Five Ten Blackwing ReviewAugust 31, 2015
- Comfy when skin-tight
- Superior hooking
- Light and flexible
- Super sticky
- Inconsistent sizing
- Aggressive for “all-around” shoes
- Extremely narrow last
The Blackwings start where the Anasazi VCS leaves off in terms of the terrain they master. The Blackwings are perfect for everything steeper than vertical, they basically turn climbers’ toes into fingers. They’re narrower than the original Blackwings and have a softer, lined Cowdura upper that’s even more comfortable. With the combo of both Five Ten shoes in this review climbers will have a truly all-purpose quiver to take to any gym, boulder or cliff.
With a downturned, asymmetric last and light-on-the-feet feel, the Blackwing is the ideal shoe for plastic, hard boulders, and the steep feature climbing climbers find in Kalymnos, Greece or Rodellar, Spain. The shoes are soft enough to easily fold in half yet supportive enough for long, sustained pumpfests. With the most rand, heel, and toe rubber, the Blackwing is the best hooker in the review (one of Boulder’s pro climbers recently stuck the slick and infamous heel hook move on Trice [V13] at Flagstaff Mountain sporting the Blackwing). For a shoe with an extremely narrow last, they fit wide feet quite well. Though wide footed testers struggled to stay in them for the first couple of bouldering sessions but after a few days they fit like a glove. Two Velcro straps seal the deal, but make sure the toe box has a vacuum fit. Beware the sizing on these kicks: a US 10 Blackwing is smaller than a US 8.5 Anasazi VCS. Even wearing them skin-tight (which is how they should be sized), some testers needed a full 1.5 size bump from FiveTen’s other models.
The Blackwing isn’t quite stiff enough to truly “edge,” but they stick it anyway. They’re great at “smeadging,” which is what our testers did most of the time on the steeps.
These shoes do well padding up on smears between actual footholds on overhangs. But they’re not designed for smearing in the no-holds, totally insecure, slabby kind of way.
One of the highlights of this shoe is how well you can grab holds, even on roofs. And when you do find yourself on vertical walls, you can feel your way up small holds even without the benefit of a stiff sole.
The Blackwing last is too aggressive for most cracks. Like other face shoes in this review, they can do well on cracks too thin to jam, where climbers’ feet are smearing or edging.
Five Ten’s new Stealth HF rubber feels extra sticky.
At the high end of the price range the Blackwings are worth every penny. They last far longer than most other climbing shoes.