Edging - 5/10
Smearing - 6.5/10
Steep Terrain - 4/10
Comfort - 8.5/10
Sensitivity - 6/10
Value For Money - 7/10
- Cheap beginner shoe
- Comfortable lining & mesh tongue
- Secure single-velcro closure
- Nice aesthetic design
- Anti-bacterial treated lining limits smells
- The upturned toebox limits performance
- Not great for wide feet
- Very small toe patch
- Difficult to source a retailer
Best For: Beginners on a budget
Summary: For a relatively small price tag, it’s hard to complain about what the Butoa Senegi offers. These aren’t like the bat-hanging monstrosities favored by the bouldering bros, and because of that, intermediate and advanced climbers will probably steer clear of the Senegi.
But this shoe wasn’t created with advanced climbers in mind, they are for beginners on a budget. And for new climbers short on cash, the Senegi has the basic tools you need to get started on your journey into the vertical world.
We price check from over 12 of our most trusted retailers and share the lowest price for every shoe we review. If you click a link, we may also make a little commission (at no extra cost to you, obviously).
Butora Senegi Review
None of us are exactly thrilled about sending a small fortune on gear, let alone beginners who have only been climbing for a couple of months. This is exactly why most shoe brands have a selection of cheap and cheerful shoes, to cater to beginner climbers who aren’t ready to throw down $200 on a top-of-the-range pair of performance shoes.
And for Butora, the Korean shoe manufacturer that opened its doors in 2014, the Senegi is not only one of Butora’s most budget-friendly models but also one of the cheapest shoes you can get your hands on right now, period.
If you are already familiar with the Butora Endeavor or the Habarav – those popular rentals that you might have already used a couple of times at the gym – then you will already have a good understanding of what to expect with the performance and sizing of the Senegi.
That’s because all three shoes share the same last shape, so will offer a very similar size and fit to one another. The Senegi can be thought of as the little brother of the Endeavor. Both shoes use the same last shape and a similar construction style but the Sengei doesn’t have the luxury add-ons such as the Hemp lining, memory foam tongue, or the 3D injected midsole.
Senegi is billed as a beginner shoe, so it has pretty limited performance capabilities. It abundantly event this shoe is made for climbers who are prioritizing comfort, and money, over performance.
There are certainly a few aspects of the Senegi that help the shoe when it comes to edges. Although not very asymmetrical, the toe box is fairly pointed, which does help laser in on the sweet spot when standing on moderately sized footholds.
The Senegi does have an ABS full-length midsole which undoubtedly offers some assistance whilst edging, but the shoe certainly isn’t as stiff as many of the other beginner bouldering shoes out there. Also, because it doesn’t have an overly asymmetrical shape, there isn’t much power transferred over the big toe. While new climbers may prefer the comfort that a symmetrical shoe like this offers, it does make life pretty tricky when it comes to balancing on the smaller edges and jibs.
Smearing is arguably the strongest aspect of the Senegi’s performance. Despite the full-length midsole, there’s plenty of flexion in the forefoot, which helps the shoe adapt to the weird and wonderful angles required for smearing on gym volumes.
The Neo rubber undoubtedly plays a big role in Senegi’s smearing ability too. The Neo is Butora’s own proprietary rubber concoction and is used, on Butora’s budget shoe models, as well as their kid’s climbing shoes like the Bora and Brava. The Neo has pretty good friction, although perhaps not to the same level as Evolv’s Trax SAS or Vibram XS Grip 2, but plenty to smear on the sand-textured gym walls.
I’m sure it won’t shock you to hear that the Senegi really struggles on steep terrain. Apart from its obvious limitations, like the neutral shape and lack of a performance toe box or heel cup, my biggest gripe with the Senegi is the upturned-toe box.
In a world where the majority of climbing brands are making their shoes more downturned, Butora seems to have gone in the complete opposite direction, instead of a downturned camber, the toebox of the Senegi has a more upturned camber. I’m not sure why, or how, Butora has managed this, but it’s a huge performance killer on steeper terrain. It makes hooking at pockets on an overhang hang extremely difficult.
Heel and Toe Hooking
The heel cup design and toe patch on the Butora Senegi most won’t set your world on fire. The toe patch is virtually nonexistent, there is a small extension of the rand over the big toe with three small perforations that are more there for style rather than substance. Basic toe hooking is certainly possible, although don’t expect to be cranking out any no-hands bat hangs any time soon.
The heel isn’t exactly what you would call a technical design either, but it does a pretty good job of keeping your foot secure within the shoe and also whilst heel hooking. The heel uses a simple slingshot rand that wraps around the back of your heel and underneath the arch of your foot. The outsole also wraps up the back of the heel slightly, which offers a little extra rigidity when sticking a heel hook. The two material cutouts on either side keep the back of the shoe soft, which allows the heel cup to adapt nicely to the shape of your heel.
Based on my experience, gym climbing is where the Senegi feels most at home. They feel okay on hard rock like Granite and Gritstone, but I personally believe that the Neo rubber and softer midsole make the Senegi a better indoor shoe than an outdoor one.
It’s worth remembering that because this is a budget shoe, there’s a pretty low-performance ceiling here. In my experience, on gym problems up to V4/V5 the Senegi feels okay, but once the climbing becomes more overhung, the holds get smaller, or the moves become more dynamic, the Senegi limits your performance potential.
For a new climber, this basic level of performance will be absolutely fine. But I am willing to bet that if you are already climbing in the V4/V5 range, you will most likely get frustrated by the lack of performance pretty quickly.
The Senegi might be the cheapest shoe in their line-up, but that doesn’t mean that Butora has skimped on the build quality. Okay, so these aren’t handmade in Italy like the leading performance shoes you are dreaming about, they are made in China. Nevertheless, I have always been impressed by the durability of Butora’s shoes, and the Senegi is no exception.
After several months of putting them through their paces on both indoor and outdoor routes, the shoes are showing remarkably little signs of wear. The reinforced stitching around the velcro strap and tongue protects the areas of the shoe that are under the most stress. The lined material also helps reinforce the uppers from abrasion against the rock and stops excessive stretching that renders plenty of other cheap climbing shoes useless after a few months.
Another aspect of the Butora Senegi I have been impressed with is how little they smell. Considering I have been cramming my dirty trotters into these shoes for some time now, they smell pretty damn good.
Butora Senegi Size Guide
As with many of Butora’s climbing shoes, I have found the size of the Senegi to be a little on the small side. That said, I opted for my street shoe size (EU43) and this provided me with a comfortable performance fit.
If you like a little extra comfort in your life, then sizing up an extra EU size might suit your preferences better. That said, I would caution about going too crazy with the upsizing. If you upsize too much you run the risk of impacting the already limited performance of the Senegi.
Fit & Comfort
The Butora Senegi is going to work best for climbers with normal to narrow feet. Unlike many other shoes in the Butora line, the Senegi only comes in one last shape, there is no high or low-volume variation here.
I consider my foot to sit on the slightly wider side of the spectrum and I find the forefoot a little tight in these. The heel, on the other hand, is the stark opposite and feels pretty wide, which works well for me, although this will utterly come down to the shape of your foot.
The toe box feels like it is better suited best Greek toe shapes, as it centers the tip over the second toe. My Eqytian-shaped toes feel a little crammed into the toe box, and I reckon Roman toes would struggle much more with this toe box shape.
Should you buy the Butora Senegi?
All in all, the Butora Senegi is a reasonable choice for new climbers who want their own pair of shoes, but don’t want to part with more than $100 for the privilege. The very limited performance potential undoubtedly makes this a shoe best suited to completely new climbers who are at the beginner of their climbing journey and are prioritizing comfort over crushing hard.
That said, for beginners who have a little more cash to splash, or for intermediate climbers who are already in the V4/V5 range, then there are plenty of better options that are better suited to your climbing ability. Other popular beginner shoes, like the Scarpa Vapor V or Veloce, offer a lot more performance without totally sacrificing comfort.
Or, if you want to explore some more performance-orientated Butora shoes, then I suggest you take a look at the Butora Acro – it’s one of the best budget-performance shoes favored by plenty of seasoned gym rats.
4mm Neo Rubber
Full Lenght 1.4mm
We’ve had our say – now it’s time for you to have yours. If you’ve got a history with this shoe, then please leave a review! The climbing community needs your knowledge.