I hate to admit how long it's been since I've bought a new pair of rock shoes, almost as much as I hate admitting how long it's been since I've even "tried on" a new pair of rock shoes. Believe it or not until recently I've been climbing in the same couple of pair of Aces for almost 10 years. It's certainly a testament to how well they're made, but also to just how cheap I can be. Since you can get them resoled every year, I just figured it didn't make any sense to spend any extra cash on shoes - right? I mean, how much better can these new shoes BE?
Well, in a word,the Spire's are good. In fact for a shoe that is designed as an all around "journeyman" shoe and often thought of as a beginner's shoe, they're very good. While probably not the best shoe foe every occasion, they're waaaay better than my multi-resoled Aces. The rubber is better and the edges are stiffer, making for a shoe that both edges and smears very well. I've climbed on slabs, faces, cracks and micro-edges, and the shoe acquitted itself on all. And, while it can't make me get over the crux on Ego Trip, my 11c el supremo crimper project, I am wicked more comfortable on the 10d face and friction moves up to and above the crux. That C4 rubber really sticks baby! I'm telling you, climbing in a shoe like this makes me realize just how far shoes and rubber have come in the past 5-7 years!
It's also interesting how you get used to a new pair of shoes. After 10 years I know EXACTLY where the Aces will break loose in almost any situation. It took me a couple of climbs to get used to the same on the Spire. At first I was nervous about trusting them, kind of like a new girlfriend, but now I definitely trust them more than the Aces. They'll let me hang in there in places where the Aces, even with a fresh round of Stealth, would come loose. And like my Aces, they're comfortable enough that I can climb in them all day. My old beat up feet really like that.
Spires are one of those shoes that you should choose based on your actual shoe size & MAYBE drop down 1/2 size. I generally wear a 10 1/2 and got a 10. They fit really well but, if I suppose that if I were willing to give up some comfort, they COULD be 1/2 size snugger. I definitely wouldn't want them any tighter tho.
My only nit has to do with the construction. I've noticed that the point where the rubber is attached to the heel is already coming up a bit. Of course these were pre-production models, but if I'd paid for them I would probably take them back to the store & exchange them for another pair! That said I've worn them all last fall and several times already this spring and they haven't come apart yet. Maybe they won't...
If you're looking for a comfortable all-around shoe the Spire is well worth a try. They're not the most high-performance shoe available, but at $99 msrp, they're a great value.
Unlined leather upper, Stealth C4 soles, Side exit heel seam, Dual pull-on loops, Asym toe, Slingshot heel, Padded tongue