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 weirdly 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.
Unparallel Up Lace LV Review
Cons: Long laces caused annoyance, lack versatility
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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.
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.
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 C4-esque 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.
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.
Much like their Five Ten doppelgangers, 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 our own pair of laces to remedy this issue.
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 Lace's 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.
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.
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 a significantly 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.
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.
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