The Five Ten Team VXI is a very unique shoe. They are softer, lighter and stickier than almost everything else available. They are also very stretchy, resulting in a shrink wrap like experience. Think more of a climbing sock than a climbing shoe.
When I first tried them, I was a bit skeptical. I really wondered if a shoe so soft could perform on Squamish granite. Well, they can, and really well at that, but they do take a little getting used to. The VXI isn’t a shoe you very specifically place on a foothold, but rather one you throw at the wall and let stick. Once you get into the groove of using them this way, they are amazing. In fact, for certain things, they are hands down the best shoe the market and a tool I’m excited to have in my arsenal.
To guide our review, we have broken the shoe down into its specific components to give you a full summary of its features.
The Five Ten VXI’s are made with a unique flavour of the Stealth rubber that Five Ten is famous for: Mi6. Mi6 rubber is more elastic and gummy-like than any other rubber I’ve used. And it is incredibly sticky. For smearing on smooth polished feet, the VXI is incredible. Interestingly, the elasticity of the rubber seemed to improve its durability. It doesn’t chunk off as easily. For perspective, after more than five solid bouldering sessions, the rubber had no visible signs of wear.
Regarding the rubber, a little backstory is warranted. Remember the scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol where Tom Cruise is climbing the outside of a glass building? Well, the film needed shoes for the stunt guys to wear that actually stuck to glass, so they went to Five Ten and had a custom rubber made. Five Ten then refined that compound for rock and produced a very innovative product. It turns out rubber that sticks to glass also sticks to rock.
The Five Ten VXI has an aggressive downturned shape that makes them great for really pulling in on footholds. These shoes excel at steep terrain with decently sized feet. In most cases, a downturned toe generally makes a shoe terrible for smearing, however, this is not the case with the VXI. Because of their softness, when smearing, they stretch and flex enough to allow the toe to bend back. This flexibility, coupled with the super sticky rubber, make the VXI an excellent shoe for smearing, even on less than vertical terrain. A downturned shoe that performs on less than vertical terrain is an extremely versatile tool.
The extreme softness of this shoe means that the climber must rely on the strength of their own toes to hold the shoe’s shape. A novice climber or climber with weak feet may struggle with this. On the other hand, using a soft shoe like the VXI is a great way to improve you foot strength.
The VXI’s have fully rubber wrapped uppers which make them great for all the hooking and scumming typically found in the local boulders. Like most Five Ten shoes, I found the heel felt shallow at first, but after a brief break-in period, it fit really well. Like the rest of the shoe, the heel is soft and sticky, which makes it great for smeary scummy type hooking.
The VXI is an incredibly comfortable shoe. For me, they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. I have some really nasty climber’s feet, corns and all, and I’ve never before found a shoe I could fit tight enough to perform and still tolerate having on my feet for a long gym or outdoor bouldering session. After two full hours at the gym, the VXI weren’t chafing at all. For me, that’s amazing.
What the VXI are not great at is edging on tiny feet, especially on vertical or near vertical terrain. For this type of climbing, a stiff shoe which provides a solid platform to stand on simply cant be beat and the VXI is anything but that. I probably would leave these out of the bag when packing for a day at Pet Wall.
The VXI is not a precision instrument. With these shoes it is difficult to carefully position the toe point exactly on a specific crystal. They are just too soft for that. Unless you have toes of steel, they don’t hold their shape enough to generate force in this way. Instead, with the VXI, you end up sort of roughly pasting your feet on the footholds, and they just stick. In general this works great, especially for climbers with fast dynamic styles, but every once in awhile, when you encounter a foothold that really does require precision, the VXI comes up short.
The VXI perform great indoor and in competition settings.Along with the shoes softness comes excellent sensitivity. This feature is great for climbing on plastic because it allows you to find the best way to use your feet on the holds. It also give the climber amazing feedback to know if your foot will stay or not. Again the sticky Mi6 rubber really shines here, sticking well to all those greasy polished feet you find in the average gym.
For sizing, I recommend you stick to your street shoe size. I wear a size 9 street shoe and fit a size 9 VXI. Out of the box they were pretty tight and took some effort to get on, but they wore in after one short session and now fit perfectly.
Overall, The VXI is a fantastic shoe and I would highly recommend it to any moderate or experienced climber. The VXI is unlikely to be the only shoe you use, but for the right climb, they are magic.
- They are extremely soft making them highly sensitive, great for smearing and very comfortable.
- They excel on overhanging terrain and are especially good at pulling in on footholds
- Due to the softness, they are not suited for vertical edging, precision footwork, or for climbers with weak toes.
- The rubber is likely the stickiest available and the shoes are surprisingly durable.
- The heel fits and performs well, and the fully rubber wrapped uppers are great for toe hooking.