My first outing with the Gambits was to my local bouldering gym, and I marveled as I ran laps in these luxuriously comfy shoes. The Gambit, with its reasonably stiff, non-aggressive, low-tension design, is definitely not for steep, aggressive bouldering. But then again, it’s not pretending to be. Five Ten launched the Gambit to bridge the gap between the comfortable Rogue and the more aggressive, and extremely popular, Anasazi line, and it’s designed to be comfortable on long routes and to be an all-round shoe for beginner to intermediate climbers.
After the gym trial I tried the shoes on some local single-pitch granite. The Stealth® C4™ rubber provides that world-class Five Ten friction and the Gambit is certainly well designed for comfort and efficiency on easier terrain. As such, they would be an excellent option for low- to mid-grade grade climbers who value sensation in their toes, or those opting for mileage and who don’t require an aggressive shoe. But I wasn’t ready to confine the Gambit to the category of beginner shoe just yet, and after a short fling with the granite I took them to the desert.
Here, I am convinced, is their spiritual home.
The Gambits stick to sandstone like shit to a blanket: lay back and smear those boys to glory. Combine this wizard-level stickiness with the comfort of a non-aggressive fit that lets you can cram your feet into most any size of splitter without excessive wincing, and you have a top crack-climbing shoe.
The comfort of the Gambit is an indulgence in itself. They are worthy of all-day multi-pitch climbs, with the added bonus of a perforated Ariaprene tongue for breathability, so while your hands may be crippled, your feet feel fresh and able. This comfort doesn’t muscle in on performance though, as the narrow toe both feels secure on tiny face holds and can be tucked nicely into thin cracks, providing greater nimbleness than bulkier crack-climbing shoes. The shoelaces were vulnerable to a little wear and tear from those big bad cracks, but overall the shoe stood up well against both the elements of the desert and my somewhat ugly crack climbing technique.
The Moccasym was the Five Ten crack-climbing shoe of choice for many, but the Gambits have arrived to challenge that. I certainly will not be going back to any other shoe for sandstone cracks anytime soon.