The Five Ten Anasazi VCS is a hyper-precise all-around crusher that doesn't hurt so much you want to throw it off a cliff. Eminently comfortable without being sloppy, these shoes manage to be both decently stiff and sensitive. They sacrifice a little in the edging department for their impressive sensitivity and incredibly sticky rubber. This shoe allows the climber to feel virtually every feature in the rock, making even micro features feel like ledges. They offer all the sensitivity of your gym socks with enough rigidity for standing in the gnarliest of cracks. On anything other than the worst foot jams, you probably won't even notice the velcro.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 10, 2021 with info about the reboot of the Anasazi VCS, now called the NIAD VCS.
Five Ten Anasazi VCS Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very sensitive, very sticky rubber, solid all-arounder
Cons: Not the best edging shoe, velcro can hurt in cracks
Manufacturer: Five Ten
Our Analysis and Test Results
Five Ten released a new version of the Anasazi VCS called the NIAD VCS (which stands for Nose in a Day). The updated shoe has a slightly less aggressive heel cup and sports Stealth C4 rubber instead of the Stealth Onyxx used by the Anasazi. Compare the two versions below, with the Anasazi VCS on the left and NIAD VCS on the right. We're now linking to the updated shoe.
The Anasazi VCS can hold a decent edge. It's only when you wear multiple shoes in a short period of time (the luxury of testing shoes) that you notice any deficiencies. This shoe excels where friction is king, completely at home on the gritty crystals of Joshua Tree. You start to notice a difference on small edges on slick rock. The Anasazi feels like it could get spit you off, which forces you to adapt your climbing style to be very over your feet. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not a game-ender, more of a disclaimer to consider.
Though the rubber is a little on the soft side for cracks and the velcro closure can get in the way, the shoe is surprisingly adept on this terrain. The velcro is high enough on the shoe that it's only an issue on the wide stuff when you can fit most of your feet into the crack. The buckles on the inside can be painful if pressed on, and you won't feel inspired to stand around in a crack if that's happening. Overall, the shoe is sufficiently rigid to withstand significant torquing in jams. Standing flat in cracks can be very comfortable when they're inserted shallow enough that the velcro buckles aren't a problem.
We all have styles of climbing that seem harder for us, and for the Anasazi VCS that happens to be steep terrain. The softer, semi-rounded toe does well on pockets that are the right size at not too steep of an angle. Anything smaller than three fingers, and this shoe starts to require some creative twisting to mush the toe into whatever opening there is. The shoe is also flat, meaning that as steepness increases, the lack of a downturned soled reduces its effectiveness.
The ONYXX rubber used on this shoe is not only very sticky, but it also allows you to feel virtually every feature in the rock. The Anasazi VCS accomplishes this without losing shape or relying on the climber's foot for structure. This places it in a tiny club regarding its incredible performance on granite slab and face climbs where friction is paramount.
Out of the box, this is one of the most comfortable high-end shoes we tested. A flat sole and slightly rounded toe don't compromise its performance and greatly increase its all-day wearability. We recommend this shoe as a great beginner shoe for its excellent all-around performance combined with enough comfort to encourage daily trips to the gym or crag.
With a little internet searching, it's sometimes possible to find these shoes for considerably less than their list price. If you find them at that lower price, you should be stoked because they're a good deal at full retail.
The Anasazi VCS is among some great company in the competition for the title of best all-around climbing shoe. With only a very marginal price difference, it comes down to what fits your foot the best and where you'll be climbing. This shoe would be a better choice for granite, gneiss, gritstone, and sandstone. It would also be a great beginner shoe, offering a comfortable platform that will likely stay ahead of your grade limit for a few seasons.
— Matt Bento
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More