EMS Underdog, $79
Moderate all-around climbing
Moderately asymmetric; medium width and volume throughout
Summary: Outdoor-retailing chain Eastern Mountain Sports is jumping into the rock-shoe market this year with their Underdog, an unlined leather Velcro model meant for moderate all-around performance. “We wanted a shoe our guides would embrace and new climbers would grow into, not out of,” says EMS’s Ellen Moran. The Underdog does indeed perform reasonably well on sport climbs up to 5.10+ and moderate boulder problems. It’s also good for multi-pitch climbing, as long as a lot of aggressive jamming isn’t called for.
We wish, however, that the Underdog had a better fit-adjustment system. While the opposed Velcro-backed flaps provided easy entry and removal, we were disappointed in their ability to provide a truly firm fit. While we don’t expect a shoe like this to provide an aggro, sport-tight fit, it should still fit like a comfortable glove.
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