UKC

Rock Shoes for All-Day Comfort Group Test

Most climbers need a comfy rock shoe in their lives, whether you're spending hours on a long - but not especially difficult - mountain route, or a beginner looking for something that's easy on the feet. When choosing an all-day all-rounder, pure performance comes a distant second to comfort; but they've still got to do the job. Over the last few months we've been testing several of the more relaxed, less technical shoes currently on the market. Here's what we thought of them:

Overall summary

Model

Ratings

EB Torch

Price: £60

Upper: Elastic microfiber

Sole: 4mm Optima

EB Torch, 18 kb

Edging

80%

Smearing

20%

Comfort

40%

Overall

Evolv Spark

Price: £75

Upper: Part-lined leather

Sole: 4.2mm TRAX

Evolv Spark product shot, 180 kb

Edging

40%

Smearing

70%

Comfort

80%

Overall

Five Ten Moccasym

Price: £84.99

Upper: Unlined leather

Sole: 4.2mm Stealth C4

Best in Test Small, 5 kb

Five Ten Moccasym, 36 kb

Edging

40%

Smearing

100%

Comfort

90%

Overall

Scarpa Helix

Price: £84.99

Upper: Unlined leather

Sole: 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge

Scarpa Helix product shot 2, 128 kb

Edging

40%

Smearing

70%

Comfort

100%

Overall

La Sportiva Finale

Price: £85

Upper: Unlined leather / microfiber

Sole: 5mm Vibram XS Edge

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

La sportiva finale product shot 2, 154 kb

Edging

60%

Smearing

70%

Comfort

100%

Overall

Boreal Silex Velcro

Price: £85

Upper: Leather with padded lining

Sole: 4-4.6mm ​FS-Quattro

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

Boreal Silex Velcro Product shot 2, 176 kb

Edging

80%

Smearing

50%

Comfort

70%

Overall

Edelrid Typhoon

Price: £90

Upper: Unlined leather/synthetic blend

Sole: 4mm E-Grip

Edelrid Typhoon product shot, 72 kb

Edging

100%

Smearing

50%

Comfort

50%

Overall

Tenaya Inti

Price: £95

Upper: Microfiber

Sole: 4mm Vibram XS Grip

Best in Test Highly Recommended Small, 5 kb

Tenaya Inti, 22 kb

Edging

96%

Smearing

90%

Comfort

90%

Overall

Five Ten Moccasym £84.99

Best in Test Large, 14 kb

Five Ten Moccasym, 36 kb
Five Ten have been making the Moccasym for many years now, yet in spite of this their popularity hasn't just endured - it's flourished. Not only is this shoe unique due to it being the only slipper within the review, it is also the one that has probably been used for the most diverse styles: from easy to hard, boulder to sport, and trad to solo. It's hard to get your head around how something could ever be so diverse, but the 'Mocc' seems to manage it.

Performance

If there was a single word to summarise the Moccasym is would be sensitivity. They are undoubtedly a soft shoe and great on rock types such as gritstone, sandstone, and granite, where you can really get a feel of friction. For limestone they are less great, simply because - owing to the slipper design - they can feel quite insequre on small edges, unless they're new or you've got particularly strong feet!

A further benefit of their softness is that they are an ace shoe for crack climbing, as they have a very 'stuffable' nature, contorting to the shape of the crack around it. The legendary Stealth C4 rubber means they also offer great purchase, both within such cracks and on tenous smears, aided further by the fact that the sensitivity allows you to distribute your weight more effectively.

As a final word on performance, they also out-perform any other shoe in this review at dying your feet red after use (and continue to do so for quite a while). This can be quite alarming upon first acquaintance...

Rob Greenwood using the Five Ten Moccasyms on Tip Off Right (E1) at Stanage Popular, 61 kb
Rob Greenwood using the Five Ten Moccasyms on Tip Off Right (E1) at Stanage Popular
© Nick Brown - UKC

Comfort

Once worn in the Moccasyms fit to your foot like a glove. Size-wise you'll probably be going down between 1.5 - 2 sizes from your standard street shoe size. In the shop this will feel tight, and obviously don't buy them uncomfortably tight, but it's worth being aware that they do stretch quite a lot. The only issue we found comfort-wise was that the leather around the outside of the boot, just around your ankle, feels quite stiff out of the box and can chafe a little, but in time this goes.

In terms of fit, it's hard to put a definitive narrow, medium, or wide badge on them simply because they form to your foot over time.

Conclusion

A superb, comfortable shoe designed for all day comfort and capable of performing on a wide variety of terrain - probably the widest within this review. In addition to that it is without doubt the most sensitive shoe within the review, but also one of the poorest on smaller edges.

Sizes: 1 - 14 UK

Sole: Stealth C4 rubber 4.2mm

Upper: Unlined leather

Five Ten say: "In 1990 Five Ten introduced a shoe for every climber's arsenal, the Anasazi MoccAsym. Low profile for thin cracks, and equipped with a unique Asym™ slingshot heel these slippers deliver exceptional precision and versatility. It's Stealth® C4™ rubber outsole offers durable and high-friction adherence to all types of surfaces. The unlined leather upper will stretch up to a full size, and over time your Moccs will become soft and supple, molding to your foot."

fiveten.com

EB Torch £60

EB Torch, 18 kb
Whenever we brought these out down the wall or at the crag we raised a few eyebrows: "EB, are they still going?!?". And the answer is yes, but obvioulsy in a very different, new and updated, form to the EBs we're used to seeing in old Mountain magazines...

The Torch is one of their latest models, designed with "exceptional comfort for advanced climbers". As such, this is an all-day shoe geared towards the more performance orientated climber - think a day's cragging at Mother Carey's Kitchen or ticking your way through Cenotaph Corner, Cemetary Gates and Left Wall up at the Cromlech.

Performance

The Torch is at the stiffer end of the spectrum, performing particularly well on edges. Unlike many of the more rounded shoes within this review, the toe on the Torch is quite pointed, which makes them better than many on more technical ground. As suggested within the introduction, this is a shoe for more edgy mountain rock or technical limestone. This isn't to say that they performed poorly on smears either, as we used them on Grit and they performed reasonably - if not remarkably.

Jack Geldard using the EB Torch on The Tippler Direct (E3) at Stanage Popular, 128 kb
Jack Geldard using the EB Torch on The Tippler Direct (E3) at Stanage Popular
© Nick Brown - UKC

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, the most confusing aspect of the Torch is its fit. As with all rock boots, a lot comes down to the individual foot of the person wearing it; however, the last used in the Torch seemed somewhat unusual, being narrow in the middle (where most feet are wide) and then wide in the toe box (where most feet narrow). As such, if you have wide feet it gives a noticable pressure point on the outside of your foot. With narrow feet this may not be so much of a problem, but the issue would still remain as to the toe box.

The other issue with the Torch was that it only had a single tab on the back in order to get the boot on. Most others in the review have two and the addition of a second definitely makes it easier to get them on, particualrly when new.

Conclusion

Performance-wise the Torch performed well, but the unusual last meant that it would be hard to recommend them without trying them on.

Sizes: 36-46 (inc. half sizes)

Sole: 4mm Optima

Upper: Elastic Microfiber

EB say: "The new EB Torch arrives with exceptional comfort for climbers. With its slightly asymmetrical and curved shape, the Torch guaranties the best comfort. The upper canvas in elastic micro fiber adapts perfectly to the shape of your foot."

Scarpa Helix £84.99

Scarpa Helix product shot 2, 128 kb

The Helix has featured in Scarpa's line-up for many years. A model aimed at beginners through to the low intermediate level, it is pretty much the epitome of a comfortable shoe for long days out at a moderate grade. One of the test team once practically lived in his Helixes for several seasons, using them everywhere from sea cliff and mountain routes to single pitch cragging. The Helix has gone through various upgrades over the years, and while the new version is billed primarily as an indoor shoe we've found it still performs well enough on real crags.

Performance

The sample pair was ever so slightly too big for our tester, but even accounting for this when compared to our older model the new Helix is quite soft, without as much underfoot stiffness. As a result we don't feel these shoes are as supportive on longer routes as some of the other models on test here. This is a shame, as our ancient Helixes were good in this regard. Edging suffers a little too, since your foot has to work hard at times to compensate for the sole's flex. With 3.5mm of rubber underfoot the sole of the Helix is a little thinner than some other shoes', and this may in part account for its flex. All this may be less of an issue indoors, but it slightly compromises the Helix as an all-rounder. As you might hope however, what it lacks in edgeing ability the Helix makes up for when smearing, where it performs well for what is in essence a beginner's shoe. We've found the Vibram XS rubber nice and sticky on a variety of rock types, from dolerite and limestone to whatever hideous shiny stuff they made Traprain Law out of.

Helix - most at home on easier ground, 85 kb
Helix - most at home on easier ground
© Alex Berry
Perhaps a little less supportive than an older Helix, 118 kb
Perhaps a little less supportive than an older Helix
© Dan Bailey

Comfort

The last is relatively symmetrical and easy on the foot, and since the sole is not downturned you wear the Helix flat-footed rather than knuckle-toed. This is probably what most people would expect from a shoe for all-day comfort, and we can certainly wear the Helix for hours without suffering. The width is best described as medium - neither particularly broad nor notably narrow. There is however a fair bit of volume, or depth, which for us results in a little unfilled space at the toe. It's the same story at the heel, which on us is a little baggy for secure heel hooking. The comfy feel of the Helix is rounded off by a nicely padded mesh tongue, which also helps keep things cool in hot weather.

Conclusion

It may not be a high grade thoroughbred, even by the standard of this review, but the Helix does well as a comfortable, relaxed shoe for beginners and indeed any climber who wants to go easy on their feet. It could offer more support and edging ability, but this is compensated by its decent smearing performance. In essence, though it lacks a certain spark this is a well-built shoe that's ideally suited to all-day use. That 3.5mm of rubber is going to wear through faster than some of the thicker soles on offer, however.

Sizes: Mens 40-50EU Womens 35-42EU

Sole: Vibram XS Edge 3.5mm

Upper: leather, unlined

Scarpa say: "With a particular focus on the style and techniques of modern indoor climbing yet supportive enough for climing outdoors. It offers sublime comfort with its proven last, luxurious padded tongue and the new heel design which offers a snug fit for the user to exploit the built in heel hook zone, without Achilles discomfort. Underfoot the midsole provides enough support for the foot as technique and strength develop, but equally allows sensitivity and enables the user to exploit the Vibram XS Edge 3.5mm. Finished with a simple speed lace this shoe provides easy entry and fit adjustment and is destined to be a modern classic."

scarpa.co.uk

Edelrid Typhoon £90

Edelrid Typhoon product shot, 72 kb

The Typhoon is billed as a high-performance rock shoe. As such it does not really meet the criteria of this particular group test, making a direct comparison with the other models on review somewhat difficult. To try to compensate for its souped-up credentials we went for a pair in our actual shoe size. Even so the Typhoon, as you might expect, scores rather well on the performance-on-steep-rock index, but lower in the all-day comfortable all-rounder stakes.

Performance: This is not the most radically technical shoe on the market by any means, but the Typhoon's down-turned toe and asymmetric last do give it a precise and powerful feel for nifty footwork on smaller holds. There's a fair bit of stiffness underfoot at the toe end too, which means plenty of support. A rubber strap gives a close, aggressive fit around the achilles, the effect of which is to push the whole foot forwards towards the big toe. Heel hooking might be good if you have a very high volume heel, but on us the fit here was too baggy to get much joy. Edelrid's E-Grip rubber is nice and sticky, and works well on a variety of rock types. Edgeing is great, and if you're climbing indoors or on steep rock outside then the Typhooon comes into its own. However that stiff, downturned toe doesn't smear all that well, so there are certainly some routes - whole crags, even - for which it's not really ideal.

The Typhoon loves steep rock and small positive edges - Dan Bailey's not so sure, 154 kb
The Typhoon loves steep rock and small positive edges - Dan Bailey's not so sure
© David Myatt
Overkill for a Hard Severe?, 104 kb
Overkill for a Hard Severe?
© Alex Berry

Comfort: The very things that give the Typhoon its performance on small edges and steep rock count against it if you're looking for a friendly shoe that won't be too uncomfortable on more moderate all-day routes. The downturned front means your toes are knuckled-over rather than comfortably flat-footed, even - at least so we've found - if you're wearing the Typhoon in your standard shoe size. We've been wanting to take them off after every pitch, or at least pop our heels out to take the pressure off the toes - not always a practical option on big routes. After you've been wearing them a while that tight band around the heel inevitably irks the achilles too. Crag walk-offs are more like hobble-offs in the Typhoon. None of this will come as any surprise, given that we are comparing apples with pears. What we can say however is that by the standards of a more aggressive shoe the Typhoon has a fairly broad fit at the toe, despite its asymmetric last; great arch support and a fairly true-to-life fitting (ie. no pressing need to go down a size, in our experience - though they may stretch a little over time).

Conclusion: ​For bouldering, single pitch cragging, sport and indoors the Typhoon gets a thumbs up. Edgeing is very positive; smearing a bit less so. Fundamentally this high performance model simply isn't a relaxed all-day all-rounder like most of the other shoes on test, so it's less well-suited to beginners or long lower grade routes. In a performance shoe test the Typhoon would score more highly.

Sizes: 3-13 UK

Sole: 4mm E-Grip rubber

Upper: leather and synthetic blend, unlined

Edelrid say: "A high-end performance-oriented rock shoe for demanding bouldering and sport climbing"

edelrid.de

Evolv Spark £75

Evolv Spark product shot, 180 kb
The Evolv Spark is very much aimed at the entry level end of the market. Its non-aggressive last, wrap around tongue, and built-in arch support make it an extremely comfortable shoe for all day use. The leather + mesh design breathes well and isn't too smelly, but does leave your feet impressively green at the end of the day (!!). The fit is what we would describe as regular (i.e. neither narrow, nor wide), however the low volume nature of the toe-box does give them a snug feel. As a result, irrespective of how you lace them, if you've got wide/high volume feet they are unlikely to be an ideal fit.

Performance: The Spark performed admirably throughout easy and mid-grade routes, but as the footholds got smaller - perhaps unsurprisingly - their performance started to drop. That said, the Spark was an exceptional smearing shoe, their soft nature being better suited towards rubber to rock.

Rob Greenwood testing out the Evolv Spark on the Chee Tor Girdle, 209 kb
Rob Greenwood testing out the Evolv Spark on the Chee Tor Girdle
© Penny Orr

Comfort: The fit (i.e. arch support, comfortable tongue) and finish (i.e. leather) of the Spark meant that not only was it was comfortable out of the box, but it continued to get more comfortable over time. Like most leather shoes it definitely gave a little in terms of size, but not so much that it completely bagged out.

Conclusion: A comfortable shoe that would be ideal for people with a low volume, medium width foot. They smear well, but edging performance is fairly poor.

Sizes: Mens 5-12.5, 13, 14 UK

Sole: 4.2 mm TRAX® high friction rubber

​Upper: ​Leather, lined at heel and tongue

Evolv say: "Built on a newly designed last, the Spark is made of high quality leather and lined with 3-D Air Mesh in the heel and tongue, making it extremely comfortable and supportive. The Enhanced Arch Support (EAS) technology builds arch structure directly into the outsole, providing midfoot comfort and support. The Spark will ignite your climbing with a perfect balance of comfort, support, and durability."

evolvsports.com

La Sportiva Finale £85

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kb

La sportiva finale product shot 2, 154 kb

The Finale is a new addition to the La Sportiva shoe range and is aimed at the comfort end of the market. The unlined leather upper gives a soft and comfortable feel straight out of the box, well nearly, it took us a single session of indoor climbing to break these shoes in, and after just two hours of climbing they were feeling good.

The lace-up version is what we had, and we found that the laces gave good adjustment, and the fit was medium to narrow at the front of the shoe, but the heel was medium to large.

The heel tab at the back (to pull the shoe on) was a single tab instead of the usual two, and this did feel a bit budget, but worked ok.

Performance: Shod with a 5mm Vibram XS Edge rubber, the Finales are reasonably stiff, and do feel a little clunky, but they also feel like they will last quite a long time! A good balance between edging and smearing performance means these are a great all-around shoe choice, and as we sized them to keep our toes straight (not knuckled over like in performance boots) a little bit of extra stiffness was useful to help support the foot on long multi-pitch routes.

Our only gripe was the baggy heel, but are you really buying all day comfort boots for heel-hooking? We climbed all angles and styles in these boots, up to E3 trad climbs and 7a sport climbs, and the only time we felt they were holding us back was on E2-3 smearing slabs (sensitivity) and on steep 6c-7a sport routes where we would have like a more solid heel-hook for resting.

La Sportiva Finale in action, 173 kb
La Sportiva Finale in action
© Jack Geldard

Comfort: Virtually out of the box comfort with these shoes, as said above. It is worth trying some on as we found that we went down a couple of street shoe sizes even though we didn't get a tight 'performance' fit. They have a leather/micro-fibre unlined upper that is really comfortable and also sems to be wearing well; these boots are fairly tough.

Conclusion: A great shoe that fit us reasonably well, performs well in all areas for a comfort shoe, and lasts well. Thumbs up.

Sizes: Mens 34-48 EU (half sizes) Womens 32 - 43 EU (half sizes)

Sole: 5mm Vibram XS Edge

Upper: Leather/microfibre, unlined

La Sportiva say: "All-around lace-up shoe for comfort and performance in the gym, at the crag, or out bouldering."

sportiva.com

Boreal Silex Velcro £85

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kb

Boreal Silex Velcro Product shot 2, 176 kb

The Boreal Silex is a shoe many people might be familiar with as the model has been around for some time. These NEW Boreal Silex Velcros are different though, so disregard all you know about the old Silex and read on! (You can check out the older model lace-up Silex in this UKC Review).

So the basics... This Velcro (three straps) shoe is quite stiff, medium width and actually fits our feet really, really well. It felt like a world away from the old Silex; we were really impressed.

Performance: With 4-4.6mm of Boreal's own rubber (the thickness varies slightly depending on your shoe size), the grip on the Silex was reasonably good. The FS-Quattro rubber perfomed well on all rock and plastic, but due to the fairly stiff nature of the shoe smearing wasn't their strongest point. That said, the additional support from the half-length midsole did stop our feet from getting tired on long multi-pitch routes, which these shoes are ideally suited for.

With some entry level shoes it does feel like you could have similar performance from a good pair of approach shoes, but as soon as we put the new Silex on our feet we knew these shoes were good. The snug fitting toe-box gave good support and stopped the shoe from rolling even on small holds, giving us a huge confidence boost in comparison to the kind of sloppy, greasy hire shoes that beginners often start climbing in at the indoor wall.

We've blasted up all types of routes in these, up to almost as hard as we would in a pair of performance shoes, and we loved them!

Not the best at smearing, but plenty of foot support, 197 kb
Not the best at smearing, but plenty of foot support
© Jack Geldard

The heel was the slight performance let down, as it is a padded comfort heel (more info later), and wasn't the most confidence inspiring on steep heel-hook moves, moving a little bit on the foot and not giving a huge amount of feedback from the rock. However these are comfort shoes, so extreme heel-hooking isn't really in their brief; but you never know when you need to bust one out!

Comfort: We actually got our Silex in a fairly snug size, and they have stretched a little bit. The heel is a medium width and the toe-box is quite a snug shape, which means marginally less comfort, but a really huge boost in performance. Coupled with the midsole these are a very supportive shoe.

The amply padded and mesh-like tongue and a leather upper gave great breathability and stopped the shoes from becomming too smelly, even after a good old sweat on hot French limestone.

One of the most comfortable aspects though is the heel. The width means no sore spots, it doesn't dig in to your achilles, and it has a few mm of padding under the foot. This makes short walk-downs much less severe on the heel bone, and although we wouldn't recommend a long hike in these (of course), it does make getting back to the rucksack slightly less painful.

Conclusion: A brilliant shoe, technical enough to actually climb something hard and stiff enough to give support. Padded heel is great for walking if not for heel-hooking. A thumbs up from us and a big improvement on the old Silex in our opinion.

Sizes: Mens 2-12 UK (half sizes) Womens available in lace version only: 2 - 8.5 (half sizes)

Sole: 4-4.6mm FS-Quattro rubber

Upper: ​Leather with padded lining

Boreal Say: "With updates for 2016, the new Silex Velcro is now better than ever... plenty of support to prevent your foot tiring on smaller holds, and the padded lining will keep your foot snug. Our sticky and durable FS Quattro™ rubber ensures long lasting performance. Silex Velcro is a superbly comfortable and supportive shoe, perfect for long days on the rock or marathon training sessions."

borealoutdoor.com

Tenaya Inti £95

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large, 15 kb

Tenaya Inti, 22 kb
Unbeknown to us, the Inti was actually the shoe used by Alex Megos during his infamous 9a flash; and yet here it is featuring in an all-day comfort rock boot review - who'd have thought it! Unsurpisingly they are one of the more technical boots within the review, with a more asymetric toe profile than many of the others featured, and yet remarkably despite their performance they still maintain a high degree of comfort.

Performance: As suggested above, the toe profile of the Inti is asymmetrical (i.e. pointed). As such it performs exceptionally well on edges. Part of the reason for this comes from the use of a horseshoe midsole around the edge of the boot, which provides that bit of extra support on those small footholds, and yet leaves the central section of the boot that bit softer so that it continues to perform well on smears - something that is further aided by the Vibram XS Grip rubber used throughout.

Rob Greenwood circuiteering at Burbage North in the Tenaya Inti, 117 kb
Rob Greenwood circuiteering at Burbage North in the Tenaya Inti
© UKC Gear

Comfort: Despite the use of an asymmetric last the Inti was still a very comfortable shoe, something that can largely be attributed to the heel, which is secure, but not overly aggressive. We used the same size as our standard shoe size and it fitted perfectly - neither not too tight, nor too big. Over time they gave a little, but not much owing to the use of a synthetic upper rather than leather. With regards to the overall last, we would say they are a medium both in terms of width and volume within the toe box.

Conclusion: A great all-rounder, performing well on both edges and all-out friction. Very much at the technical end of the spectrum in this particular review, offering a great level of performance - and yet they manage this without sacrificing that all-important all-day comfort. Our only criticism is the price.

Sizes: 3-13 (half sizes)

Sole: Vibram XS Grip 4mm

Upper: Microfiber

Tenaya Say: "Coming from the very best of RA which has cleared some of the hardest routes in world, we have created INTI, a high performance climbing shoe that amazes for its extraordinary response under the foot biomechanical needs in the high difficulty climbs"

tenaya.net

BUY NOW from:
logoHuge range of rockshoes, all with Free UK Delivery!!!
See this product at the Outside Ltd shop
logo
See this product at the Ellis Brigham shop
logoMASSIVE range of comfy rock shoes always in stock.Come in and try them on or buy online.
See this product at the Joe Brown - Snowdonia shop
logoMassive range of climbing shoes in store and online.
See this product at the Cold Mountain Kit shop
logoLong Lakeland routes require all day comfort rockshoes - see a great selection at Needle Sports!
See this product at the Needle Sports shop
logo
See this product at the The Castle shop


Gear Forum 2 comments

This review has been read 26,865 times