As a recent convert to the joys of Five Ten I’ve been slowly working my way through their arsenal of shoes. As I solely boulder and tend to cast my aspirations to steeper angles, Five Ten undoubtedly offer the biggest range of shoes to fill every conceivable niche. Five Ten have something of a reputation for taking a ‘throw lots of shoes at the market and hope one of them sticks’ attitude. Aside from the core range of anasazi’s, dragons etc. there have been numerous fleeting models that haven’t found favour with the great unwashed; generally being criticised as being too specialised for the price they command and promptly being dropped (hornets and projects being prime examples). I’d say the Blackwing falls somewhere between these two possibilities. Originally billed as a Velcro dragon (these are much softer – this is obvious after they’ve broken in), the British bouldering fraternity wasn’t kind in its reception to this shoe and it was generally treated with disdain. But, they’re back for a second incarnation and so obviously they are more than just a flash in a pan. Perhaps the first version was flirting with popularity, but needed a few tweaks to drag it out of the bargain bin and onto the feet of the local heroes?
Let’s have a goosies at whats changed;
- First off, the colours: Why they have gone from a rowdy, mean looking black with 80’s red piping to a dull blue is beyond me. Gutted. That’s not going to help their cause.
- As with all the newer Five Tens, a handy tag has been included on the outside of each shoe stating the name of the model. Progression.
- The heel: One of the gripes people had with the first version was a little patch of fabric on the inside of the heel to accommodate people with tubby heels. This has now been sealed up with more rubber to give the same heel cup you find on teams or dragons. Whilst I personally never had an issue with the original design, I have to admit I do prefer this update. Having rapier like feet, the tighter the heel the better in my book and this feels fantastically secure.
- The rubber: The original Blackwing used Stealth Mystique, which was billed as being ultra-hardwearing. I can testify to this and quite frankly it was a ball ache; I had a pair of hornets which whilst should be commended for their longevity, got to the point they were so soft it was like putting my foot in a bowl of well ripened brie, and I was willing them to go through. Point being, shoes can reach the end of their useful life regardless of whether or not the rubber has worn through.