REVIEW: Boreal Alpha

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 UKC Gear 21 Jul 2023

If you're after a forgiving rock shoe that's equally suited to beginners and all-day climbing in the less demanding grades, the competitively priced Alpha is a strong contender, reckons Dan Bailey.

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 Andypeak 21 Jul 2023
In reply to UKC Gear:

 How the Joker be wide but the Ace narrow if they are based on the same last or is my understanding of shoe lasts completely wrong?/

In reply to Andypeak:

It's a good question Andy. Rob wrote the Joker review while I reviewed the Alpha. To an extent I think we're coming up here against the problem of individual fit and subjectivity, which is the bane of a rock shoe reviewer's existence.

I definitely do not find the Alpha broad, at all. I think it's fair to say I've always felt Boreal shoes come out narrow. Perhaps it's partly a toe profile thing in this instance, and the fact I down-sized clearly hasn't helped, but on me they are very close throughout, so much so that I cannot imagine a size larger feeling suddenly wide in comparison.

Rob on the other hand (foot) found the Joker broad, on balance. Others seem to think similar.

They do have the same last. So we are going to have to discuss who's right. And somehow attempt to amend our two reviews so we each reflect our actual experience while not apparently contradicting each other. Nightmare. But I'm glad you spotted it early!

Though I suspect there is no 'right' and as ever the advice (which we probably ought to include as a disclaimer with all footwear reviews) is that every person is going to have to try them on and judge fit for themselves. 

In reply to Andypeak:

OK, I have attempted to put all that into the review. Hopefully not too garbled. 

Thanks for raising it! We do like to at least try to be consistent.

 yodadave 22 Jul 2023
In reply to UKC Gear:

I absolutely agree to a degree of shoe feel subjectivity but surely in measuring the last of different shoes (in the same size obvs) you would have some objectivity? and for climbing shoes I think measuring the width of the sole (at a standardised point) would correlate well to last width?

Either way you've supplied the best solution which is "go try them on". With my toes rebelling against most of my shoes your review has me curious about these. thanks

 Dominic Green 24 Jul 2023
In reply to UKC Gear:

I remember when I worked for an outdoor sports magazine years ago in Ireland and the test for shoe volume was done with coffee beans! As long as you measured the shoe before it was worn I guess you could still use the beans for their intended purpose. It was interesting seeing the difference between shoes based on volume measurements. The coffee beans test wasn’t a quirky Irish invention btw, it was a ‘thing’ within the footwear industry I believe. 

 gekitsu 24 Jul 2023
In reply to yodadave:

another aspect of ‘does this fit narrow or wide feet?’ is that some shoes allow for more latitude than expected. especially earlier tenaya shoes (oasi, iati, …) are built on a very narrow last, yet they accomodate up to at least solidly medium-width feet well enough. that diagonal all-around rubber wrap on the scarpa drago’s toebox also seems to be good at making the shoe behave very gracefully with regards to different foot widths. (it fits my narrow feet, but is also a favourite of some friends who otherwise wear the notoriously wide-forefoot scarpa instinct)

then you take two testers, one who regularly struggles with shoes being too narrow, the other with them being too wide, and a shoe that adapts well enough to both of them can simultaneously get billed as working well for narrow and wide feet.

In reply to Dominic Green:

Now that's the kind of test I could get into

 paulsross 28 Jul 2023
In reply to UKC Gear:

I wear Jokers for long trad climbs. When I need to replace them should I get another pair, or Alphas? Besides the lining they seem very similar.

In reply to paulsross:

> I wear Jokers for long trad climbs. When I need to replace them should I get another pair, or Alphas? Besides the lining they seem very similar.

Hi Paul,

Dan has just left to go on holiday, so I thought I'd reply in his absence. Fit-wise the Alpha and Joker are identical, but due to the lack of lining they definitely have a different feel. Certainly worth a try if the Joker fits. Good value for money too, or at least it is compared to most other shoes on the market!!

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