Millet Hybrid ReviewMarch 16, 2013
- Pointy, supportive, and hyper-precise toe: best-in-class accuracy
- Narrow shoe that also accommodates high-volume feet
- “Crash Pad” heel great for bouldering landings
- Toe-hooking patch and high rand nice for bouldering and cracks
- Surprisingly good smearing for a stiff shoe
- A hair too flat-lasted and rigid for grabbing on the super-steeps
- Some biting around the Achilles tendon due to heel-area collar stiffness
- Reduced sensitivity in heel for technical hooks
- Upper strap can bite into feet
This is a surgically accurate all-around shoe that loves to stand on micros. It’s stiff, supportive, but also svelte—the Hybrid fared as well on 5.10 thin cracks as on 5.13 faces, and was also great for bouldering thanks to the cushioned heel. The interesting last—narrow width but high vertical rise—means even wide feet can fill out the pointy toebox, and the shoes stayed comfortable for prolonged wear. There is a minor pinching and binding issue in the collar/tongue area, but not enough to be a deal-breaker.
First introduced to American soil in 2008, the original Millet Hybrid was a well-received all-around boot that, given its understated chartreuse uppers and pared-down architecture, surprised us to discover it was actually an edging and frontpointing machine.
This technical shoe has been revamped for 2013 with a bright-green color scheme as well as the addition of a an interesting heel: a visible quarter-inch white slab of EVA foam added beneath the outsole—instead of being secreted along with the midsole within the footbed—to cushion bouldering falls. This antishock “Crash Pad” heel is then anchored by a tapering tongue of thin, dotted sticky rubber that ends underfoot, in the arch.
As an old-school, denser climber (both in terms of physique and brain matter), I tend to be very foot focused. Instead of relying on my meager, ever-dwindling power reserves, if I can get both feet on and make them stick, I can usually do the move.
Not surprisingly, then, the first thing I evaluate when testing is the toebox: how accurate and supportive is the big-toe area? I’ve given the Hybrid a perfect 10/10 in this edging arena, a remarkable rating for an all-around boot that is usually reserved for downturned, foot-torture performance shoes.
The Hybrid’s pointy, balletic, Euro-slender toe was simply brilliant on thin face climbs, standing unfailingly like the monopoint of a crampon in micro-divots and on jibs, as well as for sustained edging. The Hybrid proved equally supportive and trustworthy on 5.13 vertical granite face, credit-card gym holds, and on slick, miniscule sandstone crystals thanks to this well-designed toebox and a rigid, hard-wearing midsole.
Make it last
Given how pointy the Hybrid is, I at first wondered if I’d able to fit them properly, fearing dead space in the toe. What often happens with narrow ballerina shoes like the Hybrid is my feet (and a lot of others’ feet, I presume) are smushed sideways against the rand, instead of being driven down into the toebox, and I get a “slosh pocket” at the tip.
Millet sidesteps this issue with a canny last that incorporates a high, sloping rise from toe to ankle, letting bigger feet leaven upward so your piggies can fill the end of the shoe. This design also made the shoes quite comfortable for long-term wear, and I did many multiple-lap Mini Traxion sessions without removing them. Also of note is how well the shoes smear given their stiffer feel; despite a bit of initial hesitancy trusting them on pure friction, I found that they did stick well thanks to the grippy but long-lasting 4Points Grip rubber. With some acclimation and a patient break-in period, you can milk stable smearing from the Hybrid.
The final new flourish of note is the EVA foam antishock heel, with its quarter-inch of white foam visible under the outsole, extending downward almost like a hoof. The extra cushioning was much welcomed for bouldering, and I could feel the difference when jumping or falling off problems, even indoors.
The one detractor to this built-up heel, however, is that you need to recalibrate where your foot is in technical heel and heel-toe hooks, as your heel extends down farther than normal; meanwhile, you lose a bit of sensitivity thanks to the interpolating layer of EVA foam. That said, this is still a perfectly capable hooking shoe, and the Hybrid is unlikely to be your go-to boot for heel-hook-intensive super-steeps anyway.
The Hybrid only had one blind spot—it’s a hair too stiff for grabbing on super-overhanging terrain, though the shoe compensates by toeing so well onto holds—and a couple of fit/comfort issues.
The first one I noticed, especially with end-of-the-day swollen feet, was the collar’s heel section pinching my Achilles tendon when I flexed my foot. The padded collar is very supportive and holds its form nicely, but could use more cush in this one critical spot.
Also, when the shoe is cranked all the way down, the top Velcro strap tends to bind into the meat of your foot where it meets your shin—the strap is both narrow and situated high on the foot, right in the crook. Perhaps a wider strap, resituating the strap a hair lower, and/or more padding on the upper tongue would fix the issue.