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Climbing Shoes

Five Ten Prism

I've worn various climbing shoes and wished that they were better at this or that -- heel hooks, dime edges, smearing and so on. But I've never donned a shoe and thought, I wish these shoes would outside edge better.

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Price $139, www.fiveten.com, 4 1/2 stars

I’ve worn various climbing shoes and wished that they were better at this or that — heel hooks, dime edges, smearing and so on. But I’ve never donned a shoe and thought, I wish these shoes would outside edge better.

So it was with skepticism that I tested the new Five Ten Prism, a shoe created to master this rather unglamorous foot position. The shoe’s patented design took Five Ten years to perfect, and the result is a chiseled toe that presents optimal angles for all-around edging.

At first, placing the flat outer edge required some precision, but once I became comfortable with the funky edge, it bolstered my back-stepping confidence.

By itself, this one innovation in outside edging wouldn’t be enough to win me over — the fact that the Prism is one of Five Ten’s most comfortable models is where the shoe really shines. The Prism’s heel cup doesn’t dig into my Achilles; its sensitivity makes for a better heel-hooker, too. Its semi-asymmetrical design vacuum packs my foot, leaving zero dead space.

I could feel micro-holds really well in the Prism. I thought it was a bit too soft for sustained technical edging, and have preferred to use the shoe for steeper routes and bouldering. If Five Ten took the stiffness and support of the Anasazi line and slapped it on the Prism, but kept the Prism’s soft heel cup, I’d be psyched.

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