UKC

Unparallel TN (Tomoa Narasaki) Pro Review

© Nick Brown

TN stands for Tomoa Narasaki – one of the best competition climbers in the world. Together with Unparallel, Tomoa has helped to design and test these shoes with the aim of creating a versatile model that can stand up to the rigours of the World Cup circuit; something that can be equally at home when smearing on volumes, or clawing in on tiny edges, and with technical heel and toe hooking capabilities thrown in for good measure.

As well as holding its own indoors on the world stage, the TN Pro is durable, and well suited to different rock types. Many indoor shoes go down the route of soft rubber and flexible midsole, but the TN Pro does quite the opposite, and it's all the better for it.

Climbing the steep and edgy Black Rhino at Howshaw Tor  © Alan James
Climbing the steep and edgy Black Rhino at Howshaw Tor
© Alan James

Functionality

The TN Pro is a downturned and stiff performance shoe – the hardest in the Unparallel range with 4.2mm rubber. What this means is that it is a workhorse when it comes to edging. Standing on minute footholds on any angle off vertical is where this shoe shines.

Though there's a stiff midsole, the toe is more flexible, so the shoe can be put to use on certain slabs. The TN Pro is perhaps not the best at certain types of smearing but it's versatile enough that when surface area of the shoe to rock is key, it performs well.

The rubber is Unparallel's RH compound which is, in my opinion, the stickiest stuff on the market.

Fit

I've found the TN Pros have suited my narrow feet well due to the low volume last. The shoe is perhaps built for a foot with a medium width, though the single strap can secure the shoe very tight. The heel is definitely best suited to those with narrow heels. Sizing is tricky due to the small size of the collar, and it is always worth trying on climbing shoes in a shop before purchasing in any case.

Gone are my days of cramming my feet into the smallest shoes I could manage, but even with this new conservative outlook, I still produce that satisfying rush of air when I pull these shoes on. There is some dead space on the top of the foot, but this is unlikely to get any worse as the uppers are an unlined synthetic material which reduces stretch – and like I said, my feet are narrow.

A versatile boot that would suit someone looking for an all-round shoe  © Nick Brown - UKC
A versatile boot that would suit someone looking for an all-round shoe
© Nick Brown - UKC

The TN Pro has a stiff, supportive midsole and 4.2mm of rubber on the toe  © Nick Brown - UKC
The TN Pro has a stiff, supportive midsole and 4.2mm of rubber on the toe
© Nick Brown - UKC

Forefoot

As mentioned before, the toe box has relatively low asymmetry meaning it is quite rounded. In theory, this distributes weight less through the big toe and more evenly throughout all of the toes – quite different to something like a La Sportiva shoe. This is particularly useful when on steep terrain, and when trying to maximise the amount of weight the shoes are taking.

Across the width of the foot is snug; the outside of my foot does protrude (as demonstrated in the photo below) which was initially slightly uncomfortable but by no means debilitatingly. The low volume last and the stiff, downturned shape mean that your toes are pushed into curled position, providing tension which in turn gives the foot a great deal of support.

On top, a large amount of rubber covers over half the front of the shoe, a design feature common in modern performance shoes now that people utilise more of their feet. On certain angles, this is a useful toe-hooking tool.

The TN Pro can hold its own on some gritstone smearing  © Mike Hutton
The TN Pro can hold its own on some gritstone smearing
© Mike Hutton

Midsole/Uppers/Heel

The midsole features one long, supportive piece of rubber that stretches the entire length of the shoe and wraps around to the top of the heel. This is another key feature that keeps the shoe supportive and helps to retain the downturned shape. The middle section of the rubber is thinner, which allows for the flexibility when smearing – particularly indoors and on volumes.

The TN Pro has an unlined synthetic upper and a thick strap which allows a tight fit. The pull tabs are thick, heavy-duty material all of which give the feeling of a durable shoe.

I'm a big fan of the heel; it is narrow and there's little if any dead space. Furthermore, the thin rubber on the sides of the heel gives a huge amount of sensitivity when heel hooking. You can really feel what you're pulling on.

Standing on volumes indoors is definitely in the shoe's remit  © Theo Moore
Standing on volumes indoors is definitely in the shoe's remit
© Theo Moore

Women's Version/Low Volume Version

Currently, Unparallel do not offer a women's version but the closest in terms of shape is the Regulus LV or the Sirius Lace LV. However the good news is that the TN Pro itself is reasonably low volume to begin with.

Summary

The TN Pro was obviously designed to be an all-round performer, and to a large extent Unparallel have succeeded. Building upon their previous shoe the Regulus and the Five Ten Hiangle before that, the TN Pro is a useful weapon to have in the arsenal.

It can hold its own on almost every rock type, struggling only slightly on pocketed walls. The stiffness of the midsole and thickness of the rubber mean that it provides a real alternative to a market saturated with soft shoes. It is a supportive shoe that is perfect for edgy sport climbing, steep and technical bouldering, and can perform well on certain slabs. For those looking for a single performance shoe, I would say give the TN Pro a try, because it is a fantastic all-round option.

Unparallel say:

Unparallel TN Pro  © Unparallel

The TN Pro is Unparallel's original and most popular signature model by international superstar Tomoa Narasaki. It has a high-tension slingshot heel design and special RH rubber for exceptionally exceptional friction. The 4.2 mm rubber sole allows for a longer life than other soft rubber shoes, whilst still focusing on sensitivity and performance. Though the rubber is soft and sticky, the stiff midsole, along with the slingshot heel design, produces an aggressive downturn that can still stand on small footholds. The TN Pro is at home on almost all terrains and testament to the incredible experience and expertise that the Unparallel design teams and Tomoa both brought to this shoe.

For more info see the Unparallel website



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20 Nov, 2020

I’ve bought a pair of these. Not used them yet but they felt just like pulling on a pair of older model HiAngles, exactly what I was after :)

20 Nov, 2020

How do they compare to the Regulus?

20 Nov, 2020

I definitely prefer these to the Regulus. Even though they both have 4.2mm rubber, I found that the TN Pro to feel stiffer and it has stayed stiffer for longer.

I also thought that the Regulus' bagged out quite a bit and I've not found this with the TN Pros. The heel has been slightly less slippy than the Regulus too.

Overall they are a very similar shoe, so if you liked the Regulus then you'll like these.

20 Nov, 2020

Thanks for the reply. Sounds like they might work for me on certain limestone problems, maybe even on grit, when I need a bit of edging power on steep stuff.

20 Nov, 2020

How did you size these compared to Regulus? Down a size or half size from street shoe roughly? Cheers

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