One of the newest climbing shoe brands on the market, Unparallel, has a lot of climbers talking about their new offering the Up Lace. But it actually may be more familiar than you know… more on that later.
Climbers and climbing shoes go together like peas and carrots. We spend hours doing research and even more hours trying on climbing shoes at REI and at shoe demos. Since Unparallel is a new brand, it can be daunting to drop money on shoes and not have any idea how they’re going to fit. That’s where we come to help.
Unparallel Climbing Shoes Review
- Comfortable for wearing all day at the crag or on long trad climbs.
- Improvements over the old Five Ten Anasazi Lace (Pinks)
- Perfect for crack climbing and includes additional rubber over the toe
- All vegan materials
- Extremely long laces that must either be wrapped around the sole of the shoe or deal with long bunny ear loops.
- Not widely sold yet, will have to pay shipping and handling if you want to return.
If the Unparallel Up Lace looks familiar to your old Five Ten Anasazi Lace, it’s because they are very similar.
After Adidas purchased Five Ten, the owners of Five Ten restarted their shoe company as Unparallel. Many of the offerings from Unparallel resemble older pairs of Five Ten shoes. We’ve even read some rumors that the rubber formula is the exact same as the old Five Ten Stealth rubber. Rumor has it that Five Ten only bought the “C4 Stealth rubber” branding.
I’ve been wearing the men’s version of the Up Lace as my primary outdoor shoe for bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing. Here are my thoughts on the Up Lace.
|Unparallel Up Lace Specs|
|Stars||4.5 / 5|
|Amount of Stretch||Less than 0.5 size|
|Sole||4.2MM RH/ Real Honor. Hard stiffness|
|Weight||1.12 lbs / 510 g|
|Color||Blue / Pink|
|Sizes||US 4-14 / EU 35.5-48.5|
The UP Lace is the stiffest shoe in the Unparallel lineup thanks to the stiff sole (which is usually a piece of plastic in the shoe) as well as the UP RH rubber.
This perfect combination excels for standing on tiny edges and comfort while crack climbing. This shoe isn’t an aggressive performance shoe by nature, but the toe box does include a rubber patch over the top.
I thought that the rubber patch over the toe was an odd choice at first since this shoe isn’t made for hard and steep bouldering. But I realized that the toe patch is there to help out with crack climbing. The rubber is more durable than the upper lining and will make the shoe more durable while it’s rubbing against cracks.
The UP Lace closure system is laces, as the name implies. And they do not skimp on the laces on these things. I found that I did not like this lace system as much as I do on my La Sportiva Miura climbing shoes.
The laces are so long on the UP Lace that I need to think twice when I put these shoes on. If I don’t think about it, then the knot loops are way too long.
But in my experience, I really enjoyed the pull tabs on the Up Lace. I’m not sure if it’s because I love the color blue or how durable they feel when I tug on them. But they feel bomber, and I’m curious how many KNs they’re rated to. I’ve never felt so confident in a pull tab as I have with these.
When I break out the Brannock device and measure my toe length, my big toe clocks in just a bit over 12.5. I purchased the Up Laces in a size 12.5 prioritizing comfort over performance. At first the shoe was a snug fit on my feet but they have slowly broken in overtime. I’m able to wear the shoe with thin socks for extra warmth during colder days in the Fall or Spring.
Since the Up Lace is lined with synthetic material, the length won’t stretch as much as a leather shoe. I sized mine at my street shoe size and have only experienced a minimal amount of stretching.
The Up Lace excels in crack climbing. After jamming my feet into a crack, it feels like I’m standing on a platform thanks to the stiff sole. I love being able to transition between small edges and cracks.
But I do need to mention the laces again. They were a negative We’ve already talked about the length of the laces being a negative earlier in this review and they posed a problem while jamming in cracks. There is just so much material in the laces that it bunches up in the crack. You could buy a shorter pair of laces, but that’s a frustrating change after just buying new shoes.
The Up Lace has a neutral profile that is perfect for cracks, vertical terrain, and techy face climbing.
The shoe isn’t downturned, so it’s not ideal for overhung sport climbs and pockets. I have used the up lace for outdoor sport climbs up to the 5.10 range and it does work fine. It’s my go to due to its comfortable, neutral profile.
I was able to test out a pair of the old pinks from Five Ten and noticed a lot of similarities between the two shoes.
I preferred how the lace performed and to sweeten the deal, the Up Lace comes in at $25 cheaper than their Five Ten counterparts.
The Unparallel Up Lace also comes in the lace LV which is their low volume model. I was always confused about what was meant by lace lv and what volume was in relation to shoes.
It turns out that your foot volume is the height of your foot. We’re familiar with the length and width of our feet, and the height is what is used for the volume. If you’re finding a lot of room in the toe box, check out the LV versions.
The upper is constructed from a lined synthetic material, SOLO suede. Any time you’re looking at the materials for a climbing shoe and you see synthetic listed, that’s a good indicator to not expect much stretch.
Devotees of Five Ten reminisce about the sticky rubber on their boots and they’ve yearned to feel something that sticky.
Due to the origins of Unparallel, the rubber feels similar to the Five Ten rubber of yesteryear. Up Laces come with 4.2 mm of Unparallel’s proprietary blend of RH/Real Honor rubber. On the Shore A hardness scale, a scale devised for measuring the solidity of materials, the RH clocks in at 76-80. This score is the stiffest within the Unparallel line. Once a material reaches a Shore A score of 95, it will resemble plastic and remain inflexible.
When I bought the Unparallel Up Lace, I really wanted a pair of stiff shoes that would prevent my big toes from hurting. I briefly considered ski boots, but doing the approach in those sounded too painful. I’ve been very happy with the stiffness from the Up Lace. The RH does provide support that I haven’t noticed with other shoes, especially when edging.
I’ve taken the Unparallel Up Lace all over the crags of the Southeast. All day climbs at Seneca Rocks, tricky slab at Buzzard Rocks, and the slipperiest rock types known to mankind: Great Falls and Carderock.
I’ve been extremely happy with the Up Lace, it has climbed cracks, smeared on glass, and has been a top notch boot for vertical terrain.. I will be re-ordering these shoes and will not need to go down a half size. Since my foot was a bit bigger than 12.5, the 12.5 size fit performed precisely as I wanted it to.
How We Review
We take a look at the following factors for our climbing shoe reviews:
We hate wasting money on gear that falls apart or doesn’t work as advertised. Each climbing shoe is going to perform differently depending on what it is built for, so we take that context into account for our reviews as well.
If you’re interested in learning more, read more about how we review gear.