As a rule, I’d have to admit to having always been somewhat of an Imelda Marcos when it comes to climbing footwear, both personally and as a buyer. However, on my first encounter with Edelrid’s new(ish) rock shoe range my usual enthusiasm for rock boots was at a low ebb and I was a little apathetic…“not more rock boots!” I thought. It was the summer of 2009, and, as is often the case, I was attending the OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany – this is where the outdoor retailers of Europe gather each July, to see what’s new for the forthcoming season/s. On the climbing front, much of the talk focused on the re-galvanization of the Edelrid brand, which, since its takeover by the Vaude group in 2005 (and subsequent large injection of cash), had seemingly made great strides in furthering both its product range and branding. The product group causing the greatest stir was that of the new rock shoes – a compact range of around 5 models, offering good features and slick synergy, by way of the striking corporate branding used throughout the models. On the face of it looked like a tight, well designed little package scoring well on both the features and pricing front. Despite this, my initial reaction was not easily swayed and rightly or wrongly we did not range the shoes for that first season. Roll on a year, and I was pleased to see that Edelrid had stuck to their guns and not tinkered with the range (always a good sign). On top of this, the consensus among those who had used/sold the shoes was very positive, and with that in mind we took the plunge and as of January this year we received stock of the Edelrid Reptile, Hurricane and Typhoon. So they're in stock, they look good, the prices seem reasonable and the vibe on the street is Jackson, all that was left was to get some firsthand feedback… For the last month or so I have been using the Typhoon, which is advertised as Edelrid’s technical Velcro all-rounder, and having used the shoes on a number of rock types and angles I’d struggle to argue with this assessment.
The first thing to say is that these shoes hug your feet extremely well, and on my feet at least there is little or no dead space. The slingshot heel rand not only does a fine job of sucking the heel-cup to your foot when participating in any strenuous heel-hooking, it also pulls the instep in beautifully, contouring the sole to your foot almost perfectly. I would say there is a fair amount of volume in both the heel and toe box of the shoe, so those with a narrower forefoot and scrawny heels may attain a slightly less good fit? Having said that, I certainly wouldn’t say they are overly wide or voluminous. In comparing the Typhoon to more established models it offers quite a unique fit, however it would be best described as feeling like a 50/50 cross between a La Sportiva Miura Velcro and a 5.10 Anasazi Velcro. (Note: as the aforementioned models are either lined or synthetic, the Typhoon will stretch a little more.)
As with all the best kit, the Typhoon is a simple beast – pre-stretched leather/synthetic upper, neoprene gusset, burley pull tabs and twin opposing Velcro straps. The Velcro straps offer particularly good adjustment and have plenty scope for varying positioning. The comfy padded gusset also allows you to really crank down on the straps, whilst giving that fits-like-a-glove feel. I’m always a little wary about over-stretch in unlined leather boots, however thus far the shoes whilst giving a little, have held their shape well, indicating the use of a premium grade pre-stretched leather – an area where other manufacturers have been known to cut corners, as the over stretching only becomes apparent once you worn the shoes a few times.
Rubber, Sole Unit & Heels
Probably my biggest reservation before climbing in the Typhoon was the rubber used on the sole unit. Whilst I’m not one of these people thinks that you should only be using one famous brand of rubber or another, it is often the case that unbranded rubbers just don’t perform at a comparable level when compared to the any of leading branded options. Edelrid use a combination of either their own rubber, “E-Grip”, or Vibram XSV, depending on which model you purchase and the Typhoon is one of the styles which come equipped with an E-Grip sole. I’ll be honest with you, despite having climbed down the wall a couple of times and suffering no ill effects of the E-Grip sole, it was only by chance I took the Typhoons to Switzerland with me on a recent trip. But having put the shoes on to warm-up in on the first day I was then rarely out of them, switching footwear (to 5.10 Teams) only to tackle a couple of very steep pieces of climbing – an action I would have taken whatever I was wearing as my all purpose rock shoes. It terms of the rigidity of the midsole; like most Velcro shoes they aren’t overly stiff, although they are one of the more supportive Velcro shoes I have used, comparing similarly to something like the Miura Velcro. Finally to the heels: when I initially tried the Typhoon on I was somewhat unsure about the fit of the heel, it seemed a little low around ankle. However, after a single session down the wall the heel cup bedded in beautifully and they now offer a great fit and work superbly on all heel hooks I have encountered thus far. Additionally, they don’t incorporate my pet hate in rock shoe design – that annoying rubber-less patch between the heel rand and the sole (are you listening Sportiva and Scarpa?).
These are good shoes, no hang on… these are very good shoes. They are holding up well to wear, the E-Grip rubber stands it ground against other more established formulas, the fit is very good (with little or no dead space), and finally the balance between rigidity and feel is struck to aplomb. If this shoe suits the shape of your foot (always the big IF when recommending rock shoes) I can think of few boots that tick as many boxes, in the all-round performance stakes, as the Edelrid Typhoon.