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Acopa Lowrider Editorial Review


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-12-26 | Last Modified on 2007-12-27

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 5 | Comments: 11 | Views: 5846

by John Wilder


Submitted by larryd. All photos by larryd.

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The Acopa Lowrider
larryd
The Acopa Lowrider.

The dihedral is steeper than it looked. My right toe is cammed into a rough spot in the corner while my left smears a vague patch on the undercut sidewall. Far below me, the boulders in Red Rock's Oak Creek look like tiny pebbles. I focus on the rounded jams until a frictiony stem finally provides access to a much-needed resting ledge. The clean wall towering above means just one thing: it is time to gear up for the route. As I take off my Acopa Lowrider approach shoes, I reflect on how well they have handled the varied terrain so far. An hour and a half of walking over trails and bouldery streambeds, followed by lots of slabs, corners, and an assortment of cruxy little walls. It is a broad test of shoe performance, and the Lowriders are winning on all the scorecards.

The "approach shoe" is a hazily-defined category. The obvious requirement is to provide a comfortable walking shoe to get to the beginning of the route. At this point the needs of different climbers begin to diverge. Going beyond this minimum level, I expect the "approach shoe" to do an adequate job on third class scrambling and harder approach climbing. It should pack small and light to get carried up the route, then protect tired feet on long and rugged descents. It may even need to serve as the primary footwear on aid climbs or long, easy free routes.

There is an important disclaimer here. Different people will need different things from their shoes: differing levels of support and protection, differing nuances of fit, and differing areas of utility. The key to happiness with footwear is matching the shoe to the needs of your foot.

The Lowrider is an uncompromising minimalist's shoe. It has a smooth sole of "sticky" (as the Madison Avenue boys say) climbing shoe rubber. There is no padded midsole, not even a little cushiony wedge under the heel. While some approach shoes give the impression of being kind of "mountainized" sneakers, the Lowrider is more like a "comfortized" climbing shoe. This means it is compact, lightweight, and has great feel. This fits in very well with the kind of climbing I do (i.e. often carrying shoes in the pack for a long descent), and is compatible with the needs of my feet. If your foot needs more in the way of padding and comfort features, I would recommend taking a look at Acopa's Scrambler model, which is designed more along those lines.

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A view of the Lowrider sole, showing the wide support area under the arch of the foot
larryd
A view of the Lowrider sole, showing the wide support area under the arch of the foot.

These shoes are comfortable. Most people assume that an "approach shoe" should be pleasant for walking, and the Lowriders certainly are. So let's put a check mark here and move on to the area that really piques the climber's interest. How do they feel on the rock? In a word: great! To give them a good test, I took them out on a route called Johnny Vegas, a popular Red Rock 5.7 face climb. The test was especially demanding because I was recovering from an upper body injury that limited my ability to grip and pull. Therefore, footwork was paramount and the Lowriders gave me all the precision I needed. I never felt that the shoes were inadequate for the climb. In fact, I often forgot that I was not wearing "real" climbing shoes (usually, my return to reality was occasioned not by any deficiency of climbing sensitivity, but by the sudden realization that my toes were comfortable and I was not in a hurry to take off my tight shoes).

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The acid test-- the Lowrider performed well, even on the steep second pitch of Johnny Vegas.
Larryd
The acid test-- the Lowrider performed well, even on the steep second pitch of Johnny Vegas.

Another good feature of the Lowrider is that it has no stiff heel counter. They squash down nice and flat, which lets them fit easily into the pack to be carried up a route. They also have little heel loops so you can clip them to your gear sling or harness for those packless ascents.

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This picture shows how flat the Lowrider will squash to fit into a pack.
larryd
This picture shows how flat the Lowrider will squash to fit into a pack.

I am also pleased with the durability of the shoes. Mine still show no sign of wear even though they are far from new. The pair in the photos has over 50 miles of walking on a mixture of trails and rougher terrain. They have also endured at least 10,000 feet of third, fourth, and fifth class climbing on approaches, routes, and descents. The stitching on the uppers is still intact.

For those with aid-climbing inclinations, the Lowrider features a sole that is flared out in the instep area to protect the arch of the foot while standing in slings.

It is tough to find anything negative to say about these shoes. Wet rock and mud are a challenge, but this is pretty much the case with any shoe. The smooth sole does not leave much margin for error when dealing with gravel or dirt-covered slabs, but these can be treacherous even with tread or lug soles. I have not tried the Lowriders in snow, but I expect a similar caution would apply. As mentioned above, the lack of cushioning would probably make these shoes bad choice for someone whose feet need the padding, or who is intending to do a lot of trail running.

The soles can leave scuff marks on the kitchen floor, so this can be a source of spousal discontent. On the other hand, mud doesn't have much to stick to, so they work out well for garden chores. This allows you to win back a few spousal points, and even provides a semi-plausible acquisition excuse.

No disclaimer necessary: The reviewer bought these things with his own money, and expects to buy another pair if these ever wear out!

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11 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 Muad_Dib
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 2007-12-26
Sold!
 jmagnus17
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 2007-12-27
Acopas are sick! Bachar's the man!
 bachar
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 2007-12-27
There actually is a padded midsole albeit minimal. A full length 4mm EVA midsole is inside the shoe, not much but it smoothes things out a bit on the flatlands.

Great review - glad you enjoyed them!

Cheers, JB
 coastal_climber
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 2007-12-29
Were they used for aid? If so, how did they perform on longer routes?

>Cam
 crotch
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 2008-01-01
Did you find that they had enough padding for talus hopping?
 larryd
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 2008-01-01
Hey JB-- sorry about missing that thin layer; not obvious from the outside and I wasn't cutting them open!

Coastal-- I don't do much aid, so these were not subjected to a serious workout in that area. It was obvious to me that the arch part of the shoe would give better than average support, so I did some minor standing in slings to see how it felt and they seemed pretty good.

Talus hopping worked great for me. I have generally gotten along with pretty minimalist footwear, so these shoes seemed very comfortable on everything from boulders down to cobbles and scree.
 rockaviva
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 2008-01-08
5 out of 5 stars Bravo for the acopa team, Ernesto and his family, feel proud of this product, widely recomended, strong hug from Guadalajara México.
 thomasribiere
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 2008-01-14
hello Larry! a happy new year from France!
 camhead
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 2008-01-18
price?
 bachar
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 2008-01-18
$ 89...The new Scrambler is fun too. It's the same as the Lowrider but has an external EVA wedge midsole for more cushioning.

Thanx again folks! - jb
 Swick
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 2008-05-17
how to fit? If I'm 10/43 in Acopa Spectre (but 10.5+ in most "street" shoes), am I 10 or 10.5 in these?

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