One of the newest climbing shoe brands on the market, Unparallel, has a lot of climbers talking about their new offering the Up Lace.
Climbers and climbing shoes go together like peas and carrots. We spend hours doing research and even more hours trying on 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
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.
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.
- 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.
|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 don’t find myself throwing too many toe hooks while wearing these shoes, but this rubber patch improves the durability of the shoe since it adds more protection for scrapes and abrasions from the rock.
The lacing system for the shoe is not as good as my La Sportiva Miura laces. When putting on these shoes, I have to think twice about the size of my loops due to how long the laces are. If the laces were shorter, the closure system would be on par with the Miura.
I’m also a big fan of 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. 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.
I ended up with long loops on my laces after tying them. And each time I jammed in a crack, I wondered to myself if they were going to untie or get stuck on a protruding horn within the crack. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but it is in the back of my mind which is annoying. An easy fix for this would be to buy shorter laces and switch them out. But that is frustrating to have to do on a new pair of 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, but that was mainly due to the sizing of the pinks I was using (borrowed from a friend). But 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.