Edging - 6/10
Smearing - 9/10
Steep Terrain - 8/10
Comfort - 7/10
Sensitivity - 9/10
Value For Money - 7/10
- Extremely sensitive
- Awesome for smearing
- Wore out very fast
Best For: Bouldering
Summary: For those in the know, the Five Ten team was THE shoe of choice of big-time crushers in the early 2000s. It was arguably the shoe that introduced the world to the benefits of soft shoes, and the benchmark for the models that have followed since the release of the Team.
Unfortunately, you will be hard-pressed to buy a pair of the Five Ten Team today as they were discounted in 2016, much to the dismay of its many admirers.
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Five Ten Team Review
The 5.10 Team is a superlative shoe. An ultra-soft shoe with a lightweight velcro strap, the previous iteration of the shoe (the classic Blues) gained something of a cult status after the demise of the old-school Jet 7. Updated into a slick and professional Black version, it remains the last word in high-end bouldering performance and classy design.
While the shoe was discontinued to make way for Five Ten’s new front runners – like the Hiangle – many old-school climbers still reminisce over this old-school classic.
It undoubtedly has weaknesses, like any piece of equipment that is tailored to just one use, but the Team was designed for performance bouldering, and that’s what it excels at. The famous Stealth rubber is soft, sticky, and reliable, and the subtle but continuous asymmetric downturn makes this shoe a powerful specialist for all kinds of boulders.
The Five Ten Team probably has the best-shaped toe of any climbing shoe I’ve ever worn of its era. It somehow manages to be spade-like and pointy at the same time, allowing you to smear the living daylights out of a low-angled volume or edge onto some non-existent divet in the rock equally well. A small bump under the toes is, to my mind, revolutionary.
Although the shoe is not as downturned as some aggressive shoes, the bump under the toes allows the shoe to almost ‘hook’ over tiny footholds and get in behind them, which is unbelievably effective on overhanging bouldering, where the tiniest foot contact makes a difference.
When broken in, the soft rubber around the toe box allows for powerful movement off the foot from minimal contact.
The Stealth rubber continues to wrap all the way around the toe box and goes all the way up to the middle of the shoe, providing a glove-like effect that allows for toe-hooking of all kinds. This shoe is undoubtedly the best I have worn on marginal feet and marginal toe hooks, where a small amount of rubber contact behind a hold can be the difference between a wild cut loose and a controlled move.
Like many 5.10 models, the heel on the Team is compact and slim, allowing it to fit in slots, pockets, and other features that chunkier, more robust shoes can’t. Some find this a little frustrating though, and the minimal material and soft rubber can lead to quite a lot of deformation, especially when the heel is used more sideways than downwards.
However I find the heel to be pretty effective in most circumstances and because the shoe is tensioned onto the foot by the aggressive design and small size, the velcro strap doesn’t have to work hard to keep the heel feeling secure.
It isn’t the Team’s most impressive element, but the heel has to be good to allow the shoe to excel in hard bouldering environments, and it does that just fine.
Using the C4 Stealth rubber gave 5.10 shoes an edge over the market for years, because it is simply so damn grippy, and the Team is no exception. It sticks too well – if like me you have a bad habit of dragging your back foot up the wall, expect it to catch on things!
It doesn’t take too long to break in either, and this is great – despite being quite pinchy and tight (more on this below) the Team is actually a remarkably sensitive shoe, allowing you to feel almost everything. The only downside, as with any extremely soft shoe, is that this reduces its lifespan.
Comfort and Fit
Let’s be clear – this is not a comfortable shoe. The Teams are designed to hyper-aggressively stick to nothing footholds on (usually steep) boulder problems. To get that level of performance, you simply have to sacrifice comfort, and I really struggled to even get these shoes on my feet when I first got them.
Over time, my feet have adapted to them and they’ve softened up a bit but it’s been a long process – when using these shoes maybe throw the normal ‘breaking-in’ timetable out of the window. Once acclimatized, they are bearable and actually become hyper-sensitive (it’s impossible to feel footholds at first when your toes are so crushed all they can feel is pain).
I’ve even used them on occasional hard sports routes where some key feet were tiny. But I’d caution you to be clear about the level of discomfort you may experience using these shoes!
The weapon of the discerning elite boulderer, 5.10 Teams aren’t for the faint-hearted. But they have been chosen by the world’s bouldering elite, both competition and outdoor, for a reason – they do exactly what they say on the tin and make a genuine difference at the top end.
If you can get hold of a pair and you’re ready to push your grade, this shoe could be for you.
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.