by Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones
Stiff, supportive and clinically precise, the Strange stands out in EB’s range with a classic lace-up design that combines EB heritage with the demands of the modern sport climber. But, where do laces and edging performance fit into today’s contemporary trend for jumping on garishly coloured plastic blobs? Keep reading to find out.
Coming in as the stiffest (and most eye-catching) model in the EB range, the Strange has been engineered to perform tremendously on real rock with a fast lace-up system that further enhances its suitability for a day at the crag. But, aren’t laces, as the name suggests, a strange choice? Although they might take longer to tie than the Velcro alternative, the lace-up closure on the Strange provides unrivalled adjustability that a Velcro system simply can’t match. The ability to control the tightness and fit over every part of the foot from ankle to toe means the Strange provides the most precise performance fit in the EB range. Whether it’s a relaxed, unlaced day at the gym or a dialled-in-tight redpoint attempt on my latest outdoor project, the Strange fits the bill.
When it comes to performance, the Strange has been designed to deliver the purest power in EB’s line-up. The shoe’s profile is typical of the EB range, favouring aggressive asymmetry over modest downturn to pump power through the toe, but it’s the more pronounced point at the tip of the shoe that gives the Strange its edging focussed focal point. Featuring a full midsole (a 1mm plastic insert that sits between the fabric and the rubber) and further reinforcement under the toe, the super stiff Strange is an edging master, dispatching the smallest footholds with consummate ease. Obviously the Strange isn’t my go-to competition bouldering shoe (the EB Nebula ticks that box), it has its own raison detre, designed for a specific style of climbing that it does beautifully without any of the watered down features of an ‘all-rounder’. Complementing my preference for climbing outside on my local, sharp real rock types like limestone, granite or rhyolite, the Strange is the obvious choice for those dedicated to climbing outside - especially fresh out of the box with its thick 5mm wedge of supportive Daytona rubber providing even more rigidity and performance on the small stuff. That isn’t to say it won’t perform indoors too with its supreme edging powers translating wonderfully onto technical climbs on tiny plastic footholds, board sessions on wooden chips or a longer endurance session at my local lead wall.
Fit and Feel
Typically EB, the Strange is super comfortable and fits my low volume foot shape perfectly. Volume across the top of the shoe is usually relatively low in EB models and it’s the same story here but, with the addition of laces, I found the fit of the Strange to be the most forgiving and accessible in the range for higher volume feet. I downsized 2 EU sizes in the Strange which struck the ideal balance between comfy when unlaced (or loosely laced) and performance tight when synched to the max.
The microfiber’s used on EB shoes are fantastic, vegan friendly and some of the best materials I’ve encountered in a climbing shoe. The Evo microfiber used on the Strange is instantly comfortable and relaxed around my foot within a session but, arguably the most impressive thing about the material is the way it maintains this comfy fit without losing its shape or its performance fit.
Tying It Up
An edging expert with an eye-catching look and unbeatable adjustability, the Strange is the real rock jewel in the EB crown. Ideal for the climber with a diet dominated by a taste for the outdoors, the Strange is as ready for a cutting-edge boulder problem as it is an adventurous multi pitch. My go-to edging shoe and my favourite EB model to date, the Strange has a special place in my sending shoe arsenal and it isn’t being replaced anytime soon. Lace them up and enjoy the ride!