I’ve tested many rock shoes labeled for indoor competition use, and sometimes, they didn’t excel outdoors. The Butora Gomi seemed like such a shoe. And it started becoming popular with strong climbers in my local gyms. But I shied away from testing yet another indoor-specific shoe.
I’m a curmudgeon about outdoor gear becoming increasingly one-dimensional. But my friends touted the Gomi’s ability on our local steep limestone, so I gave them a shot.
Although Butora doesn’t market the Gomi as an indoor competition climbing shoe, its features make it look the part. An aggressive downturn, high asymmetry, tight fit, rubber-covered upper, and softness all pointed to an indoor specialist.
After 2 months of constant use in the gym, on my home training boards, and outdoors, I’m happy to report that the Butora Gomi isn’t the indoor-only shoe I thought it would be.
In short: The Butora Gomi proved to be a sensitive, sticky, and tight but comfortable high-performance rock shoe that excelled indoors and outdoors. From toe-hooking on roofs to launching to the top of training boards, the Gomi was right at home on plastic. Outdoors, the shoe had just the right alchemy to attack steep and often slippery limestone sport climbs and boulder problems. The Butora Gomi proved to be a one-and-done high-end sport climbing and bouldering shoe.
- Upper materials Leather and suede
- Lining Microfiber
- Midsole Rubber front, rubber heel .
- Outsole NEO Fuse, 4mm
- Sizes U.S. men's 4-14, half-sizes, 15 in wide Seagrass only
- Incredible fit for duck feet; available in two widths
- Soft and sensitive
- Great rubber outsole adhesion on plastic
- Excellent toe hooking
- Robust construction
- Low edging support
- Not supportive enough for long, vertical and slabby routes
Butora Gomi Review
Butora Gomi Fit
I’ve long applauded Butora for offering a wide and narrow fit for each shoe it offers instead of labeling them men’s or women’s. For my classic duck foot (narrow heel, wide but thin forefoot), the pink, narrow version of the Gomi fit me incredibly well. There were zero gaps anywhere, including under my arch. I felt contact with the shoe over and under my entire foot, which aided in sensitivity.
My foot is very thin vertically. So, on many shoes, the upper surface will buckle and create a fold when I strap or lace them down with some tension. But not so with the narrow version of the Butora Gomi. The fit proved excellent for climbers who have struggled with finding a close-fitting shoe for low-volume feet. The fit was so spot-on for me that I felt the single strap closure wasn’t necessary much of the time.
The snug 3D molded heel cup felt almost painted on, which is rare for my uber-narrow heel. The rear of the shoe comes up relatively high, making room for a wide, fairly high-tensioned heel rand.
The upper edge of the heel has nylon binding tape, which was the only source of irritation. If the binding tape got folded, it produced a small hot spot on my Achilles tendon. But this was easy to avoid.
Even in the narrow version, the Butora Gomi forefoot was wide compared to other performance-focused rock shoes. This was great for my duck foot. I had no lateral pressure on my fifth metatarsal, which is rare for this category of rock shoe.
Performance in the Climbing Gym
The Butora Gomi initially looked like an indoor shoe to me, so that’s where I started testing. And in this use scenario, they were some of the best-performing rock shoes I’ve tried.
The sensitivity was incredible, especially given the 4mm NEO Fuse rubber outsole. This is significantly thicker than many indoor and high-performance shoes in my collection.
A large part of this high sensitivity can be attributed to the closeness of fit for my particular foot, but also because the shoe is soft and was super compliant when I flexed or extended my foot. This was despite having a rubber midsole.
The starter feet on Moonboards are notoriously hard to stick. But I had no problem adhering to them, even when extended to my limit. Any Moonboarder has experienced the frustration of repeatedly attempting to get off the ground, only to have feet cut on the notoriously down-sloped features.
But the sensitivity, softness, and sticky rubber of the Butora Gomi reliably got me off the deck on start moves at my limit. I can rarely say this about any rock shoe.
Given the softness and sensitivity, I didn’t think the Gomi suffered badly on small edges. I chalked this up to the 4mm-thick outsole. It provided just enough support for foot chips with a distinct edge down to a few millimeters. And if there wasn’t a distinct edge, simply smearing the foothold was enough.
The only place I felt the Gomi fell short was on higher-end indoor sport climbing routes that were slabby or dead vertical. The lack of stiffness became apparent as the 35m height and repeated need for edging on smaller footholds introduced foot fatigue and discomfort.
The high level of asymmetry in the last encouraged toeing down hard and pulling my hips in on roofs and higher-angled problems. On training boards, I could feel the asymmetry helping me when I had to initiate pulling on one foot that was high and far away laterally to get my hip on top of that foot.
The upper is almost entirely encased by rubber, making me think the Gomi was an indoor-focused model. And on steep boulder problems, it was a toe-hooking savage.
The soft and sticky rubber on the top, combined with the willing compliance of the shoe, gave me a monkey-like ability when a toe hook was the key to sticking the move. The Gomi was among the best shoes I’ve tested for this ability.
Performance at the Crags and Blocs
I didn’t expect the Butora Gomi to do as well outdoors as it did on plastic. But I was pleasantly proven wrong. I packed the Gomi as a second set of shoes for trips to local limestone clip-ups and boulders. My primary shoe for these outings had more structure to aid my perceived need for more edging power and support.
But the Butora Gomi was up to the task on the short overhanging routes at my local crags. And the shoe crushed on local limestone boulders. The same attributes that made the Gomi so good in the gym made the shoes equally impressive on routes and problems with steeper faces.
The softness, sensitivity, and stickiness delivered confidence on the steeps. And, the NEO Fuse rubber felt well-connected to the incredibly polished features on the most popular routes and problems.
The aggressive downturn and high-tension heel rand helped me toe down hard on small nubs on steep terrain. This allowed me to get my hips over my feet without too much deliberate effort.
The heel rand tension hit the sweet spot for me. It was enough to force my big toe completely into the pointy front end. Combined with the downturn, it felt powerful, but without the pain I’ve often had with overly tight heel rands.
The rock here is littered with pockets, and again, the downturn and compliance of the shoe, combined with the relatively pointy profile, clawed down and in on all but the smallest holes.
Similarly, the same drawback of this sensitivity and softness on plastic reared its head outside on vertical to slabby stone. The lack of a stiff edging platform and the related low level of support caused foot discomfort, fatigue, and lack of confidence when topping out relied on repeated small edges. The higher loads on the foot created by lower angles bore out this deficiency.
Final Thoughts on the Butora Gomi
The Butora Gomi may look like another new indoor-specific competition climbing shoe. It stomped on steep indoor terrain. The Gomi worked well on the gymnastic, parkour-style sets with incredible sensitivity, softness, and a close, powerful fit. But the Gomi was also a rock star outdoors.
On steep, short sport routes and boulder problems, I felt equally armed to battle outdoors as on my training boards and local gym sets. The Butora Gomi had just enough structure and support for my outdoor test pieces.
I also predict that the Butora Gomi lasts longer than many soft and sensitive high-performance shoes I’ve tested. The construction looked and felt solid. And, the 4mm outsole should wear a bit longer than the thinner rubber used on many shoes in the category.
Finally, Butora’s trademark offering of wide and narrow versions of all their shoes increases the odds that the Gomi will fit you as well as it fit me. If you frequent the steeps at the gym, training boards, crags, and blocs, and you’re in the market for a high-performance shoe to crush the next grade, the Butora Gomi is worth a look.