Rock climbing shoes are a tricky category to review. Everyone has feet that are as different as their individual climbing needs. A shoe that performs exceptionally well for one person, could quite possibly not be suitable at all for another. So, keedping these thoughts firmly in mind, here I am writing a climbing shoe review.

Scarpa’s heritage as expert bookmakers and footwear specialists is nothing short of impressive. Honing in on their climbing shoe category, the brilliant mind behind much of their latest innovation is the legendary Heinz Mariarcher. Mariarcher’s designs are constantly pushing the limits with what’s possible, keeping up with the cutting edge of climbing progression. Of course not everyone needs or wants a shoe that requires a crowbar to put on, and allows them to crush a space-age grade 35 or V15 project at their local crag. But regardless of your climbing level, good shoes will help you push personal limits and enjoy climbing more. But how about comparing factors like top end performance to wearer comfort, Possibly even arriving at a happy compromise of both? Now that’s something to talk about.

Technology:

The Scarpa Force V is, as the name suggests, the sequel to the excellent Force X model . The colour has changed sure, but more notably the Active Randing is now the V-Tension design. Basically the randing is what dictates much the fit and feel, and by extension how the shoe climbs. I’ll let this excellent description taken from Scarpa explain further, the “concept of Active Randing employs rubber rands that wrap around the shoe in different configurations (for different types of climbing), designed to support climbers’ feet in the movements critical to climbing at top levels. These active rands are tensioned in ways that engage and disengage to support the foot, storing and re-releasing energy. They dynamically adapt to the foot while it loads and unloads body weight, effectively storing and releasing power—similar to the way a barn door slams shut with a rubber tether.”

So with that explanation in mind, the Force V is designed with V-Tension randing, in essence it allows for good performance in the toe area, but without pushing the toes too firmly into the shoe’s toe box. One of the many factors that makes this shoe perform solidly, but remain comfortable.

http://blog.scarpa.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/vtension.jpg

Sole:

The sole employs VIBRAM® XS Edge 4mm rubber, which is common across much of the scarpa climbing shoe range. Developed with, and you guessed it, edging support, firmness and a good balance between grip and curability. This is maybe the 5th shoe I’ve had with XS Edge and I’ve found all of the aforementioned claims are quite accurate. The asymmetry (how offset the heel to toe is) is quite low, meaning weight is transferred more evenly across all of the toes, rather than just into the big toe.

Sizing and Fit:

Typically my size has always been EU44.5 or EU45 for Scarpa climbing shoes. However I ended up in an EU44 for the Force V. The fit (for my foot) is snug but given the luxurious padding and flatter last of the shoe, it remains quite comfortable. The uppers are 1.8mm suede leather, albeit with a synthetic padded lining through part of the shoe. So in terms of stretch expect them to give about half a size. So far mine have stretched a bit, but that was part of the reason I opted for a size smaller than usual. There are two velcro straps for closure and due to the tongue design, super wide opening. Combined, this makes getting the Force V on (and off) very easy. Obviously with regards to fit, always best to try any shoes on for yourself and make your own judgement

My findings:

To begin with I took the shoes to my local climbing gym. There didn’t seem to be much of a break-in period, they were quite comfortable within a couple hours of use. For me the indoor gym is a great place to test shoes, with plenty of variety of roped climbing & bouldering, from slabs to steep overhangs. It soon became apparent that these shoes were far more comfortable than my usual aggressive shoes (Scarpa Boostic and Instinct VS). Of course there is a trade-off. They don’t perform quite as well on routes that require really precise and technical footwork. So by that I mean – really small foot-holds that require all the weight on the big toe, or gymnastic overhanging boulder problems with tricky toe of heel hooks. But have I felt the shoe is holding me back, no. Since getting the Force V I’ve basically used nothing else in the gym, they’re just so comfortable!

Outside on the rock I’ve so far taken them to Frog Buttress crack climbing a couple times, on a few sport routes and an all-day multi-pitch adventure. As expected the comfort and performance I’d already noticed in the gym was much the same when climbing outside. If I was climbing at my grade limit on a steep technical route, I’d probably switch to something more aggressive and precise. However, for moderate graded routes, long days climbing or long multi-pitch outings where comfort is king, then Force V is ideal. During a recent multi , not feeling like I needed to take the shoe off at every belay was a relief. The padding in the heel and flatter last mean your feet aren’t screaming for escape. Whilst I’ve used them crack climbing a couple times and they performed quite well, I’d still choose a slightly stiffer shoe with more top-of-foot protection. The Force was fine for easier routes, but for pure jamming the mid-sole is a bit soft and I’d prefer the extra protection

One thing I have noticed is all that plush padding does make the shoe a bit warmer than unlined shoes. On long days in the sun I foresee them getting a bit sweaty. It’s currently ‘winter’ here in Queensland thought, so I’ve not yet had a chance to use them on a 30degree+ swelter fest.

Who is the Force V for:

New Climbers – Absolutely. If you’re looking for a comfortable quality shoe that will progress with you through the grades, the Force V is perfect. It’s not quite as cheap as a true ‘entry level’ shoe, but has the advantage of a shoe that will perform better. It’s a shoe that will keeping up with your progress for longer as you inevitably improve . Great for the gym, sport climbing, easy multi-pitches and basically anything you’ll encounter as a climber who is new to the sport.

Intermediate Climbers  – For Force V is ideal. If you’re looking for a comfortable shoe that performs well, or simply can’t afford a different pair for every type of climbing the Force V could be the solution. Ticks lots of boxes.

Advanced Climbers – Yes, but probably not as your ‘hard send shoe’ – Think of these as that perfect all-rounder for training, running laps on easier climbs or whenever all-day comfort is more important than top-level performance.

In Summary:

Whilst I’ve only been climbing in the Force V for about two months so far, it has already proven to be a useful and versatile shoe. I tend think of it as my perfect ‘all-rounder’. It’s often the shoe that gets packed if I’m not sure what the climbing might involve, because it’s really quite good at almost everything. Oh, did I mention the comfort?

SHOP MEN’S SHOP WOMEN’S

Review: Scarpa Force V Shoe
Performance75%
Comfort90%
Durability80%
Fit87%
Protection80%
Versatility90%
Pros
  • Super comfortable and well padded
  • Excellent for long climbs
  • Great all-rounder
Cons
  • Not the most sesitive or agressive for hard climbing
  • Could have more top-of-foot protection
  • A bit warm on hot sunny days
85%Overall Score

About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. He loves spending time in the outdoors whenever possible - be it hiking, mountaineering, climbing, or just being on the road - He'll take any excuse to get into the mountains! He also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude valley, Brisbane. Drop in and say hi!

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