Five Ten Kirigami Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Five Ten Kirigami is a comfortable, low-profile shoe with a wonderful color scheme and ultra-sticky Stealth Phantom rubber. It excels at crack climbing with a soft yet durable feel and a rubber rand that wraps over the top of the shoe. The Kirigami also performs well on slabs and less technical beginner to moderate rock climbs. Similar to many Five Ten shoes, the toe box is quite roomy offering some room for kids' toes to wiggle and grow.
There is no such thing as a climbing shoe, bike tire, or car tire that performs perfectly in every situation when it comes to sticky rubber. Softer rubbers offer more friction, sensitivity, and comfort, while harder rubbers typically edge better with less comfort and sensitivity due to their increased stiffness. That being said, the Kirigami performs well when edging on easy to moderate climbs, but since the shoes run large, make sure to get the sizing right so that your kid can snug the shoe up for those steeper sport climbing routes with smaller edges.
The Kirigami climbing shoes that we tested ran about a size and a half larger than the Evolv Venga. Keep this in mind when sizing your shoes, and make sure you can exchange them for a smaller size if necessary. It is ideal if a shoe fits snug with a thin sock on so that your kid has room to grow into them. If they fit too loose, they will not edge as well.
The Kirigami excelled in desert cracks during our testing around Moab, Utah. With a low profile from top to bottom of the forefoot, and a single hook and loop closure placed close to the ankle, the shoe slipped nicely into cracks while foot jamming and even toe jamming.
The Stealth Phantom rubber sole increases friction underfoot within the cracks, while a leather upper protects the remainder of the top of the forefoot and increases durability. In wider cracks, the hook and loop closure might cause a pressure point on the top of the foot just below the ankle, but most kids probably aren't that interested in wider cracks. Compared to other shoes we tested, this was the obvious choice for sending sandstone splitter cracks in the desert.
The toe box of the Kirigami is wide, rounded, and has a low profile top to bottom. This shape is conducive to crack climbing but doesn't lend itself to climbing pockets. The shoe's sole is also flat, as opposed to downturned. When a downturned toe is placed into a pocket, it is much more supportive than a flat one.
We tested the Kirigami while bouldering at Big Bend on the River Road outside of Moab, Utah, where many sandstone pockets exist. They worked fine in larger pockets but did not fit well into smaller pockets. Also, since they have a softer rubber sole, they lack the stiffness necessary to provide support while transferring all of your body weight onto one foot in a pocket. A more aggressive and stiffer shoe would perform better while climbing pockets.
Stealth rubber is one of the softest, high friction rubbers that has ever been made for climbing shoes. Because it is soft, your foot will feel the rock underneath your feet more easily than a climbing shoe with harder rubber. In addition, more of the rubber sole will come into contact with the rock with a softer rubber, increasing friction so that feet are less likely to slip off the rock. This is a potential advantage while crack climbing, slab climbing, and for kids who don't always watch their foot placements closely. Since many kids are beginning climbers, it makes sense to start them out in a climbing shoe with softer rubber, since most beginner climbs are lower-angle slabs.
Softer rubber also makes a climbing shoe more supple, which provides a more comfortable fit overall. Since foot comfort, while rock climbing is so important to kids' enjoyment of the sport, a softer and therefore more sensitive rubber is beneficial even though that sacrifices performance while edging and climbing pockets on steeper routes.
The Kirigami fits like a slipper and is super easy to put on and take off thanks to the hook and loop closure. The leather upper combined with a rubber rand strip protect the top of the foot. This added durability on the top of the shoe helps prevent abrasion while crack climbing as well as while dragging one's toes up the rock face, which is fairly common for beginning climbers.
A breathable mesh just below the fore and aft of the ankle also aids in regulating foot temperature. The rounded toe box allows for some wiggle room that might sacrifice performance but allows for wearing the shoe for an extended period of time. In addition, the large toe box facilitates wearing a thin sock so that you can buy a shoe your kid can grow into. The only problem with this comfortable climbing shoe is that your kid might not want to take them off. In fact, they might even walk around in them all day at the crag.
With its comfort, durability, and all-around good performance, the Kirigami is priced right. The combination of sticky rubber, leather, and mesh in strategic locations suggests a well-designed shoe with an affordable price tag that keeps the rapid growth of kids in mind. As a parent, I always appreciate companies that acknowledge the dilemma of buying outdoor gear for kids who will outgrow the product in a year or two. Keeping kids' products affordable allows families to enjoy time together in the outdoors and that in of itself is invaluable. The durable construction of the Kirigami looks like it will withstand the inevitable wear and tear inherent in rock climbing, at least until a kid outgrows them.
Overall, the Five Ten Kirigami is a very well-designed shoe that performs well in many categories. It shines in comfort, durability, stickiness, and crack climbing. Not to mention, it is very colorful and if you look like a rockstar, well, then you'll probably climb like a rockstar also. You might want to size them first though since they run quite a bit bigger than other kids' climbing shoes. They won't climb steep edges and pockets as well as more aggressive shoes, but at least your kid's feet will be happily comfortable while climbing in them.
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