Five10 Team vxiThe Five Ten Team VXi is the softest slipper with the stickiest rubber ever made. This a super high-performing shoe for comps, bouldering and gym, but I would also choose it for demanding slabs in areas like Yosemite and the Verdon.

Strong toes, however, are mandatory for making this shoe work.

This is the softest, lightest shoe I’ve ever worn, and when I picked it up and could crunch the whole shoe up into my hand, I was skeptical that I’d ever be able to climb in it. But the Team VXi not only surpassed my performance expectations, it’s also changed the way I climb and made me rethink just how much support you really need in a performance climbing shoe. Aside from a couple of quibbles in terms of fit, blown out pull-tabs, and an uncomfortable spot on the inner arch, this is my favorite new slipper for 2014.

The shoe comes fully equipped with MI6 rubber, a composite Five Ten originally produced for Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III. I’m not one to rant or rave about the stickiness of rubber, typically, as today’s brands and blends of climbing rubber are, in general, more than adequate. But this MI6 rubber definitely feels noticeably stickier than the rest of the pack. Is it the stickiest climbing rubber to ever grace the sole of a climbing shoe?

five ten softYes.

It’s hard to believe that a shoe with no edge can edge so well. The La Sportiva Futura (along with the Speedster) paved the way as being the first “no edge” shoe, proving t
hat shoes with proper edges can be overrated so long as the shoe is soft and sticky enough. The Team VXi borrows from that design, only it is even softer than those other shoes and has stickier rubber.

However, since I’m drawing comparisons, I would also say the Team VXi is less comfortable and less well-made than the La Sportiva Futura: First, there is a hot spot on the inner arch of the Team VXi where two pieces of stitching come together; it’s quite uncomfortable, especially at first during the break in period. Second gripe: I blew out the pull-tabs after just a few months of wear. No bueno!

But despite these two gripes, the Team VXi has a lot going for it. Smearing performance was extremely high. And due to the softness, I could actually wrap my big toe inside a tiny pocket.

In terms of fit, I applaud Five Ten for finally producing a low-volume heel on a performance climbing shoe that fits me! I was never disappointed in toe- and heel-hooking situations.

You can actually size this shoe down quite aggressively. I went down 1.5 sizes from my street shoe, yet I could still wear the VXis for multiple boulder problems and even walk around in them without any pain. For my next pair, however, I am interested in trying a larger size to see if there are any performance differences.

Pick up your own pair of Five Ten Team VXi’s here.