Boreal Dharma ReviewNovember 4, 2015
- Symmetrical last is easy on toes
- Well-fitting shoe with no dead space
- Boreal Zenith rubber is surprisingly useful
- Too much rubber on the heel
- Three Velcro straps are overkill
With a nice symmetrical last and a down-turned toe, the Boreal Dharma ought to be a really comfortable high-performance shoe. Unfortunately, there is a major design flaw that makes this shoe uncomfortable to climb in. The problem is with the placement of the farthest-forward Velcro strap. When flexing the foot—whether that means walking, standing up on an edge or pressing into a corner—the metal loop that the Velcro goes through digs right into the top of your foot. Additionally, three Velcro straps, right in a row, doesn’t add a ton and, in fact, detracts from the shoe’s performance. The beefy rubber heel works well on big, flat features, but there is way too much rubber to really use your heel confidently on smaller protrusions of rock. The best part about this shoe is its impressive shape, which leaves zero dead space on a medium-width foot.
Aside from the pain of a Velcro strap digging into the top of your foot, the Dharma performed great on both inside and outside edges.
This was my first experience with Boreal’s propriety Zenith rubber, and I found it to be surprisingly decent, and on par with the more time-tested Vibram Edge.
The Dharma has a semi-pointy toe shape, which works great in most pockets.
A blanket of rubber atop the foot gives the Dharma ostensibly good toe-hooking abilities, but the shoe is hard to flex upward for toe hooks. In the back, the chunk of rubber that Boreal placed underneath your heel makes it feel like there’s a spare tire between your foot and the rock when you try to heel hook.
This shoe gets props for being so performance fitting, and symmetrical. However, the fact that a Velcro strap digs into the top of the foot every time you press your toe into the wall makes the Dharma one of the least comfortable shoes tested.