/ Best shoes for smearing up slabs

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020

I'm looking for advice specifically on the best shoe for sticking to gritstone smears.

In some ways a simple question - which shoes have the stickiest rubber and most sensitive feel for attaching myself to smears? I'm not a beginner and don't need the 'the best shoe is the one that fits' advice. It doesn't need also to be an all-rounder shoe: I boulder in Tenaya Iatis which I love and have got me up all sorts of problems up to 7B+. I'm after that secret weapon I can pull on from time to time when I need the absolutely stickiest shoe for standing on nothing. What should be on my 'try on' list?

Thanks.

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Al Randall 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Looking at your picture and the grades you climb surely it should be you GIVING the advice not asking for it

Al

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

Thanks but I am a bit of a punter, and I don’t keep up with gear stuff. I bet there are some proper shoe nerds out there who can help me out.  

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Mr Lopez 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Sportiva Cobras. Bought 2.5 to 3 sizes down and stretched to perfection. Best when the sole is about halfway through to end of its life. Not great if standing on little nubbins unless you have a high pain tolerance in the underside of your big toe!

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

Ouch! Three sizes!? I’m into comfort as much as possible though. One of the reasons I love the Iati. It seems to have comfort and precision. I reckon there’s something stickier out there though. 

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In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Maybe something like 5/10 pinks? Stealth rubber about as good as you get. Soft flat shoe and quite thin rubber. Sensative on marginal smears.

Used them for a while myself. I rate them but they do wear out quicker than most.

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HeMa 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

LaSpo Maverink or Speedster are really good options. Better than Cobra imho. 

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Dave Garnett 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke - UKC:

I’ve always rated 5.10 rubber and it’s worked for me on grit slabs up to 6c.  I had a play toptoping on some proper granite slabs recently (5.11a to 5.11c) and where there was a problem the limitation was my fingers and leg strength, not my feet!  I like old style Anasazi Velcros, but that’s because they just fit the shape of my feet.

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Thanks all. 
I’ve got a pair of pinks, but they’re my ‘baggy’ trad shoes. I’ll check out those various La Sportivas suggested. 

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Mike505 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Tbh I find Tenaya Iati's good for slabs, xs grip 2 rubber and a soft shoe in general. From memory, I size them 1.5 -  2 sizes down from street. I found they flatten out quite quickly once broken in.

Maybe look at some of Tenaya's other offerings though? Mundaka or the Masai?

Didn't Mr Dawes pad up an 8b+ slab in a pair of Mythos last year?

Post edited at 20:10
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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Mike505:

I go about one size down in my Iatis. That’s about as much discomfort as I can handle. I’m thinking of getting some Mundakas as they seem a similar shoe but thinner, softer rubber, so more smeary... 

I’m no Dawes, hence wanting to ‘cheat’ with better shoes

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brianjcooper 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Like your photograph. I still swear by my red chilies. Even at my lowly grade.

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Wayne S 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Hi Chris,  La Sportiva Solutions with XS grip rubber work well on slabs for me despite the down turn shape. Not perhaps an obvious choice. 

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HeMa 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

If the latis fit, how about resoling then with no-edge. I did that with 5.10 quantums and like them a lot.

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to brianjcooper:

Thanks. That’s me on my one and only soft touch E4, years ago: don’t be fooled by the stats

I climbed in RC Spirits for years and years. It almost felt like cheating when I moved to Sheffield and got my first pair of pinks. ‘Oh, I’m a hard climber now!’ Haha. 

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to HeMa:

> If the latis fit, how about resoling then with no-edge. I did that with 5.10 quantums and like them a lot.

Interesting. Worth a try at a relatively low investment cost. Who did that for you? I’ve never resoled a climbing shoe before as they wear through at about the same time as the smell gets overpowering and they go in the bin. Pretty wasteful really. 

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Mike505 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Isn't there an upgraded version of the Spirits now? I think they're call Fusion's

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Mike505:

> Isn't there an upgraded version of the Spirits now? I think they're call Fusion's

I’ve not looked. As a boulderer these days, I think they may be a bit basic for my needs. I’m very happy with the Iatis as a general ‘technical’ bouldering shoe, but just want that ‘secret weapon’ sticky shoe for when the going gets thin. 

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Mike505 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Well as far as 'stick' is concerned you've just got to resolve the age old 5.10 vs Vibram rubber debate and you'll have your answer ;)

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HeMa 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I generally get one or two resoles per shoe. They do smell, but washing them in mild soap water helps every once a while.

I had my resole done by the shoedoc in Greece. The Slovenian shoedoc should also be able to do that. Just remember to send ‘em for resole before they are worn through.

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mark s 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Ive always sworn by 5.10 for hard slabs 

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In reply to Wayne S:

> Hi Chris,  La Sportiva Solutions with XS grip rubber work well on slabs for me despite the down turn shape. Not perhaps an obvious choice. 

Another vote for the solutions, and also the old Testarossas which you can still find here and there. Don’t know why, but I find downturned shoes really excellent on harder slabs

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ChrisBrooke 10 Feb 2020
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> Another vote for the solutions, and also the old Testarossas which you can still find here and there. Don’t know why, but I find downturned shoes really excellent on harder slabs

Interesting. Harder slabs as in balancing up tiny edges, or smeary ones,  (e.g. the traverse moves on Deliverance, or the shiny right foot hold on Bananafinger direct...)? As stated above, I'm not knowledgeable about 'shoe tech', but my understanding was that thinner soles on a soft, flatter shoe would be better than a downturned type 'aggressive' shoe.

Post edited at 23:03
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brianjcooper 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> Sportiva Cobras. Bought 2.5 to 3 sizes down and stretched to perfection. Best when the sole is about halfway through to end of its life. Not great if standing on little nubbins unless you have a high pain tolerance in the underside of your big toe!

Yep!  Did that, and now have a nasty painful bunion to remind me of my incorrect shoe fitting. Makes climbing harder now. Others be warned!

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Mr Lopez 10 Feb 2020
In reply to brianjcooper:

With Sportiva Cobras? You do know Sportiva sizes their shoes differently, right? For example, 38 cobras size the same as 40.5 Scarpa Stix

Post edited at 23:36
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brianjcooper 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> With Sportiva Cobras? You do know Sportiva sizes their shoes differently, right? For example, 38 cobras size the same as 40.5 Scarpa Stix

I've been around long enough to know all about shoe sizes and their variations. Stretching, shrinking etc.  Even had issues with my first pair of Woolworth pumps.   Currently have several pairs of La Sportiva shoes.

So many unnecessary crippled feet.

Post edited at 23:46
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Mr Lopez 10 Feb 2020
In reply to brianjcooper:

Fair enough, Possibly down to foot shape then. Once broken in i can wear the shoes for extended periods without discomfort or feeling crippled.

Post edited at 23:52
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brianjcooper 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

Just an old f'cker having a rant. Nothing personal. Just look after those feet.

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Dan Arkle 10 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

For a perfect full smear, you want a shoe that is so big that your toes points up, ensuring maximum rubber contact. A shoe that is correctly worn is essential - thin rubber throughout - not just at the toe- however... 

For every other hold- (even on the same route!!!) - a stiffer sole is better.

I always loved soft slippers, but now find stiffer shoes (vapour VS) better for any outside use. 

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Mr Lopez 11 Feb 2020
In reply to brianjcooper:

Ha, ha. That's what UKC is for. Good advice nonetheless

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cb294 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

For pure friction slabs I swear by my LS Katanas. Even better since I had them resoled with the soft Boreal rubber.

CB

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MischaHY 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I'm amazed no-one has mentioned the Skwama yet. It's phenomenal on slabs. 

Very flexible and soft with a comfortable fit and brilliant smearing capability. 

https://www.lasportiva.com/en/skwama 

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ChrisBrooke 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

OK, so that's:

Cobras

Pinks

Maverink

Speedsters

Anasazi VC

Mundaka

Masai

Solutions

Testarossas

Vapour VS

Katanas

Skwamas

So, basically, all the shoes..... ;) Not sure anyone's mentioned the Futura, which seems like it should be on the list.

Time to go make a nuisance of myself at Outside!

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Paul Sagar 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

+1 for the Masai. A phenomenal and phenomenally under-rated shoe IMO

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HeMa 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I left Futura out of the list, as I prefer Maverink (flat noedge slipper) or Speester (slight downturn noedge slipper) to it.

But for me, the key for good slab shoe is the noedge (either using the LaSpo tech... or just nicely worn down regular shoe). Prior to switching to them noedge shoes, my all time best performing shoe was purple 5.10 Quantum when nearly worn through.

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steveriley 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

As a thought experiment, have you got anything old and knackered under the stairs? I dug out some ancient Moccasyms - worn, no structure, and stuck like anything to certain things ...but also experienced misery on a small sharp edge

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ChrisBrooke 11 Feb 2020
In reply to steveriley:

> As a thought experiment, have you got anything old and knackered under the stairs?

My Dyson?

I had Moccasyms about 12 years ago. Nice shoe. Long gone now though.

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ChrisBrooke 11 Feb 2020
In reply to HeMa:

Cool, I'll definitely look at some of those no-edge ones.

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In reply to ChrisBrooke:

> Interesting. Harder slabs as in balancing up tiny edges, or smeary ones,  (e.g. the traverse moves on Deliverance, or the shiny right foot hold on Bananafinger direct...)? As stated above, I'm not knowledgeable about 'shoe tech', but my understanding was that thinner soles on a soft, flatter shoe would be better than a downturned type 'aggressive' shoe.

I once worshipped at the altar of 3 sizes down, which ended up with me having most of last year off climbing following removal of lumps and bumps and bits of bone spur. I had experimented with just wearing street sizes, which turns even solutions into good smearing devices. my grade is dropping because of getting old, but wearing comfortable shoes doesnt seem to make any difference to me, except not landing me in hospital.

The trick to all my good slab shoes is to resole them with C4, which works on Deliverance. From experience I think my EBs around 1980 were the best thing for Bananafinger Direct ;-)

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ChrisBrooke 11 Feb 2020
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> I once worshipped at the altar of 3 sizes down, which ended up with me having most of last year off climbing following removal of lumps and bumps and bits of bone spur. I had experimented with just wearing street sizes, which turns even solutions into good smearing devices. my grade is dropping because of getting old, but wearing comfortable shoes doesnt seem to make any difference to me, except not landing me in hospital.

I wore tight shoes about twenty years ago as a beginner, hobbling around, slipping the heel off between routes etc. I then came to enjoy comfort, especially for all day trad. Then I found as I got into bouldering, I wanted something a bit more 'technical' but still comfy. I wear a 8.5 Iati (street shoe 9-9.5) which is very comfy and still precise. I can keep them on for a whole session, walk between boulders no problem etc. They're great.

> The trick to all my good slab shoes is to resole them with C4, which works on Deliverance. From experience I think my EBs around 1980 were the best thing for Bananafinger Direct ;-)

I suspect that polished foot ding on BFD was a bit grippier in 1980 ;)

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danm 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Scarpa VS-R's for grit slabs, once worn in and softened up. I also know a few seasoned grit slab ministers who swear by well broken in Whites, after a season on the lime they get repurposed to great effect, obviously they are like rocking horse sh*t now though. I don't get on with my Skwamas at all, the sole is way too thick and bulging, strangely they are fine as an indoor shoe but feel like a clog outside. That's what you get for listening to a pro climber friend rather than your Instincts, pardon the pun.

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PaulJepson 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Scarpa Helix? Nice big surface area for padding. 

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galpinos 11 Feb 2020
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Personally, the best shoes for smearing are the ones I currently trust the most*, as that's the key to getting the most out of those tenuous grit smears!

*Currently a worn in pair of whites

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