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Unparallel Up Lace LV Review

These shoes are a great option for those trad climbers out there looking for all-day comfort, a stiff sole, and crack and edging prowess
Unparallel Up Lace LV
Photo: Unparallel
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Price:  $140 List
Pros:  Small company, super sticky rubber, comfortable fit, great crack climbing shoe
Cons:  Long laces caused annoyance, lack versatility
Manufacturer:   Unparallel
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 21, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 19
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Sensitivity - 25% 8
  • Edging - 15% 7
  • Cracks - 15% 9
  • Pockets - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 5% 7

Our Verdict

If you've never heard of Unparallel, you're probably not alone. Also, if you had to do a double-take when you saw a photo of the Up Lace in this review because you thought they looked similar to a pair of Five Ten Anasazi's you used to have, you are also probably not alone. These shoes have many of the same redeeming qualities of Five Ten shoes of days past — most notably super sticky rubber soles. Overall, we loved these shoes on vertical terrain and crack climbs. They are stiff enough to stand on small edges and smears, but still work well in cracks. We did not like the laces on these shoes though — we found them to be way too long and bulky. Our lead tester had to wrap the laces around the bottom of her foot twice to get them down to a decent length.

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Unparallel Up Lace LV
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $140 List$185.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Small company, super sticky rubber, comfortable fit, great crack climbing shoeGreat edging shoe, precise, versatileComfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileComfortable, extremely sensitive, great for smearing and steep climbing, easy to get on and offSuper sensitive, overall comfortable for aggressive design, great for pocket climbing, good for heel hooking
Cons Long laces caused annoyance, lack versatilitySpecific shape can cause discomfort for some, expensiveStretch out quickly, costly, lack supportExpensive, No-Edge technology could be an acquired tasteExpensive, specific, can be painful for some
Bottom Line The Up Lace shines in the multi-pitch trad realm - comfort, stiffness, and crack climbing abilities are the name of the gameFor climbing where footwork is key, look no further than the Miura VSThese high performance slippers from La Sportiva work well in almost all arenas, from cracks to steep sport climbsFrom tufas to granite boulders, these are a steep climbers dreamFrom toeing in on steep terrain to standing on small holds to heel hooking, this shoe does it all
Rating Categories Unparallel Up Lace LV Miura VS La Sportiva Skwama - Women's La Sportiva Futura - Women's Solution Comp
Comfort (25%)
8
8
9
9
8
Sensitivity (25%)
8
9
9
10
9
Edging (15%)
7
10
7
7
5
Cracks (15%)
9
8
9
5
7
Pockets (15%)
5
9
8
10
10
Ease Of Use (5%)
7
7
9
9
8
Specs Unparallel Up Lace... Miura VS La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Futura... Solution Comp
Style Velcro Velcro Velcro Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 1.11 lb 0.94 lb 1.00 lb 0.91 lb 0.95 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Medium-Low Asymmetry High Asymmetry Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical
Upper Synthetic Leather Leather/Microfiber Leather/ Synthetic Leather/microfiber
Lining Microsuede Dentex Unlined Unlined Lycra tongue/ unlined
Sole Rubber RH rubber Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2

Our Analysis and Test Results

In terms of comfort and performance on cracks and vertical terrain, the Up Lace did well. They fell short in terms of adjustability and precision.

Performance Comparison



The Up Lace in their element.
The Up Lace in their element.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Comfort


When ordering these shoes, we sized them right around our street shoe size. This meant that the Up Laces fit comfortably right out of the box, with little break-in time. The soft, synthetic upper didn't stretch out as we wore them. Their flat shape meant that these shoes were comfortable and accommodated our wide feet comfortably. The extra rubber on the sides provided padding when jamming our feet into thin-hands cracks, which we greatly appreciated. Much like their Five Ten counterparts, the Up Laces did not fit particularly well in the heel for us. We had a hard time getting a good fit in the heel cup and found the top of the heel to be a source of discomfort at times.

The heel was a bit loose on the Up Lace. Thankfully, we mostly used...
The heel was a bit loose on the Up Lace. Thankfully, we mostly used these shoes for crack climbing, so this was not a total deal-breaker.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Sensitivity


Despite their soles only have 3.5mm of rubber (as compared to the men's version, which has 4.2mm) the women's Up Lace still felt a bit clunky right out of the box. Their stiff soles required a bit of faith at first on small edges, but rarely did they randomly blow off even the smallest of footholds. The Up Lace scored highly in this metric mostly due to their super-sticky rubber soles. The Up Laces felt like a fresh pair of old-school Five Tens in terms of stickiness — making them top-notch in terms of sensitivity.

The rubber used on the Up Laces rivals C4 Stealth rubber in terms of...
The rubber used on the Up Laces rivals C4 Stealth rubber in terms of stickiness.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Edging


Again, the Up Lace impressed us in this metric. With stiff soles and sticky rubber, these shoes are a recipe for success on vertical terrain. We wore these on steep crack pitches in Yosemite Valley, where a tiny edge can be a wonderful respite from relentless jamming. The Up Laces held their own on these small footholds. Unparallel markets these shoes as their stiffest pair and we found this to be key in their performance in this metric. The only downside to their stiffness is the bagginess we felt in the heel cup. Some shoes pull the heel in toward the midsole, providing a stiff platform across the bottom of the foot. The Up Laces lack this heel integration because of their ill-fitting heel cup.

Crack Climbing


The Unparallel Up Lace is a crack climbing wizard. Stiff enough to provide support on lower angle terrain and hand cracks, but malleable enough to wiggle their way into thin-hands and even finger cracks, the Up Lace impressed us on desert hand cracks and Yosemite classics. We did have a few issues with the lacing system, though. Because the laces were so long and bulky, we had to wrap them around the underside of our foot twice in order to get a snug fit. This meant that the laces were constantly getting in the way of jamming and running the risk of untying. Next time, we would probably just re-lace them with another pair of shorter laces to remedy this issue.

Tight-hands jamming in the Up Lace.
Tight-hands jamming in the Up Lace.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Pockets


Not exactly marketed as a sport climbing shoe, and not really an aggressively shaped model at all, it came as no surprise to us that these shoes were not our go-to for pocket climbing. The fairly large toe box that is comfortable in a fist crack does not provide the precision needed to successfully climb steep pocketed lines. In a pinch, the Up Laces may work for moderate pocket climbing because they are so sticky and stiff, but we would not recommend these to our strictly bolt clipping friends.

A solid edging shoe, the Up Lace's are stiff underfoot.
A solid edging shoe, the Up Lace's are stiff underfoot.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Ease of Use


With five eyelets and fairly fat laces, the Up Lace is a bit hard to tighten down for a snug fit. The extra-long laces also lower the Up Lace's ease of use scores. On the plus side, they have a fairly large and quite visible bright red pull tab on the back, which looks a bit obnoxious (in our opinion), but makes putting them on and taking them off very easy.

Lacing up the Up Lace's weirdly long laces.
Lacing up the Up Lace's weirdly long laces.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Value


For vertical terrain, crack climbing, and anything where you want a solid edge, the Up Lace is a good way to go. We found their super-sticky soles to be confidence-inspiring on tiny granite edges and their overall fit to feel good on long routes. These shoes are less expensive than many of the models put out there by better-known brands and seem to perform as well or better as many of the shoes in this review.

Conclusion


We were impressed by this little-known brand. The Unparallel Up Lace performed well across the board, especially when it came to crack climbing and edging.

The Up Lace's were right at home on granite multi-pitches in the...
The Up Lace's were right at home on granite multi-pitches in the Valley.
Photo: Eric Bissell

We found these shoes to fit comfortably on all-day endeavors, while still inspiring confidence in small footholds. We had a few hang-ups with the lacing system, but overall the downsides were small. We also appreciated that these shoes are made right here in California, only a few hours' drive away from the granite crucible where most of our testing occurred. Though they are not well-known or easy to find in retail stores, the Up Lace seemed like a great investment to us.

Jane Jackson