Review by: bad_lil_kitty, 2005-03-22
Since I can't seem to post a review for some odd reason:
Actual Rating I'd give this product: 4.50
I have owned these shows for approximately 1.5 months and am now able to review the Athenas with a more subjective summary.
Through a promtion at the climbing gym I regular, these shoes were purchased for approximately $49. Originally, I intended to purchase just one new pair of shoes to replace my MadRock Flash; I didn't plan purchasing boulder/competitive-esque shoes. However, I had an opportunity to demo the Athenas around the gym for a bit (as I had w/ the Defy - which I've already reviewed) and decided that for such a low price why not give it a go.
The shoe itself has a very nice firm synthetic rubber sole whose arch is such that it makes for nice heel hooking when bouldering. The velcro straps are great for a quick no-hassle release - I'm not much for lacing up. The yellow, black and white colours are neutral and don't scream, "I'm a woman specific show!!!" The inside is comfortable for the most part. The top of the shoes were the velcro crosses is quite cushy - just like the Defy. However, where my left and right big toes met the upper portion of the shoe (synthetic rubber covered approx. 1" of this area on the outside) it would sometimes rub and cause discomfort. I compare it to that of getting one's cuticles pushed back but w/ too much friction. Grant it, I knew that w/ the synthetic rubber the shoe would NOT stretch and figured that between climbs I could take the shoes off, which would offer a quick remedy.
Alright, fast forward a bit. Once the shoes arrived, I took them for a spin around the gym and then outside the following weekend. The temperature was quite chilly, which made climbing all the more akward for me. That said, I didn't get much use nor a good feeling at this point as to whether or not I liked the shoe. I figured it would take some time before getting used to a new shoe w/ a thicker new sole (then that of my old MadRock Flashes).
The next few weeks I continued to wear the shoes around the gym (I picked up Ultimate Frisbee and went back to Moutain Biking, so my weekends were packed). However, this past weekend - March 19, 2005 - I finally got to use the Athenas and really take them for a spin.
Now, I haven't mentioned much about the edging of these shoes because at this point my usage of these shoes extended to indoors (mainly) and one go outdoors (managed one memorable slab problem). Ah, but the perfect opportunity to take them to my first bouldering comp ever (to date, I've been climbing for 6 months). Boy, what a difference does nice weather and a new pair of shoes make!
The Athenas were ideal not only for edging but (aforementioned), heal-hooking, and problems that extended not just to bouldering but various slab problems (other then the one I mentioned in my first outdoor go) as well. The pushing of cuticle irritation seemed to lessen, which could be attributed to a few factors (being a woman, you girls know what I mean). The one bummer, my right ankle started to rub sore; but thankfully, no blisters (my feet are flat so the constant pushing the entire foot into an arched shoe repeatedly caused this to happen).
Overall, I really do like these shoes - they are wide enough for my feet but fit like a glove. With regard to shoe size - I choose my street shoe because of the synthetic rubber (unlike my Defy where I went a size and a half, irrc). Again, these puppies WILL NOT STRETCH.
I hope this was somewhat helpful to those women who want to try out a new bouldering-esque shoe. This said, I don't think I'd use it for an all-around shoe - I'll use my Defy for that.
Overall, good shoe for the price I purchased - wouldn't purchase for a kid though - too much dosh imo.
BLK aka Jen