Comfortable climbers: More rock shoes adding comfort to performance

Check out the top new climbing footwear products and trends for 2013 that we encountered at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:


Back in the day, climbers sized down everything and accepted that crunched and cramped toes were a reality of pushing the limits. Thankfully, those days are coming to an end, as companies continue to turn their high-performance shoes into some of the most comfortable as well.

For 2013, Five Ten may be leading the charge on the comfort front with the debut of its Stonelands climbing shoes based on a new last that mimics the foot’s natural power position. “We’ve done a lot of research with our team of climbers,” said Charles Cole, Five Ten founder and president. “Our goal was to design a shoe that ups the performance quota without decreasing comfort.” The Stonelands Slipper (MSRP $130) features a stiffer midsole than is usual for this kind of shoe, and the Stonelands Lace-up (MSRP $135) features a soft midsole, relying on the lace system to provide support. There’s also the high performance Stonelands VCS (MSRP $140).

Far from the only game in town, other companies are offering high-end, comfort-oriented models as well. Scarpa has the Force X (MSRP $129), ideal for a wide range of uses; La Sportiva gives us the Jeckyl VS (MSRP $120), an all-arounder leather slipper; and Millet has the Hybrid (MSRP $120), a three-Velcro-strap technical slipper with an EVA padded insert in the heel for bouldering and alpine climbing.



Scarpa Force X



La Sportiva Jeckyl VS

This show there’s a new kid on the block, as Spanish shoe brand Tenaya debuts in the United States through a distribution deal with Trango. Offering two lace-up and two Velcro models, including the Tatanka (MSRP $150), Tenaya’s shoes feature synthetic uppers, meaning zero stretch and reliable performance. They’ve been touted in Europe as some of the most comfortable, performance-oriented shoes on the market, and it’s certainly a brand to keep an eye on.



Tenaya Tatanka

All this focus on comfort doesn’t mean that the days of specialized shoes are over. The Scarpa Instinct VS (MSRP $169) is a new slipper that uses Lorica to minimize stretch, while offering a precise shoe with 3mm sole. Swing over to Mad Rock and you’ll see its new slipper, the Shark (MSRP $119), which features a single Velcro closure and new Arch Flex technology.



Scarpa Instinct VS



Mad Rock Shark



In the approach shoe category, the trend has been toward shoes that climb as well as they hike. That's readily apparent in Millet's Rock Hopper (MSRP $130), which was designed from one of its climbing shoes, while the Salewa Wildfire (MSRP $159) boasts an anatomical last, EXA injected 3D shell, and new Vibram EVO Sole.



Millet Rock Hopper

ClimbingFootwear_Millet_RockHopper.jpg



Salewa Wildfire

--BJ Sbarra

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