I hate stuffing my feet into tiny aggressive shoes. If it takes me more than a minute to tug, squeeze, and pinch my feet into a pair, and I get a foot cramp the minute they’re finally laced up, then I’m not going to wear them. I love the precision of a stiff, downturned sole, but, due to my self-preservation instinct, I won’t use my feet if putting weight on them causes immense pain, which renders my aggressive shoes useless. Thus, up until this point, I’ve upsized aggressive shoes. For example, my 5.10 Dragons are size 9 men’s, and I’m an 8.5 women’s—and they’re still tight enough that I want to rip them off at the end of each pitch. But this fall I only used my Dragons twice…because I found these:
Never heard of Butora? I hadn’t either until the company made its American debut this summer at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. Butora is based in Korea, but has recently opened sales internationally. The Acro is its most aggressive shoe, specially designed for steep and technical sport climbing and bouldering. It comes in two styles: the orange wide fit and blue narrow fit; I now use the latter every time I climb outside. Even better, sizing is easy: For sport climbing they fit true to your street size (revolutionary, I know), and going a half-size down is recommended for bouldering.
So why are the Acros so great? Enormocast host Chris Kalous summed it up nicely when he tried on his pair in Salt Lake: “I could wear these right out of the box.”
I did wear mine right out of the box and was comfortable enough to climb 10 pitches in them at Rifle—that never happens to me with new shoes. The narrow fit is snug and 100 percent gapless on my feet, thus requiring a bit of tugging to get on, but, once they are strapped down, there are no pressure points that cause my toes, etc. excess pain. I agree completely with the online product description that these shoes combine the ease of a single velcro strap with “the extra security and custom fit of a lace-up shoe.” The Acro is my only non-lace-up, and they form to my feet better than my Dragons.
I climbed outside an average of once a week in my Acros from August through mid-November, and the rubber is only just starting to show signs of wear on the toes. I anticipate getting to at least May without having to resole them (which I most certainly will do), as long as I don’t wear them for long gym sessions this winter. And at $154.00, they are about $20 less than the 5.10 Dragon and the La Sportiva Solution, so they’re great for saving a few dollars on your first (or tenth) aggressive pair, especially if you’re not used to ultra-tight shoes.
Overall, I have zero complaints about my Acros and continue to be impressed by and grateful for how comfortable they are. I give them five stars, as did the two other reviews on the website, and will not be buying shoes from any other brand for a while. It’s also nice not having the same shoes as anyone else at the crag—you never have to worry about getting them mixed up.
Fun Fact: Butora doesn’t have “men’s” and “women’s” specific shoes, only narrow and wide fit variations. If you click on the “men’s” section, you get the same options as the “women’s.” I like this setup, as I know plenty of females with wide feet who routinely buy “men’s” shoes, and other guys who wish the women’s solution wasn’t covered in flowers because it fits their narrow feet.
Butora also has specially designed shoes for traditional climbing, all around performance, and children, as well as bouldering pads and chalk bags. Check out the company’s website for more information.
Originally published January 18, 2016, on coffeetapeibuprofenclimb.blogspot.com.