The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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FiveTen VMile: A Truly Comfortable Enduro-shoe
Posted on: August 27, 2007
I hate tight rock shoes. Don't get me wrong—I realize the need for a precise, tight fit, though after nineteen pitches and almost eight hours, I will take comfort over anything else. My partner and I were nearing the top of Mt. Stuart's classic north ridge when I realized something remarkable: my feet were totally comfortable. While this isn't inconceivable in rock shoes, I wasn't used to this kind of comfort in a shoe that climbed so well. I had cranked them down for the two crux gendarme pitches and was able to edge easily on small nubbins. When the climbing backed off again, a quick flick of the Velcro put me back into super-comfy mode.
As a guide, I strive for shoes that perform well, are comfortable for long days and are easy to get on and off. In all of these regards, the VMile succeeds. The straps allow for quick removal on big ledges (what a treat!) while offering the potential for a vice grip squeeze to send the crux smearfest—without a moment lost.
This is a new shoe for FiveTen, though reminiscent of their popular Ascent model. With soft, breathable, perforated suede and a padded tongue, the VMile is built for distance. With a small padded heel (not as padded as the Ascent), the shoe also works well for short descents or scrambling between pitches in the mountains.
As an all-around shoe for folks that enjoy long, moderate climbing, this is definitely worth checking out. While every company claims to have the stickiest rubber ever made, I found the Onyxx rubber on these shoes to be among the best I have used. A side benefit of the Velcro straps is that they offer some padding for the top of your foot when jamming, though there is no padding over the front toe section.
I found the Velcro straps a bit long—nothing a knife can't fix. The straps also tended to peel up a bit at the ends when jamming in wide cracks. Because these shoes don't have laces, the fit to your foot will be critical. If the toebox fits the shape of your foot, you will likely love them. If not, there is no adjustment that will help. I personally found these shoes run a bit smaller than my other rock shoes, so I wore them two Euro sizes larger than other manufacturers' shoes.
As I pack to leave for six weeks of guiding in the Alps, I'm considering my footwear options. Both space and weight in my duffels are at a premium. I will be climbing on granite, gneiss, and limestone. I already have two pairs of mountain boots plus approach shoes, and I've self-imposed a limit of one pair of rock shoes. After minimal deliberation, I toss in the VMiles, confident that they will handle anything I'm gutsy enough to get on.
Pros: Very comfortable; sticky rubber; Velcro straps offer easy adjustment
Cons: Velcro straps come extra long and sometimes peel up when jamming in wide cracks