Edging - 7.5/10
Smearing - 7/10
Steep Terrain - 9.5/10
Comfort - 7.5/10
Sensitivity - 8.5/10
Value For Money - 8.5/10
- The insanely-secure heel cup
- Sticky C4 rubber outsole
- Awesome on overhung terrain
- Not great for smearing
- Very narrow fit
Best For: Overhung sport and boulder problems
Summary: The Hiangle has everything you would expect from a performance-oriented climbing shoe, except for the eye-watering price tag. There are plenty of tools in the new Hingle arsenal to drool over including a brilliantly re-designed heel and a new split sole aimed at improving the shoe’s flexibility and maintaining its downturned shape.
While the rounded toe box isn’t as laser-precise as I like, it’s hard to argue when you see Janja Garnbret crushing the boulder and lead word championships with these on her feet.
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Five Ten Hiangle Review
Veterans at the crag love the old saying that “it’s a sorry workman who blames his tools” or “you can’t substitute strength for technique” and all the rest of the things they say. Then, their climbing session is complete, they remove their $200 shoes and do one-arm pull-ups on a tree branch. You almost get the feeling that they’re trying to trick you.
Most of us think we can see through this: we want strength AND technique AND good tools. Certainly, the novice that shows up with $220 footwear deserves derision—Lichtenstein with a nuclear arsenal. Nevertheless, experienced climbers understand that shoes make a difference—not 5.12a instead of 5.10d. But not slipping off a dime-size hold; gaining secure purchase with a toe hook on steep terrain; using a good heel to gain advantage on the wall.
The Five Ten Hiangle is a performance tool for the climber ready to up his game and reduce excuses aimed at what’s covering the feet. The shoe positions itself as a great high-performance shoe for people who don’t want to take their shoes off after every climb and don’t want to (entirely) break the bank. The shoe isn’t cheap, but it’s still below the cost of upper-tier shoes.
A bouldering and sport route specialist, the Hiangle delivers great gym climbing performance, which is where I’ve mainly used it. For outdoor it’s a great single-pitch sport climbing shoe. This shoe’s comfort will please climbers because there is no trade-off for performance. Don’t get carried away, the Hiangle is no fluffy slipper. File it into the intermediate range for how nice it is to your foot.
Given the shoe’s overhung route and bouldering pedigree, you would expect the toe box to be better than average. And it is. Toeing onto small holds on steep terrain is effortless. The ample rubber on top—with extended toe rands locking together from both sides—combines with a firm grip to keep your toe in place and leave some room for error. Hiangles love bouldering, and when I first got them friends would tease me about overdoing the toe hooks and scums.
The toe is an average performer in pockets, simply because of its less than a talon-like point. The flip side of that drawback is that the rounder toe works better for edging than a pointier shoe, like the La Sportiva Solution.
The toe has a nice mix of sensitivity, stickiness, and stiffness that works for a range of climbs.
The snug-fitting heel combines with a thinner rubber strip to give the back end a sensitive, responsive feel that I appreciate when bouldering.
That said, the narrow strip of rubber that begins midsole and continues to top off the back of the heel is a little odd. Even within that thin strip, there exists a raised portion. The goal of this design seems to be greater precision, even if it provides less friction in certain positions. I have to say I’ve never felt it slip position as it appears it could, so I don’t have reservations about the design based on use. The heel rand delivers more Stealth rubber grip, and the inside portion of its rubber is dotted with holes to give even more friction and helps score some style points too.
The heel cup conforms perfectly to my average-size heel. The rear end gives excellent support without being too stiff. One portion of the heel, the internal threading, is less comfortable than it should be, but more on that later.
Even if Five Ten’s reputation for great rubber is partly a result of their own marketing efforts, let’s be clear: The Stealth C4 rubber is still pretty great. The shoe’s rubber feels great to the touch. Its sticky surface gives you confidence wherever you choose to plant your foot. In spite of its thickness, the 4.2mm sole gives the shoe noticeable sensitivity, making you feel in touch with the contours of every hold, allowing precision.
The grippy rubber will put you calmly on edge. The moderate downturn subtracts some edging ability, but the shoe works chips with aplomb. The foot gets edging support from the relative stiffness of the midsole. The shoes feel good doing edge work on technical slab climbing; however, better smearing for this style of climb would require softer rubber. Although the downturn, again, doesn’t aid smearing, the rubber is reliably sticky for using friction on slopers.
In the year and a half that I’ve used the shoe, the rubber’s wear has been relatively minimal. Aided by its stiffness, the material stands up to the rigors of frequent bouldering sessions where all parts of the shoe are in use. Overall, in fact, the craftsmanship and durability of the shoe have been nothing less than stellar.
Comfort and Fit
For a moderately aggressive shoe, the Hiangle is surprisingly comfortable for my average volume, and average width foot. There is a pretty serious breaking in period where a user might doubt the comfort claims. Initially, it took great effort to pull the shoe over the heel, and my feet would cramp up every time they went on. During the break-in period, the shoe’s unlined leather gradually conforms to every bend and idiosyncrasy of one’s foot.
The stretch is as much as ½ size. Ultimately, the fit is still snug, making both pull tabs necessary to yank the shoe on. Without the closure system, the Hiangle wraps your foot well, slipper-like; the Velcro strap completes the feeling of a second skin. The moderate asymmetrical bend helps keep the feet in a more natural position. Adding to the comfort is the rounded toe. In contrast, the downturned toe takes away some comfort, but otherwise, the shoe’s molding to your foot keeps the comfort level high for an aggressive shoe. With one notable exception.
With the shoes off, you can feel with your finger the heel tab threads protruding more than you’d want. On the foot, the feeling is no better. For the most part, the discomfort from this poor design fades away as you get into your climbing session—only to build up if you keep the shoes on too long. Once you pull the shoes off, the feeling returns as you look at the indent in your skin.
A friend who also uses the Hiangle complains about the same problem, but, in any event, this may be one of those issues of individual foot anatomy where others don’t know what you’re talking about. Either way, this issue is minor, but I wish Five Ten would look at the plethora of climbing shoes out there that better soften or recess the heel tab fabric and threads. To be clear, these shoes stay on my feet for long stretches, and pulling them off is usually more a result of their aggressive profile.
Another major factor in the shoe’s comfort is the sizing. “Oh, dear reviewer,” you say, “tell me something I don’t know!” Ok, here goes: some shoes might work for you, more or less, between half sizes. Not this one. I originally got the size 10 and let’s just say it was like putting a cow into a doghouse. That’s a lot of angry mooing. Thankfully, I was able to exchange and size up a half to the 10 ½.
Not having owned a pair of Five Ten’s before, I didn’t take seriously enough warnings that these shoes would size on my high-end street shoes. Ultimately, this change made all the difference. Purchasers of this shoe should make sure they’ve tried them on, know their size in the brand, or be ok with sending the shoe back for an exchange if they choose wrongly.
Unfortunately, there are no ruby slippers for climbing—tap three times and you’re at the top of El Cap. In the real world, where you have to earn your travel, the Hiangle helps move you up the wall with poise. The performance you get keeps you from looking at the supposedly greener grasses of higher-end shoes and wondering if you would have stayed attached to the wall on that V4 if only you’d had the better shoe.
A good introduction to aggressive shoes, the Hiangle’s moderate downturn, rounded toe, and medium asymmetry don’t do too many funny things to your poor feet. That suggests that these shoes will not deliver top-notch performance in specialized situations, and of course, that’s true—these aren’t magical unicorn shoes.
Yet, it’s a multipurpose performer that shines on bouldering problems and walls with high angles (you were wondering when I would go there). For multi-pitch routes, this shoe would be pushing it, unless you come across a generous ledge mid-climb where you want to eat your sack lunch and let your dogs air out. Persnickety climbers or climbers who love having lots of gear will never find an all-around shoe, but those looking to keep the holdings in their quiver to one could do worse than to choose the Hiangle.
One minor side note: a friend, who has blue leather Hiangles, says the blue bleeds to his feet. Mine, with grey leather, doesn’t have any such problem. No one will be surprised that Five Ten hasn’t come out with an official statement about this Smurf foot matter, but unofficially the word is that they have eliminated the problem by getting rid of the offending version. Therefore, be wary of the older, blue leather iteration! Case in point: A quick eBay search reveals a brand new blue pair at a good price, but to the seller’s credit, there is a giant, bolded, all-caps warning about Smurf foot!
We hope you have enjoyed our Five Ten Hiangle review. Happy climbing!
We’ve had our say, and now it’s time for you to have yours. If you have a history with this shoe, then please leave a review! The climbing community needs your wisdom.