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Sep 8, 2013
Bunny pancake
I realized I know nothing about the rubber that goes on my shoes. What is considered some of the best rubber? I would assume there is a trade off between durability and performance.

What are some of your opinions?
Mike McKinnon
From Golden, CO
Joined Aug 27, 2003
122 points
Sep 8, 2013
Me and Spearhead
I guess that I must not climb that hard since I don't really notice a performance difference.

That being said I usually go w/ 5 Ten or Sportiva rubber. Been using the XSV, it seems to wear a little better/longer than the C4. Not sure about 5 Ten's newish uber sticky stuff (Onyx?).
Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Joined Oct 20, 2007
141 points
Sep 8, 2013
I agree with Brent about 5.10's product. I have a pair with Stealth Onyx rubber that I've been climbing with 3 or 4 times a week for about a year both outside and in the gym. They are very balanced between performance and wear and I doubt I will ever try another brand. I am only now just starting to think about a resole but they'll get me through the season no problem.

Check with some resoling shops though, its possible that they may carry 5.10 rubber.
Thom S.
From Madison, WI
Joined Sep 6, 2013
0 points
Sep 8, 2013
there is no "best" rubber

virtually every type of rubber has been used on every type of climb at the highest levels

its all personal preference ... and for elite climbers, who you are sponsored by

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
1,886 points
Sep 9, 2013
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suck...
I got a pair of shoes resoled in Onyx. It is definitely not "uber sticky". In fact, it was terrible at first: feet skating off granite and sandstone left and right. I finally broke it in after many pitches and it climbs well now but I don't notice it being particularly superlative.

I also have another pair of shoes resoled in the regular Stealth but I don't notice a big difference between it and Sportiva rubber.

I do think the difference between the fiveten C4 and Onyx is this: the C4 seems to perform best for me in cooler temps and the Onyx seems to stick better in higher temps. Had several days this summer in a few different places to find this out by trial and error.
Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Joined Mar 5, 2007
2,449 points
Sep 9, 2013
Mt. Agassiz
Vibram rubber has been awesome. I've tried a few others, but Vibram XS edge has been the best all-around rubber. Ryan Nevius
From The Range of Light
Joined Dec 29, 2010
787 points
Administrator
Sep 9, 2013
My vote goes for Traxx-XT5, but read on. In really, I dont think you will notice a huge difference between any major company (C5, Traxx, La Sportiva, ect). You may, however, notice a difference with lower-end companies. Boreal Fusion 3 is the crappiest rubber I have ever seen, or so it was when I last tried it a few years ago. The second I tried that rubber it is if everything turned to glass.

I actually tried a direct comparison between two rubbers on the same shoe. I sent off two pairs of Evolv Defys to be resoled, one with Mad Rock rubber and one with Evolv rubber. When they came back I tried each shoe on the same highly-technical 5.11d route. The route involves serious stemming on seemingly micro features, so I figured it was a good route to try the shoes on. The end result was that neither rubber appeared any better than the other. For extra credit I had my partner put my shoes on and I kept my eyes closed so I dident know what rubber I was using at the time.

This question actually comes up all the time so I am surprised no one has done a direct, scientific test. It would be really easy to test the coefficient of friction of different rubbers. Just grab a bunch of flat rubber samples, place them on a variety of cross-cut rock samples, and conduct a standard block and slide test.
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
665 points
Sep 9, 2013
Trojan Magnums, black or neon. chuffnugget
From Bolder, CO
Joined Sep 14, 2011
22 points
Sep 9, 2013
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH
20 kN wrote:
Just grab a bunch of flat rubber samples, place them on a variety of cross-cut rock samples, and conduct a standard block and slide test.


It's definitely a doable experiment, but would have to be done specifically for climbing purposes. Some rubbers are designed to hold the best edge, making them great for small edges etc, whereas some rubbers have even more friction when smearing, but don't hold an edge whatsoever. A "standard" set of footholds would have to be determined in order to test rubbers against a single standard, with variances in rubber and rock type only.
Brendan Blanchard
From Boulder, CO
Joined Oct 18, 2010
309 points
Sep 9, 2013
Grande Grotto
While I agree with bear that there is no "best" rubber there are certainly rubbers that do better in certain conditions or types of routes.

After 20 years of climbing here's where I stand on rubber. C4 and XS Edge are the best two rubbers out there commonly available for resoles. I have ZERO experience with TRAX however.

C4 is considered by most to be the best "smearing" rubber out there. Techy stemming in corners, smearing on smooth granite slabs in Yosemite etc are where C4 shines. It does ok edging but tends to deform and "roll" off micro edges. I've found C4 does give you feedback on that rolling off so you don't often just blow off an edge. You can feel yourself starting to go. All rubbers have a "best temperature" zone. C4 tends to perform better in cooler temps.

When the rock gets warm or micro edging is required Vibram XS edge is my rubber of choice. XS Edge does NOT smear as well as C4 but holds it's shape and lets the rock "bite" into the rubber. I prefer XS on more crystalline rock and hot days.

I tend to have two pairs of the same shoe, one with C4 and one with XS Edge and select according to my needs.

Miuras with C4 and TC Pros with XS Edge tend to be my two shoes of choice for a LOT of my climbing...
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
Sep 9, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
David Sahalie wrote:
Trojan Magnums, black or neon.


agree, the only thing that will fit over my shoes to protect them against nasty rock.
Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
3,090 points
Sep 10, 2013
We don't kick it with bustas in khaki g-strangs.
My opinion:
-Vibram XS Edge is real nice for thin face and crack. My choice for edging.
-5.10 Stealth C4 is real nice for slab, kinda all-around stuff. My choice for friction/smearing.

I climb almost exclusively on granite, just by circumstance.
TacoDelRio
From All up in yo bidniss.
Joined Feb 16, 2010
1,927 points
Sep 10, 2013
mattm wrote:
While I agree with bear that there is no "best" rubber there are certainly rubbers that do better in certain conditions or types of routes. After 20 years of climbing here's where I stand on rubber. C4 and XS Edge are the best two rubbers out there commonly available for resoles. I have ZERO experience with TRAX however. C4 is considered by most to be the best "smearing" rubber out there. Techy stemming in corners, smearing on smooth granite slabs in Yosemite etc are where C4 shines. It does ok edging but tends to deform and "roll" off micro edges. I've found C4 does give you feedback on that rolling off so you don't often just blow off an edge. You can feel yourself starting to go. All rubbers have a "best temperature" zone. C4 tends to perform better in cooler temps. When the rock gets warm or micro edging is required Vibram XS edge is my rubber of choice. XS Edge does NOT smear as well as C4 but holds it's shape and lets the rock "bite" into the rubber. I prefer XS on more crystalline rock and hot days. I tend to have two pairs of the same shoe, one with C4 and one with XS Edge and select according to my needs. Miuras with C4 and TC Pros with XS Edge tend to be my two shoes of choice for a LOT of my climbing...


the funny thing is that the "best" yosemite big wall climber there, mr caldwell ... uses vibram edge

as does the "best" yosemite free soloer, mr honnold

and that one of the shoes considered the "stiffest" and "best edging", the anasazi blanco, uses C4

;)
bearbreeder
Joined Mar 1, 2009
1,886 points
Sep 10, 2013
Enjoying a misty day on top of the Bookmark on Lum...
What kind of rubber is best for knee pads? Some days I just don't feel like I'm getting the most out of my rubber in the knee bars. Do people like to carry four pads with different rubber to match the conditions? I'm sure this is the reason I haven't been able to send 13d. D-Storm
Joined Jun 29, 2007
345 points
Sep 10, 2013
D-Storm wrote:
What kind of rubber is best for knee pads? Some days I just don't feel like I'm getting the most out of my rubber in the knee bars. Do people like to carry four pads with different rubber to match the conditions? I'm sure this is the reason I haven't been able to send 13d.

It's not a 13d if you use knee pads...duh!
reboot
From Westminster, CO
Joined Jul 17, 2006
143 points
Sep 10, 2013
Just wait till the cobblers get ahold of the 5.10 MI6 rubber... Next Level for sure! NickBraun
From Bend, Oregon
Joined Aug 27, 2013
50 points
Sep 11, 2013
Grande Grotto
bearbreeder wrote:
the funny thing is that the "best" yosemite big wall climber there, mr caldwell ... uses vibram edge as does the "best" yosemite free soloer, mr honnold and that one of the shoes considered the "stiffest" and "best edging", the anasazi blanco, uses C4 ;)


My understanding was Tommy had the TC Pro (and XS Edge) made up for crazy tiny edges on his Dawn Wall Project. Seen in many of the videos (depending on the TM bearbreader screen grab!) The short fall in previous footwear was edging performance - hence XS Edge

The Blanco's claim to edging fame lies more in the stiffness of the shoes than in the rubber. Fresh C4 resoles with a "sharp" edge will roll off tiny edges. As the C4 wears in and gets both thiner and rounder, the C4 loses that rolling tendency. I tend to find my C4 soled shoes edge best when close to needing a resole. Mixed Granite climbs (both smearing and edging) I'll tend towards the worn in C4.

I know there's a post out there going into C4 vs XS Edge and plastic deformation vs frictional properties...
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
Sep 11, 2013
mattm wrote:
Fresh C4 resoles with a "sharp" edge will roll off tiny edges. As the C4 wears in and gets both thiner and rounder, the C4 loses that rolling tendency. I tend to find my C4 soled shoes edge best when close to needing a resole.


Yet, interestingly enough, Kevin would use fresh out of the box Blancos on those same pitches...successfully. Kauk has climbed V-hard slab with paper thin edges in rubber nobody's ever heard of from 15 years ago (see: Kauk Slab, Camp 4 circuit), there's video of him absolutely floating it in some random foreign shoes.

On those tiny dimes, only the hardest rubbers are going to not roll off if you attempt to put the square edge of the fresh rubber directly onto the edge. You'll still need a stiff midsole. But you can also ask Caldwell about footwork on that stuff and hear about "overstepping" the edge. Think about that and it makes a lot of sense. To edge with the very outside edge of the rubber, it has to be super hard to not just get cut off, overstepping it means when the edge digs in, it's not trying to slice off a piece of rubber that's only as thick as the edge itself, it's digging into more of the "meat" of the sole instead. Of course your ankles have to be flexy enough to do that on steep slab.

Temperature is everything on that kind of climbing, and 10 degrees can make a huge difference. Basically, the friction will get better and better until it doesn't, then it gets worse in a hurry. Sort of a "break point", which will occur at differnt temps in different rubber type.
Will S
From Joshua Tree
Joined Nov 15, 2006
1,219 points
Sep 12, 2013
Grande Grotto
Will S wrote:
Yet, interestingly enough, Kevin would use fresh out of the box Blancos on those same pitches...successfully. Kauk has climbed V-hard slab with paper thin edges in rubber nobody's ever heard of from 15 years ago (see: Kauk Slab, Camp 4 circuit), there's video of him absolutely floating it in some random foreign shoes. On those tiny dimes, only the hardest rubbers are going to not roll off if you attempt to put the square edge of the fresh rubber directly onto the edge. You'll still need a stiff midsole. But you can also ask Caldwell about footwork on that stuff and hear about "overstepping" the edge. Think about that and it makes a lot of sense. To edge with the very outside edge of the rubber, it has to be super hard to not just get cut off, overstepping it means when the edge digs in, it's not trying to slice off a piece of rubber that's only as thick as the edge itself, it's digging into more of the "meat" of the sole instead. Of course your ankles have to be flexy enough to do that on steep slab. Temperature is everything on that kind of climbing, and 10 degrees can make a huge difference. Basically, the friction will get better and better until it doesn't, then it gets worse in a hurry. Sort of a "break point", which will occur at differnt temps in different rubber type.


No clue what Kevin was using. I just know from personal experience that fresh C4 on tiny, sharp edges are not that great.

TC talked about the TC Pro rubber and said essentially the same thing. "It has more durable rubber than the La Sportiva Miura [older quote - Miuras have since been moved to XS Edge] that will probably last twice as long. It is not quite as tacky as other rubber. But, it won't creep off tiny edges if you are standing on them for a while and won't start flaking and scaling like softer rubber does."

C4 flakes and scales from my experience. Don't get me wrong, I love C4 too but it has its best uses as does XS Edge.

Again, the rubbers have different properties that make them better in different situations. The overstepping an small edge makes complete sense. I prefer C4 on micros that are rounded off. Overstepping usually means you are smearing more than anything. On Micros with a sharper edge, the overstepping means you're trying to get the rock to "bite" the rubber and hold. XS Edge does the "bite" hold are sharp edges/crystals better than C4
mattm
From TX
Joined Jun 2, 2006
1,238 points
Sep 12, 2013
...
"Just wait till the cobblers get ahold of the 5.10 MI6 rubber... Next Level for sure!"


Very GOOD chance that it will NOT be available to resolers just as the Mystique(Sp) is not.
Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,361 points
Administrator
Sep 12, 2013
Day Lily.
why isnt all their rubber available to resolers? couldnt/wouldnt they still profit? The Stoned Master
From Pennsylvania
Joined Dec 5, 2012
3,656 points
Sep 12, 2013
...
You might think. But exclusivity goes a long way. Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Joined Oct 13, 2002
2,361 points
Administrator
Sep 12, 2013
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.
i remember there was an article in climbing or rock and ice in the 90's that stated that a slightly rounded sole will edge better than a square cut sole. i have never really found this to be true. i think the rounded sole might be better for 'smedging', but for me, i have always felt that a crisp, square sole is better for getting the rubber directly over the top of the edge. slim
Joined Dec 1, 2004
2,001 points
Sep 12, 2013
mattm wrote:
TC talked about the TC Pro rubber and said essentially the same thing. "It has more durable rubber than the La Sportiva Miura [older quote - Miuras have since been moved to XS Edge] that will probably last twice as long. It is not quite as tacky as other rubber. But, it won't creep off tiny edges if you are standing on them for a while and won't start flaking and scaling like softer rubber does." C4 flakes and scales from my experience. Don't get me wrong, I love C4 too but it has its best uses as does XS Edge. Again, the rubbers have different properties that make them better in different situations.


I have the same experience with Edge vs C4.
The only time I wish I still had Edge on my Katana Lace is when I am on thin edges on a hot day. The rest of the time I am very happy with C4 on my KL
S. Neoh
Joined Oct 4, 2009
493 points
Sep 14, 2013
Bodyweight is a factor with rubber. The difference between what works in a given situation for a 140# person and a 200# person can be significant. Chris Rice
Joined Jan 11, 2013
15 points
Oct 7, 2013
Just got back from R&R & they now carry the OEM Grip 2 rubber for many Sportiva/Scarpa shoes. It's in between C4 & Onyx in terms of hardness (closer to C4, but a lot more stable in warmer temps). reboot
From Westminster, CO
Joined Jul 17, 2006
143 points


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