The Anasazi Lace, known throughout the climbing world as the ‘Pinks’, is a truly iconic shoe. Used by legends of yesteryear like Klem Loskot, Fred Nicole and Chris Sharma, the Pinks were one of the most loved climbing shoes of the 20th century. Like any good love story, the Pinks had their fair share of difficulties, but that didn’t stop them from growing a cult-like following over the last 30 years.
But a lot has changed since the Pinks ruled supreme. The climbs have become increasingly more difficult, technical and dynamic. The Anasazi lace had become a bit of a dinosaur, desperately in need of an upgrade.
It wasn’t the only one either. The Anasazi Lace was just one of three iconic Five Ten shoes (along with the Anasazi VCS and Moccasyms) to receive a makeover for the 2021 season. In my opinion, the Lace is the most specialized shoe in their new Nose In A Day range. They have a stiffer profile than both the NIAD VCS and NIAD Moccasym, allowing for extra precision on the smallest of edging whilst excelling at styles of climbing where you spend longer periods of time on the wall.
Like it’s other NIAD compatriots, the modern upgrades have made this a technically solid all-rounder performer, with the most noticeable improvements being seen in the new heel and toe box designs.
The Lace is certainly better suited to sport climbing, multi-pitch and trad adventures than smearing on volumes at the bouldering gym. Because of this, the shoe will feel at home in the collection of climbers that enjoy edging on a dime and executing laser practice footwork.
The full length sole is great for edging
Secure heel cup
We Don’t Like
The stiff profile makes them less sensitive
Best suited to narrow footed climbers
fIVE tEN NIAD Lace reVIEW
50 Days of Climbing
When I first laid eyes on the NIAD Lace, I had mixed feelings.
There are certainly still some resemblances to the iconic shoe that came before the NIAD Lace; the classic pink uppers, the signature stiffness, a patterned interior, even the laces share the same color scheme as the original Anasazi did in 1993.
Yet, at the same time, it is clear this next-generation model wants to forge a reputation of its own, like a child stepping out of its parent’s shadow.
After my first day of testing, it became immediately obvious that there are some big differences to this shoe. The NIAD Lace has a far superior heel cup, which doesn’t just make heel hooking significantly more secure, but also allows for greater precision and better power transfer to the toe box. The new padded tongue is made of a breathable mesh that offers additional comfort whilst helping keep the shoe breathable. A toe patch has also been added to help NIAD Lace to tackle the nuances of modern sport routes. I have also found that the handmade build quality of the new Five Ten shoes is brilliant too.
One thing that has, and probably always will, be a mainstay on Five Ten shoes is their legendary C4 rubber. It’s a brilliant compound that inspires confidence on every type of rock I have tested it on, it’s great in the gym too. I find C4 rubber to be very durable too so your shoes should last a while before needing a resole, depending on how well you treat them, of course.
The Lace, like the rest of the NIAD range, has a pretty unique shape. They are fairly narrow, with a blunt toe box, which puts the tip of the shoe somewhere between your big toe and second toe. Despite having pretty wide feet, I find the NIAD a comfortable shoe, although the lace does have the added benefit of a finer turned fit over the VCS and Moccs.
Like the VCS, the Lace is almost entirely made of Lyliane Microfiber, with the exception of a suede insole in the toe box. There are a few reasons for the leather insole but most importantly it helps the forefoot mould to the shape of your foot, whilst also providing some extra friction within the shoe.
After testing the NIAD Lace over several months, I have been pretty impressed with this next-generation model. It still retains the best parts of the Anasazi Lace and Blanco, minus the harsh heel tension, which was somewhat of a love/hate feature of the classic model. The NIAD Lace is slightly softer than the original Pinks once broken in and significantly softer than the board-stiff Blancos.
Nevertheless, the NIAD Lace still offers that support on the smallest of edges, which was what its predecessor was renowned for. This ultimately encourages confidence in technical foot sequences, both in the gym and on the rock.
That said, as with any stiff, full-length soled climbing shoe, they aren’t exactly the most sensitive shoes you will ever own. You will have to rely a bit more on sight instead of feel when it comes to intricate footwork. Smearing also becomes a little trickier in stiff shoes, although the excellent C4 rubber certainly helps compensate for this. Pulling pockets isn’t exactly what the Lace is designed for either, so it’s unlikely you will be clipping the chains on any gnarly Margelf overhangs with these on.
However, when you use the NIAD for what it is designed for – vertical, technical, and sustained climbing – it’s up there with the best of them.
The Heel & Toe
Like the rest of the NIAD range, the heel has received a major upgrade from the original. Long gone is the combined heel cup and rand of the classic Pinks which was, arguably, the worst feature of the shoe. Instead, like the VCS, the slingshot rand has now been separated from the heel cup. This design significantly enhances the fit and performance of the NIAD Lace.
The 3D cup has a really nice spherical shape, which is made of a softer rubber, which allows for plenty of customization with the fit. The newly separated slingshot rand compliments this really well and now extends further down and around the arch of your foot. This distributes tension throughout the shoe which alleviates the need for Achilles-snapping force on the back of your heel.
Of all the NIAD shoes, the heel of the Lace is my favorite. The stiff rubber spine protrudes up the back of the heel, higher up than the VCS, and creates a bigger ridge to hook with. This also makes heel hooking more secure, as it adds additional support to the soft heel cup making it more rigid when cranking hard.
The toe box is another aspect of the shoe that has received a makeover. Interestingly, the symmetrical shape of the new NIAD models put the tip of the toe box between the first and second toe which, admittedly, does feel slightly unusual if you are used to wearing asymmetrical shoes. Once you get used to it, however, it’s clear that this allows for better pushing power with significantly less strain on your big toe.
The lacing system doesn’t extend as far down the toe box as it did on the classic model, with the original 9 eyelets being shrunk down to just 7. This does slightly reduce the amount of control you have over the fit, although it makes the toe box a more practical tool.
In place of those extra eyelets, the shoe now has a bigger toe patch. This isn’t a carbon copy of the one found on the VCS though, these toe patches were clearly designed with different tasks in mind.
The VCS toe patch is larger, partially because there is additional space due to the velcro closure, making it better suited to extended toe hooking sequences on overhung boulder problems. The toe patch on the Lace is about half the size of its velcro counterpart, designed for the occasional, less power-intensive, toe hooks more common on the less-vertically inclined routes.
Standing on small edges is where NIAD Lace excels. Unlike soft shoes, that require you to dig-in and crank down hard on your toes, the stiff-full length sole of the NIAD lace offers a ridiculous amount of support with minimal foot fatigue.
It does this through the use of a 1.5 mm full length midsole, which keeps the neutral profile rigid, as well as a .5mm TPU sheet midsole in the forefoot. This ultimately allows you to execute technical footwork with significantly less effort, which is great if you are working a sport route or bouldering problem will barely-there footholds, although where this really shines is longer multi-pitch lines.
Because of that rounded toe box, the edge isn’t completely precise, not compared to more stiff shoes with a more pointed toe like the Five Ten Crawe, anyway. That said, unless you are planning a trip up the Dawn Wall, this sort of laser-point precision is rarely needed on longer styles of climbing, and the more rounded edge will provide better comfort on those larger climbs.
Considering the Lace has a stiff, full-length sole shoe, it takes to smearing pretty well. Or at least, as well as can be expected. Shoes of this nature tend to struggle with friction moves compared to their softer, split-sole counterparts, as a smearing ability is closely related to the shoe’s flexibility which enables it to conform to the shape (and angle) of the wall.
Although the stiff profile of the NIAD does give some resistance to smearing on vertical walls, the C4 rubber serves up the friction you need to stick these sorts of moves, especially on granite.
Don’t get me wrong though, if you are looking for something to smear up a gym volume regularly, you are probably better off with the Moccasyms or another pair of soft climbing shoes.
Its pocket pulling ability is one area where the NIAD Lace isn’t going to overwhelm you. Then again, how could it? It’s the exact opposite style of what this shoe is built for.
In truth, a full length sole with a fairly rounded toe box will never really be able to keep up the pointed, aggrieved shoes specially designed to tackle these styles of climbs. If this is something you are looking for, then the Five Ten Crawe is certainly worth a look.
Five Ten NIAD Lace Sizing
As with all the new Five Ten shoes, sizing the NIAD Lace is pretty easy. The new last shapes follow a very similar size to your street shoes. I wear a street shoe size of EU 44 (UK 9),and the same size in the NIAD line. Five Ten suggest that you opt for ⅕ – 1 full size down if you want a more aggressive fit, although I think this would probably be a bit tight.
Bear in mind that these are Lined microfiber uppers, which means there isn’t much stretch in them, but that doesn’t mean that the shoe won’t mould and adapt to the shape of your foot.
Because the NIAD Lace has a lace closure, it also offers a lot of opportunity to fine tune the fit though the length of the shoe, which is great if you have some funny shaped feet.
One feature I really like about the lace closure is that the lining on the inside of the eyelets extends down to the bottom of the shoe. This means when you tighten the laces, it’s not just pulling the uppers closer together, it’s also tightening the bottom of the shoe too. This helps create a really nice fitt between the arch of your foot and the bottom of the shoe.
1.5 mm full length Bontex laminated with .5mm TPU sheet midsole
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Prices compared at 12/03/2021