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What's your ideal trad shoe?

Original Post
Jess Arnold · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 272

Heyo,

Doing some user research for one of my design courses to begin rendering and perhaps prototyping a long-day specific climbing shoe. Pretty much just want to hear what you love (or despise) about your current pair, whether it's a well-loved set of TCs, Astromans, Moccasyms, Generals... or none of the above. I've just about worn out/loved my TCs to death and have some super nitpicky design points I've gathered over the years (rubber peels at toe-bend area, the tongue has a tendency to bunch up near the bottom, etc.) but I'm interested to hear what others have to say about their current, or ideal, pair of slippers.

Things to consider, if you're keen on sharing:

What makes a good trad shoe, in your experience?

If you had to change one thing about your current pair, what would it be?

Do you want more or less rubber on the side paneling?

Would you consider buying a pair of trad shoes that had an internal lacing system or "wraparound" closure system?

Are aesthetics important?

How high should the ankle be, if at all? 

How aggressive should an all-day shoe be? Should you be able to walk a difficult approach in them?

What materials do you like, or would you like to see, in a pair of climbing shoes?

For those with foot issues, how would you like your shoes to be changed? (i.e. bone spurs, blisters, weirdly shaped feet, etc.)

Etc, etc.

Pretty interested to hear what folks have to say, as I think shoes may be one of our most important pieces of equipment, especially when it comes to longer climbing objectives - and considering how much time we spend in them. Thanks in advance.

Adam Smith · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 45

Didn't read the whole thing but I like my 5.10 Anasazi lace ups and moccs

Dylan Pike · · Sandy, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 196

I really like the astromans. Split, padded tongue and a padded Achilles area. High top is nice but not necessary. I'd say if you are going to have one shoe for trad, make it a high top. I think some kind of abrasion resistant lace would be cool. Dyneema doesn't knot well, but I'm sure some engineer could come up with a more abrasion resistant lace material.

Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 389

Scarpa Techno X
discontinued pricing, so I bought a spare pare at 1/2 off ($77.50), then couldn't pass up another NOS pair off ebay for $50
So, buying 3 pairs for about the retail price of TC Pros - that's an ideal trad shoe for me. Why resole, when I can buy a whole new pair for $20 more and they'll be fresh and stiff again.

Ideal = cheap, like me  ;)

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 841

My ideal trad shoe disappeared from the market almost 10 years ago, it was the 5.10 Galileo.  It had some sort of magic formula where there was almost no heel tension, but the toes were tight and i could edge and face climb great in them.  Now, this had drawbacks.  They were near useless in a heel hook, you could pull right out.  And rather than high tension keeping your toes forward, the toebox had alot of volume to it but was kept short... like an anasazi with more height.. so the toes were realy curled up. Where most shoes have the tensioned heel rand pull down towards the arch, they pulled further forward, around the ball of the foot, and the little tension there was was spread across the entire heel, not just high up at the Achilles tendon.  This gave it edging and face climbing prowess and the comfort to wear them all day long.  Not good for thin cracks at all, or for cracks in general really, but man they feel secure on face holds.

I get a bursa and a little bit of a spur on my heel at my Achilles, and that shoe makes my feet happy.  I can't find anything to replace it. Anything new that's not painful on my heel feels like crap on face holds in comparison.

Anon Neemus · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2019 · Points: 0

im on my fifth pair of moccs... 

rees labree · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 299

moccs but not sucky

BenJamN · · Washington State · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 140

Mocs are great but so are others.
Depends on your foot size, ability and tenacity.
Find something comfy that doesn’t hurt tooo bad when torqued in a crack.
I’ve liked scarpa, boreal & 5.10 for decades; la spotivas don't fit my feet as well. I want  to check out Tenayas and the shoe company that spun off five ten. 

Cpn Dunsel · · Over There, But Well Hidden · Joined Jan 2003 · Points: 135

The original 5.10 Lynx.
La Sportiva Mythos

Snow Flake · · Salt Lake City · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Something with an adjustable toebox shape. We don't all have a narrow forefoot with a pointy big toe.  I'm not sure how that would work, but I believe in you.

Artem Vasilyev · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 80

The Evolv General is my perfect trad shoe. It is stiff/springy enough to perform very well on hard sport/face climbing and is padded enough to crush cracks. I've only had 1 or 2 painful jams, ever, in those shoes.

I like a ton of support in my shoes, so the slingshot rand being tight in the generals is whats huge for me. I can heel hook, toe hook, edge effortlessly on tiny patina ripples, and also boulder hard in them.  The TC pros are just a tiny bit too floppy in the midsole on my foot no matter how much I downsize (I know others swear by the TC pro, and for good reason - but it's simply not supportive enough for me, my big toe is prone to hyperextension which is painful and takes forever to recover from).

Personally, I don't want a shoe I can keep on my foot all day - I have the opinion that this is impossible to do without compromising on performance, even if just a little bit. I pop my heels out at every belay and this method works well for keeping my feet fresh and ready to send. 

Doctor Drake · · San Francisco · Joined May 2018 · Points: 85
TL;DR
TC/Miura/Mocc combo.

Seems like the OP is asking for the qualities of your favorite all-day trad shoe, not the name of existing shoes...

Here's my take: as someone who climbs regularly on long granite routes in the Sierras (smearing, microedging, CRAK, stemming), Gunks roofs (edging, toeing in, heel hooking), and more adventurey alpine style climbs, these are the things I value in my shoes and what I want in my dream shoe.

1) Comfort: I want to be able to wear them all day, without taking them off, and still be comfortable (my TCs do this well). Obviously you have to size them accordingly.

2) Stiffness: stepping on small pebbles in the Gunks or microedges on granite feels way better when my shoes and the front of the toebox are super stiff, means that I don't have to rely 
solely ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) on my foot muscles to activate the shoe into the hold. If I'm climbing all day, I don't want to have to try hard on every foothold

3) Padding: okay maybe I'm a baby, but a padded tongue and sides make jamming sooo comfy (TCs do great for me). I also appreciate the ankle protection that some shoes provide as well.

I've noticed with my old pair of Miura laces that they have a long, thin toebox, kind of like the Moccs, which feels excellent for jamming finger and tips cracks. It seems like it would be a difficult engineering challenge, but I would love a pair of shoes that have the toebox stiffness of the TCs that is long and thin like the Miuras and Moccs for more foot jamming versatility.

Other things that I would value are a heel cup that fits my foot exactly...not like the garbage heels 5.10 makes.

Or just make a custom last for my foot. Thanks.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 212

I think a lot of people (and shoe manufacturers) stereotype about trad climbing, but really for me it depends on the rock more than the protection options.  E.g if I’m climbing on thin edges I want a stiff edging shoe like a Miura or Blanco, vs smearing on slab I’ll wear Moccs or pure cracks TC Pros.

Christopher Smaling · · Yosemite, CA · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 10

My ideal shoe for a hard single pitch trad redpoint would be application specific.  Thin cracks = moccs, slabs = tc pros, steep stuff = whatever sport climbing shoe.

For all day shoes, compromises must be made.  If you're climbing a bunch of pitches on top of one another, it's got to be comfortable.  However, if there's a couple of hard pitches in there and you really want to be able to stand on the itty bitties, you need something that performs really well (which will also typically be too uncomfortable to do tons of milage in).  For me, the most important characteristic in an all-day trad shoe isn't how stiff it is or what rubber is on the shoe (though these things can help), but how well the shoe fits my foot.  A shoe that actually fits the shape of my foot can be worn tighter than an ill fitting shoe and still be more comfortable.  Learning about the different shoe lasts definitely helped me narrow down what shoes worked for me...

My quiver consists of two different sizes of TC pros (tight for hard stuff, and the other pair big enough to be worn with thick socks), moccs, and scarpa instinct velcro for sporty stuff. 

John Clark · · San Francisco · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 477

Moccs, they keep performing, so I keep wearing em.
But I also have TC Bros for hard single pitch and anasazi pros for when the going gets scary

Cam Hook · · Portland · Joined May 2015 · Points: 95

Pinks and TC pros sized accordingly for all day comfort. I prefer the pinks unless I need to jam my foot for extended periods. TCs if I need/want more padding for jamming comfort and Pinks for slab, face. 

Chris Kalman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240

This will never happen because it would look ridiculous... but if it did, I think it would be a game changer.

Do for climbing shoes what Birkenstock did for sandals.

Namely, match the ACTUAL shape of the foot in an ergonomic position. That means somewhat trapezoidal, laughably wide in the toe box.

5.10 KIND of did this with the Prizm, and then the Newton... both of which were great shoes.

If you could make a hi-top with all the design features of the TC PRO, but make the toebox more ergonomic... I think you'd have a winning shoe. But probably nobody would buy it for the same reason that many people did not buy the original Petzl Sirocco penis-head helmet. It just doesn't look good, and too many climbers are more interested in fashion than function.

Pete.N · · Santa Cruz, CA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 26
Jess Arnold wrote: 
What makes a good trad shoe, in your experience?
Good all-round performance (handles slab, crack and face acceptably) coupled with some degree of comfort--maybe not all day comfort, but something so that you can handle keeping your shoes on for at least a couple pitches.

If you had to change one thing about your current pair, what would it be?
One thing? I'd make my Katana laces into mid- or high tops...I realize that this more or less is the TC Pro, but I've yet to find a modern shoe that equaled my Boreal Aces for general performance. The Aces, in particular, edged far better than my Katanas. It's been a while but I remember the crack performance as being roughly comparable, but maybe that's a bit like absence and the heart and all that...


Do you want more or less rubber on the side paneling?
Katanas are fine


Would you consider buying a pair of trad shoes that had an internal lacing system or "wraparound" closure system?
Not sure what this is


Are aesthetics important?
Not really, but I'm sure they could be designed in such a way that I'd be reluctant to buy them!


How high should the ankle be, if at all? 
Mid height. TC Pros look about right.


How aggressive should an all-day shoe be? Should you be able to walk a difficult approach in them?
All-day shoe isn't necessarily the same as an ideal trad shoe! I'd say an all-day shoe can't be particularly aggressive or it ceases to be an all-day shoe. At least in my experience.


What materials do you like, or would you like to see, in a pair of climbing shoes?
Leather. All this fake stuff smells bad and performs worse. Again, in my experience.


For those with foot issues, how would you like your shoes to be changed? (i.e. bone spurs, blisters, weirdly shaped feet, etc.)
I sometimes have issues with the heel putting inordinate amounts of pressure on my achilles tendon. This can become excruciating. My old Aces were reasonably comfortable for several seasons, but became extremely painful. I don't know if this was due to the shoe breaking down (no obvious evidence) or changes in my feet.


Etc, etc.

Pretty interested to hear what folks have to say, as I think shoes may be one of our most important pieces of equipment, especially when it comes to longer climbing objectives - and considering how much time we spend in them. Thanks in advance.

I agree. No other piece of equipment is so consistently critical to the climbing experience. 

Sam X · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 30

Depends on the climbing. Moccs are great for slab/easy all day trad without any serious edging, but unfortunately the quality control has gone to shit since Adidas. For most all around  trad I like TC pros, they are so popular for a reason. 5.10 Pinks are great too.

Chad Miller · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 150

Stiff with a wide toe box and some padding over the toe knuckles. 

Chris Duca · · Downingtown, PA · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 2,095

I’ve really been liking the 5.10 Quantum Velcros.    

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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