The name Edelrid is not one that really ever sprung to mind when I thought of rockshoes. Ropes maybe, but rockshoes…no.
However at last year’s Outdoor Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany I came across Edelrid’s new rockshoe range. I was actually very impressed with what I saw. Edelrid is a brand that has become synonymous with quality and innovative design over the years and these shoes certainly looked the business.
I wanted to see if the performance matched the quality visuals, so was lucky enough to test a couple of styles; the Raven, a high performance velcro and the Tornado, a velcro-closing shoe built for all-round performance and comfort.
First of all a bit of background…
I asked Paul Craven at DB Outdoor (Edelrid’s UK agent) why the company had decided to move into the rockshoe market. Paul told me:
“As part of Edelrid’s strategy to be a complete climbing supplier, rockshoes were the next logical product area to move into, they involved an Italian shoe specialist who helped to design the range”
There have also been a number of rumors floating around as to the design origins of the shoes. Milan Rehak, the man in charge of product management at Edelrid Sports, wanted to clear this up. He told me:
“The lasts were made by me personally, with assistance from an orthopedic specialist in Germany.”
“The whole shoes were made by me with help from an Italian designer (who I know personally) who ho worked for La Sportiva for several years. For example, he made the first La Sportiva Cobra and Miura. I do not want to publish his name but it is not Heinz Mariacher!”
“His son has a small production facility in Italy where it is very easy for me to do the development.”
So with all of this in mind, it sounds like Edelrid not only plan to, but also have the credibility and pedigree, to make waves in what is already a saturated market.
So, are the shoes up to it?
Rating (out of 5)
Value For Money: ****
The Tornado is Edelrid’s all-round velcro closure shoe. It is aimed at intermediate to advanced climbers who are looking for a do it all performance shoe.
I have used mine for indoor climbing, bouldering, traditional routes and sport climbs and they perform well in all these disciplines. I have also found them to fit well and offer excellent all day comfort.
In terms of build and last design, it is asymmetric (closer to the shape of an actual foot, emphasizing the big toe) but not aggressive. This means that it will appeal to a wide variety of foot shapes. It provides a steady compromise between all day comfort, edging support and smearing.
The Tornado is constructed from a mixture of leather and synthetic leather which offers a blend of comfort and size/shape retention.
One innovative feature is the way the velcro straps (of which there are two) can be adjusted length ways. This feature is supposed to enable a more bespoke fit, enabling you to tweak the shoes to suit your own foot. This is great in theory but in practice I found the rails would actually slide when I didn’t want them to, particularly if the straps were cinched up tightly. I also found the velcro straps to be a little too narrow.
I do like velcro shoes though, particularly for trad climbing and indoor climbing as they offer a better fit than slippers but allow the user to easily take them on and off between pitches or problem attempts.
The heel of the shoe felt comfortable and secure, even in aggressive heel hooking situations. They never felt like they would pop off or more importantly, slip off my heels! This is aided by Edelrid’s green heel strap, which offers progressive load transmission from the foot into the big toe area. This also heightens the precision and sensitivity of the shoe.
The rubber is Vibram’s supremely sticky XS Grip compound, it offers superb performance in all situations but I have noticed a definite reduction in resistance to wear. It doesn’t warp or roll on edges though, even in warm conditions and smearing feels secure, even on slate!
The Tornado is a great all-round shoe. It is comfortable, precise and sticky. Pertfect for the UK trad market but just as good on the limestone or indoors. I would like to see improvements on the velcro closure though.
Rating (out of 5)
Value For Money: ****
The Raven is Edelrid’s performance shoe and one which they say, “is predestined for top grade climbing.”
Before going any further I need to point out that the fit of the Raven did not really suit the shape of my foot (hence the *** Performance rating) and as such my review is not going to be as fair and accurate as it may otherwise have been. I can’t point out enough how crucial it is to get a shoe that fits your foot properly. Adam Ondra may wear such and such a model and climb dead hard but apart from the fact he’s genetically exceptional, his feet may not be the same shape as yours and his boots may not be the best for you. In order to perform in the way the manufacturer tells you they will, they must fit correctly.
The problem I had with the fit was that they felt too narrow in the forefoot area but then almost too roomy in the toe-box itself.
The Raven is a velcro shoe with an extreme cambered last meaning that they really emphasise the power of your big toe. They are also very “toe-down” (the sole is not flat) allowing you to grap holds and generate more force through them on steep ground. This is brilliant for overhanging limestone, bouldering and indoor climbing.
I have used the Raven whilst trying steep limestone sport climbs, bouldering on gritstone and volcanic rock and training on the indoor walls. I have found that they have performed best for me on steep ground as the edging was compromised by the unsatisfactory fit (for my foot).
One thing I noticed about the Raven is that whilst they are designed as a steep rock slipper, the sole is actually quite stiff (this may have changed since my prototype pair??). I would have preferred to see a softer more sensitive sole, which would have aided the shoe’s steep rock credentials. It would also have done the superb Vibram XS-Grip rubber more justice.
A standout feature on this shoe is the heel fit. It is one of the most secure I have come across on any shoes I have tested. This is down mainly, to Edelrid’s 2-Tension heel system. This combined with the green heel strap meant that heel hooking felt secure in all applications.
Edelrid are most definitely an innovative brand. The Raven features a Slide-Rail fitting system that is designed to aid movement or complete removal of the velcro straps. In short the straps can be removed and the shoe be worn as an out and out slipper. I preferred the shoe with the added security of the velcro but the option is there should you wish to use it.
The Raven is constructed from synthetic leather which offers excellent shape and size retention. My pair has stretched very little over the time I have used them.
The Raven is an impressive looking package with some innovative and clever design features. The heel design, build quality and rubber are fantastic. Unfortunately the fit did not really suit my foot and I would like to see a softer more sensitive sole unit on a shoe of this type. Buy these if you’re looking for a high performance velcro shoe for steep ground.