After a couple of decades of being crammed into tight shoes, my tootsies started to complain. Toenail fungus, black nails, bruising: quiet indications of hurt and neglect. But it was only last week that they actually spoke to me, with words, to recommend Five Ten’s new Quantum.
The right big toe spoke for everyone. He said, “Jefe, you know we like soft, symmetrical, flat shoes. Why do you make us wear those pointy, banana-shaped iron maidens? Ouch. We took a vote and it’s 10 to one. No more uncomfortable shoes.
“The new Quantum,” said big toe. “That’s the type of shoe we love.”
Designed by Thomas Huber, the German ace who freed several routes on El Cap and made the first free ascent of the Eternal Flame (5.13a) on Nameless Tower in Pakistan, the Quantum is a flat, symmetrical, stiff shoe that reflects Huber’s all-around ethos.
We (my toes and I) noticed that this shoe is stiff, and sometimes you do need a little rigidity to add height for a reach or to stand on dime edges.
And the shoes fit like gloves, with no dead space, even behind the heel. They really were comfortable. Enough so for wearing all day or on big routes.
I found this shoe to be a bit too stiff for extreme smearing and bouldering, where you need to bend a flat-soled shoe and paw at features. Also, because I have a narrow foot, the slightly wider last resulted in the laces drawing almost all the way together when I cranked them tight for sending. But similar to Sportiva’s cult favorite TC Pro, the Quantum excels at cracks, multi-pitch romps and, especially, steep edging. I have to admit that just by changing into these shoes, I was able to stand on an edge and do a move that I’d tried unsuccessfully at least two dozen times. My toes and I are stoked.