Tulson Tolf is a new brand to appear in the U.S. market and while they may sound like purveyors of Scandanavian wood-fired saunas, or possibly something to do with arboriculture, they are in fact a Spanish company making a range of climbing shoes and accessories, and specializing in alpine climbing, running and rock scrambling. As the go-to choice for a number of Euro alpine wads, including World Record mountain runner Killian Jornet, we took a look at some of their of performance trad shoes to see what the fuss was all about. Suffice to say, we were pleasantly surprised.
There are three versions of the performance trad shoe, catering to various preferences and applications and all available in both men’s and women’s models, with the women’s version being built around a slightly narrower last and having a slightly lower lacing system.
The standard Trad model is stiff, with a very slight downturn and a comfortable antibacterial sock liner. These shoes are comfortable and an excellent choice for long meandering rock routes. If you desire even more support and extra edging power, the Trad XHard—which may have the stiffest sole of any climbing shoe we’ve ever tried—might be more up your alley. If you need shoes with which to venture into the chilly alpine (or if you just like to wear socks) both the Trad and Trad XHard are available as Invernal models that have a cosy built-in thermal sock. Need we say more?!
We were able to test both the Trad XHard model and the Trad Invernal and were seriously impressed by the all-day support on long trad routes and excellent edging capability. On both models, the sole under the toe box is seriously stiff—particularly so on the Trad XHard model—while the midsole has some flexibility. The result? You can stand comfortably on tiny edges for multiple minutes while wiggling in gear without wishing you’d done more calf raises in the gym. When you do start moving again you can do so with confidence, as the Vibram rubber feels precise and sticky, even on miniscule crystals and edges. As with any stiff shoe, by gaining support you compromise some sensitivity but you quickly learn to trust that these shoes will stick, even if you can’t feel the tiny nuggets that they’re on.
The shoes also have a soft and comfortable sock-like microfiber inner, which hugs the foot like a slipper. Then, of course, there are the actual socks on the Invernal models. How many times have you thought, “Hell, I’d love it if my shoes had a built-in sock”? Well Tulson Tolf have taken that idea and seen it through to fruition. The result is mega. The sock is super soft and allows you to keep the chilly mountain air at bay without having to wear full socks—which often render shoes uncomfortably tight, sweaty and make anyone look like a punter (if you care about that kind of thing).
A word of caution now: Tulson Tolf is a European brand and so uses European sizes first and foremost. It seems that their conversion to U.S. and U.K. sizes is a touch out of whack, so we’d recommend using the E.U. size as a guide. Furthermore, because of the stiffness of these shoes it would be wise to opt for your street shoe size, or even half a size bigger, to optimize comfort. Performance won’t be compromised and the lace-up closure system will enable you to tighten to suit your foot, anyway. It is worth noting that, as with most stiff shoes, these trad models have a break-in time to reach optimum comfort, but they’re not prohibitively uncomfortable straight out of the box.
In short, the Trad, Trad XHard and Invernal models are highly recommended and really come into their own on alpine granite and limestone.
Now available in the U.S.!
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