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Reviews by robbovius (4)

Phoenix - discontinued (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 3.51/5 Average Rating : 3.51/5

In: Gear: Shoes: Climbing Shoes: Lace Up

MR phoenix, a very good inexpensive shoe. 4 out of 5 stars

Review by: robbovius, 2006-11-28

I won a pair of these shoes in a raffle, during an Adpt-a-Crag day in september 2003, and they became my main shoe (I also had a pair of MR Flashes) until this past fall when I finally retired them to use on my home wall this past fall. I found the rubber to work nicely on the sharp granite and rough conglomerate that constitiutes most of the rock I climb on locally, and the soles have lasted all this time without wearing out excessively fast. just this past spring '06 I noticed two small holes in front of the big toe on the left foot. The serrations on the heel are smoothed down now too. It surprises me to read that others have foudn the shoes to wear out very quickly, but this has not been my experience.

I also found that the shoes rewarded careful footwork, though as they aged, they seemed to lose some smearing grip...perhaps the rubber has oxidized and hardened a bit over the 3 years of use.

These shoes are very comfortable, with a big square toe box that fits my foot well. I bought them a halfsize down from street, and they have stetched enough that I can curl my toes away from teh end of the toebox, but are still snug and give good feel.

Quechua Vuarde Plus (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.00/5 Average Rating : 4.00/5

In: Gear: Archive

Review 4 out of 5 stars

Review by: robbovius, 2006-03-02

Because I'm such a cheap bastige, I'm always on the lookout for decent inexpensive climbing gear, and shoes are a perennial candidate. Last summer I happened to be in the local Decathlon Sports Megastore in Bellingham, MA, and was surprised to find that they had stocked climbing gear in and amongst all the usual stick-and-ball gear.

Decathlon USA is the domestic arm of the french Decathlon sporting goods chain, which have several house brands of sporting goods. The house brand for outdoorsy-style gear is Quechua, pronounced "KEH-shwah", and the Quechua brand provides a variety of climbing shoes, under the model name "Vuarde", all priced under $80. Be forewarned: if tyou visit the Quechua brand site, it's all in french, so have your Babelfish window open. BTW, "escalade" means, "climbing". ;-)

Since Decathlon is a stick-and-ball-centric sporting goods chain, it isnt' really where you'd expect to find climbing gear (they also sel a small amount of other stuff, BD cams and biners, chalk bags, BD harnesses, and Quechua chalk bags.) and the store realy hasn't done much to promote the climbing gear section so, especially inthe bellingham store, the climbing gear section is tiny...but enough yakkin' I'm here to talk about shoes.

During Christmas season of '05 I got myself a pair of Quechua Vuarde Plus Lace-ups, and after climbing with them for several weeks hereby do I submit my review.

Price: I paid #$59.95, for my Vuarde Plus (hereinafter referred to as VP) shoes, off the rack.

Fit: I take a 10.5 US street size, but found that 8.5 was the correct size for my feet. That size VP fits my foot snugly, and feels tight, but not uncomfortably so. The toe box is pointy, rather than rounded, but is not so agressivelty pointed as to squeeze the toes uncomfortably. Unfortunately, the heel cup is cut more deeply that my heel extends, and there is a noticable air pocket behind my heel when I wear the shoes. The body of the shoe is leather, but the inner sole and tongue are a padded synthetic. I bought these shoes with a mind towards all-day wear, and am so far not disappointed in their comfort.

Rubber: tha soles are Vibram, and given the calibrated thumbnail-poke hysteresis test, seem similar in overall softness to the rubber on my Mad Rock Pheonix and Flash shoes, which is comparable to the old 5.10 spires I had.

Climbing: So far (it being winter in the northeast US and all), I have worn these shoes outside for one day of top-rop and trad use, and several evenings of heavy bouldering on my home wall. In use, the rubber is comparably grippy to the Mad Rock rubber used on the Flash and Phoenix (both of which I own and still climb in) and also compares well to the 5.10 Stealth C4. They'll hold on to small edges quite well, and the sole is sufficiently stiff that toeing on the outside edge doesn't cause undue pain or feel especially tenuous.

They smear well, even on polished surfaces (like those at Qunicy Quarries) and generally feel positive on anythjng I've stuck my foot on so far. They are comfortable in cracks, adn grip very positively when cammed. Like any mid-priced shoe - or ANY shoe at all for that matter , they reward good footwork. If they lack anything, it's extremem pointability for toeing into roof jugs.

Overall I'm pleased with these shoes, but will wait to see how they stretch out over time, and how well the rubber wears. f you're looking for a good, useful all-around lace-up, for a very reasonable price, take a trip to teh local Decathlon USA Sports megastore and check these out.

CanCam (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.00/5 Average Rating : 4.00/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Protection: Active

Review 4 out of 5 stars

Review by: robbovius, 2004-09-16

Lacking a cam for off-fist sizes, I thought I'd try the Cassin Cancam #5 (4.5 inch) since the price was very appealing - $34.95 from Acme Climbing, $40 deliverd by UPS.

Upon inspection it's easy to see where Cassin took measures to meet the price point (for example, the finish on the cams themselves isn't as nice as the anodizing and polishing of say, a Camalot, or Metolius) but generally the cam is of good quality, and doesn't look especially cheap. there are large lightening holes machined into the cams (as cassin claims this model line is optimised for lightness) which look nice, and certainly do reduce the weight of the cam noticably. This #5 Cancam is much lighter than a #4 camalot, and feels slightly lighter to my hand as my #3 Chouinard Camalot. It is a bit easier to place than my #3 (old-style, U-stem) camalot, because the cam head itself is lighter.

the full expansion rage tends to be less than other similar-design cams (Trango Flex, Rock Empire Flex), But since on placement you're looking for a 30-70% retraction anyway, the absolute limits tend not to matter so much. There are substantial machined cam stops so that the unit can be placed passively.

ON placement, the generally lighter aspect of the cam head helps in orienting the cams for retaction and expansion, and even though the distance between the outer cams seems narrow (or, narrow compared to a #4 camalot, which the #5 Cancam most closely resembles size-wise) it seems to not be particularly prone to walking, even with a 40-60 degree deflection of the stem. Set in a textbook placement, it is very stable, and the toothed cam edges take a nice bite into fractured granite.

I am generally pleased with this cam and it's function, and have no real complaints. They function well, and the price is very attractive.

Momentum Adjustable Harness (Manufacturer link) popular Average Rating = 4.05/5 Average Rating : 4.05/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Harnesses: Adjustable

Review 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: robbovius, 2004-06-24

I had used exclusively BOD harnesses since '98 about, and the momentum is much more comfortable to wear. the leg loops are far less likely to pull up into the Atomic Wedgie on a fall, or when catching someone on belay. I can and have worn the thing all day, and have used it worn it comfortably both TR and Trad climbing.