When it comes to climbing shoes, I’m pretty high maintenance about comfort. It’s hard enough to trust my feet, let alone when they are shrieking in pain. I’ve got a low tolerance for long break-in periods, but want the performance of an aggressive shoe. Add to the equation that I’ve got small, flat, and wide feet which makes sizing in women’s shoes (which tend to be narrower) a challenge. Enter the Five Ten Team VXi. Before trying these on, I’d never fallen in love with a climbing shoe a mere week after trying them on. They aren’t an everyday shoe, but are a worthwhile addition to your climbing shoe arsenal for optimal performance on slick indoor holds and slabby routes.
Fit: Despite a variety of opinions on the Internet regarding appropriate downsizing, I ended up going only one size down from my street shoe and don’t regret it. They fit like a glove, and my only criticism is that the heel cup is a bit shallow and thin, which forces really exact placement for heel hook success. There is only one velcro strap across the top of the shoe, but the form-fitting nature of the shoes makes the strap almost unnecessary.
Form: The shoes are a great lime green color with light blue details. After a few long days in the Red River Gorge, they took on more of a dusty hue and lost their neon green pop. They are also extremely lightweight, weighing in at 10 ounces, one of the lightest shoes around.
Function: These shoes are not your all-around shoe. I’ve found that they either work really well or really poorly, depending on the type of rock. I have a hard time trusting my feet on friction slab and tiny edges, and found these shoes to be incomparable in performance with their soft, gummy soles made of Stealth Mi6 rubber. They were also fantastic on the grimiest, slickest foot chips in the gym. I’ve never climbed with shoes this soft before, so it definitely took some getting used to. On longer, overhung routes, I’ve found that the muscles in the arch of my foot were sore from being able to grip better with my toes. I was really pleased with their performance on soft sandstone at the Red, but found them to be way too thin and soft for the sharp schist at Rumney. So far, these have been my go-to shoes for indoor and outdoor bouldering, with select use in slabby or really overhung sport climbs.
Finances: The Teams are definitely performance shoes with a performance price. They come in at around $185, but you can search around for deals online. If it’s any consolation, these shoes don’t wear out as fast as you’d think, so you can get a good amount of use out of them before it’s time for a resole.
Crush Status: Soft, sensitive, and specialized, these shoes are great for performance climbing, if you’re willing to shell out for them.