By Greg Chapman
Almost as striking in both form and colour as the eponymous gorge itself, the Five Ten Verdon is a rock shoe which stands apart from its contemporaries. Developed using an entirely new last shape, the Verdon aims to provide precision edging, adaptability across terrains and out-of-the-box comfort in a single package. The shoe resides within the upper echelons of the ‘Moderate’ section of Five Ten’s three climbing categories, alongside the longstanding and highly versatile Anasazi range. Five Ten Moderate Series (website description): “With their slightly downturned toes and medium heel tension, the models in this line are ideal for technical single and multiple pitch climbs where you need performance move after move. The shape is gently asymmetric for ramped up toe-power without compromising comfort.”
In many ways the Verdon is akin to the Anasazi Pink in terms of general spec and technicality, however it offers a wholly different fit and is also by far the stiffest offering in the Five Ten range - even stiffer than the Anasazi White. The upper of the shoe combines a split leather outer with a Clarino (synthetic suede) lining, a combination which allows enough stretch for a customised fit without letting the shoe ‘bag out’ too much. I found the shoe stretched perhaps half size within a handful of sessions (this will vary on how tight you fit the shoe) but then held its shape for much of the rest of its lifespan. One thing I particularly like about the Clarino lining is its performance in hot climates or conditions. In these situations, the pulling on and off of rock shoes can take its toll on the feet, as softened, sweaty skin can become grazed against the often quite abrasive surface of some other rock shoe lining materials. The Clarino has an almost micro fleece like texture and even when moist does not drag the skin when frequently pulling one's shoes on and off.
The base of the Verdon comes armed with 5mm of Five Ten’s classic Stealth C4 rubber, the most adaptable and versatile compound used by the brand and one that needs no further hype from me. Interestingly, the midsole is currently unique in using a thermoplastic compound combined with moulded EVA. This production method is designed so that the shoe fills in the dead space of the foot’s natural curves, supporting your bone and muscle structure as well as holding an edge throughout the usable life of the product. To the latter I can certainly confirm it performs as advertised. In fact if edging and/or precision pocket footwork is your bag then this is certainly a shoe worth consideration. The lacing system is a traditional set-up which performs perfectly adequately, whilst the tongue utilises the drilled, mesh covered foam seen in many of the brand’s newer models. This is extremely comfortable and certainly aids with breathability in warmer climes. Finally, two chunky pull tabs combine perfectly with the silky Clarino lining to make pulling the shoes on and off a breeze, no matter how tight they've been fitted.
As previously stated the fit of the Verdon is quite novel. I would liken it to a hybrid of the Anasazi and Dragon lasts, although this is only a rough approximation. In truth, the Verdon truly has a last and fit of its own. Whilst extremely pointy, the toe box isn’t overly narrow and throughout the shoe has plenty of volume and a deep heel cup. This means there is a fair amount of tension on the achilles, which I like but may put some climbers off. Unlike many ‘pointy’ shoes I’ve used in the past, Five Ten have somehow managed to retain the ability for the shoe to edge… and it does this really well! Whilst most at home on vertical to steep pocketed and edgey ground, generally speaking it fits into the modern performance all-rounder genre - performing admirably across a range of styles and angles well into the upper grades. The Verdon is also an extremely durable rock shoe, which is something I feel has become more and more relevant with ever increasing prices. Sizing I’ve read another review stating that the Verdon is small fitting. Personally I would disagree with this, at least within the confines of the Five Ten range. I dropped half size from what I would normally wear in Anasazis.
Overall I really liked the Verdon. It offers superb all-round performance and stands up well to heavy use. That said, I can imagine the last shape of the shoe being something of a Marmite issue, with some climbers loving it and others not. Whilst it certainly is usable out-of-the-box, due to the hefty sole unit it did take a little wearing in before I considered using it on very small edges, but this is more a consideration than a criticism and once worn it functions well in this regard. Essentially a great addition to the market, importantly offering something different which, if compatible with your feet, can accommodate everyone from the boulderer to multi-pitch climber - dependent on how it is fitted.