five ten niad lace review
Photo Credit: Seiji Ishii

Five Ten NIAD Lace Review: The Rebirth of a Trusted Classic

The Five Ten Anasazi rock shoe line has been a stalwart for an incredible length of time — from 1993 to 2020. Sure, there were issues, but its shape and adhesive qualities of Stealth rubber were unmatched.

Five Ten has replaced the Anasazi dynasty with a three-shoe NIAD (Nose in a Day) line this spring — the Lace, VCS, and Moccasym, which reportedly retain the best parts of the original while improving shortcomings.

We tested the Five Ten NIAD Lace over a month of spring climbing on the pink crystalline granite in Central Texas.

The Anasazi Lace is a flat-lasted shoe with all-day comfort, excellent edging ability, and the legendary stickiness of Stealth C4 rubber. The shoe’s attributes reminded me of the Anasazi Blanco of old, but with a vastly improved heel and other subtle changes that enhance the overall package.

five ten niad lace

Five Ten’s NIAD Fit

The acronym stands for Nose in a Day, which seemed appropriate for the lace-up version due to its flat profile and immediate all-day fit. (“The Nose” on El Cap is 31 pitches.) My size 10 NIAD Lace (verified 1 pound, 3.4 ounces per pair) had a very snug but pain-free fit on my size 10 “duck foot;” a narrow heel, wide forefoot but thin vertically.

It was instantly comfortable enough to wear for an entire one-hour assault on a slightly overhanging granite boulder. I continued to wear the shoe at each boulder without taking them off otherwise, for a whole day.

The shoe did break in over a few weeks to become more pliable, but the dimensions of the shoe remained consistent. The partially lined suede microfiber upper and generously padded tongue were pleasant on my overly sensitive skin right out of the box.

One glaring shortcoming of the original line was the fit of the heel. It was odd, baggy, and nonconforming, and that’s being nice. The new heel is none of those. The Five Ten NIAD Lace has a heel that followed the contour of my narrow heel well, with slight gapping at the bottom rear of my heel.

Other nuanced improvements in fit revealed themselves throughout testing. In a nutshell, Five Ten minimized loose areas compared to the Anasazi line. Noticeable changes included the internal volume around the top of my arch, a common area of bagginess for me.

Five Ten also makes the NIAD Lace in a women’s version, which our female editors are looking forward to testing as well.

five ten niad lace
Photo credit: REI.

Five Ten NIAD Lace: A Granite Gobbler

The NIAD Lace is moderately stiff and combined with the snug fit and Stealth C4 rubber, they form a formidable edging shoe. During a 2-day trip to a newly developed area comproed of granite domes, boulders, and cracks, it was typical to high step on a tiny crystal. The NIAD Lace delivered the support required, without the “dead” feeling of much stiffer-edging shoes (like the Butora Narsha).

When I had to reluctantly foot jam, the thin toe profile helped me ease into smaller gaps. And the rubber toe cap and lined microfiber upper aided both traction and comfort.

The laterally snug fit formed my foot into the correct tight package before loading. Still, I wished the laces went further down the toes to provide more tension at the toes (which counterintuitively eases the pain on my Cinderella feet).

Smearing on textured granite felt secure — much of that credit to the fabled adhesive qualities of the Stealth C4 rubber outsole. The amount of stiffness muffled tactile sensation on less prominent textures, making for some tense moments, but on the crystalline granite, the C4 rarely failed.

I did throw a few desperate heel hooks on downsloping ledges peppered with crystals, and the new heel stayed put on both my heel and the rock without deforming in any way. The slight gaps in the heel’s fit were largely inconsequential when loaded.

The crystals in the area are well known to shred shoe rubber and uppers. The Five Ten NIAD Lace fared well as the upper returned unscathed, and the rand and outsole bore nothing more than evidence that I climbed real rocks.

climbing - five ten's niad lace
Photo credit: Jon Cardwell

Conclusions

I tend to reach for the same shoes for each particular crag. And for my local granite area, that shoe was Five Ten’s Blanco. I am usually upset when a brand abruptly discontinues a shoe that works well for me, but this time my disappointment quickly passed. The $150 Five Ten NIAD Lace is a vast improvement in almost all ways.

The heel is the most apparent fit-related improvement. However, subtle changes to the lower volume last also made for a closer fit overall that still proved comfortable after hours of climbing.

For granite or other climbing that involves edging and foot jamming for long durations, the Five Ten NIAD Lace is a comfortable yet high-performance option that does the old Anasazi line more than justice.

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Seiji Ishii
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Seiji Ishii has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor adventure and sports, from participant and competitor to coach and trainer, and finally as an editorial contributor. His interests have spanned cycling, climbing, motorcycling, backpacking, trail running, and the training involved for all of it. He has also designed outdoor and off-road motorcycling gear. He lives in a wildlife refuge in Wimberley, Texas, with his daughter, itinerant dirt bags, a dog, and a cat. Read more of his musings at seijisays.com.