What are our basic climbing shoes worth you ask yourself? Read on to find out what our product tester had to say.
I was keen to test out the Simond Rock shoes for rubber stickiness and comfort. I'd seen them in use regularly by climbers around the Climbing Works in Sheffield and for the price (£27.99!) thought they would be a great deal if they were even half-decent. I'm used to doing indoor circuits in Sportiva Miura's, try to climb hard steep things in Scarpa Boostic's and choose my (too small) Five Ten Anasazi's for slopey grit problems.
First up I tested them on some well used volumes on the indoor comp wall. My first heel slipped off but after some more precise foot placement I found I could top out a number of problems, including using some good, strong heel hooks. I wasn't as trusting as I could've been just because I wasn't confident of their stickiness but if I went back I'm sure I'd do it again. Some of these problems included tiny, slopey foot holds on the side of volumes on the steeper section and with a bit of intent foot pushing, to my surprise I began to trust them.
Foot swapping proved to be a little tricky as they have quite a rounded toe which I'm not used to, but not impossible. I spent the next hour doing the curcuits in them and found them to be as comfortable as slippers!
When the next sunny, dryish day came along, I took them out to boulder on some grit. I had wanted to take them up to Mark's Roof to test the heel hooking and performance on steep boulders but the rock was dripping wet so we headed for the Burbage valley suntrap.
They were pretty sticky on a number of low-grade slab problems and I trusted them as much as I'd trust my Miura's. I tried a number of heel-toe jams on a few steeper problems and I found them to actually perform quite well.
I'm gonna stick by my theory that if you're a good climber you can climb well in anything, because as a 'beginners shoe', I was surprised by their technical abilities.
So, to break it down..
Comfort: These shoes are not designed to fit too tight. I chose a size bigger than my usual EU climbing shoe size and wore socks inside for extra comfort and warmth. They are well adjustable with the laces, easy to get nice and snug fitting, though the toe box is on the large side for my skinny feet. I could wear them comfortably for hours.
Edging: Pretty stiff solid edges on the shoe, held me well on tiny edges.
Smearing: Not the softest shoe but enough flexibility to move and grip. Totally flat sole.
Heel hooking: Brilliant. Loads of well shaped rubber that gets a good, solid hold.
Toe hooking: Basic as the rubber is limited.
Rubber stickiness: The soles are made of a resin-rubber, definitely not as sticky as some rubber but stuck to grit better than steep indoor holds - which was possible with determination (good core work-out too!)
All together, I think for their price these rock shoes are pretty decent. I'll definitely be using them for indoor circuits and training. I'll take them to Fontainebleau next month and challenge them (and my own skills) with the red & black circuits.
I would recommend them to beginner climbers - indoor and out, and as a comfortable training shoe for advanced climbers.