Cudas are bitchin
Review by: josephgdawson, 2006-12-22
I am not really in the mood to write out a review, but I love these shoes for numerous reasons and I don't think the other reviewers have been specific enough about why they are good shoes.
Putting my money where my mouth is: I am on my fourth pair of Barracudas and the fifth pair is on deck in my closet. The first shoe I ever had that I really liked was the Sportiva Muira. However, once I got into trad climbing I found the fit of the shoe made climbing cracks too painful to bear on my toe knuckles. The Muira wants you to fit it with pretty knuckled toes. For crack climbing I then picked up a pair of Mythos, but I found I could not edge well in them and I could not climb sport for shit in them. I wanted a shoe I could climb cracks in, edge with and smear with. To make a long story short I tried a pair of Barracudas.
First off, the cudas look pretty cool. I would not call the Barracudas a super aggressively fit shoe or even very downturned. They have a slight downturn that gives them some good edging power. I suppose you could fit them really tight for more edging power. I fit mine so my toes are only slightly knuckled so the shoe and my toe can bend to smear and so the toes are not knuckled so I can happily climb cracks in them. Fitting them with a slight bend of my toes rather than so my toes are flat still gives me some edging power.
I find the shoe excels in thin finger cracks and I can get more toe in a thin finger crack in Barracudas than I could in Mythos. This is due to the lower profile toe box and the shape of the shoe. The outside of the toe box is slender too, which allows you to smear it into the really thin finger cracks. In hand cracks and wider cracks, the rubber around the top of the shoe gives you a little extra grip and take a little bit of the bite out of foot jamming. These are excellent shoes for hard cracks. Oh yes, and because you do not have to fit these shoes super tight to get good performance out of them, mine are comfortable enough to wear on multi-pitch climbs. I did a ten pitch climb and never had to take mine off.
When I bought these shoes I figured I would always have to have a pair of trad shoes and a pair of shoes for gym climbing and sport climbing. It turns out that the shoe fits me well enough that I can use it for gym and sport climbing too. In other words, I only have on pair of shoes these days - cuddas. Because of the slight downturn of the toe, it edges well in the gym and on sport climbs. But, because you do not have to fit it super tight for it to edge well, you can still smear well with it. I could not smear well in Muiras. The shoe is a little deficient for outside edging due to the shape of the front. It still outside edges better than other shoes I have had though. I have also found I cannot edge on so well on super technical slab. To me that is 5.11+. I had problems on a super steep slabby climb in my Barracudas that I was able to do in a pair of tightly fit Muiras the year before.
I know most people gripe about Vibram rubber, but I have come to prefer it to 5.10 rubber because it edges much much better and it lasts at least twice as long.
To summarize, this is a fantastic shoe that meets all of my climbing needs. I have never seen these shoes in a store, I have always had to order them online. But once you know what size fits you, that does not matter. For reference, a size 40 Muira fit me pretty tightly and my toes were pretty knuckled in them. In a size 40 Barrracuda my toes are only slightly bent.