Summer OR 2017: Footwear

There is always a theme to every OR show and this summer it was decidedly rock shoes. La Sportiva added a whole bunch of women’s shoes, Scarpa’s got some cool lace-ups, Evolv is adding a couple to the line-up and Butora has a sweet, super-soft slipper. The big news, of course, is Black Diamond’s announcement of their rock shoe line.

But for me the biggest star of the show was Scarpa’s Ribelle Tech three-season boot. If you  haven’t read my New Gear Awards, check them out here.

There was one other boot at the show that really caught my eye: the Mammut Nordwand Light Mid GTX. Honestly, it would’ve stolen the spotlight from Scarpa if only it was a little taller — the cuff ends just above the ankle, and having never climbed ice in a boot this low, I am somewhat hesitant with how it will perform. But other than that, this thing looks fantastic.


The highlight has to be the Michelin sole, developed in conjunction with Mammut, who say that working with Michelin gave them more freedom in the design process than they would with a more established outsole manufacturer. The sole is claimed to be 40% lighter than comparable products, and features a larger climbing zone at the front. along with well-defined, aggressive lugs optimized for snow traction.

The outer is constructed from abrasion-resistant schoeller WB-400 fabric, with a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort insulated lining. The insole is Insulated Carbon for additional warmth. Of course, they are completely rigid with front and rear welts for fully automatic crampon compatibility.



Weight is claimed to be incredulous 645-grams for a size 43, and retail MSRP is $400 USD / $500 CAD. That is an incredible price for such a lightweight, fully-rigid boot so I have high hopes that these will perform as well as the specs say they should!

Mammut also has a new three-season boot, the Kento High GTX, which will come in Men’s and Women’s versions. This is your classic mountaineering boot with a leather upper, Gore-Tex lining, a Michelin-rubber sole with climbing zone and rear welt for semi-auto crampon compatibility. Weight is claimed at 624 grams for a size 43.5, and MSRP is USD $249 or $329 CAD. Not quite sure how Mammut is making such light, technical footwear at those prices but I won’t complain!

Moving on, there will be a lot of rock shoes hitting the shelves in 2018! Let’s look at them alphabetically:

Black Diamond

This is of course the public launch of Black Diamond’s rock shoe line, and they’re hitting hard with a full Men’s and Women’s lineup. The highlight is BD’s Engineered Knit Technology upper, a soft, stretchy material that provides exceptional breathability. Another unique feature — that is actually shared with Butora, who manufacture all the shoes for BD — is the injection molded outsole, whereby the entire sole from toe to heel cup is made in one piece for better fit and reduced delamination.

First up are the Momentum and Momentum Lace, neutral-lasted shoes designed with all-day comfort in mind. The entire upper is knit fabric and feels exceptionally soft and comfortable — I think these will be some of the most breathable shoes out there, ideal for long days in the height of summer or cragging at a busy gym. The rubber is 4.3mm NeoFriction built with durability in mind. The Momentum has a two-strap Velcro closure and uses a soft-flex midsole for enhanced sensitivity. The Momentum comes in Men’s, Women’s and Kids’ versions, and will be priced at $90 USD ($60 kids’) or $120 CAD ($80 kids’). The Momentum Lace is, obviously, a lace-up with a medium flex midsole for additional all-day support. There’s a Men’s and Women’s version, priced at $80 USD or $110 CAD. (Both styles of shoe will be available early this fall exclusively at REI, with a complete launch in Spring 2018.)

Next up in the BD lineup is the Aspect, billed as a trad-climbing shoe. It uses slightly stiffer 4.3mm NeoFriction Edge rubber for better performance on small edges, and a full leather upper for durability when torquing in cracks. The tongue is knit fabric for breathability. There are also cool stabilizer rands on each side to prevent your foot from shifting when stuck sideways into a crack — a nice touch. The medium-flex midsole and neutral last should provide all-day comfort. MSRP will be $140 USD or $$184 CAD. The Aspect is a unisex shoe.

The Focus is a bit more aggressive, with a moderately downturned last and stickier 4.3mm NeoFriction Force rubber. The upper is all leather, with a knit fabric tongue and lateral rands for stability. It also has a hemp liner for no-stretch fit and odour reduction. Two Velcro straps keep your foot secure, and there’s a cool bit of ‘printed rubber’ over the toes for hooking friction. There’s a Men’s and Women’s version, and MSRP is $175 USD or $230 CAD.

Last up is the super aggressive Shadow, ominously available only in a black/grey colour scheme. It’s a pull-on slipper with a single Velcro strap, with a downturned last and additional rubber molding over the toes. 4.3mm NeoFriction Fuse rubber is extra-sticky, and of course there’s that knit tongue for enhanced breathability. Unisex only, and USD will be $180 or $240 CAD.

Butora

Butora makes some cool shoes, and is unique in that they are the only company I know of to offer shoes in a Narrow and a Wide last. The Narsha is a super-soft single-velcro slipper designed for bouldering and overhanging routes. Utilizing Butora’s softest NeoFriction Fuse rubber, the entire sole of the shoe is injection molded for a precise fit and to minimize risk of delamination. There’s generous rubber over the toes, and a really cool internal strap system to suck the empty air out from around the toes for a no-slip fit. Like other Butora shoes, they’ll come in Wide and Tight fits. I’ve totally forgotten pricing, but expect around $200 for the high performance (I’ll update this as soon as I hear back from Butora).

Well, I seem to remember the Narsha as being soft, but Splitterchoss has actually used them and posted this comment: “the Narsha is actually very stiff, not “super-soft” as stated above. In fact I’d say it’s the stiffest high performance shoe I’ve ever worn, on par with the Five Ten Verdon and the like.” Thanks!

Evolv

The General is an all-day trad shoe designed with comfort and protection in mind. Trax XE rubber provides a solid edging platform, while the high leather upper completely covers the ankles for maximum protection when wedged into cracks. The slightly downturned last pushes power to the toes, which are protected with a rubber toe cap. A cotton liner ensures no-stretch fit over the lifetime of the shoe.

The X1 is a medium volume, downturned shoe designed for overhanging climbs in the gym or at the crag. A really thin 0.6mm midsole provides sensitivity while the 4.2mm Trax SAS rubber offers maximum friction. Single velcro strap makes for easy on/off and a huge patch over the toes aids with toe hooking. Pretty sweet shoes.

Five Ten

The Anasazi Pro is basically the Anasazi VCS with a few key changes: there’s a large Mi6 rubber patch over the toes (Five Ten’s stickiest rubber), the Velcro straps and tongue have been redesigned slightly for better breathability, and the upper is unlined for a softer, more precise fit. There will be a Men’s and Women’s version and they’ll come in at $170 USD ($5 more than the Anasazi VCS.)

La Sportiva

La Sportiva introduces two Women’s versions of their existing shoes: the Futura and the Skwama. Both are very popular shoes and transfer over to the Women’s version unchanged, other than a Women’s-specific lower-volume last.

The Cobra makes a return, in the form of the Cobra Eco. The Cobra comes back in the same downturned slipper format for excellent sensitivity, and utilizes Sportiva’s own Frixion ECO rubber, which is made from rubber recycled during the production process. The whole shoe is made of 85% recycled components and uses metal-free tanning and water-based glues during the construction. Very cool. It’s a unisex shoe and MSRP will be $140 USD.

Targeting the gym market, the Geckogym has a non-marking sole and is also fully machine-washable. It has a straight, neutral last with a 1.8mm midsole and 5mm Frixion XF rubber. The synthetic outer is breathable and designed for repeated washes, secured with two velcro straps. There’s a Men’s and Women’s version and USD will be $110 — a great price for an entry-level or rental-fleet shoe!

Scarpa

There are two (well, technically, four) new shoes coming from Scarpa: the Maestro and Maestro Mid, both in Men’s and Women’s specific lasts.

The Maestro Mid is another addition to the seemingly crowded (in Spring 2018 anyway) trad shoe market. A mid-height leather shoe with a neutral, slightly downturned last it uses 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber for great edging performance and long-term durability. The leather upper is made using eco-friendly processes and is extended over the tongue for lace protection. It is also the first mid-height trad shoe that will come in a Women’s specific last. MSRP in USD will be $190 and $240 in CAD.

The Maestro is basically the same shoe except for a lower cut around the ankle and a slightly more aggressive rand that transfers more power to the toes. Same last, rubber and leather as the Mid, otherwise, and they’ll come in a Women’s specific version as well. USD $180 and CAD $230.

Moving on in footwear, La Sportiva is adding a leather version of the TX2 and Scarpa is updating the Crux with a more streamlined upper for better durability.

Five Ten will also introduce the Sleuth Slip On Knit, a versatile-looking shoe that is in their casual/bike lineup but looks to be a perfect fit as a crag and easy approach shoe. The sole is super sticky Micro-Dotty tread, and the synthetic upper is woven for a comfortable, sock-like fit. Though it doesn’t look it, the upper does hold your foot in place very well and the sole is incredibly tacky. At a claimed 308-grams they’re light enough to clip to your pack on multi-pitch routes, or to pack along for camp use on overnights. $80 USD and availability is slated to be February 2018.

That’s about it for footwear from this OR — check back tomorrow for the next report!

2 thoughts on “Summer OR 2017: Footwear

  1. splitterchoss says:

    Great coverage you guys, thanks! One note, the Narsha is actually very stiff, not “super-soft” as stated above. In fact I’d say it’s the stiffest high performance shoe I’ve ever worn, on par with the Five Ten Verdon and the like.

    • Raf says:

      Thanks for the details, especially the hands-on, er, feet-on, feedback, I’ll incorporate it into the post.

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