UKC

Five Ten NIAD Lace - an Updated Classic Review

© UKC Gear

The Five Ten Anasazi Pink needs little introduction. This flat, stiff, lace-up shoe has been a mainstay in many climbers' bags for decades. But how does its successor, the NIAD Lace, compare to its predecessor? At first glance, the new version looks similar, but it's undergone some fairly substantial changes - most notably the rubber toe patch on the top of the shoe, and a redesigned heel.

The NIAD Lace is pitched as an all-rounder  © UKC Gear
The NIAD Lace is pitched as an all-rounder
© UKC Gear

Performance

This shoe is pitched as an all-rounder. Out of the box, it's an edging machine. It's got a stiff, supportive midsole that stretches the entire length of the shoe, making it a great option for long routes on edges. Over time, the shoe softens up considerably, giving it a new lease of life – its forte becomes smearing, ideal for gritstone or sandstone where you really want to feel what's beneath.

The streamlined heel works well. On me there's very little slippage and it retains the classic ridge of rubber on the back that can be used to catch on edges. Overall, I'd argue that this new heel is more versatile than previous models, although the classic Anasazi heel was perhaps one reason why the shoe was so popular.

Many modern shoes have rubber across the whole toe box, but here the rubber toe patch is minimal, making it more suited to scumming than full-on toe hooking. It wouldn't be my go-to shoe for climbs with specific toe hooks, but it's designed as an all-rounder and therefore does enough for those unexpected moments. One area where is does excel is torquing into cracks – the toe rubber provides more than adequate protection to stop feet from getting chewed up.

There is enough rubber on the toe for scumming and torquing in cracks  © UKC Gear
There is enough rubber on the toe for scumming and torquing in cracks
© UKC Gear

The rubber is Stealth C4 and I personally believe there's nothing better. It gives me the confidence to use the most marginal smears, or commit to horrible slopey volumes indoors. This has been a large contributing factor to Five Ten's success over the years and the NIAD Lace is no exception.

The low asymmetry of the toe box means that it's never going to be a pocket pulling shoe, it's just not pointy enough. Its focus is sustained edging or smearing due to the way that weight is more evenly distributed across all toes.

Fit

Both men's and women's (lower volume) versions are available.

Similar to its predecessor, the NIAD Lace is most at home on someone with narrow feet, but the latest iteration seems to be slightly higher volume on the top of the foot. I'm not convinced by this change as it means the fabric bags out when you're on your toes – the space around the throat and tongue of the shoe becomes wider, leading to quite a bit of slippage and foot movement within. It's a big oversight, particularly when the previous model did not have this issue.

The higher volume in the top of the shoe is a problem  © UKC Gear
The higher volume in the top of the shoe is a problem
© UKC Gear

The heel has been streamlined, losing the fabric section (below) in favour of an all-rubber affair. This makes the heel feel narrower – no bad thing for me. The old Anasazi heels were a bit marmite (I really like marmite); some people swear by them, and others despise them. The new heel addresses the concerns of the naysayers - whose complaint was around the bulbous, baggy nature of the heel – and modernises the whole thing. It's still not the tightest fitting heel, leaving room for it to mould into certain heel hooks.

The previous heel on the Anasazi Lace  © UKC Gear
The previous heel on the Anasazi Lace
© UKC Gear

The new heel on the NIAD Lace  © UKC Gear
The new heel on the NIAD Lace
© UKC Gear

The lace closure system gives the NIAD a degree of flexibility when it comes to fit and comfort. Personally, I tend to tie my shoes as tight as possible, minimising the dead space, but if you're on long routes or climbing all day, there's always the option of loosening them slightly or going completely untied like Steve McClure!

The toe box is rounded, making it an ideal shoe for someone who has a slightly shorter big toe.

The NIAD and the Anasazi side by side. Note the higher volume in the NIAD  © UKC Gear
The NIAD and the Anasazi side by side. Note the higher volume in the NIAD
© UKC Gear

Materials

The uppers are made from lined microfibre, which certainly gives the NIAD a comfortable feel. Five Ten believe the use of this material helps the shoe to 'maintain a consistent fit,' whereas in reality the shoe's shape changes considerably over time. That's not to say this is a bad thing – the Anasazi always changed over time, and as previously mentioned, what this means is that the shoe's purpose changes too: from an edging machine to a sensitive smearer.

The Stealth C4 rubber is a fairly standard 3.5mm along the sole, with a thinner strip over the toe. Therefore, most of the NIAD's stiffness comes from the midsole.

One thing that concerns me slightly is the peeling away of the toe rubber. It used to happen on the Anasazi Pro model and whilst it's not happened on this model yet, there are small gaps appearing where the rubber meets the microfibre upper. Build quality is something Five Ten have struggled with in the past, and whilst there are some improvements like cleaner stitching and gluing, it's still something to be aware of.

It's great at smearing on grit, or edging on limestone - and quite a lot more!  © UKC Gear
It's great at smearing on grit, or edging on limestone - and quite a lot more!
© UKC Gear

Overall

Five Ten have tried to bring the Anasazi range into the modern era with the NIAD Lace. Have they succeeded? Kind of, although the answer is more nuanced and in reality, it's a different shoe. A more streamlined heel will appease long-time critics of the shoe but disappoint others. The toe rubber is a welcome addition for some purposes, although it's not designed for rigorous toe hooking. I think the NIAD Lace is certainly more comfortable than its predecessor (though everyone's feet are different, so that's subjective) but the higher volume in the top of the shoe is irritating. In a versatile like the NIAD Lace there are always going to be compromises to performance, but it remains a great all-rounder and something I will always keep in my climbing bag. It's versatile on both edges and smears, and manages to maintain degree of comfort, so as a jack of all trades it's a strong contender.

Five Ten say:

Face or crack. Granite or sandstone. The adidas Five Ten Niad is a time-tested and all-around classic climbing shoe. Versatile Stealth® C4™ rubber edges, grips and smears across all surfaces, indoors and out. The form fit heel and stiff midsole provide a positive feel. Lined uppers enhance comfort out of the box.

  • Sizes: 5.5 - 13.5 (men) 3.5 - 9.5 (women)
  • Snug fit
  • Lace closure
  • Lined polyester upper
  • Form fit heel
  • Stiff midsole
  • Lined microfibre upper maintains consistent fit and out-of-the-box comfort
  • Stealth® C4 rubber offers time-tested, high-friction grip for edging and hard friction
  • Extended toe rubber for increased toe friction

For more information adidas.co.uk


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So they took possibly the best selling shoe of all time and changed everything about it? Genius. Clearly some smart cookies running the show there. I never would have thought of that.

31 Dec, 2021

Can someone explain to me, in idiot form, what the actual story is behind the rubber quality/5.10/adidas/unparallel?

I tried a pair of anasasis about 6 months ago and it definitely wasn't the same rubber of old. Also finding out that Anasasis were available in TKMaxx was a little concerning for a shoe that's flouted asthe best in the business.

31 Dec, 2021

I think the ones in Tkmaxx were the "new" version of the old model, presumably stock being cleared to make way for the Niads.

31 Dec, 2021

I’d just say that my local ( fully independent) climbing shop returned all 5.10s when they changed the rubber and they don’t sell them anymore.

1 Jan, 2022

I got a pair recently. Only used indoors a few times so far to break them in. Initial impressions:

Sizing - this has definitely changed from the original and is probably the same as the updated Anasazis, i.e. I need to go up half a size.

Seem to be breaking in and stretching a bit fairly quickly.

Have also noticed the dead space / loose material just below the laces. Seems a bit of a sloppy design (for my feet anyway) but not sure it’s an issue for climbing.

Haven’t really noticed the heel feeling any different. A bit less volume on the outside so perhaps better for smaller heel hooks.

Haven’t really tested the toe hook patch. Not sure it’s really required as this isn’t a bouldering specialist shoe.

On the whole, always hard to tell after just a few sessions but I’d say it’s not much different to the original Anasazis (other than the sizing). Then again, I thought the same about the new Anasazis, which some people didn’t like apparently. May be my footwork is so bad that I can’t tell the difference 🤣

Certainly a good all rounder.

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