Five Ten Dragon
The 5.10 Dragon is a legendary shoe in the world of steep and technical bouldering, and the 2019 version does this prestigious model proud.
- Performance: 80% 80%
- Sensitivity: 85% 85%
- Comfort: 70% 70%
- Value For Money 75% 75%
- Total Score 78% 78%
Precise and downturned
Large toe rand
We Don’t Like
Expensive Not good at smearing Difficult to size properly
Built For: Bouldering, Sport climbing
Summary: A modern and aggressive shoe that performs well on steep terrain that can hold its own on the slabs too.
Five Ten Dragon Review
The 5.10 Dragon is a somewhat legendary shoe in the world of steep and technical bouldering, often causing mature climbers in the gym to make misty-eyed nostalgic comments of how they ‘remember the old version before they were bought by Adidas’ and how they have a pair of ‘wilting old Dragons’ which they save specifically for those tough projects.
The Dragon has always been an aggressive and technical shoe used by the likes of climbing legend Dave Graham to project routes such as the notorious 8c+ Hypnotised Minds. Its prevalence in the world of high level bouldering in the past 10 years is paralleled perhaps only by the La Sportiva Solutions.
The 2019 version of the 5.10 Dragon is a new and improved version of the previous and much-loved model, adapted to suit the needs of the ever-evolving futuristic style of modern climbing. It’s a beast on overhanging steep terrain where an aggressive downturn is needed to hook onto footholds and where sticky toe hooks are essential.
In this Five Ten Dragon review, I will share with you some of the knowledge I have picked up after using them for 6 months.
1) Toe Box
In my experience, these shoes work extremely well in the vast majority of scenarios.
I have used them on varying terrain from gritstone slabs to burly, heel intensive compression boulders as well as technical indoor roof climbs with critical toe hooks. The toe rubber significantly increased my toe hook ability, comparing favourably over La Sportiva’s Miura, and these shoes are not too soft to make standing on pebbles or tiny footholds difficult or painful.
The asymmetric design of the laces has allowed 5.10 to slap a massive toe patch on the Dragon which reaches right up to the bottom of the laces. This toe patch has performed well and is of a good thickness to offer sensitivity but also a high degree of protection. 5.10 have also added rubber along the lace closure system which makes the eyelets a lot sturdier and is certainly more durable than the La Sportiva Solutions whose closure system has often been known to snap.
Perhaps the only scenario in which the Dragon is not ideal is technical smearing or long vertical climbs where a lot of time is spent on small footholds.
The split sole design on the Dragon allows the rubber in the toe and the heel to vary in thickness.
The aggressive slingshot rand of thick rubber goes from the midsole to the heel, however, the rubber surrounding the rand is much thinner. This thinner rubber allows the heel to mold and form to the shape of your foot better than a thicker and more rigid rubber.
The heel is technical and works well on spikes as well as heel smears where the thinner rubber on the side of the heel is effective. It is imperative that you wear the Dragons tight as the aggressive slingshot rand will result in a dead space below your heel if the shoe isn’t fitted tightly enough and the heel isn’t forced down into the shoe.
5.10 have used their softest rubber, the Stealth HF (high friction), which is particularly useful on overhangs where less weight is applied to one’s feet and a softer rubber is required to provide good friction even when less pressure is applied through the toes.
The soft rubber increases the shoes smearing ability however this is certainly not its strong point due to the aggressive downturn. In my personal experience the rubber lasts a long time, however, it has rounded quite dramatically creating a toe almost like the La Sportiva ‘no edge’ shoes which makes it is less effective for roof climbing.
The longevity of a shoe can vary dramatically between person to person depending on footwork and if your local wall has smooth or grippy walls. The bonding of the rubber has also been sturdy and has not flaked or started to peel as some shoes can.
The 2019 Dragon’s sole wraps around the shoe leaving very little of the upper exposed, as a result, I have found this shoe provides good friction when crack climbing. However, the split sole design is certainly softer when twisting a foot into a crack than a purpose-built crack shoe and would leave your feet perhaps more tired than a stiffer shoe.
4) Comfort and Fit
The 2019 Dragons have a microfiber inner and outer with a soft almost towel like tongue.
The microfiber on the inner and outer feels almost like suede but is more breathable and odour resistant. I can vouch for this, my feet have not felt sweaty in these shoes and their smell isn’t nearly as overpowering as other used shoes.
For wide footed people I would recommend a street size fit and for narrower feet a size down. The lace closure system allows an wide degree of adjustability in width compared to the velcro closure version which is also available. I would say that these shoes would fit a more arched foot than a flatter one due to the shape of the sole.
As for the break-in period there is not much give or stretch in the shoe due to the synthetic microfiber material used, and as a result the break-in is more down to you becoming comfortable with the shoe’s shape and nature rather than it molding to your foot and loosening up.
I have found these shoes to be comfortable, however, I could certainly keep my Miuras on for longer, but that is to be expected from a less downturned shoe.
The 2019 5.10 Dragon is a modern, technical and aggressive shoe that performs well on steep terrain and toe hooks but is not unusable on slabs and cracks. I can recommend these shoes, however, they are expensive at the retail price of £130 and it is worth shopping around as they are often available for under £100 making them of excellent value.
These shoes are great for an intermediate to skilled level climber who is seriously attempting steep technical climbing regularly and can perhaps afford a dedicated stiff edging shoe for sport and face climbing.
I hope you have enjoyed this Five Ten Dragon review. Happy climbing!