Intermediate – Advanced
It seems that most modern sport and a bouldering-specific shoes follow a very similar pattern. It’s almost like a class of school children copying each other’s answers. Highly downturned and super-soft construction is the key to a serious-sending shoe, right?
Maybe – but if it is – the Crawe certainly didn’t get that memo.
For this shoe, a new offering for the 2020 season, Adidas teamed up with Swiss mega-crusher and long-term Five Ten ambassador Fred Nicole to take a path less travelled.
Instead of the usual toe-crushing, talon-like aggressive downturn, they opted for a more pleasant moderate shape. The usual super-soft construction has also been replaced with a medium-stiff forefoot. Although this does soften up slightly after a few sessions there’s no mistaking that this shoe falls firmly on the stiffer side of the spectrum.
Unsurprisingly, the Crawe acts exactly how you would expect a stiff shoe to. It pushes off holds the smallest of holds, rather than conforming around them, as soft shoes would. Unlike many stiff shoes, the Crawe still has the flexibility you want when precariously smearing on a large gym volume, hooking at pockets on an overhang, or delicately edging your way up a slab route.
After a few weeks of testing, I have found this shoe to be a serious contender when it comes to climbing outdoor routes and problems of all angles. It packs a punch as a versatile sport shoe, capable of handling steep terrain with ease, without sacrificing performance, or comfort, on less vertically inclined faces and slabs.
Could this be the best Five Ten climbing shoe yet? It might just be.
All-round sport climbing ability
Amazing at edging
The super-secure heel
Primeknit upper creates a sock-like fit
It’s awesome colors!
We Don’t Like
Pretty brutal break-in period was
Less sensitive than it’s softer counterparts
fIVE tEN CRAWE reVIEW
50 Days of Climbing
The first thing that caught my attention about the Crawe is its design. I know we are told not to judge a book by its cover – but when the cover looks this good – it’s hard not to. I’m sure we can all agree that the orange highlights on the all-black uppers looks absolutely awesome.
When I slipped on the Crawe for the first time though, I admit, I was slightly reluctant. They felt a lot stiffer and by extension, less sensitive, than the usual performance shoes I gravitate towards.
However, when I started climbing, my concerns disappeared pretty damn fast. The first thing that becomes abundantly clear is that the Crawe really knows how to stick an edge. Thanks to their stiff forefoot and the well-balanced tension through the shoe, it’s ridiculously easy to stand on the smallest of features. No digging in hard and straining your toes as you do with softer shoes.
The next thing you notice is how, even though the Crawe is a moderately flat shoe, it has a pleasant curvature to the forefoot. The curve in the forefoot provides the pocket-pulling power you would expect from a far more aggressively camber, without sacrificing the superior comfort of a moderate shoe.
A well-designed heel is essential for a good sport climbing shoe, and this is perhaps the ‘piece de resistance’ of the Crawe. The heel is soft and sticky yet remains rigid when weighted, ensuring it won’t crumple when cracking hard.
The sock-like fit of the Crawe is equally brilliant. The tension bands and Primknit knit upper allow for a sock-like fit right out of the box, and do such a great job of keeping the shoe securely wrapped around your foot, that the single velcro strap is almost unnecessary.
I will always have space for aggressive and super soft, pocket-pulling monstrosities in my shoe collection, especially for indoor boulder problems with large friction holds. That said, when it comes to those tricky little edges, the Crawe has quickly become the shoe I bring out to get the job done.
The Heel & Toe
The heel is one of the best features of the Crawe. In many ways, the Crawe is similar to the Hiangle Pro in this respect, if not better. The full coverage heel design has the perfect balance between friction, rigidity, and sensitivity that I look for in a performance shoe.
The outsole protrudes up the back of your heel, helping keep it rigid when cranking hard, whilst offering some welcomed protection to your calcaneus bone. This shape also creates a nice edge that you can use to hook onto small features for more delicate heel placements.
Perhaps the best thing about the Crawe heel though is that it uses Stealth HF (high friction) rubber. It’s immediately obvious how much additional friction this compound provides over the (also brilliant, just slightly less sticky) C4 rubber. Unsurprisingly, the HF is one of the highest friction rubber compounds in the STEALTH repertoire, although it’s a rarity to find it on Five Ten climbing shoes these days. It’s great to see the super-sticky rubber back in action and inspire utter confidence on every heel hook.
The beefy heel slingshot rand also keeps the heel ridiculously secure. I can barely pull these off when I want to. Expect no unwanted heel slipping issues with the Crawe.
There is one aspect of the Crawe heel that bugs me slightly though. The angle where it curves around the heel is almost 90 degrees and doesn’t exactly follow the natural curvature of my heel. This creates a small dead space, which doesn’t really detract from its great performance, although it does lead to the occasional ‘foot fart’. Of course, everyone will have different experiences with this depending on the shape of their feet, so this might not be a problem for you.
The Toe Box
The top of the toe box comes to a pleasantly pointed tip. This shape offers more precision than the Five Ten NIAD shoes, although certainly not as pointed as hyper-aggressive shoes like the Evolv Phantom or La Sportiva Solution. This middle-ground shape allows the Crawe to work technical vertical faces as well as lending itself nicely to overhung pockets.
The edges of the toe box are stiff, making it easy to weigh the edges without causing serious strain on your toes. This is helped by the midsole, which protrudes up the inside edge and around the side of your first metatarsal bone. This plays an important role in keeping the edges of the toe rigid. This stiffness isn’t uniform throughout the toe box though, it tapers towards the middle of the forefoot, offering a bit of welcomed sensitivity to feel what you are standing on.
Remember that awesome-looking orange band across the top? Yes, it looks great, but it’s not just there to look pretty. It helps keep tension in the forefoot and reduces excessive stretch, helping keep the toe box laser whilst weighted. You can see it in action when you cram your foot into the shoe and apply pressure to the toes. It fights back and stops the shoe from becoming sloppy and spreading out when weight is applied.
It goes without saying that a toe patch is a near-essential addition to any bouldering shoe these days. The Crawe’s toe patch is very similar to the Hiangle in both design and thickness. This isn’t a soft and sensitive TPU patch found on shoes like the La Sportiva Skwama or Black Diamond Shadow. The Crawe’s toe patch is beefy, robust, and willing to dig in hard on even the sharpest of rock.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Crawe is a beast at edging. Seriously, it’s up there with one of the best edging shoes I have tested.
It does this through a stiff forefoot design, which is created by the features I previously mentioned in the toe section above. This is also helped with paired with a split sole design, a refreshing change to many stiff shoes that use a full-length sole, allowing you the flexibility to raise your heel up and crank down hard on the tip of the shoe.
I have been testing the Five Ten NIAD Lace recently, another shoe that sits on the stiffer end of the spectrum. Although the NIAD Lace is still a good edging shoe, it pales in comparison to the Crawe.
One of my biggest grudges with stiff shoes is that they usually lack the super sticky properties of their softer counterparts whilst smearing. It’s often difficult to get their shape to conform to the angle you require to stick friction moves.
Thankfully, the Crawe’s split-sole design pays dividends here. It offers the range of movement and flexibility in the forefoot to get surface coverage on the rock face or gym volume.
It is worth remembering that the stiffness of a shoe is created by the midsole, not the outsole rubber. Although, this means the Crawe’s sole won’t conform to a smear as well as a softer shoe would, the sticky C4 rubber in the forefoot gives you the friction you need to smear with confidence.
Considering this isn’t a highly downturned shoe, the Crawe grabs pockets surprisingly well. It’s certainly capable of keeping up with those downturned monstrosities. So how does a fairly flat shoe become so good at pocket-pulling and overhangs?
Firstly, unlike the NIAD shoes, the toe tip is pointed enough to hook into the shallowest of pockets. The toe box is also pretty low volume, so you can slot the entire forefoot into the large jugs with ease.
That gentle curvature in the forefoot sole is also a welcomed addition for hooking pockets.
Five Ten Crawe Sizing
Like the rest of the new Five Ten shoes, sizing the Crawe is pretty easy. I opted for my street size with the Crawe and it was a good match. I actually found them pretty tight at first. They did loosen up after the (slightly painful) break-in period, I’m certainly glad I didn’t downsize with these shoes.
If you enjoy a tight fit, I suggest trying your street shoe size and see how that goes. If you like a bit more comfort, I would suggest going 1 EU size up. You don’t want to upsize too much though, or you will lose all the amazing advantages the Crawe offers.
The toe box adapted nicely to my foot, but because this is an almost entirely synthetic shoe, (with the exception of the foot bed) you shouldn’t expect to see much stretch here. The Crawe also has lined uppers, so make sure to take this into consideration when sizing these bad boys.
If you have read any of my NIAD reviews (Mocc, VCS, or Lace) you would know that I found the NIAD range pretty narrow-fitting shoes. Although the Crawe isn’t exactly what I would classify as a wide-fitting shoe, it certainly has a wider toe box than the NIAD shoes.
Also, unlike many of Five Ten’s shoes, the Crawe comes as a ‘one size fits all’ model. There aren’t any high/low or male/female variations here. The Crawe is a fairly low-volume shoe, so if you have a wide forefoot, heel, or a high-volume instep, you might struggle with this shoe.
PrimeKnit & Microfiber
Stealth C4 & HF
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Prices compared at 10/26/2021