This medium-stiff, lined and padded shoe strikes a balance between being comfortably supportive, yet not so stiff it feels like an ironing board. It's a great everyman's shoe, one that forgives sloppy footwork and shores up feet that are too weak to optimize slippers or soft shoes. The Boreal Joker is one of the top picks for multi-pitch face routes where you stand hard on your feet, such as those at Tuolumne or Red Rock, and vertical(ish) techy crags such as Smith, Shelf Road and the Gunks. A sliver of foam sandwiched in the heel takes the sting out of heel-first bouldering landings, and adds a smidge of comfort for hiking and descents. Fit is typical Boreal: wide throughout and high volume. The Joker debuts Boreal's new FS-Quattro rubber, which they say, is the stickiest rubber ever produced by Boreal. Indeed, the new compound is stickier, gripping slightly better than the old in friction-board tests. e-boreal.com
BETA: Comfortable all-arounder that excels on edgy, technical face routes. Ideal for climbers with mediocre footwork or weak feet.