Five Ten Team 5.10 Black vs. La Sportiva Solution
Test Locations: Bouldering in Southern Colorado and Joe’s Valley, Utah
Test Duration: I A/B-ed these two shoes for 15 days
For the past few years, I have sworn by the La Sportiva Solution, and pretty much refused to climb in anything else. Given the high-end performance, fit, and last that I have always loved about the Solution, I never saw any need to try a different shoe.
But I had been hearing more and more about the Five Ten Team 5.10 Black, and was curious to see what all the talk was about.
Previously, Matt Pincus reviewed the Team 5.10 Black, highlighting the sensitivity and performance of the shoe and describing it as a “well-rounded performance shoe geared for precision footwork.”
Matt also made some comparisons in his review to other Five Ten shoes (such as the 5.10 Dragon) noting that the Team 5.10 performed slightly better as an all-around shoe but lacked the powerful edging of the Dragon.
Given Matt’s experience and the time I’ve spent in the Solution, I wanted to take a look at the Team 5.10 myself and see how it stacked up.
Sizing and Fit
One of the first big differences I noticed between the Team 5.10 and the Solution was the sizing.
I have a pretty average foot (size 42.5 EU/ 9.5 US street shoes), and have always sized down to a 39.5 in the Solution. I found the sizing with the Team 5.10 to be drastically different, and that the smallest size I could squeeze my foot into was a 42.5, which is almost the same as my street shoe size (comparison based on 5.10 Dirtbag street shoe).
Part of this may be due to the somewhat difficult entry of the Team 5.10.
In Matt’s review he mentioned that 5.10 increased the elasticity of the entry in the Team Black so that it would, in theory, be easier to get on than the original Team Blue model. And while I have not climbed in the original Team 5.10, it was still more difficult for me to get the Team 5.10 Black on than the Solution. This meant that I had to settle for a size that, in my mind, seemed perhaps a half size too big.
That said, after a good amount of climbing in each shoe, this has not been much of an issue for me. Since the Team 5.10 has a synthetic upper, it does not stretch much at all, whereas the Solution does stretch a good amount due to its leather upper.
So while the initial fit of the Team 5.10 seemed like it might be too loose once broken in, it has ended up fitting just as well as a broken-in Solution.
(It is worth noting, though, that both shoes are somewhat difficult to get on. This is not a mark against either shoe, just what I regard as an inevitability of high performance bouldering shoes—the entry needs to be small and tight to provide the most conforming fit possible.)
As mentioned above, when Matt reviewed the Team 5.10 he noted its solid all-around performance for bouldering. Obviously, aggressive shoes like the Team 5.10 and the Solution are not going to be geared toward long multi-pitch days. That would be miserable.
However, having had the chance to climb in both shoes on a pretty wide variety of rock types and styles—from the granite and gneiss of Southern Colorado, to the sandstone of Joe’s Valley—I would say that the Team 5.10 and the Solution live up to their reputations as two of the best bouldering-specific shoes out there, but with some major differences in performance.
The main difference is how soft the Team 5.10 is compared to the Solution. The softness of the shoe is great for precision footwork: smearing, odd angles, anything where it helps to have greater sensitivity and be able to really feel the hold.
But this softness also greatly reduces the edging ability of the shoe (as mentioned in Matt’s review) so that it can be difficult to get as much power and push off on footholds as I can get in the Solution.
What this tradeoff comes down to is the thickness and construction of the sole of each shoe. The Solution has a slightly thicker sole (4 mm) of Vibram rubber and La Sportiva’s Permanent Power Platform construction, resulting in a very stiff shoe with a lot of edging power, but not a whole lot of sensitivity in the toe.
On the other hand, the Team 5.10 has a slightly thinner sole (3.5 mm) of Stealth rubber, which I found to be a bit softer, and a more basic construction, giving it greater sensitivity, but not as much edging ability.
As far as stickiness goes between the two types of rubber—although that’s always a topic of debate—to me, they seemed pretty comparable.
NEXT: Performance, Bottom Line