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Cirque Pro Editorial Review


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-03-19

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 5 | Comments: 20 | Views: 6818

by Kate R.


Climbing Shoes…other than “Climbing Shoes” - A review of La Sportiva’s Cirque Pro
by holdplease2

When doing technical approaches or on bigwalls, one often needs to “make a few moves” that mimick crack, face, or slab climbing. Additionally, shoes designed to handle the specific wear and tear associated with climbing may perform better in the long run.

We took a look at several of La Sportiva’s shoes and how they performed on approaches, easy leads, and in the bigwall environement. First, though, here are some my thoughts on what makes a good approach shoe and a good wall shoe, YMMV.

Technical Approach Shoe:

  • Technical Capability: move capability (Shape of toe, rubber)
  • Weight: Weight is particularly important if you plan on carrying the shoes up a climb
  • Protection: For folks who deal with thorny plants in the desert, a leather or thick canvas upper won’t breath as well as mesh, but it will provide more protection
  • Lacing System: If you expect a shoe to edge well, keep your feet blister free, etc. you’re going to want a precise fit. Having a shoe which is easy to adjust can help. Think of lace-up climbing shoes vs. standard street lace-ups. The climbing shoes have more eyelets per side and the eyelets extend further toward the toe of the shoe.
  • Eyelets: Shoes with standard eyelets, or those where the shoe enters the back of the upper and pokes out through the top can result in excessive wear on the laces when the sides of the shoe rub on aiders or are jammed into cracks between boulders. Eyelets which consist of loops of abrasion resistant nylon through which the laces thread reduce wear and tear on laces meaning fewer blowouts.

Wall Shoe:

  • Support: When you are spending hours on lead standing tall in your aiders and bounce testing hard, your feet take a lot of abuse. Even in the burliest of aiders (Yates Ladders with 1.5 inch steps) foot fatigue can take its toll on your good time. While a shoe with a more supportive sole may seem bigger and clunkier than your standard approach shoe, you won’t regret going for the extra support. Folks who decide to climb walls in free climbing shoes often end up hating life. At the very least, if you choose this path, use some supportive inserts.
  • Toe Durability: Shoes worn on a big wall receive a lot of wear and tear on a very small area- the inside edge of the big toe. Every time you stand in your aiders, bounce test gear, jug the line, or haul, the inside of your shoe is pressed and rubs against the stone. With this in mind, examine the construction of the toe-box for any shoe that you expect to last on a big wall. Shoes with exposed foam mid-sole are likely to deteriorate quickly, resulting in “flapper sole.” Further still, shoes without a toe rand will likely wear through the shoe upper after a few walls.
  • Balance of Rubber Stickiness vs. Durability: Balancing the need for sticky rubber needed for “busting out some free” vs. durability to ensure that the shoe stays in tact for more than one wall.
Rockclimbing Article Image1_large
La Sportiva's Cirque Pro Approach Shoe
courtesy La Sportiva
La Sportiva's Cirque Pro Approach Shoe. Photo courtesy La Sportiva.

La Sportiva Cirque Pro:

La Sportiva provided us with a pair of these shoes for testing. (Thank you, La Sportiva!) From the time I took them out of the box, these were my favorite shoes in the closet. Not only did they go on every climbing adventure for five months, I wore them every day, Period!

These shoes have excellent fit and finish and showed hardly any wear, thanks to their burly leather construction and outstanding attention to detail. The rubber on the bottom is specially formulated to provide not only extra “stick” in approach situations, but also enough durability to last even when worn pounding the pavement every day.

This is, frankly, the best all-around shoe that I have ever owned AND it proved to me that an approach shoe can give you extra confidence during dicey Joshua Tree walk-offs.

Though La Sportiva did ask us not to test these on walls, we have seen many a valley wall climber traveling up and down El Cap in these shoes, busting the free moves along the way. However, the toe area of the shoes did show excessive wear.

In summary, thank you, La Sportiva, for developing a great approach shoe that provides extra confidence on the approach, the descent …or even on the sharp end!

Full Disclosure: The manufacturer of these products provided them to rockclimbing.com free of charge. Rockclimbing.com then provided these products to the reviewer as compensation for their review. This manufacturer does not currently advertise on rockclimbing.com. March 12, 2007.

Visit this shoe in our gear section: http://www.rockclimbing.com/gear/Detailed/4038.html

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20 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 olympicmtnboy
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 2007-03-19
Thanks for the review, but what's with La Sportiva asking you NOT to test a product under certain conditions??? I'm all for companies providing free gear for reviews, but are we soon going to see ice tool reviews excluding dry tooling performace, or maybe cams they ask you not to test in sandstone? What if they only provide something for review if you promise not to review competitor x? Thank you for your disclosure.

Oh and something I always consider for approach shoes is packability. How well do they fold up and fit in my pack, or clip to the back of my harness without sticking out to far. All of La Sportiva's approach shoes have big clunky heels that make them pack or clip pretty poorly IMHO (since they discontinued the superfly anyways).
 superbum
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 2007-03-19
I own these shoes and have had my share of problems w/ them. It all began when trying them on in the store. There was a "burr" of jagged metal on the top lace eyelet that almost cut through the lace when I tried them on and pulled them tight. No biggie (except the store had only one pair in my size and had to special order another.) shit happens.

Two weeks later The replacements camne in and I got 'em. Two weeks after that, I had a split seam large enough to stick my pinkie into on the outside yelloe seam of the shoe. They had gone aprox. 8-10 miles and climbed two peaks (3rd and 4th class) in the sierra. I returned them for a warranty replacement and recieved a new pair from the shop. Kinda lame, but at least they replaced them for free! I made sure to COVER them w/ seam sealer before I took 'em out again.

I began wearing them more and more in the mountains and would always arrive back at the car after approaches of as litle as 4 miles w/ aching feet. I HAD to buy insoles (not the end of the world, but something new for me) and they GREATLY improved comfort. I strongly suggest insoles w/ these shoes, even though it bumps the price up another 15-30 bucks :(

Now that they were seam sealed and modified w/ insoles, I began to take them up 5th class routes. I even soloed 5.6 on Mt. Conness, 5.5 on Tenaya peak (both in Tualomne) 5.6 on Lone Pine Peak, and led a .10a sport climb in the Owens river gorge w/ them. They climb VERY well. The best non-climbing climbing shoe ever in my opinion...

however...after one summer of use in the Sierra (4-12 miles of trail a week, and much 3rd and 4th class) they are TRASHED. the rand is nonexistant, (you can peel off strips of plastic underneath) and the soles are COMPLETELY smooth. Sure I coulda got a resole, but it started to get cold and they were demoted to comfy status and bouldering approaches...

While an EXCELLENT climber, the durability and comfort issues will steer me to purchase something else. Probably the LA Sportiva Exum Ridges...

vic lawson
 superbum
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 2007-03-19
Oh yea, they are very light and pack down very well too. I've had them in my pack and on the harness of many long climbs and they went un-noticed.
 spoon
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 2007-03-19
Does no one else have problems with the stupid lacing system?
 vegastradguy
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 2007-03-19
well- i think that Sportiva wanted a review based on what the shoe was designed for-- and, while walls are certainly a possible application, the shoe was designed for the trail and some climbing. Walls are very abusive to anything you take up 'em....and frankly, i'm not sure this particular shoe would have held up to a trip up the big stone....
 A-Bowl
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 2007-03-19
I love this shoe. I have put it through its paces and it definatey aces the technical approach. This shoe also amazed me by allowing comfortable and vey technical climbing up to 10+ sport. I'd recommend for those easier multipitches with a few medium cruxes thrown in there and a technical approach. Also good for around crags setting up easier 5.10 and lower routes for friends. As for the laces, I love them... same as on my mythos and a big reason I bought them. Party on Sportiva.
 holdplease2
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 2007-03-19
There are shoes that are designed for bigwalls, and they have the features that are listed at the beginning of the review. To have these features, you end up with a boxy, bulky toe and a shoe that isn't sensitive. It also can end up being heavy, as its designed for real durability challenges.

In the case of this shoe, they wanted a sensitive shoe with a low profile toe for stuffing into cracks. They also wanted a lightweight shoe. Therefore, they sacrificed some of the reinforced areas and rigidity and stability (for heavy pigs/packs) that might be found in a more wall appropriate shoe.

I, for one, am glad that La Sportiva, Scarpa, and Five Ten make shoes that perform very well in some environments and that they are willing to sacrifice "all around" performance in some shoes so that we can have more specialized models.

You don't wear your shit kickers to the prom and you don't wear your flips on a glacier. Burly wall shoes and technical approach shoes can be just as different if you have the budget for a pair for each purpose.

If you don't have such a budget, find a shoe that balances your requrements of weight/burl, free climb ability/rigid stability, rubber stickyness/durability. There are plenty of models to choose from.

I didn't like the lacing system of this shoe, in part because the round laces came untied, so I had to double knot. Then I ripped the shoe off and on my foot without untieing, which resulted in some tearing at the heal. Kinda my fault, kinda the fault of the laces themselves sucking. I'm sorry I didn't mention this in the initial review. I forgot about it after the first four months with the shoe.

Check out the La Sportiva web site for about 15 models ranging from burly wall to trail running to their even more technical approach shoe. They have more options than any other company.

BTW: Avoid the superdrago---tons of exposed stitching...wore through in the time it took my Cirque Pro's to get resoled, only three weeks! Of course, they are designed to be lighter weight and do have mesh construction. Again, its all about balancing your priorities. Wheras the Cirque pros are at about 6 months on J-tree rock and still going strong thanks to the burly rand that covers much of the exposed stitching.
 brushman
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 2007-03-20
Love most of Sportiva's climbing shoes, however, if you're looking for a comfortable APPROACH shoe, then the Sportiva Cirque is NOT it. Small, low-profile toe box and sticky rand do help with cracks, but at the end of a long day climbing (in real rock shoes) your toes will be screaming for relief on the hike out! I even sized them them a tad bit large, but for me, the small toe box/rubber rand combination does not allow for much forefoot/shoe flexion when hiking. I got rid of them after a few trips....just couldn't take it!
 j_ung
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 2007-03-20
Are there reviews of other models coming up? A 'graph above says you "took a look at several." I almost dropped coin on a pair of Mandalas the other day for kicking around Fayetteville and light approaching. (Everything at the New is a light approach.) And... Hi Kate! I hope all's well on your side of the continent.
 holdplease2
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 2007-03-20
Hi Jay - Allz well. At the time of the review, I also purchased the Super Dragos. However, they are no longer in production so we didn't post that review.

-Kate.
 vinniemazz
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 2007-03-20
Does anyone have any experience/comments on the Sportiva B5 and/or Five Ten Guide tennies? I have been looking at both but curious for feedback.
 holdplease2
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 2007-03-20
The 5.10 guide tennies seem to rock. They hold together way better than the Mountain Masters, which I believe are now discontinued. The 5.10 guide tennie and the Cirque Pro are a simliar shoe, with the guide tennie appearing to be a little more supportive.

The Sportiva B5 has very little padding or rigidity, and is closer to a climbing shoe than the Cirque Pro. They now come in two colors, so you don't have to look like a dork in red shoes. For long approaches they would be less comfortable than the Cirque Pro. I have not worn them, but examined them closely and talked to a few folks who own them.

-Kate.
 climbingbetty22
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 2007-03-21
Will there be a review of the B5 forth coming???
 holdplease2
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 2007-03-21
Hi climbingbetty:

At this point, La Sportiva hasn't offered us a pair, and I have two good pairs of La Sportivas right now, one of which I paid full retail for. Unless a bootycrew member needs to buy a pair and does a free review (happens all the time) or La Sportiva offers us a pair, we prolly won't have an official review.

However, there are frequently awesome reviews done by other Users of rc.com, so maybe somebody would be willing to post one up?

I must admit to being tempted to try the B5 after my SuperDragos and Cirque Pros wear out. But based on the durability of my Cirque Pros, I think they'll last a few more resoles, so it'll be awhile before I shell out more coin. But when I do, I'll post a review.

John? Any chance La Sportiva will be sending along B5s? You might really like them, they look great for easy free...

-Kate.
 darkside
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 2007-03-22
I bought a pair of the B5's last summer but haven't worn them all winter. John - if you want me to do a review then send me an e-mail and we'll talk. I'll be fit enough for climbing again by the weekend but still ice. The B5's will come out again when rock season starts.

The B5's are a narrower fit than the MM's and when I got them I was also considering the Cirques but size availability was an issue at the time as they had just hit the stores. The narrow laces coming untied constantly was also a minor problem for me.
 vegastradguy
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 2007-03-22
well well, looks like ze approach shoe got some love! excellent. i'll talk with the crew and some manufacturers and see if we cant get some more reviews of this sort! thanks kate!
 the_epic_king
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 2007-03-26
they are deffinatly a great shoe, i have even followed 5.10b in them. one thing to keep in mind though is that they to wear out easily, i have been using the cirque pro for 8 months or so, and am already on my 3rd pair. hope this helps.
 krusher4
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 2007-03-30
My laces broke through the leather gromet before the soles even had any wear. I had to punch my own metal ones. The rubber is amazing the leather...not so much.
 holdplease2
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 2007-03-30
Hi Krusher4: Thank you for posting that information. Do you mean that the 1/2 inch wide section of leather that the laces run through, instead of holes, wore all the way through?

I'm just confused, because it seems like the only place where pulling a lace pulls on actual leather is not prone to wear. If you look at the pic of the shoe in the review, where did the leather break?

I, too, have noticed some questionable leather quality in 5.10 shoes. But in this shoe, it seems that the laces rub on the laces when cinching down tight except for at the very top, where there is a metal grommet in what appears to be nylon.

Thank you so much for posting this.

-Kate.
 reddirt
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 2007-04-03
just curious about sizing... for those of you who have Cirque Pros *and* sportiva rock shoes, what size worked for you in each (ie did you go up in size for the CP's)?

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