Super soft sensitivity - the all new Red Chili Sensor does exactly what it says on the tin with an unrivalled set of supple skills that dominate indoor terrain. But beware, this is no one trick pony.
A new dawn for Red Chili, the release of the Sensor coincides with the official takeover of the iconic brand by fellow German powerhouse, Edelrid. The Sensor marks the end of former owners, Stefan Glowacz and Uwe Hofstädter's time at the company having worked through the transition to Edelrid ownership for the past 5 years. Can the Sensor, sporting its new set of Edelrid clothes, kickstart a new age for the Red Chili brand?
It's In The Name
From the off, the Sensor is a marked change for the Red Chili range with a new aesthetic language and a fresh design approach. Arguably Red Chili's first true modern, competition style shoe, the Sensor brings the Chili range in line with its competitors, ticking every climbing shoe niche with the various models on offer. But, how does the Sensor perform in practice?
Well, it's in the name. Like an aggressively shaped probe, the Sensor transformed my foot into a banana cast talon capable of sensing the slightest variation in foothold shape and texture. Thanks to the new 'double slingshot' system which maintains an incredible amount of tension through both the heel and forefoot, the Sensor has to be the most downturned shoe I've ever experienced. Couple this with the decent level of asymmetry and you know this shoe means business.
The real acid test for the Sensor was its performance on big slopey volumes and it certainly didn't disappoint. With a split sole across the bottom of the shoe, my foot could flex flat to dominate smears and curl to hook well whilst the variable thickness of the rubber (from 4mm at the edges down to a mere 1mm under the ball of the foot) was perfect for maximising sensitivity where I needed it. Unlike a lot of its competitors, the Sensor actually features a midsole under the front part of the shoe. But, like its sister shoe the Mystix, the RC-SENSE midsole has been hollowed out in the middle so it can flex on smears whilst maintaining some form of rigidity when edging; which leads me on the Sensor's other performance attributes.
Don't Call Me Jack
The Sensor is an immense indoor shoe, sure, but it's features didn't just limit it to the confines of the gym. Having that midsole under the toes and even some midsole material in the heel, the Sensor has more to it than a soft sloppy slipper with a decent level of support on smaller edges for a 'comp' shoe. Is it going to be your next Jack of all trades trad climbing shoe? No, but it certainly provided me with enough support to use in a multitude of situations, including Lake District rock where the shoe's softer characteristics came in handy on some of the more nuanced, friction dependant footholds.
Where the Sensor really shines is on smeary rock types like grit where the blend of indoor focussed features, the super sticky XS Grip rubber and that bit of edging bite certainly come into their own - it feels like this shoe has been made for Fontainebleau.
Fit and Feel
Like any soft slipper, the Sensor is incredibly malleable and conformed to the shape of my foot wonderfully. On the narrower end of the spectrum, the Sensor has been designed to fit like a glove but, thanks to its softer construction should adapt around wider foot shapes with ease.
I downsized 2 UK sizes in the Sensor to maximise its downturned performance attributes and, although painful at first thanks to a few loose stitches, it did feel perfectly comfortable within a session or two. With a synthetic suede upper and minimalist net tongue design, the Sensor relaxed without stretching out of shape and remained wonderfully minimalist and breathable through every hard session.
Without doubt the best Red Chili shoe we've seen in a long time, giving the range a facelift and hinting at a brilliantly bright future under the tutelage of new parent company, Edelrid. A true weapon of the indoor climbing world, the Sensor is absolutely up there with the best comp style shoes out there and I've loved every minute with it. What a shoe!