Monday, June 14, 2010

Gear Review: 5.10 Canyoneer II

Since getting around on a mountain stream can really be an athletic pursuit in itself, I've been looking for a really good wet-wading shoe for some time. For one reason or another most of the options I came across didn't exactly fit the bill, except Japanese sawanobori shoes (sawanobori = "shower climbing:" the sport of ascending/descending mountain streams). Since purchasing goods from Japan can be difficult given the fluctuating exchange rate and import/export duties, not to mention the language barrier, I set off to find an alternative here in the US. I eventually decided to try out the Canyoneer from 5.10. These shoes are designed for canyoneering, which is a little like an American version of sawanobori.

5.10 Canyoneer II

I had my first in depth experience with this footwear during my trip into the Pemigewasset Wilderness in Northern NH. Overall, I think they are a great choice for wet-wading in mountain streams, with some caveats.

First, the bad: they aren't all that comfortable to hike in, although they aren't the worst choice for that use either. A couple of features also make them not so comfortable to wear for long periods without some sort of sock (I'll be purchasing a pair of neoprene socks soon): the insoles were a bit rough on my soles, especially once my feet were are all pruned up and soggy. In addition the high-topped neoprene collar that goes over one's ankle is a bit hard and abrasive, again not too comfortable on bare skin; socks, even thin cotton ones, make a big difference. The buckle closure system is a little funky, and doesn't allow to much room for fine adjustments, but it works and is extremely secure.

Now the good: the traction afforded by the stealth-rubber soles is outstanding, as long as the rocks aren't slimy. Having not used a rubber soled wading shoe or boot before, I was really impressed. I actually found switching back to my trail shoes for hiking a bit dangerous since the traction with the Canyoneers had really spoiled me. The traction you're used to with the typical rubber on trail-running shoes or hiking boots doesn't even compare. I was able to ascend slick rock surfaces like these with confidence:

My general take on the Canyoneers is that they will be a great choice for day trips in good weather, way better than my boot-foot hippers or even my wading boots. They are supportive, offer great traction, and are comfortable enough with socks. For backpacking, they're just a bit too bulky and heavy to carry, and besides, they aren't really designed to be worn on a long hike with a pack either.


  1. Cool. Where did you find an opportunity to do this? I have been looking for places that would be challenging to get to and allow for some sort of canyoneering adventure, but have not been able to find one in California. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    This was at a location called Thirteen Falls in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in NH's White Mountains. A lot of the streams in the Whites have very technical sections like what you see in this post; I only got a small taste of what's there on this trip, I'll definitely be heading back.

    I'm surprised it's not easier to find good places for canyoneering in California.