but thought I’d add them again here, since they’re a really sharp-looking shoe. The Katana until now was only a Velcro shoe and has been one of Sportiva’s best-selling offerings. The lace-up version will offer a more dialed fit. These shoes are cool because they’re pretty neutral (flat, straight last), but climb with precision nonetheless (champion comp climber Kilian Fischhuber wins World Cups in the Katanas). Also look out for the new X-Boulder approach shoes, with a rubber called Idrogrip, which stays sticky even when wet.
Mad Rock — Mad Rock’s Mugen Tech is a relatively neutral yet high-performing Velcro shoe. As La Sportiva did with their Katana, Mad Rock now offers a lace-up version of the Mugen Tech. Generous toe rubber, a 3D Hooker heel, and asymmetrical lacing look to make this shoe a solid all-around crusher. I’m assuming it also sports Mad Rock’s new extra-sticky rubber formula, which it recently rolled out with its Con line (ConCept, ConVict, ConTact).
Scarpa — Though some online posters have noted Scarpa’s Vapor line, which has a lace-up, a velcro, and a slipper — all in orange — I though the Instinct was the most impressive of the new Scarpa models. The Instinct appears to be a hot-pepper of rock shoe: bright red, curved and tapering to a point, and should offer some serious bite. This is supposedly Scarpa’s “most versatile performance shoe” to date, and I can’t wait to get into a pair.