Words by Jeremy Toschi
Lets get this out there right from the beginning… I don’t climb hard, but I do climb often. I started climbing 10 years ago and can still remember sitting on the couch at Bivouac Outdoor in Dunedin listening intently to Jodie as he fitted me with my first pair of climbing shoes and then grinning like a Cheshire cat as I walked out
the door with them tucked tightly under my arm. Since then I have owned several pairs of shoes and have even ended up working at the shop I bought my first pair from. I’m not ashamed to say that currently I have more pairs of climbing shoes than my dress, street and running shoes combined. I have the luxury of changing my shoes depending on the problem I am climbing which makes me very aware of the subtle differences in the shoes that I own. To put it simply, I like climbing shoes, so when got the chance to test a pair Red Chili Habanero to review I was over the moon.
Part One: Frodo Goes Climbing
Being “blessed” with short, wide, hobbit feet makes my options in climbing shoes quite small. I am always keen to try something new in the quest to find that perfect shoe that I can wear right out of the box. Working at a gear shop helps fuel my obsession with climbing shoes and I am always the first to try on the new model that comes
into the store. But sadly I have never found a pair that will fit straight out of the box, this is limited to the shoes available in NZ of course. A couple of week ago I got sent a pair of Red Chili Habanero to try. “These could be them” I thought as patiently waited for the parcel to arrive. When the courier man turned up I was like a child at
Christmas. I opened the box with one hand while the other was trying to remove my street shoes as quickly as possible. After a quick inspection I noticed the Habanero looks quite narrow and the large rubber toe box didn’t look like it would ‘give’ much. Un-fazed I sat down and crammed my feet into them…
No luck, the Red Chili Habanero was not a shoe that I could wear
straight out of the box. In fact to get my feet into them at all I had to take the laces out and what I saw when I looked down was not pretty. It looked like Frodo wearing a pair of ballerina shoes. With a sigh, I took them off and watched my now purple feet change back to pasty white. I had played this game before and was not going to give up this easily, these shoes WILL fit! However before going down that path I thought I would give them a good once over before they got forced into submission by my feet.
The first thing I noticed was that the Habanero are really well made. The large rubber toe box and synthetic upper allow for very little stretch meaning the shoe will retain that ‘out of the box’ snug fit for longer. The “easy and fast fitting speed-lace” system allows the shoe to be laced up and loosened very quickly and the reinforced eyelets forces the shoe to ‘straight jacket’ around your feet for a snug, precise fit. The last is reasonably straight
with a slight down turned toe forcing the power straight down to the big toe resulting in a powerful edging shoe. The fit, as I found out the hard way, is medium to narrow. But with some “encouragement” I eventually got these shoes to fit my wider foot. The sole is Red Chili’s own RX2 rubber which has been stiffened underneath the toe box giving the foot a solid base to stand on when edging. To top this off the whole shoe has a soft lining creating comfort without loosing sensitivity. Overall my first impression of the Red Chili Habanero is good. They look to be a well put together, comfortable shoe.
Now the fun starts, getting these to fit my hobbit feet. I will report back in Part Two of my review shortly…Jeremy is the Store Manager at Bivouac Outdoor Dunedin and is an avid outdoors lover (and part time climber). Google+