Billed as a 'semi-aggressive' shoe, the Five Ten Crawe manages to blend excellent technical performance on edges with good all-round use and comfort. It's rare that a climbing shoe gets this right, and as a result the Crawe is brilliant for both routes and bouldering.
The toe on the Crawe is the ideal shape for edging. It's asymmetrical and the apex on the big toe is roughly 2cm wide giving enough width to provide pressure on small footholds whilst being narrow enough to fit into pockets. Couple this with the fact that the Crawe are pretty flat and this makes them brilliant for vertical and gently-overhanging edging, also known as UK sport and trad climbing. In fact, I've heard that these are Steve Mcclure's new favourite shoes...
One thing that strikes me as a bit odd is that the sole protrudes further than the rand on the front of the toe by roughly 3mm (my tape measure has been getting some good use during this review). This means that when you're stepping on a small foothold you look down at the top of your toe and think 'ah, there's my toe, I'll put it exactly here', but in fact, as the sole is sticking out a bit, your foot placement is slightly off. You do get used it, and as you use the shoe more this protrusion wears down, but it is unlike any other shoe I've used and is off-putting initially. After having used the Crawe for a few months, this oddity is no longer an issue.
The rest of the forefoot is built really well. It widens enough so that the knuckles of your toes - the widest part of your foot - aren't compressed, despite the toe being asymmetrical. The whole toe-box has a low profile which makes it nice and snug fitting, giving you plenty of control and accuracy, without it being tight - though users with higher volume feet will want to assess this for themselves. There's also a healthy amount of rubber over the toe for toe-hooking, and it doesn't impact the fit or comfort of the shoe.
Whilst the toe of the Crawe is its stand-out area, the heel is the supporting actor, the sidekick you know you can rely on in a tough situation but who is overshadowed slightly by the hero of the story. Basically, it's good - very good - in that it fits very snugly, doesn't move when you weight it or pull on it, and it's sculpted to the shape of an actual heel rather than having unnecessary bits sticking out.
There are only a couple of downsides which I think are related. Firstly, for me there is some dead space on the sides of the heel just above where the sole attaches. This is fine for 90% of heel hooks but occasionally you get a knacky one where you need to use the side of your heel to pull against a vertical hold and the dead space makes this difficult as you have little contact with the hold. Granted, this a rare occurrence and generally something that only happens when bouldering. Secondly, the heel has an almost 90° angle at the base which isn't quite as nicely moulded as some modern shoes. I think this is what produces the dead space - the shape isn't quite rounded enough for it to be entirely snug all over. Perhaps this more square shape is needed to provide the fit and comfort for the rest of the shoe, although I'm not qualified enough to comment authoritatively on that.
These downsides are only minor and would be of most concern to the serial heel hooker who needs something which fits perfectly for their project. The space issue is also likely to vary for different users, so as ever it would pay to try them on. Besides this, since the Crawe is suited more to the route climber and all-round boulderer, these concerns aren't a big issue. The heel is more than good enough for sport/trad climbing and is better, in my opinion, than the heel on the Blanco.
The sole of the Crawe is moderately stiff under the forefoot and flexible in the midsole, giving you the stiffness required to stand on edges with enough flex in the arch of your foot to transfer power to your toe. I find that a stiff forefoot is essential for standing on small edges, and for enduring the potential pain of standing on small edges for a long time, so this is ideal. The Crawe does soften a bit over time but never enough to lose its ability on edges - this also makes it a good general use shoe for gritstone.
The whole shoe is held together by a "medial rubber lock band" which is essentially wrapped around the shoe laterally. I imagine this is a bit like wrapping a bandage around your foot - the medial band provides tension on the sides of your foot to keep the shoe snug and ensure that when you stand on your toe the rest of the shoe is active too. It works well as the Crawe always feels like it's one whole unit working to give you as much tension as possible, without any dead space in the shoe (apart from the side of the heels, mentioned above). I have found that this tension around the arch of my foot does cause some discomfort when wearing the Crawe for long periods of time, a familiar feeling that happens with shoes with this level of medial tension around the middle of the foot. Since all feet are different, it's quite possible that some other users may not notice this.
The other notable feature is the adidas Primeknit sock. When I first read about this I thought it would be a bit of a gimmick but it's actually really good. The Crawe slip on easily and suck onto your foot. It's quite noticeable that once they're on, they're on - there are none of those little adjustments to fit that you need to make with other shoes.
It wouldn't be a shoe review without talking about rubber... the Crawe use Five Ten's tried-and-tested Stealth C4 so you can be sure that they're sticky.
The usual caveat applies: if you're new to this model then try before you buy. The Crawe is available in both a standard/men's fit and a women's/low volume version, though the latter in a more limited range of sizes.
I have already discussed the fit above but here's a quick summary: there's very little dead space in the Crawe, and on me the Primeknit sock means they fit like a glove. They do stretch slightly over time but not much. The Crawe are fairly wide in the forefoot - similar in shape to the Scarpa Instinct VS. In fact, the entire sole profile is extremely similar to the Instinct VS so if those fit you well then the Crawe could be a good fit too. However, although the midsole is the same width, the Crawe have caused me additional discomfort due to the increased medial tension.
One thing that's really interesting with the Crawe is that these are the first of Five Ten's shoes I've tried with their new sizing. I'm a UK 10 in trainers and - drum roll please - a 10 in the Crawe too. I can't speak for all of the new models, but with the Crawe at least, Five Ten are the first shoe brand to come up with a useful and realistic set of sizes. Up until now I've memorised my size in each of my favourite models of shoe. Each brand seems to have some arbitrary scale which is unique not only to their brand but to their model, or even to the particular production run. If Five Ten manage to nail the climbing shoe size = trainer size then that would be a big help when buying new models of shoes. The size 10, aka my trainer size, provides a comfortable fit.
Having spoken to Five Ten, for a high-performance fit (for e.g high level bouldering and sport climbing on really small footholds), you should go half a size down from your trainer size, and for a comfort fit (e.g long routes) you should go half a size up. In my experience this is about right - the Crawe in my trainer size are comfortable enough for long usage (I can wear them for almost an entire indoor bouldering session once I get over the medial discomfort) and are precise enough for all-round use. If I was going to try a project I'd want a pair slightly smaller, and for multi-pitch slightly bigger.
At £150 this shoe is right at the upper end of the price scale, but after a lot of use my pair has worn well so far, so I'd say that they represent reasonable value. Where the Crawe really shine is on small edges, and thanks to their comfortable and snug fit they make an excellent pair of shoes for route climbing. They're also well-fitting and precise so they're great for all-round bouldering, although if you're looking to tick your hardest projects there are a couple of niggles that are worth looking out for. The Crawe is the kind of shoe that you can take wherever you go and be confident that they'll perform well - and in my opinion, that's exactly the kind of shoe you want.
Five Ten say:
A semi-aggressive climbing shoe for bouldering and sport climbs. Bouldering or sport routes, the Five Ten Crawe Climbing Shoes support technical climbing with moderate downturn and medium stiff midsole. The semi-aggressive foot position balances power and comfort.
- Sizes: 3.5-13.5 (men) 3.5-9.5 (women)
- Concave toebox
- Hook-and-loop closure
- Synthetic microfibre upper
- Snug, sock-like feel
- Bouldering and sport climbing shoe
- Medium-stiff midsole
- Stealth® HF on heel
For more info see adidas.co.uk