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Slight downturn for steeps; split outsole and half-midsole allow for sensitive feel and forefoot flex (smearing on volumes); medium-volume last and heel let most climbers snug comfortably into the heelcup without pinching or bagginess.
The X1s have been Alex Johnson’s go-to shoe for indoor, competition, and outdoor climbing since they came out in 2018. “The softness makes it flexible—when a shoe is too soft and you’re standing on a volume or slab, you get a bubble,” she says. “The X1 is soft enough that I can trust my feet on volumes, but not so soft that the mold of the shoe falters.” When I tested the X1s when they first came out, I was impressed with their heel, one of the first softer, “volume-forward” heels to hit the market. It squished reliably onto volumes, but still had heft for aggressive heel-toes, even outdoors like on Horsefly Hootenanny (5.13a), in the Flatirons, Colorado, on which you have to make a tough clip from an overhead heel-toe cam. The single Velcro closure with dual attachment strips lets you refine fit, if you need to drive your big toe forward for edging. The shoes have a notably sock-like fit that makes for intuitive movement on volumes.