By Greg Chapman
Atomic physicist and keen outdoor enthusiast Niels Bohr once wrote; "anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it". Of course he'd never lurched his way up a steep roof. If he had he'd have realised the theory behind the Quantum made clear and perfect sense, although theories never counted for jack without experimental back up, so I waved duality goodbye and took my Quantums to the crag.
The Quantum is a relatively recent toe-down addition to Five Ten's "Micron" (technical precision rock shoes) range, and along with the Hornet, Arrowhead and Blackwing, it takes its place alongside established classics in this series such as the Dragon and Team. In an effort to create something more versatile than the sum of its parts, this shoe, along with the Arrowhead (its Velcro counterpart), is a hybrid of a number of existing models - the Project, Anasazi Lace and Dragon. So have Five Ten made a Quantum Leap in rock shoe design or is this just another esoteric addition to what some would argue is an already top-heavy range?
Fit & Sizing
I've read a couple of other reviews on the net, both of which state that the Quantum is a narrow shoe. Personally, I would disagree with this sentiment and suggest that it is low volume rather than narrow. Also, contrary to what Five Ten say on a their promotional video for the shoe, I reckon the shoe stretches more than the likes of the Dragon and Team, meaning that despite the initial sizing mirroring the aforementioned models I had to drop an extra half size to ensure a good fit once the shoes were broken-in. In terms of last shape, due to the low volume fit they feel quite dissimilar to other down turned shoes in the Five Ten range, with the Quantum feeling lower on your foot than than something like the Dragon. That said, the slight build of the upper and thinner midsole does mean they feel super sensitive once broken-in. The most obvious point of difference with this toe-down shoe over previous incarnations, is the inclusion of Five Ten's "Magic Fingers" heel cup, familiar to all fans on the Anasazi Velcro, Verde and Blanco. Whether you find this a positive or negative modification will depend on your view of this heel design, which does seem to offer something of a Marmite fit. I for one prefer this heel design to that featured on the Dragon and Team, although I have friends who would say the complete opposite.
Materials & Durability
The Quantum offers the now familiar (vegan friendly) Five Ten Cowdura™ synthetic upper, however it seems to be a slightly lower denier than that used on the Dragon and Team, meaning the shoes are lighter and more breathable but consequentially do stretch a little more and aren't quite as resilient to wear. The Arrowhead, Hornet and Blackwing have come in for some stick with regards to being a bit too soft and flimsy, so you may be wondering if this same criticism can be levelled at the Quantum? Well, while the Quantum is softer than some older models, it does provide a more sold (composite) midsole than its other recent counterparts and the lacing allows you to tweak the hold of the shoe after the upper has stretched out - something you are less able to do with the Velcro Arrowhead. The sole provides a base of the softer Stealth Onyxx rubber (also
used on the Anasazi Velcro and Verde), whilst the rand is Stealth Mystique to help with durability where it matters most. Onyxx is a superb rubber for winter use as it provides excellent levels of friction in colder climes and is arguably superior to the Stealth HF and Mystique rubber's (used on all Five Ten's other toe-down shoes) in these conditions. Consequently, it is a little less hard wearing, although this should only really be cause for concern if you intend to use the shoes a great deal on indoor walls, which are renowned for being both warm and particularly brutal on softer shoes.
Having initially tried the same size as my Teams, I was under the impression that the Quantum was going to be a less aggressive shoe, more of an all rounder and not as proficient on steep terrain. However, once I dropped a size to take account for the stretch (which happens within minutes of putting the shoes on) I found them equal to my Teams in this regard. Interestingly, this observation fits in perfectly with the opinion of Five Ten sponsored athlete, James Pearson, who stated in a review [which can be read here
] that the Quantum is competent on most types of climbing if sized accordingly - thus he has 3 pairs. This versatility stands the Quantum in good stead and will hopefully mean it survives the likely cull of many of Five Ten's more recent low-yield models, which will no doubt be enforced by the new paymasters at Adidas over the coming seasons.
In my view the Quantum does fill a small niche not yet taken in the Five Ten range, essentially offering a slightly softer, low volume toe-down shoe, ideal for those seeking improved sensitivity, a down turned grit shoe or perhaps women who don't get on with the higher volume Teams and Dragons. If like me all these models fit your feet you may ask; is the Quantum worth a punt over yet another pair of my favoured Dragons? In truth I'd probably say no stick with what you know, as the Quantum does not provide you with anything the Dragon doesn't. Overall, a worthy inclusion to the Five Ten range which, unlike the Blackwing and Hornet, does offer a worthwhile point of difference over existing models.