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Climbing Shoes

Five Ten Southwest

We loved this shoe. It's comfortable but not clunky -- and has more edging power than Bode Miller's skis. One secret is the Oreo cookie-style layer of white stuff sandwiched into the sole.

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Five Ten Southwest, $139

  • Steep rock: 3 Star
  • Face climbing: 5 Star
  • Long routes: 4 Star
  • Upper: Synthetic, lined
  • Rubber: 4.2mm Stealth C4 (sole);
  • 4.2mm Stealth HF (heel).

We loved this shoe. It’s comfortable but not clunky — and has more edging power than Bode Miller’s skis. One secret is the Oreo cookie-style layer of white stuff sandwiched into the sole. Unlike regular midsoles, which end a fraction of an inch from the inside and outside edges of the sole, the Southwest’s proprietary stiff-rubber midsole, christened the DEP (Dime Edge Platform), extends flush to the perimeter, buttressing your edges. The DEP also has unidirectional stiffness. Witness how the sole of the forefoot is rigid from outstep to instep, yet accommodatingly flexible from heel to toe. This is pretty much the Holy Grail of rock-shoe design: great performance on edges and smears! Did I mention that the serrated heel cup hooks great on overhangs, and the supportive, fully lined uppers will cozy your feet on long routes, too?

+ Best face-climbing shoe.

– Expensive.