Having been a long time devotee of the Five Ten brand, and more appropriately the products, I always look forward to road testing their latest offering. This enthusiasm is always heightened when the new product is a cutting edge performance offering. As such the dawn of a product like the new “Team 5.10” is always going to be a prestigious event for rock shoe fetishists the world over. This is a really niche shoe, and for those who haven't heard me beating this drum before, I'll reiterate it: these sorts of shoes are designed for those operating in the mid to higher grades and whom would generally be arriving at a crag with at least two pairs of shoes in their bag – for differing angles and styles of climbing. Therefore if you are looking for a pair of shoes to do everything, I'd suggest this isn't the shoe for you. If on the other hand you are looking for a 'foot tool' aimed toward the specifics of steep board style, bulge blasting or barrel crushing climbing, read on. The Team fits into the family of “toe-down” climbing shoes currently dominated by the likes of the Evolv Talon, Scarpa Booster, La Sportiva Solution and Five Ten Jet7, which I think it's fair to say, are all headed up by the Alpha Male of the pack, that long-standing and respected beast the Five Ten Dragon. So how does the Team compare? Well, as you would imagine the last is most similar to the Dragon and Jet7, however in terms of fit and features the Team most similarly resembles the now defunct Five Ten V10. When directly compared to the V10 the fit of the heel has been improved, although this has been seemingly achieved by leaving a small “un-rubbered” area on the inside face of the heel cup. That said, I have yet to encounter any performance reduction as a result of this rubber reducing modification, and to the contrary the improvement in heel fit makes the shoes even more solid on heel hooks and locks. Also of note is the improved application of the toe box rubber covering, which has been applied much more professionally, making it look and feel great. In an aid to improving the adjustability of the shoes a single Velcro strap (as used on the Jet7) has been incorporated into what is to all intents and purposes a slipper like construction. As with the V10 the fact that the shoes have a sealed (albeit elasticated) slipper style entrance point and are, by design, a toe down shoe, they are quite a struggle to get on out of the box, especially if you fit your shoes tight. Having said that, once on your feet the sizing is essentially identical to the Dragon, although not the Jet7, which tends to size up larger when compared with the Team or Dragon – i.e. if you are an UK7.5 in the Jet7 you will be a UK8.5 in the Team. A useful trick for hen breaking in these or any other tight shoes, is to put carrier bags on you feet first, thus decreasing the level of friction your feet pose to the narrow entrant point of the shoes. If you do this a few times, keeping the shoes on your feet for 10 minutes each time, you will find the shoes soon give out enough to eliminate the use of the bags. Image right: Five Ten athlete Mina Leslie-Wujastyk
using her Teams to good effect on 'Pendragon' (8A), Photo David Mason.
When I first got my Team's I found them a bit of a pain, just because of the hassle of getting them on and off, and really felt it unlikely that I would find them any better in use than either my Dragon's or Jet7's. However, once I had taken the time to get them worn in enough to use in anger I found that the tweaks made to the fit and feature design have really paid off, with the shoes performing awesomely on the rock. Having used the shoes for sometime now it would seem that rather than replacing either the Dragon or Jet7 these shoes complement Five Ten's toe-down range. In an aid to help your decision when purchasing, I have further categorised these 3 similar but distinct shoes:
- Dragon – The best all-rounder in terms of toe-down shoes, performing superbly on the steep arenas for which it is designed, and also working pretty well across a spectrum of angles. If you were to buy one pair of toe-down shoes, the Dragon is king.
- Jet7 – Similarly good on steep ground, however the softer mid sole and minimalist adjustment makes it a slightly less versatile shoe than the Dragon. The soft amenable upper and easy on-and-off nature of this shoe make it a great training and bouldering shoe. Also the best option for those who like out-of-the-box usability.
- Team 5.10 – To me this is the ultimate red-point shoe for steep, hard boulder problems or sport routes, with its aggressive and accurate fit working in perfect equilibrium with an all encompassing rubber clad upper, to offer maximum grab, hook and torque. Although, breaking in is required. A must for all hardcore boulderers who enjoy the steeper side of life.
If steep boards, powerful cave climbing and/or burly monkey-up-a-stick compression is your game join the Team, you won't be disappointed.... but bring your own carrier bags!
Upper: Synthetic Microfiber, Sole: Stealth Mystique - 3.5mm, Last: Slip, Triple pull tabs, Slingshot heel, Elasticated closure with Velcro strap, Fish hook midsole, 2mm Stealth Mystic toe cove.