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Climbing Shoe Rubber Test Results

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Most climbers have a preference for climbing shoe rubber and love to argue about which is the best. Spadout sponsored a test of nine popular climbing shoe rubbers and published the results. The surprising winner was the Evolv Trax XT-5.

There is one big issue I’d like to point out in this study. The test was based on calculating the coefficient of friction between the climbing rubber and the surface. In this study, they only looked at the rubber on granite and on a climbing hold (EGrip’s Peabody Crimp Plate). Each surface type will interact with the climbing rubber differently producing varied coefficients of friction.

In my opinion, looking at only these two surfaces is not enough to declare any rubber superior. I’d like to see the same study performed across many rock surfaces as well as different climbing hold manufacturers. From this new data, a more accurate average could emerge and shine some light on who makes the stickiest climbing shoe rubber.

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  1. Mark at Spadout tells me they will be doing a second round to this test in approximately 4-6 weeks. Hopefully they’ll look at additional surfaces and other variables.

  2. I was initially intrigued after seeing this but the way the tests were conducted sort of render the entire results meaningless. It will be interesting to see what the subsequent tests reveal.

  3. It seems like it would have been more responsible of SpadOut to wait for the results of the 2nd round of testing before they published this. Most people will just read this report without thinking much of how the tests were conducted.

    Not that Evolv’s rubber is better or worse than any other but I suspect most people would be surprised by a lot of the results.

  4. I love seeing comparative testing of climbing gear in a quantitative setting, but I agree, you need to see the whole picture before drawing conclusions. In particular, my husband and I have an on-going discussion about which is most important in shoe rubber: stickiness or durability. We climb in Vedauwoo quite a bit, and the crystaline granite just eats up 5.10 rubber. I occasionally get my shoes resoled twice a season, where his LaSportivas can go all year before they need resoling. I hope they mention something a long these lines in comparing. I think it might be possible for rubber to be too sticky – if it stays on the rock instead of the shoe.

  5. I have several pairs of shoes for different types of rock and climbing. One for thin cracks at Indian Creek, one for wide cracks, another for limestone sport climbs â??and i agree â?? we need to judge a shoe on more than the stickiness of its rubber.
    (I’ve collected the various shoes over the years. I bought the wide crack shoe, the La Sportiva Mariacher, in 1991).

  6. From what i remember they used a polished granite slab rather than textured granite that we encounter outdoors. Real world condition testing would be way more accurate. And La Sportive Frixion better than XSV?? Gimme a break spadout. How bout they hire me to do some REAL scientific testing