I don’t know why I didn’t buy a second pair of Anasazi Guides. I had a pair that I bought years ago in Hitch and Hike down in the Peak District after a season or two of struggling to wear rock shoes all day. If you’re not familiar with wearing rock shoes, they are not generally thought of as being ‘comfortable’. The idea is you buy them quite tight so that you can feel every single edge of rock, quartzy pebble, and the thinnest of cracks as you work your way up a climb. My main problem back then was that most of my climbing was on multi-pitch routes – a climb might take three or four hours minimum, and would often be a full day’s epic before I could slip my rock shoes off and let my feet go ‘ahhhhh!’.
So, the guy in Hitch and Hike recommended the Guides from Five Ten. I tried them on in the shop and was immediately impressed by how comfortable they felt. I bought them, and had a couple of years of happy climbing in them. Until the rubber wore thin, and the shoes just fell to pieces. I bought something else, and went back to cramming my feet into something too small for them.
Today a lot of my climbing is still on multi-pitch routes, mainly in the Lake District, but also in Snowdonia, Scotland, and elsewhere. I decided to give the old Anasazi Guides another go, for old times sake, and to just try to remember what it is like wearing comfortable rock shoes.
Five Ten tell us that the guide has been designed with, “A focus on comfort with stiff and supportive platforms for all-day sessions and multi-pitch climbing making the Anasazi Guide a perfect all-around shoe.” The Guides are in their ‘Neutral’ range of rock shoes, so there are others that would probably be just as comfortable within that range, but I really wanted a trip down memory lane, and in all honesty the Guides have not let me down.
There is enough stiffness in the sole to provide a good amount of support, meaning that you can step up on smallish pebbles or narrow edges with some precision.
For smearing on slabs the Stealth C4 Rubber gives excellent grip, and the fit of the shoe encourages you to keep them on all day, which is important for multi-pitching. I’ve found that often my climbing partners will have to slip their shoes off mid-climb on belay ledges, whereas I quite happily keep the Guides on for the duration.
I actually don’t think the Guides are great for very technical climbs on steep or overhanging walls, but that’s not what they were built for – Five Ten have a wide range of ‘Aggressive’ shoes for that very purpose, but I’ve worn these for climbs up to E1 and haven’t ever felt that the shoes are letting me down. I’ve even worn them for bouldering – again, not something they are designed for – and find them OK for that, but I’d probably go for some with more of a down-turned toe, and solid heel tension for that.
My only real complaint about the Guides, and this is a minor one, is that the laces are too long. You end up with a long swag dangling, or the end of the lace which actually gets in the way a bit. And that’t it – my only complaint.
If Five Ten were to ask my thoughts on the Anasazi Guide, I’d say, shorten the laces, but please keep on producing this fabulous all round rock shoe.
You can find the Five Ten Anasazi Guides in the UK for around £100. For more info, see the Five Ten website here