These are a great shoe for the price-if they fit your feet correctly.
I really wanted to like this shoe. I spent 3 months and as many different size shoes trying to like this shoe. Unfortunately, the fit just is not right for me. I ended up moving to another shoe for my winter gym sessions due to problems with the fit. As mentioned in my original review of these shoes, fit is often a problem for me-apparently my feet are rather oddly shaped.
These are absolutely fantastic budge climbing shoes. The list of things I like about these shoes is far more extensive than essentially the one (huge) con I found (the fit).
- Value for Price: These shoes retail at only $89.95. For similarly priced shoes, you often end up with a lower performance shoe. Overall, I was pleased with the performance of these shoes
- Breatheability: While these shoes caused me immense amounts of pain due to their fit, the breatheability was fantastic. My feet stayed dry even on strenuous routes. It was really disappointing when I put my smelly sweaty leather shoes back on.
- Grip: The rubber on these shoes is great. I was just as confident in my foot hold on the wall in these as I was in shoes that cost twice as much. I am a huge fan of the NeoFriction rubber.
- Looks: Yup, I did get comments on these shoes. "Ohh those look comfy!" "Woah, weird shoes, cool though!" etc.
- Overall comfort: If these fit, and my feet did not inevitably slide forward and smash my toes to smithereens, the overall comfort would be fantastic. Others have stated they are comfortable out of the box. Unfortunately, that was not my experience.
- Versatility: Bouldering, slabs, edging, cracks, these took whatever I could throw at them. They might not be the best at everything, but for my skill level, it wasn't the shoes that held me back from whatever route I was trying to send.
I only found one con for these shoes: the fit. I tried to find the right fit for me. Unfortunately, this shoe is just not made for my foot.
I tried the three sizes that I typically wear in footwear: 40.5, 41, and 41.5. The fit on these shoes just isn't for me. The 40.5 was about the correct width for my long and narrow feet but ended up smashing my toes in an extremely painful way that one might expect from a brand new aggressive climbing shoe. After having to rip these off my feet after my first session on the wall because it felt like my feet were being attacked by a swarm of angry bees, I promptly exchanged these for a half size up.
The 41 probably should have fit. It was a decent compromise between being not too wide and decently long. When I tapped my heel on the ground and seated my foot in the heel cup, these shoes were comfortable. Unfortunately, as soon as I started climbing, my heel would come out of its cozy heel cup and my toes would smash into the front. This caused my toes to feel like pins and needles while climbing and caused me to develop callouses on the tops of my big toes where they got curled up by the small toe box. I don't exactly expect a comfy gym shoe to cause me to develop callouses. It was so bad that my feet were in absolute revolt; even after removing the offending shoes, taking a day off, and going back to the gym and wearing my broken in and relatively comfortable LaSportiva Katanas, my toes still hurt. Putting any climbing shoe on my foot caused immediate sympathy pain. After hearing from others who are trying this shoe that their shoes were comfortable, I decided to exchange these after two months and try another half size up.
Unfortunately, the 41.5 did not do the trick. The heel cup issue was worse. I clearly had the room I needed in these shoes. However, regardless of how I tightened the two Velcro straps, my heel inevitably still slid out of the heel cup and my toes smashed into the front. My toes still felt like pins and needles were stabbing them even on the simplest of routes. I gave these shoes about a month to prove themselves. Still, they did not accommodate my feet. To make matters worse, they were clearly too wide for my feet. I had to cinch the Velcro very tight, careful to make sure the extra fabric in the shoe did not bunch. There was nothing I could do about the wide toe box though. Despite the room in the width, my toes still felt smashed. While it only felt like a dozen angry bees were assaulting my foot, after a month, I called it quits. Sizing up again would be too big.
Long story short, these shoes just don't fit my feet.
I realize these shoes are synthetic, but I anticipated a slight break in. I didn't expect them to stretch-not even to a half size. I did expect them to mold to my foot some. I found that what I got out of the box was what I got after a month of use. The good news is, that if they fit well at the store, you can expect them to fit the same in a few months. Unfortunately, if you can't find the right fit at the store, "good enough" probably won't work later after a "break in"-or apparent lack there of.
As far as durability, I can still only speculate. Since I climbed in my first pair of shoes for about two months and then my second pair for only about a month, I can't say with any confidence that yes, these will stand up to years of abuse. I can vouch that aside from the paint on the metal loop that the Velcro straps go through being worn off by my crack climbing, these shoes show essentially no signs of wear. The rubber and uppers have held up well. The shoes look essentially brand new still.
These shoes performed well with a variety of climbing styles. I was surprised at their ability to perform well in the cracks at the gym. I have bouldered, smeared, slabbed it, and edged in these shoes. I did not find the shoes to be the limiting factor in my climbing. I.e. I climbed the same difficulty in these shoes as in my shoes that cost twice as much.