Five Ten Arrowhead Rock Shoes£110, added Dec/2011, see all Five Ten news & reviews
Reviewed by Tom Dixon
Five Ten's product range has shifted often over the years, perhaps making it a frustrating brand to follow. Nevertheless the 'brand of the brave' has a large number of loyal fans, and has recently been making a major push into different markets from their traditional climbing consumer base: mountain bikers, hikers, free runners and, yes, even military ninjas are all enjoying the grip and security under foot provided by Five Ten 'Stealth' rubber soles.
Recently new shoes have broken the horizon in the Five Ten climbing range, too, and there were worries this might herald the end of some firm favourites: there were whispers of the Team and Dragon going under. However I've been informed by an insider that the European sales team fought hard and convinced the big wigs to consolidate the range. Now it looks like Five Ten's hard hitters are all safe.
This has freed up Five Ten to develop some new models, to complement rather than replace shoes in their existing line up. I'm so glad that Five Ten have decided to take this approach with their range.
The V2s, Dragons, Teams and the other Anasazi variants really hit the nail on the head in each of their respective disciplines. And, after saying goodbye to Pinks, the Mesa, T rocks and the of course the V10, Five Ten fans could probably do without any more heartbreak.
So, onto the Five Ten Arrowhead...
Climbing shoes have become specific tools for different rock types and angles, making it difficult for a performance-orientated all rounder to come onto the market and really impress.
On paper it looks like the Arrowhead might strike the perfect compromise between two of the darlings of the Five Ten range: the mighty Dragon and the Anasazi Velcro.
Five Ten have taken the Anasazi last and narrowed up the toe a little, while adding a touch of down camber. The aim of all this is to harness the steep holding power of the Dragon toe, while retaining the edging performance of the Anasazi line.
I always size my shoes pretty snugly and it's just as well because the Arrowhead is a fairly soft shoe with quite a large upper surface of Five Ten's high quality synthetic leather: 'Cowdura'.
"...The soft sole makes for great sensitivity and feel on steep terrain..."
I find that soft shoes all have one problem in common: even straight out of the box they struggle to hold their shape when put under loading. In the Arrowhead's case I think that this symptom is accentuated by a lack of support around the mid foot just in front of the first Velcro strap.
When I stand on a small foothold in the Arrowheads, my toe bends back quite easily. Fortunately this is tempered somewhat by the newly shaped close fitting heel cup, which I found has just enough tension across the rand to hold the foot forwards, providing a bit of support.
Like the Anasazi VCS, the Arrowhead's are soled with Five Ten's Stealth Onyxx high friction rubber, which the brand say 'has unbeatable hardness for precision edging, stickiness for friction and exceptional durability.' (The Dragons, meanwhile, are soled with Stealth 'HF'. Designed for over-hanging rock, it 'enables climbers to pull in with their feet'.)
So does the Arrowhead succeed in harnessing the steep holding power of the Dragon toe, while retaining the edging performance of the Anasazi? I'd say that the Arrowheads aren't a replacement for a set of normal Anasazi's when you want real edging support, but they do still edge pretty well. How did they perform on the steep stuff, though?
Well, putting a bit of downturn on the toe of a shoe makes it more difficult to get your foot into the shoe in the first place. This means that people often size aggressive dowturned shoes a little looser than their flat lasted counterparts and therefore rely on the stiffness in the sole for support.
The Arrowhead's soft sole makes for great sensitivity and feel on steep terrain but fails to provide the power that you'd find in the toe of a shoe like the Dragon. As I've worn in the Arrowheads the fit has improved and the sensitivity increased even further but I still find them lacking a bit when compared with my beloved Dragons on steep ground.
So, as expected, the Arrowhead is a bit of go between but there are plenty of reasons to give this shoe a go. If you find breaking in a shoe like the Dragon difficult or don't like their blocky feel when new out of the box, then the Arrowhead would be a superb choice. I think that my feet are a little bit too wide to really get the best out of this shoe so if you find the Anasazi Velcro a bit roomy but don't fancy trying to break in a set of V2's then the Arrowhead is definitely worth trying.
In summary for the Arrowhead, I think it's a solid all round performer, which fits neatly into the niche between the and Anasazi line and the Dragon and Team shoes. I'd recommend you try them if you have a narrower foot or are looking for something which will adapt pretty well to whatever terrain you can throw at it.
More info about the Arrowhead on the Five Ten Website.
About Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon lives in Sheffield. Originally from Northumberland, he boulders, trad climbs, enjoys days in the mountains in winter and summer and is at home in Fontainebleau as he is on Tower Ridge.
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