Five Ten Grandstone Review
Cons: Expensive, roomy heel, limited support
Manufacturer: Five Ten
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We've now tried several pairs of trad-oriented shoes from different manufacturers. The Five Ten Grandstones distinguish themselves by having the softest soles of the bunch. Compared to the average climbing shoe, we would still describe them as stiff, but there is noticeably more flex than you get with the La Sportiva TC Pro or other high-top crack shoes. On the one hand, this improves sensitivity. On the other, it has a slightly negative impact on edging performance. These are still effective edging shoes, but at our absolute limit, we might opt for a stiffer pair with a more precise toe.
Weaknesses in the rock are the Grandstone's primary strength. The padded leather upper supplies extra protection during sustained crack jams, while the barrel lacing design shields the purple strings from getting shredded. Compared to many other trad shoes, the toe box is rather svelte. This makes it easier to slide more rubber into thinner cracks. This still probably isn't the best shoe for sub-0.75" cracks, but for anything larger, it's sure to be comfortable and effective.
The sole of the Grandstone features a slight downturn from the heel to the toe. Our testers believe this modestly enhances its usefulness on steep terrain, but without significant harm to comfort. The toe box is average in terms of height and bluntness, and correspondingly average for utilizing pockets. Towards the back of the shoe, the sole becomes softer and there is a bit of extra roominess in the heel. This provides welcome relief to the testers whose heels have suffered while wearing other high-top trad shoes. However, spaciousness of the heel may not be appreciated by anyone hoping to heel hook in these trad daddies.
One of the most common complaints about stiff trad shoes is a lack of sensitivity. The relative softness of the Five Ten Grandstones addresses this issue to a moderate degree. Although they don't offer the same sensitivity as an ultra-soft bouldering shoe, the enhanced sensations they transmit is a nice improvement over many other crack-specific shoes. Beware, however, that extra sensitivity is not necessarily a good thing during painful crack jams.
As we alluded, the added sensitivity of these shoes is a double-edged sword. It improves your ability to feel the rock, while making crack jams feel more painful. Our testers observed this most on hand-size and wider cracks where the lateral flexibility of the sole supplied inferior support and protection. This criticism, however, is only valid relative to other stiff, trad-specific shoes. Compared to the average climbing shoe, the Grandstones are exceptionally comfortable. In fact, the slight downturn and spacious heel cup make them some of our favorite footwear for long, varied multi-pitch climbs.
The Grandstones are priced similarly to other premium crack climbing shoes, and relative tho these rivals we think they present a slightly lower value. The reason is that the construction of the Grandstones is lighter and softer, so we believe they won't hold up as well to long-term abuse. However, we also think you're more likely to find these and other Five Ten shoes on sale. If you can score a good discount, they should turn into a great deal.
The selection of high-top trad shoes has grown rapidly in recent years. The Five Ten Grandstone presents a nice addition to the field. Its softer, more flexible sole addresses the chief complaint made about many of its competitors — that they're too insensitive. In our tests, however, we discovered that the added sensitivity also leads to added foot pain during sustained crack jamming. Nevertheless, the Grandstones manage to fill a nice middle ground between an ultra-stiff trad model and an ordinary rock climbing shoe.
— Jack Cramer