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Hands-on Gear Review
Five Ten Blackwing - Women's Review
Cons: Sized extra small, too much curve to the side, loose heel cup, expensive
Bottom line: An aggressive, down-turned performance shoe best used for bouldering and steep sport climbing.
If you are a hard sending woman, then this is one of the best women's specific aggressive shoes on the market. It finds itself ranked along with the La Sportiva Solution and the Evolv Shaman LV as the most down-turned and most pricey in this review. We find that the Blackwing has some fit and comfort issues and would steer most customers towards the Solution instead, but the Blackwing is slightly less expensive. If you need a more versatile technical shoe, the regular La Sportiva Miura - Women's and the Five Ten Anasazi LV - Women's are both comfortable, high-performance shoes that are less aggressive.
RELATED REVIEW: The 11 Best Climbing Shoes For Women
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
With a recent color change, the actual design of the Blacking has not changed. It has gone from a brown color to a flashier blue and pink.
The Five Ten Blackwings are an aggressive women's specific shoe designed for hard, technical climbing. They are more down-turned than the La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's, with a shape more similar to the La Sportiva Solution - Women's. Downturned shoes are not the most comfortable, and are best worn for a single pitch and then removed. The padded microfiber tongue is a luxury feature that makes wearing these hard sending shoes more comfortable. We think that when it comes to comfort, the Solution beats the Blackwing. The Solution molds to the foot and becomes an extension of the body while we have a couple of complaints about the fit of the Blackwing.
First, the heel cup does not fit very snugly. It somehow feels narrow and loose at the same time, allowing the heel to slide up, but then the heel does not quite sit on the bottom of the shoe while climbing. It makes for insecure feeling heel hooks, but does not seem to affect other climbing moves.
These shoes also feel like there is too much curve lengthwise, toward the center of the shoe. Not the curve of the downturn, but the curve to the inside you see when looking straight down from above. After wearing these shoes for a length of time, ankles and toes start to feel twerked, like there is more curve than is natural or comfortable. We have not noticed this feeling in any of the other women's climbing shoes, and don't feel like it adds anything to the aggressive climbing ability of the shoe. It just makes them slightly more uncomfortable than necessary.
The Blackwing is sticky when smearing and has a lot of purchase and friction on the rock, but the toe is a little bulky and stiff. It is less sensitive than the Solution, which allows you to feel every feature of the rock.
This shoe is precise and feels like it gives you an extra advantage when climbing steep and overhanging climbs.
The aggressive downturn on these shoes makes them painful when jammed in cracks. Keep them to face climbs if possible.
The curve of this shoe drives your feet into pockets and keeps you clinging to steep faces.
Ease of Use
Velcro straps make these shoes quick to take on and off.
These shoes excel at hard, steep climbing. They are a perfect sport climbing or bouldering shoe.
These shoes are on the expensive side, but are similarly priced to other aggressive performance shoes. They are $10 less than the Solution but $15 more than the Evolv Shaman LV - Women's. If you agree with the "cents per send" philosophy, then these shoes might be worth it to help you really crank.
This aggressive shoe is works well on the steep stuff, but is not as comfortable as other aggressive women's models. We would rather climb in the Top Pick winning La Sportiva Solution.
Be forewarned, these shoes run extra small. Five Ten does size their shoes so that you can wear your street shoe size, even in climbing shoes, without down-sizing them. However, comparing your size to other models of Five Ten shoes does not cut it. Try them on first or buy a size larger than you would expect. Also, these shoes do not stretch much since they are made with synthetic materials instead of leather.
— McKenzie Long
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