2009 SUMMER O.R. INSIDER - ROCK SHOES

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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.

The Tribal from Boreal

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's re-designed Predators

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.

The Team from Five Ten

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's new lace-up Katanas

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's Mugen Tech

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).

The Scarpa Instinct

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.