The Ocún Ozone Plus are a mid-to-high performance velcro rock shoe with one particularly special trait which really sets them apart: they are designed specifically for people with wide feet - people like me for example! Over the years climbers tend to find a certain brand, and even model of shoe fits them well. I've had many different types of rock shoes over two decades, from lots of different brands, always searching for a good fit for my wide feet - the holy grail being comfortable to keep wearing for long periods but still snug enough to perform on the smallest of holds.
Ocún have with their shoe range (which many will know from their previous brand name - Rock Pillar) embraced the idea that foot shape varies and have put a lot of thought into designing shoes to fit a wide range of shapes. This, allied to their website which has some of the clearest instructions I've seen on fit, will help you identify a model that will suit your foot. By breaking down foot type (narrow, normal, wide) and toe type (Egyptian, Greek, Cube), it really helps the potential buyer think about what model will fit them.
Ocún make three versions of the Ozone, the standard Ozone, the Ozone Plus, and the Ozone Lady, all designed to get the same shoe design and technology around quite different shapes of feet.
In the past I've often found that supposed "beginner" or "all day trad" shoes with a 'relaxed fit' work quite well for my wide feet, but that often means thicker or perhaps slightly lower performance rubber than on that brand's high performance shoes. With the Ozone plus you get the wide foot fit, but with exactly the same top-end design features that the non-Plus version of the Ozone and the women's Ozone come with. The shoes use the excellent Vibram XS Grip rubber and what Ocún calls the "3-force" system. This wraps rubber around your foot in complex manner meaning the shoe is being pulled inwards in numerous directions. This really does seem to work; Ocún talks about the shoe feeling liked it is "vacuum packed" around your foot - and I would agree with this strongly. Without crushing my feet the shoe does feel like it is sucked in around your foot with no dead space. The heel fit for example is great for me, something that I often have a problem with on other models. The shoe has two velcro straps for closure - these feel quite high up the shoe to me, but I think that is because one of the "3-force" strip of rubber runs across the top of the widest part of foot - negating the need for a strap there. This means a very good fit, but you can't release the tension on your lower foot as easily as you can when that tension is provided by velcro.
In use I've been impressed with the Ozone Plus. They have been used a lot on grit, limestone and granite this summer. The Vibram rubber is the same as is used on many high performance shoes - I won't claim miracles but when clean and squeaked it works as well as any rubber I have used. They stuck well to some of the gleamingly polished footholds of Stoney Middleton's trad classics, which are about as slippery as I have come across, but also on often as nearly polished grit slopers. Equally the rubber protected toe box makes them great for toe-ing into thin cracks. The shoes have a distinct edge, and some midsole support, meaning they work excellently on micro edges. I impressed myself mightily by cleanly seconding the Toy at Curbar recently (I might even need to try leading it now!) and having shoes that stick to those tiny little holds with absolutely no foot slippage inside them, really helped.
Equally they helped on probably my best effort this summer - a man eating granite fissure just outside of Helsinki. You start up steep hands, then fists before getting into the offwidth. Arm-barring desperately in there, your head is level with an undercut slab out on the left that promises salvation, but how to get out of the human vice and onto the slab? There is one little foothold under the slab but it's so high to get a foot onto. I've failed here twice before taking the fall onto the giant cam deep in the offwidth. But this time after much fighting, sweat, blood and foul language trying to get my foot high enough, my left shoe caught on some other granite crystal just below the actual hold. I didn't really think it would stick, but it was try or fall. One last arm bar and pushing everything down into that micro foothold I went upwards, managed to grab a hold on the slab and escape the offwidth's clutches. Would my other shoes have stuck to that hold? Well maybe, maybe not - but the Ozone Plus did, and I finished the route and that's good enough for me.
In conclusion: a good, "performance all-rounder" but designed for those of us with fat feet! If you have had trouble getting shoes wide enough in the past, the Ozone Plus should definitely be on your list of shoes to try, and for those with more dainty slim feet it's slimmer brother and sister models are also well worth considering. The UK RRP for the Ozone Plus is 100 pounds, far from cheap but definitely cheaper than the RRP on many models it will compete against, and currently the shoe is available discounted for quite a lot less. A note on the sizing, I'm using 42/UK8 and they are a tight fit. I generally wear 42 for a roomy fit in trainers and the like, but most of my rock shoes have been 1, 2 or even 3 sizes smaller. Hence it seems Ocún shoes are small for their stated size and you are unlikely to need to size down from your street shoe size.
What Ocun Say:
Competition shoes with a unique innovative design for wider feet
Ozone Plus offers all the advantages of the Ozone shoes, including the 3-Force system, to climbers with wider feet.
- A modern gun for competitive and performance climbers.
- Very precise on tiny footholds and edges and inpockets.
- Due to the 3-Force system they set a new trend in the approach to climbing.
- The climber's performance is boosted by the highly adhesive Vibram XS Grip sole.
- More Informatrion: Ocun Website
About Toby Archer:
After many years living in sub-arctic Finland, Toby last year made the (for a climber) very unoriginal decision to move to Sheffield, where he now teaches. He is often to be found somewhere on the Eastern grit edges, or even occasionally on Peak District limestone. He considers himself to be among the three leading world experts on converting Finnish grades to UK grades... as long as it's not harder than E2.