I really wasn't sure what I was setting myself up for with the Mutants. In recent years Boreal have produced a few disappointing shoes like the Stingma, and the Spiders, the Crux however was a stunning return to the kind of form when Lasers ruled all.
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Related UKC Forum discussions
Anyone who likes slippers should take a close look at the Mutant; it is essentially a slipper but has a single Velcro closure.
One of the problems with slippers is that it's much more difficult to get a secure heel fit, as they rely on the elasticity of the shoe, and a tight fit to keep the heel snug. With the Mutant this is not a problem, you have the combination of a soft sensitive toe which is brilliant on slabs or very steep terrain, with the tight snug heel you would associate with a velcro or lace up shoe. On a recent trip to Fontainebleau (just after Hueco, oh what a joy to be able to take all of your holiday time in one go) I found that the Mutants are a superb shoe for running around circuits in. The Mutants smear really well, and you can take them on and off easily like a slipper but without the stretch that most slippers give in the heel.
The heel of the Mutant is also finned; a feature which has started to appear on many shoes particularly those made by Mad Rock, and this is something which I was always a little sceptical of. A recent trip home to Northumberland proved me entirely wrong, stuck in one of the caves at Back Bowden, due to rain, we set to work on a few eliminates, most of which ended up traversing the lip, I found that the fins on the heels of the Mutant bite really well giving superb grip even on marginal heel hooks. Again the heel of the Mutant is just cut off and not folded and stitched, this is a simple feature which helps shoes last a little bit longer, in the Mutant this is less of a problem due to the velcro closure.
The toe of the Mutant is no let down either, although there are more sensitive shoes, the Mutants give superb feedback on small foot placements. The toe of the Mutant is not super asymmetric, meaning that it is easier to get them snug without crippling your feet. I found there to be plenty of room, allowing the toes to curl like the Scarpa Stix, meaning there is plenty of power in the toe. However the Mutant is a soft shoe, and therefore it isn't the best on edges, anyone looking for a slate shoe will find there to be better options. The mutant performs best on overhanging rock or rounded rock types, such as Fontainebleau Sandstone or Gritstone.
Tom Dixon bouldering near Blea Tarn in Langdale © Micheal Robinson
Well worth a mention is the FS-Quattro rubber which is something of a triumph, it is incredibly sticky, though it does wear just a touch faster than other rubbers, something which people looking to get hold of a pair of these should not be concerned about.
My initial scepticism of the Mutant has gone entirely now, I think that the Mutant is an excellent performer at home on a variety of rock types and can see it being taken in by the boulderers and sport climbers all over the UK. Now and again it is well worth trying something new as opposed to buying the same shoes time and time again, and the Mutant would be one of my first recommendations if you find yourself thinking about trying something a bit different.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Tom Dixon: