UKC

Unparallel Flagship LV Review

© Andy Banks

Last year Unparallel released the Flagship and - perhaps unsurprisingly given its name - there was much fanfare around it. This was very much the pinnacle piece of their range and featured on the feet of Tomoa Narasaki in the Olympics. Whilst it was designed with those top end climbers in mind, what we like about the original is that it is actually remarkably versatile, capable of doing a little bit of everything. However it is quite high volume - hence not necessarily suitable for everyone. The addition of the Flagship LV (low volume) to the range addresses that, and should help to broaden its appeal. This is a shoe worth taking note of, according to our reviewer Emma Banks.

Functionality

These shoes have been fab all-rounders. I have worn them bouldering, on trad routes, at the wall and on the board - all of which have pretty distinct and contrasting styles. This has been my go-to footwear through autumn and into winter, and they have performed well. They are suited best to steeper boulder problems, but I have enjoyed wearing them for everything - mostly because of their comfort and versatility.

The Flagship and the Flagship LV - the same shoe, but with a different fit  © Alan James
The Flagship and the Flagship LV - the same shoe, but with a different fit
© Alan James

Fit

The Flagship LV has a lower volume, is a bit narrower (both around the forefoot and the heel) and has a lower cuff around the ankle than the original Flagship, but that's not the only change - the sizing also differs (which is definitely something to be aware of). I have a UK5 in the original Flagship and so got a UK5 in the Low Volume version, assuming it would feel smaller; however, I should have gone for the half, or even full size smaller, and I'd highly recommend doing this if it's outright performance that you're after. The Flagship LV seems larger than the full volume version for a given size, and in the future I would definitely go for the plastic bag approach with this shoe to get the most out of its features. Even just being half a size too big has meant that the heel slips on easily and in some cases slips off too. I have really enjoyed wearing a slightly bigger shoe. Warming up in them and wearing them for everything has worked well, plus they've been great for smearing. 

On my narrow feet the LV version is a much better fit. There is no bagging in the forefoot and the ankle cuff fits under the ankle bone much better than the original Flagship, which dig my ankles a bit. 

The heel is angled in quite aggressively, so when they are new I would always use small bits of plastic bag to get my foot seated correctly to ensure the first few times out that my foot is exactly where I want it in the shoe. This helps to get them on and it also ensures that the shoe is worn in perfectly. 

Rubber

With 3.5mm RS rubber this shoe feels just right when it comes to the balance between rubber thickness and sensitivity. The rubber is great. It's sticky on lots of different rock types including grit, and volcanic rock in the Lake District. This rubber squeaks really well and feels sticky. The toe rubber on the upper of this shoe is brilliant and really helpful for technical toe hooks as well as for shoving into cracks. 

Flagship LV

Flagship LV

Flagship LV

Flagship LV

Uppers

I really like the upper on this shoe. The fabric is soft and not abrasive on the skin. The rubber on the toe is brilliant and I have used this loads on techy toe hooks and for scumming against the rock when flagging. The rubber patch allows the boot to help your performance in unlikely situations and has helped me get up some boulder problems where I thought I was off!

I ahve found the Velcro strap essential for stopping the heel slipping out on heel hooks, but with a smaller size this wouldn't be the case. I also really like how you can change the position of the Velcro strap if it's getting in the way when using a particular hold or if you want to do micro adjustments on the fit. At first glance, I thought the extra Velcro was a strange feature but after lots of use it's turned out that this is a great addition and has felt really useful.

The fabric did give a tiny bit, but not much at all. They still feel great after a few months of use.

Heel

The heel is narrow and performs very well. It has plenty of rigidity so it holds its form reliably on heel hooks, and the rubber is thick enough to protect your foot from painful spikes and knobbly rock. The heel never let me down in terms of shape or build quality, but I will be getting a smaller shoe to ensure it's a tight fit next time.

Good for a range of heel hooks from edgy to more marginal slopers.

Summary

I will be using this shoe for a while; I really like them. I have the larger size as reviewed, for warming up and for less difficult boulders/routes, and then I will carry a size smaller for harder problems requiring a bit more precision or where a solid heel is crucial. The build quality is good and I like the toe rubber and how the velcro stap allows for micro adjustments.

Unparallel say:

The Flagship is all-encompassing, from pinpoint precision footwork on high-grade, outdoor sport routes, to low-percentage toe hooks in competition finals. This new women's version has been designed for women and low-volume climbers, with a 3D molded toe cap and heel outsole in VC Pro high-friction rubber compounds. The front outsole is made from die-cut RS rubber. By separating the outsole on the low-volume fit, we've achieved maximum stiffness/ridigity and power to the toe while maintaining sensitivity and feel to the rest of the foot without extra volume. This allows for micro body adjustments without transferring movement to the toe. This is a true women-specific, high-performance, low-volume shoe.


For more information unparallelsports.com


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