I’ve had problems fitting climbing shoes my whole life. I have the classic ‘duck foot,’ meaning a narrow heel, wide forefoot, but low volume.
Wider rock shoes tend to be higher volume, and narrower shoes are typically lower volume. I was always stuck in the middle. But the Five Ten Crawe seemed unreal. It fit my foot like adidas had used my shoe for the last. This year, they became available after a lengthy COVID-induced delay, and I couldn’t be happier. And they fit and feel even better after 3 months of testing on limestone, granite, and plastic.
In short, if you have a duck foot and love to clip bolts on steep lines or scale boulders at the limits of your ability, the Crawe could be the shoe of your dreams. It sure fits that bill for me.
That Duck Foot Fit
I did a double-take when I slipped on the men’s size 10 (I wear a 10 running shoe). Wait, a shoe that didn’t smash my fifth metatarsal? My little toe had outsole support? I could backstep on that side of my foot — no way!
Indeed, it felt like adidas had formed the Five Ten Crawe specifically for sport climbers and boulderers with a duck foot. The heel felt narrow and tight, the middle of the shoe followed the contours of my relatively high arch, and the kicker was that the entirety of my forefoot fit upon the outsole.
Nothing was hanging off the outside edge, there was no undue upper pressure on my fifth metatarsal, and my little toe had room to lie flat. This was the first time a shoe fit my forefoot like that.
My foot is thin from top to bottom, so shoes on the broader side have always been too high in volume. I would have to crank down on the closure straps or laces, and the upper would still have folds or gaps between it and the top of my foot. This problem has been true for even the “LV” (low volume) versions of rock shoes.
But not so with the Five Ten Crawe. Thanks partially to the woven and stretchy tongue section of the upper, the Crawe felt snug even before I cinched the single Velcro strap down. I considered the fit appropriate for high-performance sport climbing and bouldering — very snug all around, but nothing buckled my toes.
Overall, the Crawe was the best-fitting rock shoe I have ever worn. I’m still stoked about their fit, and it will be a sad day when the outsole wears out. I sure hope Five Ten keeps making them!
Construction Quality of the Five Ten Crawe
Visual inspection of the lined microfiber upper revealed no excess glue, no unbound edges, nor anything else reflecting subpar construction or materials quality.
Five Ten matched the upper and the Stealth C4 outsole exactly, and the outsole edges were square and crisp.
The brand also adhered the Velcro to the closure strap to the edges, and all visible stitch lines were straight and consistent.
The medium downturn and concavity of the forefoot flattened out during the first month, as did the initial stiffness. After the 3-month testing period for this review, a slight downturn remained. And the stiffness settled to a level higher than the Five Ten Hiangle Pro but was softer than the Five Ten NIAD Moccasym.
The fit didn’t change in absolute length or width, but the upper did conform slightly to the bony protrusions of my foot, like the knuckle of my big toe.
The Five Ten Crawe on the Cliffs and Plastic
The fantastic fit accentuated a high-performing shoe for steep rock and training boards. Because the Five Ten Crawe fit so well on my foot, the other factors like edging, smearing, stabbing — really any ability required — felt so much better and more efficient than in a shoe that didn’t fit so well.
After breaking in, the stiffness of the shoe accommodated edging on small footholds but not on tiny micro-edges. With strong, seasoned feet, pushing down and pulling in on edges of a few millimeters on steep terrain proved workable. But the outsole rolled on the scant edges standard on higher grades on vertical granite.
The Crawe provided sensitive and powerful smearing on slightly textured features on well-worn limestone and indoor volumes. They were not as sensitive as pure slippers to the nuances of the surface, but they provided just enough sensation for anything short of the soap-like flats on highly trafficked local white limestone.
They also felt amazing indoors on textured but badly sloped foot chips, like those on the kicker panel of a Moonboard. My trust in C4 rubber undoubtedly aided in these circumstances. The Crawe has an asymmetric shape that focused load on the big toe, and they are reasonably pointy. This made them powerful pocket pullers and stabbers on the steepest of sport crags or boulders.
They had just enough sensation and flexibility to feel and grip the lip of edgy pockets, and the built-in concavity of the forefoot helped. Again, the exceptional fit of the Crawe made these abilities better in comparison to other shoes in the category.
As long as I kept them clean, the Stealth C4 outsole provided the usual and legendary adhesive qualities. If they picked up a layer of limestone dust at our most worn crag, they would lose noticeable adhesion while smearing and “smedging” (smearing while edging).
Indoors, dust impaired both edging and smearing on the smallest and slopiest plastic holds. This isn’t the fault of the Stealth C4 — any dirty rubber will not stick as well, but C4 is so good that it was super noticeable when it was dirty.
The compact heel worked well for hooking, but the thin Stealth HF rubber on the sides of the heel cup failed to protect me from sharp granite crystals or hard plastic edges. I didn’t slip off those heel hooks, but I had to endure some pain to load those parts of the heel hard enough to make aggressive moves.
The woven, stretchy tongue eased entry and exit from the shoe, and when it warmed up down here in Texas, it provided noticeable breathability. I could feel the air from a floor fan through this stretch fabric.
Conclusions on the Five Ten Crawe
The big news mainly affects sport climbers and boulderers with a duck foot. I challenge anyone with this foot shape to find a better-fitting shoe.
The combination of abilities and attributes of the Five Ten Crawe make it ideal for experienced rock climbers seeking the power of an asymmetrical last, moderate edging prowess, great pocket stabbing and pulling potential, and adequate smearing manners. And +1 to all of this for those with a classic duck foot. The proven stickiness of Stealth C4 seals the deal.
Kudos to Five Ten for finally making an excellently fitting shoe for the hard-to-fit duck foot. I now have my shoe for sport climbing and bouldering.
Check them out in men’s and women’s versions, MSRP $180, on the Five Ten website.