By Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones
At last, Boreal has created a shoe that could potentially compete with the UK’s brand leaders in performance rock shoes. We’ve become used to seeing La Sportiva, Scarpa and to a lesser degree Five Ten shoes dominating the competition circuits, but maybe that’s about to change. Thanks in the main to serious under-the-hood performance and a great look, the Synergy has rapidly earned a special place in my heart. In truth, due to the higher volume fit being slightly at odds with my skinny feet, my relationship with this shoe wasn’t the instant La Sportiva love story I had with my previous pair. Yet having now broken them in, moulding them to my foot shape, I’ve ultimately found a true passion for Boreal’s hot, performance and competition orientated bouldering shoe.
Well just look at them! Over the past few weeks I’ve felt the real deal. I’ve had more lustful looks down the wall than a Ferrari in Tesco car park or a super model in Asda. So refreshing to see Boreal design a range of shoes that really look the part as well as being serious contender on the rock. I couldn’t help but be turned off previously by the dullness of some older models. Of course the Synergy is much more than just a pretty face.
The name ‘Synergy’ accurately describes a shoe with a comprehensive combination of really solid climbing elements that make it a performance shoe to be taken seriously. Taking the popular heel cup from the Boreal Mutant and adding a rubber toe patch, Boreal have nailed down the areas I saw causing the most issues in their other competition and hard bouldering focussed shoes. The heel cup is a little wide fitting for my skinny heel and the top of the shoe favours a higher volumed foot; but the heel cup depth is just right with the dual straps allowing you to really synch your foot in to the shoe and remove some of the sag from on top of the foot. This combined with the absence of a midsole meant pumping tons of energy through the heel felt truly satisfying, sensitive and confident. The toe’s more aggressive than a Rottweiler and promotes perfect accuracy, really rewarding you for nailing foot placements and reeling you into the wall with its talon like grip on steep hard routes. This was particularly noticeable on featured walls and when climbing outside, with the ability to make use of minute sinks so pivotal, especially on rock types like limestone.
Having tried out most of the competition, the latest Boreal rubber was something I was particularly interested in testing. The Zenith Ultra rubber felt slightly clunky to begin with but after the initial breaking-in period it came to life and added an extra element to the way the shoe climbed. It made smearing and standing on volumes sticky and uncannily assured, whilst offering an equally adept and solid platform on small edges.
Alongside the Dharma and Satori, the Synergy marks an inspired and innovative redesign of Boreal’s performance line. The Synergy is on the cheaper end of the elite shoe price spectrum, out pricing the La Sportiva competition by £10-15 at least. I found the shoes a little more uncompromising internally than other shoes I’ve had, taking more breaking in. However, after a week or two of climbing, they softened nicely, moulding to my feet. Being a lined synthetic shoe, the Synergy won’t stretch too much, and I found Rock + Run’s Size Guide recommendation of downsizing by half a size to be spot on.
After a week or two of breaking-in, the Synergy’s seemed to overhaul my climbing style, benefitting my foot technique and improving my style considerably on modern, competition style climbs. Like any whirlwind romance, we’ve rapidly become comfortable with each other and are enjoying every moment we spend together. Respect to you Boreal, the Synergy is a true shoe of the new age of climbing; quirky, technical and a whole bag of fun!
Photos by David Munill Fauro and Ben Cannon