Saltic Vampire, $115
Steep rock: 3.5 Star
Face climbing: 2.5 Star
Long routes: 1.5 Star
Upper: Synthetic, unlined
Rubber: 3mm Saltic rubber
This year everyone is trying to make them: moderately sporty, moderately stiff Velcro shoes (see Montrail Zealot, Red Chili X-Cube, La Sportiva Tora, Evolv Kaos, Acopa Aurora, et al.). The Vampire is one of the better entries in this hyper-competitive category. With a lightweight build and lots of forward tension from a slingshot heel, it works well on steep rock. Yet with a flat, medium stiffness sole and cambered last it performs decently on vertical terrain, too. The Vampire’s performance and styling (including telltale features like round, multi-directional Velcro patches) bear more than a passing resemblance to La Sportiva’s Katana. Unlike the Katana, the Vampire features a synthetic upper that resists stretch. A generous swath of rubber atop the big toe and a low-profile toe box make the Vampire a good choice for thin cracks. This shoe is a good compromise for technical terrain both vertical and overhanging, although it doesn’t have the teeth for long routes.
+ Good all-around performance on technical terrain.
– More-specialized models give better steep-rock or face-climbing performance.