Something I need to get off my chest before I get into the nitty gritty here: I am a La Sportiva Fanboy. There, I said it; since the mid-nineties I have owned (almost) nothing but Sportiva shoes and they have always just felt right on my foot. The following review is stinking with bias, hearsay, conjecture and malice. *ahem*

Further Confession of Bias:

Several years ago I dabbled in the dark arts with a pair of 5.10 Anasazis when I was looking to replace my all-around Tarantulace that had seen its last resole. After several pitches and a thorough once-over, I found them lacking in enough ways that I ended up trading them to a friend for some beer and some slings he wasn’t using. The toes felt numb. The heel cup rubbed the upper part of my heel, while somehow not at all touching the lower part, leaving me with a severe case of what could only be described as ‘foot fart’ every time I tried walking more than a step or two in them; I caught more than a few looks from people as I tooted my way to the base of a climb. The Velcro was too bulky and it frayed very soon after I got them – just a few of the several reasons I chalked up to 5.10 just not being ‘good enough’ gear and moved smugly back into my trusted Italian leather footwear. 

In the years following I have rarely passed up an opportunity to tell 5.10 bros how bad of a choice they were making and even managed to convince a couple of them to come to the light. I took my persuasive ability as confirmation that I was in fact correct: Sportiva > 5.10 and anyone who disagreed had to be some gym gumby who thinks a crimp is a type of English biscuit or a gaston is some sort of Disney anti-hero. So what if Chris Sharma sent Realization in these? “His hands are too strong,” I’d say, “he could have done that climb in heels. Plus he’s an Evolv climber now and is obviously sending harder since he stopped repping 5.10. Don’t buy the hype guys! Wanna smell the fresh resole I just got on my Cobras?”

Over several months (pre-COVID) I have traveled all over the US with this New and Improved version of one of the most ubiquitous shoes in climbing. From granite to sandstone, limestone to basalt and a whole lotta plastic, I’ve tried to give myself every opportunity to be right, which I happen to value more than is probably healthy. Here’s my experience:

Feels Like the First Time (Blatant Foreigner Reference):

My first impression of these shoes was checking overall fit while sitting in my home woody room so I’ll start there. Knowing that the lasts of individual shoe companies differ greatly, I expected that a 5.10 shoe was going to feel VERY different to my Italian-pampered tootsies. I came with my mind as open as I possibly could to fit and feel. Having not worn the Anasazi in so long, I was pleasantly surprised by the innards of the shoe. Simple, smoothed out laminated stitching and a VERY comfy padded double-tongue. “Padding on the tongue? Who am I DJ Khalid? My feet are hard and weathered like Kurt Russell’s face. I’m supposed to suffer for my art! I don’t nee– oh. Well that is kinda nice.” I looked at my cat. “Hey, don’t tell anyone but these seem pretty stinkin’ comfy.” He of course shook his head agreeingly and made the ‘shush’ motion over his mouth with a paw. No he didn’t; he couldn’t care less, he’s an asshole cat.

Quality stitch work on the inside of the 5.10 Anasazi Pro The extremely comfy tongue of the Anasazi Pro

The stitching on the underside of the Anasazi Pro tongue
These images were taken after several months of constant use and speak to the quality of the manufacturing.

I pulled both shoes on and walked around a bit. Went up and down the stairs a few times, switched the laundry over, took the trash out, made a sandwich. Once the shoe warmed and my feet had time to ruminate I began to notice those differences in the overall shape as one does with any new shoe. Woah, OK, there it is. “Sure, ok it’s different. Nothing to freak out about, you’ll get used to it.” I thought. But I don’t know.

I got these a half-size down from my regular street shoe in hopes I would be able to crank them down a bit when necessary and use them as the all-around boot they are purported to be. The length seems just about right however the toe box is loose on the outside edges and tight against my big toe. As the comfy-ness waned I started to hone in on just what was so weird about the way these shoes fit: the Anasazi Pros are noticeably symmetrical compared to just about everything I have ever climbed (or walked) in. 

Let me draw a mental image for you. Picture a straight line coming 90º from your heel through the center of your foot and out of your toes. Standing barefoot most pinky toes are considerably farther away from that ‘center line’ than the big toe is; something to do with how our feet evolved from grasping to standing kinda needed that to happen, I guess. I dunno, I’m not a foot scientist. In my mind there is one unifying purpose of all climbing shoes: to gather those little piggies up and pool their resources in a messed-up fleshy Voltron– turning our feet into singular en-toe-ties (get it? entities, but like, with toes? Ah nevermind) allowing maximum force and surface area, pushing us to send the gnar. Sportiva’s lasts by my experience have always done that gathering from the little toes toward the big one which really focuses as much pressure as possible onto the strong boi, the hallux (still not a foot scientist, I just asked wikipedia.) The Anasazi Pro feels more like there is a rubberband around all of my toes, gathering them together like a stinky bouquet and pulling them all towards that centerline which seems counterintuitive and ultimately makes this shoe uncomfortable to me. Let me open Photoshop and draw you an actual picture:

Illustration of Shoe Fitment and Shape
Fig 1. A Bare foot; Fig 2. A Symmetrical Last; Fig 3. An Asymmetrical Last

After extended periods of time standing in the Anasazi Pro, I almost feel as if I have to stand bow-legged to compensate for the loss I feel of side-to-side balance, not to mention the pain from the pressure on the tops of my big toes that I’m still not used to after all these months. I ran around the house looking at all the shoes I owned; none of them are nearly this symmetrical. “Welp. Unless I rest most of my weight on my heels, chilling on a ledge for hours is probably out.” I said. The cat was nonplussed.

Looking closely at the updated heel, it has come a long way though it’s not without its shortcomings. The shape has gotten… deeper? Maybe higher up the ankle? Damn we need another diagram, but I just closed Photoshop. Think of the opposite of what a short sock does. That. Oh wait, I have a camera.

The updated heel on the Anasazi Pro
Explaining socks with arrows and shoes.

Bringing the top of the heel cup slightly forward towards the toe box has done this shoe a couple of great favors. The added rubber on the heel has been carved to an angle that is actually helpful for heel hooking (more on that later) and hey, no foot fart! So… yay? This could also be another reason why standing flat in the Anasazi Pro feels so awkward at times. Like my weight is being forced towards the front of the shoe a bit, as if my toes are on a tiny curb and my heels are in the street. (I’ll talk about this more when we get to performance). 

For a fairly stiff soled shoe, I find myself taking them off and preferring to be barefoot rather than standing in them between climbs. This is surprising as they aren’t exactly what I would call a tight shoe in any respect, and as I mentioned were even down-sized a bit. 

A big problem with the heel design on the Anasazi Pro
This rolling can get painful and cause blisters if I don’t stop to adjust it.

One nit-pick is with the stitching around the heel. The nylon piping around the edge is sewn around the ankle with a single stitch which is a bit too thin, causing the top edge of the heel to constantly want to roll down into the shoe when you put it on. I thought this would dissipate as the shoes broke in more, but I have called for a take at my first piece/bolt more than once to sort out the roll-up; which isn’t apparent until I put real pressure on the toe and notice the feeling like my pants are somehow tucked in my shoe. An annoyance really, but something that I have to make a conscious effort to remember each time I put them on. This has gotten worse with time to the point where it can sometimes roll into the shoe mid-climb.

Confession of Bias 2:

I severely dislike the use of Velcro-like substances in shoes. Mostly because I learned to tie knots when I was four? But also because I find it collects dirt and debris, shrinks and rolls as it ages and tends to be thicker than I’d like it to be, which makes it terrible for jamming and toe-hooking, two things I think an ‘all-around’ shoe should be fairly decent at. However 5.10 has greatly updated the Velcro closures on this version of the Anasazi. They are now covered with a synthetic micro-suede and feel thinner than I remember the previous VCS being, even though the VCS strap was very simple webbing and velcro. The tips of the straps on the Pro have a triple-sewn box-ish shaped stitching that has so far seemed to help keep the closures from developing the old hook and loop disease of separating the backing from the looping. Though this laminated microsuede stuff feels a bit cheap in the hand, I am impressed with how it has held up, jamming and hooking included; even in spite of that huge new molded toepad that I’ll address in a minute.

First impressions aside let’s get into performance a bit here. Having a home woody makes testing a bit of a convenience so I first pulled onto an overhang and poked my foot at a small jib. “I don’t really have much of a toe here but, this rubber… well I…” I edged onto some tiny sharp edges on some slab and lowered my heels, “hmm, not bad…better than ok, actually” then I stood on some slopey dual-tex foot nubbins on the vertical wall and did a few toe-ups, “Wuuuuut? Well now that’s impressive…” I slumped onto the giant beanbags I use for crashpads, mouth agape. This. rubber. I’m not lying when I say I had no words. ME: speechless. The cat couldn’t believe it either.

Testing Disclaimer (3?):

I figured I would split my experience actually using these shoes between Gym and Crag as I feel our community can very often be reasonably split this way when it comes to the needs from their shoes. Not trying to polarize, I don’t care if you never touch rock or if you think plastic is some kind of blasphemy that’s destroying our history or something. You do you. Ignore the plastic, skip the rock, I’m here to try and help you make the right choice for your journey bruh. Calm down. Geez. There are obvious differences between plastic and ‘rock’ but I will also try to address the differences between performance on individual rock types as I found them.

The Gym and Performance Anxiety

Once I got to the gym, it didn’t take long to realize the Anasazi Pro is not really a Pro performer in anything in particular, at least not enough in a way that is reasonable to market. Hot take, I know. I wish I could say I was impressed or discouraged immediately with any specific outcome, but it was a little more nuanced than that and really depended on what I was doing. In my mind a Pro-influenced or designed shoe would have pro features baked in and apparent, here the additions to the old design seem like a well-executed afterthought. 

How so? OK. No more beating around the bush here. The toes on these shoes are thicker than that ‘Oh lawd he comin’ chonk cat on the internet. The numbness I remember having with the VCS hasn’t left. This is where the aforementioned symmetrical shape of the last doesn’t make sense to me. The big toe is already going to get squished towards the center given the shape of the toe box, why would 5.10 add even more rubber to this area, further exacerbating the situation? I wish I could say it is something I have gotten used to but that is just not true. If anything, as a gym shoe they have helped me get more trusting in my footwork but for what I feel is the wrong reason; I simply can’t feel if my toe is secure or not. The way I see it, if you are at the gym to force test your insecurities, you might as well throw on some rental shoes and go for your redpoint, dude; climbing shoes should just feel better than this IMHO.

Another detriment to big, thick rubbery toes (as on the Anasazi Pro) is they get in the way. While sport climbing on any terrain it is not at all uncommon for me to catch the tip of my toe on a hold as I climb past it. I have tried to focus on learning this ‘new shape’ of my foot. “Hey dude. Your foot is longer now. So just, like, stop dragging it up the wall.” But I have not been able to get particularly consistent with placement without climbing slower and below my redpoint grade. Edging performs fairly well, and I can say has gotten a bit better with wear, as the sharp edge has worn off the sole. 

The sides of the Anasazi Pro in profile
Notice the rounding of the edges. I have found this to noticeably increase edging capability as they have worn in.

C4 Stealth is already widely known for its insane friction, so it only makes sense that in a high surface contact situation that these shoes start to find their own. On evenly-textured gym slab and smearing is where the butterflies in my stomach calm down and I really feel very trusting of my feet. It may be a little to do with the inherently slower pace this type of climbing invites but I have found that even in bouldering, when it really matters, the friction feels more solid than anything I have owned. Though I must note that I still catch those numb chunky toes on holds once my eyes leave my feet. Maybe I’m just bad at climbing. Suffice it to say when the slab wall gets a reset, I get these shoes out to keep my crying and sewing machine leg to a minimum.

Overhangs also tend to require a bit more of a downward hook than these shoes provide, though that wasn’t a surprise given the mostly flat and fairly stiff sole. The added grip from the C4 absolutely helps a bit here, but definitely don’t go replacing your steep shoes with these until you’re finished with the Magnus Mitbö Finger Strength University Vol. 187: “The Pinchening” program. 

Some bouldering things to note are the toe pad and the upgraded heel. While I wouldn’t consider myself any more a boulderer than I am a gourmet chef, I can hold my own in V4-V5 terrain and boulder once or twice a week (and make a pretty mean deconstructed avocado toast when push comes to shove). Having battled with the previous iteration of the heel cup on the VCS, I was anxious to put this to the test and have even had some of the harder crushers at the gym in my size try these on and attempt some wacky pubble-wrastlin’ footwork. For compression moves on aretes and heel hooks above the head, these bad boys do an impressive job. The edge that is incorporated on the heel does the strange thing of creating a ‘shelf’ of sorts when you rotate the toe away from the body, kind of almost allowing you to edge and hook at the same time which I find quite impressive. 

An extreme use of the updated heel on the Anasazi Pro
Some impressive heel edging (is that a thing?)

Coupled with the more aggressive heel shape I have felt extremely secure pulling hard on heels. Will that help you send your proj? I mean sure? I once demoed the 5.10 Hiangle and found the similar shape of its heel to be a bit small and lacking for this particular maneuver. But in the 2 days I had it, the Hiangle outperformed my findings with the Anasazi Pro in every other way that mattered for bouldering, unless of course you’re projecting highball slabs. (although it looks like Nina knows what’s up with that Hiangle action.)

The toe pad is a mystery to me. Largely because I’m not Batman and find bicycle maneuvers in the gym about as useful as a cowboy hat on a crowded subway. The diamond-shaped pattern appears to really only function well for me when loaded laterally (side to side across the top of the foot) rather than directly pulling ‘up’ towards my face, so it feels more like inverted scumming with my toes than hooking. When pulling hard with the toe I find it functions best when it is above my center of mass rather than beside or below me. I also noticed that the Mi6 rubber is noticeably slippery when not on heavily textured surfaces such as on volumes. Only when I’ve got an extreme amount of force on the toe pad can I begin to feel confident in using it. I do however need to add the caveat that I’ve been skipping leg day.

A heel toe double hook maneuver with the Anasazi Pro
This maneuver only feels secure when there’s a ton of lateral force on the toe pad.

So Gym then?

Is this a gym shoe? I suppose it can be? Though I don’t know if I can see anyone trying to climb past 5.10d / V4 really getting everything they need out of it and from my experience you want your gym shoe to handle everything you throw at it. There just isn’t enough of any one thing here as a multipurpose shoe that I find performs well enough to give me any sense of ‘performance’, which is what I feel the Anasazi pedigree + PRO would seem to be denoting. I can’t stand around in it long, it’s just OK in overhanging terrain, it hooks well in certain situations, but gives about half the feedback of every other shoe in my quiver. At this price point I guess I just feel like there should be more here than this.

The Crag and Mixed Messages

I’ve had the luxury over the past year to see a lot of the great lower 48 and with that privilege have been able to experience some quite varied terrain in these shoes. Various types of sandstone (yes there are more than one), conglomerate, limestone and granite. While in general the differences were fairly nuanced from rock to rock, I found the overall performance of the shoe to be mostly on par with the results from the gym. However, a couple of notable differences started to show when the natural shape and quality of ‘actual rocks’ came into play so I thought I would call them out specifically. 

Pockets

Harping back on the ‘numbness’ of the APro toebox, these things feel downright spooky to stand on in a pocket. Yes, I realize outdoor climbing is always going to have that extra factor of undie-clenching and that’s why it’s awesome, but hear me out. When I step in a shallow pocket with say a pair of Sportiva Mythos or BD Aspect (both shoes ostensibly best suited to jamming and cracks, NOT pockets) I am already aware of the lack of performance I should expect, but the amount of deformation I can feel as I stuff that square peg in a round hole gives me insight into just how much purchase I actually have and how much it is reasonable to cry at my belayer while I stand on that sewing-machine leg 6 inches above my last piece. The Anasazi Pro has robbed me of this feeling in nearly every instance on rock, but most notably in pockets. I just kept kicking my toe in as hard as I could stand, almost like I was setting a step on ice with crampons, never really sure about how high or low my heels should be, and that detracts quite a bit for me when I just can’t trust my feet.

In the instances of larger, deeper pockets and on the exquisite limestone of Wyoming specifically I had an even stranger experience of my foot actually sticking once I was above a move and attempting to pull my foot out of the very same pocket that I couldn’t quite trust to begin with; it was that crazy toe pad thing. I guess if Bruce Wayne-ing in your free time at home or purposely impeding your way up routes is your thing then sure, this was a great experience. Sarcasm aside, I can’t help but think, “Why aren’t these toepads feeling useful when I try to do anything to utilize this toe, but when I’m stepping out of a football-sized hole they seem to suddenly be able to grip everything? If you’re anything like me and don’t think much about how your feet leave holds, this shoe will change that for you whether you ask for it or not.

Cracks

Have you ever bailed on a climb because your foot got so stuck in a jam that you thought you would for sure leave behind a femur if you fell? Yeh me either. *ahem* C4 is too sticky for sandstone. (more on that in a bit) There’s a pretty thick line for me between secure foot jams and lost limbs and unless you are looking for some thin hands size toe-wrenchers or have the crack prowess of a couple of insane British heroes, I caution the use of the Pro in soft rock cracks. On slicker rock like granite or limestone the toe pad felt like it helped out in grip a decent amount while jamming but what was more notable was the added cushion while twisting on perfect-sized jams. My foot was just that much thicker in thinner jams though, so watch out for that whole getting stuck thing again.

In offwidth cracks, moves where foot stacking goes out the window and you start that oh-so-fun twist-your-feet-in-ways-only-demons-can, toe-camming stuff I was also let down. Despite the semi-stiff footbed in the shoe, when it is turned laterally across a wide crack, it tacos quite quickly, making heel-toe movement feel about the same as my old Tarantulace which results in the typical amount of mid-foot cramping. I don’t know if anyone has ever recommended this shoe for cracks, but they shouldn’t. At least not without dropping the caveat of only in certain sized cracks, which sounds like nonsense you wouldn’t say about any other shoe. Plus if you’re a crack aficionado then you likely already have a few shoes you know and trust, and you don’t need me to tell you that these aren’t in them.

Climbing Cookie Monster(5.7) in Red Rocks in the Anasazi Pro
C4 rubber performing great on the varnished sandstone slabs of RedRocks, Nevada (or as long as the crack is the right size)

Slab

The one place I think I can comfortably make a recommendation for this shoe is perhaps one of the most hated styles of climbing: slab climbing. (At least, according to my research overhearing climbers in the gym whine and also my undocumented efforts asking around crag parking lots for the last 8 months.) While granite and limestone have their own particular keys of their geology to truly unlock the secrets of their slabs, I have felt the most secure on sketchy runout slab in my climbing life because of this shoe. I also want to take a moment to address why I think that has little to do with the shoe and more to do with these being my first foray into C4. Moment passed. Soft sticky rubber, high friction? You good. No matter the type of rock, as soon as I drop the heels and get my hips low in that twerk pose I feel instantly stable on this stuff, and that includes chossy sandbagged ramps in Redrocks and wet accidental type 2 fun on the Flatirons.

Sarcastic Hot take 2: micro gravel on slab or ledges freaks everybody out. Go ahead @ me, but there are few things worse in climbing than doing the broken necklace dance from Home Alone 2 as soon as you stand stand up on a ledge. I can’t recall having this sensation once while wearing the Pro, which goes a long way to mental fortitude on long slabby multipitch walls like Snake Dyke. An added bonus for me on slab is that my heels being lower actually makes these shoes more comfortable by taking weight off the front of my toe. So yeah, +1 for sandy slabs. Don’t be such a baby.

Anasazi Pro performing well in the Flatirons
Great grip on the conglomerate formations of the Flatirons (Even when it rained and turned our route into a waterfall!)

Final outdoor note

I already said this but it bears repeating: C4 is too sticky for sandstone. Like unfair sticky. The cover photo is not rotated to be cute, I even drew a line through the horizon for you. The dang thing just sat there where I dropped it out of my pack, with no weight on it. Wild.

Comic Sans and the Anasazi Pro
Just. Wow.

So… What do I think? (A Summary)

5.10 has always touted the Anasazi line as a bit of a Swiss Army knife. With each iteration of the Anasazi over the past few decades, 5.10 has expanded the quiver into some pretty specific types and styles of climbing; each with its own bit of southwestern Native American motif that, I dunno, makes you hear the desert wind or some other form of cultural appropriation? Need that all-day shoe for yarding investment bankers up multi-pitch romps? Grab the Guides and get comfy. A shoe for hard, deep jams? Grab the Lace ups and send that splitter. Oh, so you’re a hardbruh in need of some tight technical footwork? Slap on a Blanco and crush that proj. But there has always been this bit of marketing hiding between the lines suggesting that no matter how specific the model was for ‘your style of climbing’ that the Anasazi (fill in the blank) was a great, ‘all-around’ shoe.

I guess that idea has always bugged me because I’ve never really seen it in practice. Sure there are many pros doing outrageous things in the Anasazi, but unless you’re someone who actually believes Fruit Loops are part of a balanced breakfast, it’s likely more to do with their head game, their determination, genetics, and their workout, not the shoe; and if it is, I can’t honestly see how in this shoe. So where does the Anasazi Pro fit in the slots of its hallowed brethren? In my experience kind of none of them. There is just enough specific needs baked onto the shell, but what is inside is still sort of missing something. The gooey goodness has always felt lacking to me, and maybe that is why the Anasazi is so polarizing. 

If you happen to have the right shaped foot AND align your climbing style with the right pair of Anasazis, you’ll defend them until the end of time. I know, I know. I can feel the comments flaring up like my aging lower back; How is that different from any climbing shoe? Isn’t that like, the point? To find a shoe that fits you and your needs? This guy is an idiot. With the Pro it’s like someone chopped up a couple of Swiss Army® knives and welded them together, systematically removing their effectiveness in the process. Can I duck-tape a fork on the handle of a shovel and have a multifunctional, all-around tool for every grave-digger’s lunchbox? Sure. But should I? Seriously, I find myself continually asking,  “Just who is the audience here?”

Bottom line (For you TL;DR people, how dare you I spent weeks on this)

The construction is pretty good; materials are phenomenal, and of course fit is fit. Functionally they are a mediocre thing wrapped in marketing and the bottoms are soled with pure magic. My advice is to keep the all-around shoes you have and love (or buy some used Tarantulaces for pennies) and resole them in C4. If you’re one of those insane people actually looking for a slab shoe? Yeah sure giv’er a shot. I won’t tell the cat.

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Jeff Jaramillo

Jeff Jaramillo

Jeff currently lives in the Midwest and spends most of his free time answering questions nobody asked. When not plugging gear on moderate warmups and calling it a day, he can be found whining about whipping on bolts in the gym or at the local pub waxing poetic about climbing saving humanity and the planet.

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