Steeped in history, heritage and innovation, EB were the original climbing boot manufacturer, developing the world’s first climbing shoe, the ’Super Gratton’, in the early 1960’s. Going on to dominate the climbing shoe scene for the coming decades with the likes of Jerry Moffatt starting their climbing careers in EB shoes, EB cemented their status as the world’s leading climbing shoe manufacturer.
Towards the end of the 20th century, EB’s position in the market faded as competition grew and, it wasn’t until current owner Fred Tuscan took over in 2009 that the company started to recover. Now, with a fresh range of shoes, EB are making a comeback. We’ve reviewed the whole range and, in this article we’re going to round it up with some technical insight and model suggestions to give you a better idea of which EB shoe will suit you best.
Microfibres: EVO vs Dynamic
All of the EB models we stock use EB’s EVO or Dynamic microfibres and we were incredibly impressed with the comfort of both, here are the differences we found between the two materials:
Balboa | Black Opium | Electron | Nebula | Red | Strange
More commonly found on EB’s softer models, the EVO microfibre felt more forgiving than the Dynamic, forming around the foot slightly faster and providing a more relaxed fit throughout.
Django 3.0 | Guardian 3.0 | Neo Kid’s
Usually reserved for the stiffer models, the Dynamic microfibre, although no less comfortable than the EVO, was slightly more rigid than its counterpart, generally taking slightly longer to break in. When broken in however, the Dynamic was the more supportive of the two.
Balboa | Black Opium | Django 3.0 | Guardian 3.0 | Nebula | Red | Strange
One area of the EB range that we’ve been particularly surprised by has been the quality of their own Daytona rubber compound. To contextualise this against its rubber rivals, the Daytona rubber receives a Shore rating* of 80. To compare this Shore rating to that of its Vibram rivals (when tested at 40 degrees F):
Vibram XS Grip 2 - 78
Vibram XS Grip - 83
Vibram XS Edge - 84
Daytona - 80
These score ratings suggest the Daytona rubber falls between the XS Grip and XS Grip 2 which matches our findings on test. We found the Daytona rubber to be superbly sticky, performing well on smears and volumes. This softer Shore rating would suggest that the Daytona compound shouldn’t be as effective when edging but EB have mitigated this by producing the shoes with thicker rubber than many of their Vibram toting competitors (opting for 5mm of rubber in some cases vs the 3.5mm market average).
*Shore hardness is a measure of a rubber’s resistance to penetration or indentation. The higher a Shore rating, the harder the rubber with lower Shore rating rubbers tending to be softer and thus stickier.
Which EB Shoe Would We Choose?
Indoor - We’d choose the Nebula for any indoor climbing session. Being the softest shoe EB make with no midsole technology, the Nebula is optimised for modern indoor climbing.
Outdoor - For edgier, vertical rock types like Limestone or Rhyolite, our choice would be the ultra-stiff Django 3.0 but, for sedimentary rock types like Gritstone or overhanging terrain, we’d opt for Seb Bouin’s awesome Balboa.
Beginner - The Electron is perfect for any beginner sporting a flatter, more comfortable profile and using 5mm of durable Optimax rubber.
Intermediate - A great fit with decent levels of support and all-round performance, the Red is our choice for anyone looking to upgrade from their first pair of shoes.
Advanced - We found the Django 3.0 was the most technical shoe on offer from EB and really complements advanced, complex footwork with a stiff, supportive platform.
Soft/competition shoe - For competitions, look no further than the Balboa. Soft and supple for modern blocks but with some front end support for those tricky, tiny footholds.
Edging - Specifically designed to crush small edges and the stiffest shoe EB make, the Strange has to be the ultimate edging shoe
All-rounder - Designed for all-round use both indoors and out, the Guardian 3.0 is our pick as EB’s best all-rounder.
Our favourite - This is a tough call between the Guardianand the Django but we’d say the Django 3.0 just about wins this one thanks to its incredible fit and edging performance on our local limestone.