Also see this UKC Review by Tom Dixon of the Velcro version of the Quantum: Five Ten Arrowhead.
Released in 2011, the Quantums have been pitched as a half-way house between the classic Anasazi Velcro and the Dragons. So if you're wanting something slightly more down-turned than a Velcro but don't want to be crippled, the Quantums may be the shoes for you.
The Quantum is an attractive shoe and, while some have accused it of looking like a grilled aubergine, it seemed to pass muster with the glitterati down the local wall. The upper is made from a synthetic fabric, 'Cowdura'. The ribbing effect is supposedly designed to create friction against the rock, but personally I felt it added little. The Quantums feature an 'Onyxx' Stealth rubber sole, which is also used on their Velcro counter-part, the Arrowhead, while the rand is 'Mystique'. More on the rubber later.
The shoe is noticeably more aggressive in its downturn compared to the Arrowhead. The Arrowhead is a softer shoe, and the lacing on the Quantum goes down closer to the toe, which makes it more down-turned when done up tight. I will discuss the performance implications of this later. A final comment on the build of the shoe is the heel, which is the same as the Arrowhead and the Blancos in the Five Ten range.
While I usually go for a snug fit with my shoes, the Quantums felt very narrow. This is great if you have feet which fit this shoe type (The La Sportive Katana Lace is also worth considering here), but if you have wider feet I would recommend trying the Arrowheads or maybe another performance lace-up such as the Scarpa Instinct.
Back to the Quantums - the first couple of sessions with them on were a bit painful but they soon loosened up and were comfortable for long bouldering sessions or a good day of trad.
In terms of performance, the Quantums proved good shoes in a wide number of areas. I really enjoyed the power delivered to the toe, which was great when I was in Hueco over Christmas as I could really drive off small holds on very steep terrain. There was just enough rubber on the toes for them to be respectable at toe-hooking while swinging around roofs as well.
Ratcheting up the laces enabled the toe box to become really supportive and the shoes to really latch onto small holds on steep terrain. However, worn normally you could still use them to smear up gritstone slabs and edge when needed if you were using them for trad.
The edging was also excellent. In a recent warm patch, I was lucky enough to get on some limestone at Blackwell Dale and even though I have had the shoes for a good number of months, they were still able to find purchase on the small polished limestone edges.
"...in Hueco over Christmas I found I could really drive off small holds on very steep terrain..."
I was really impressed with the Onyxx rubber and felt Charles Cole, the Five Ten president and inventor of Stealth rubber, has done himself proud here. The rubber was really durable and despite the punishment I gave the shoes they still were able to give me friction when I needed it and retained their edges for a long time. This in a time when climbing shoe prices continue to rise is an important factor to consider.
"...This brings me to what I felt was the real plus point of the Quantums - their durability. I absolutely battered these shoes..."
The only thing that seems to have finally defeated these shoes is their smell. Now, my shoes generally smell after a couple of months use, but these took it to another level: literally clearing out an underground tube of passengers. If anyone else has noticed this then feel free to comment below, otherwise I may need to see a podiatrist...
The one real downside to the shoes I felt was the heel. In my opinion, this is literally the 'Achilles heel' of Five Ten shoes. I have never enjoyed the heel in any Five Ten shoe I have owned bare one exception - the Dragon. The heels of the Quantums were simply too baggy for me and, while I am fully aware that this topic splits opinion, I personally prefer shoes with greater sensitivity in the heel area. Again, it would be good to hear your views in the comments below.
My final conclusions on the Quantums are that they are overall very good shoes and would be excellent high performance all-rounders. However, if you are looking for something specific to meet your climbing style or complete a particular project then I would look at other top end shoes out there.
N.B. If you aren't suitably impressed by the photos (I do not blame you) then check out Carlo Traversi smash out some highball and then some really good looking problem in RMNP wearing the Quantums):
"...My shoes generally smell after a couple of months use, but these took it to another level: literally clearing out an underground tube of passengers..."
"Having been raised in the middle of the Churnet Valley where there is really little else to do, I took up climbing at an early age. Climbing highs include a disastrous, harrowing but utterly amazing big wall trip to Yosemite, first learning to climb off widths at Almscliff and any time I step foot in the Churnet Valley.
Lows include climbing in Markfield quarry, mangling my ankles too many times from ill-thought out climbing adventures and failing at a slab climb which my dog promptly ran up with ease.
I am currently focussing on bouldering in the run up to a trip to Hueco Tanks at Christmas and live in Sheffield."
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