Killer Kicks

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I manhandle brand-new rock shoes before wearing them: caress, squeeze, and even smell ’em. When I first groped the high-performance lace-up called the Millet Yalla ($129; milletusa.com), I balked at their downturned yet very stiff toe—two characteristics rarely seen in the same toe box. I was skeptical. But once I started climbing, I was amazed at how well the stiff-but-grabby combo worked. On vertical faces, I stood on tiny edges with confidence; on steeper-than-45-degree terrain, I could grab and hook features almost as well as if I were wearing a slipper. The rigid forefoot broke in after just a few pitches, softening just enough to offer both support and sensitivity. And for me and my wide, hairy feet, they fit perfectly: tight yet comfortable. (The lacing system allows for lots of adjustment, but the narrowest feet may swim in the widelasted Yalla.) The synthetic upper—lined only in the toebox—feels like soft leather, yet holds its shape over time. The Yalla is one of the few bouldering and sport climbing shoes that truly masters a wide variety of climbing styles. —Chris Weidner

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