Sean Smith is your definitive climbing nerd. Whether it’s about gear or techniques, or the geology and the history of a route, Sean eats it up and will talk your ear off about it, if you let him. Sean has over 5 years of indoor and outdoor guiding experience, having coached youth and adults, including several national qualifiers, and most recently working with Movement Climbing and Fitness as well as guiding for Denver Mountain Guiding.
The Scarpa Force V is another contender as a great all day rock shoe. With most climbing shoes comfort usually means a decrease in performance, but the Force V maintains a pretty solid balance between the two.
Because I have very narrow feet, I have shied away from Velcro shoes for several years now, with most hook and loop closures not pulling far enough to really hug my foot. The Force V has long enough attachments to actually get a good fit around the foot, and has room for a pair of socks under for those colder early season rock days.
When it comes to the all day comfort part, these shoes excel. Guiding long slab routes, even in other all-day shoes, still usually ends with crying toes and angry heels. The soft liner on the inside of the Force V really does make for all day comfort (or least up to 8 hours with them on). The downside to this liner is it does absorb sweat pretty readily, and they do need to be aired out fairly well after hot days to avoid quite the stink.
Performance with the Force V was above average. They smear extremely well, and edge better than most shoes in the same price point. The toe fit pretty well into finger cracks and jamming in hand and fist cracks was secure without any weird or additional pain. The Velcro is even far enough back that it took an intentionally deep foot jam to undo the closure. Where I often found myself needing to apply extra pressure onto my feet to maintain friction were on narrow holds using only a narrow area directly under the big toe power point. But, I did not have any edging issues on medium to small edges if they were wider.
When running easier slab sections, the thin rubber that the Force V has when compared to some of the other all-day-but-high-performance shoes meant being able to feel the rock edges under the ball of the foot, which would start to hurt after a few hundred feet. However, on rounded holds the thinner sole helped with sensitivity to feel the shoe find the right area of purchase. I’ve usually preferred thicker rubber, however, so if you’re a climber who prefers to climb more by feel the thinner rubber than competitors will be a big plus.
When it comes to the durability of the Force V I was surprised. I put as much mileage on these as I could, using them for every endurance workout, flatiron climb, and almost all else. Aside from a few slivers of rubber coming off where the sole meets the rand as they broke in I have not been able to generate any real noticeable wear into the rubber. The eyelets for the Velcro straps are still going strong with no blown stitching on their attachments (another issue I’ve had with previous Velcro closure shoes), and that is even with me cranking them tight on my weird feet.
Overall, the Force V is a solid shoe for moderate sport, trad, and multipitch climbing. Offering a great price point for a real all day comfy shoe while not giving up too much in performance, working well up to 5.10 on both granite cracks, sandstone smearing, and quartzite edges. The Force V will probably stay as my go-to shoe for long days guiding, filling a hard to find slot in my quiver of shoes.