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This story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of our print edition.
“Present-day Gunks-goers and Eldo-lovers will be smitten with this super-stiffie just as much as the Stonemasters would have loved it for their bold, long, technical ascents in Yosemite,” one tester said. And that’s exactly where the designer got his inspiration for this comfortable, board-lasted kick. It’s got a time-tested design with a modern aesthetic and thoughtful updates. Putting small patches of memory foam against the pinky toe on the interior of the shoe “makes foot jamming fairly comfortable—I’ve never said that before!” one tester exclaimed. Plus, a padded tongue kept the tops of boney feet happy, making the shoes easy to wear all day. To-the-toe lacing means you can dial in a solid fit so the shoe doesn’t slide around when you’re in a precarious position, but the low profile, lack of metal, and eyelets in the added toe rubber mean the laces don’t dig in when jamming. “This has more support and stiffness than some of my approach shoes,” one tester said of the multi-part sole that includes a full-length midsole, an additional layer of memory foam under the heel and arch, and a soft footbed. That rigidity made it excellent for edging, and it stood out on slabs and straight-vertical terrain alike. The absolute stiffness and support of the Mantra means sensitivity and precision you get from a softer shoe are missing, but testers found it still smeared well.
Traddies and alpinists who want full support and stability from a sticky-rubber rock shoe will love the Mantra and its old-school style that has added comfort and thoughtful features.
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