The American climbing shoe manufacturer Unparallel is launching its new model, Flagship, a shoe for ambitious climbers. We tested the shoe for you. What, you've never heard of Unparallel? Find out more here.
Do you know the Ondra trick with the plastic bag to slip into your climbing shoes? Adam Ondra wears his shoes so small that at the beginning he can only get into the shoe with the help of a plastic bag.
And so it happened to us when we put on the flagship for the first time. But not because we chose the shoe too small. No. In terms of size, we wore half a size smaller than everyday shoes. Nevertheless, with the best will in the world, it was not possible to slip into the shoe without a plastic bag. Anyone who thinks that the size was chosen incorrectly - no result. Once inside the shoe, the flagship fit like a glove.
Three rubber compounds - one shoe
When used on rock and plastic, the flagship has more than convinced us. The grip of the toe hook rubber was particularly noticeable. The VD rubber from Unparallel used in the upper area can be described as sticky. Never before has a toe hook held this well.
Two further rubber compounds are used in the sole area of the flagship. In the toe area it is the 3.5 millimeter thick and medium-soft RS rubber. The heel area is provided with a 4.2 millimeter thick and hard RH rubber coating. This thicker and harder rubber coating gives the shoe the necessary stability in the rear area.
Ideal for steep boulders and routes
Indoor volume, sloping limestone slab in the Alps or overhanging roof boulder in Ticino? What terrain is the flagship suitable for? We have been investigating this question over the past few weeks. And our conclusion is clear: the flagship feels most comfortable in technically demanding and steep bouldering lines and sport climbing routes. With its strong pretension and complex structure, you bring the necessary strength to the smallest of steps and make maximum use of existing heel and toe hooks.
In what size do you wear the flagship?
Choosing the right size for climbing shoes is not easy. If you want to wear the flagship close-fitting, we recommend choosing the shoe half a size smaller than everyday shoes.
In our case this meant in the first few weeks that we had to slip into the shoe with the plastic trick, but once inside, the shoe did not pinch and could even be worn during a longer training session. After about a month we made it into the shoe without a plastic bag.
Facts about the Unparallel flagship climbing shoe
|locking system||1-point Velcro fastener|
|Toe area||Sole with 3.5 mm RS rubber (medium soft), toe hook patch with super soft VD rubber|
|Verse area||4.2 mm RH rubber (hard)|
|Ideal for||Sport climbing and bouldering projects at your limit, steep routes|
About the climbing shoe manufacturer Unparallel
In 2003, Sang Lee, a trained mechanical engineer, began making climbing shoes for Five Ten. Due to his expertise in the mixing and processing of rubber, his passion and his constant drive for improvement, it was not long before he also took over the entire development and production of the Californian brand.
But in 2011 the premature end came: The family company Five Ten was taken over by Adidas. Six years after the takeover, Adidas decided to close the branch in Redlands - and thus to end the cooperation with Sang Lee.
But the ambitious Schumacher didn't want to give up: So Sang Lee decided to continue the production of climbing shoes in Southern California together with a small team. The Unparallel brand was born. Due to decades of experience in development and production as well as the networking in the climbing industry, it didn't take long for Unparallel to make a name for itself - and the climbing shoes to gain popularity in the scene.
Of course, Sang Lee and his team remain true to their philosophy: While other brands buy their soles and relocate production abroad, Unparallel continues to manufacture their shoes in Sang Lee's factory in Fullerton, California. All production steps are carried out at the California headquarters.
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Credits: Cover picture Rainer Eder / Unparallel