Unparallel Newtro VCS Climbing Shoe Review
Unparallel Newtro VCS Review
A stiffer downturned shoe in a world of softer comp shoes?
Often the new models from a lot of brands tend to be sticking to an ever softer and more sensitive model until maybe we’ll go full Charles Albert and just stick a branded sticker to our bare feet soon…
Unparallel have gone against what tends to be the popular choice in the market with the Newtro VCS in providing a stiff, full length midsole, downturned shoe with stiffer rubber which pretty much goes fully against the specs of a large part of the market now. With this in mind, Unparallel are definitely designing the Newtro VCS with outdoor climbing and edging in mind as a high-performance sport climbing and bouldering shoe. Do they achieve their aim? Let’s get stuck into the detail.
A stiff full length midsole with outdoor climbing and small edges as a priority.
As mentioned above, the Unparallel Newtro VCS is a little different to a lot of performance shoes out there at the moment in that it is significantly stiffer than a lot of downturned shoes on the market at the moment with a lot of brands aiming for soft sensitive shoes. There is definitely a place for the softer shoes but when the edges get tiny, and that extra support is needed, they can leave you in the lurch. This is where the Newtro VCS comes in with the additional support you really want in these scenarios.
A Synthetic Upper and overlapping velcro strap delivers minimal stretch and a secure closure system throughout the life of the shoe.
As many people are aware, Synthetic Uppers tend to offer little to no stretch over time and the Newtro VCS is no different in this department. The shoe remained consistent with minimal give allowing a consistent fit from day one. The upper gives just enough to offer a great custom fit around your foot but stops there and remains in place. I personally always prefer Synthetic Uppers for this reason and they are also Vegan friendly shoes for those climbers which it is a necessity.
The Newtro VCS also have a slightly different design to its single velcro strap than most shoes as it zigzags across the top of the shoe. This results in tightening the shoe from multiple points along the forefoot causing the shoe to effectively wrap more around your foot. This gives a much better fit in my opinion than typical velcro shoes, even two strap models, which just go horizontally across the foot. Due to the strap diagonally crossing along the length of the shoe, the strap is not only pulling horizontally across the shoe but also bringing tension along the length of the shoe. This in my opinion trumps a standard horizontal strap and you can really feel it securing your foot into place when you crank the velcro strap down when putting them on. A definite positive to the Newtros VCS here.
In the volume of the shoe, Unparallel currently only make the Newtro VCS in one volume which I would describe as medium. It has a medium forefoot which is slightly wider than some of their other models such as the Up Rise VCS/Up Lace but it also has a narrower heel. These fit me personally really well and unless you have very narrow/low volume feet I could see them fitting a wide range of climbers feet. The toe box is also more rounded than a lot of models out there making it slightly more comfortable again for me with less asymmetry than some brands put on their shoes. I did not notice any negatives from this in performance which I will get to shortly in this review.
The personal preference of the heel tabs being positioned on the inner side and right at the back of the shoe is something that all Unparallel shoes have which is keeping with the brands heritage coming from Five Ten. This works fine but I do personally prefer pull tabs to be on opposing sides like most brands where you can pull the heel tabs both back away from your foot and out sideways at the same time. This personally makes it much easier to get shoes on when downsized for me but is more a personal preference rather than an actual negative though worthy of a mention all the same.
For sizing I would recommend sticking to your street shoe size for sport climbing/a fit you could keep on for a more prolonged period of time but for a great bouldering fit and higher performance then drop a half size from your street shoe. Unparallels downturned models are similar to how Evolv design their shoes to fit in and around the climbers street shoe sizing making it easier to gauge where to start on fitting them to your feet.I went for street shoe size to see if this works as recommended and it has been perfect for me. I could probably go half a size down but half not found any rolling or heel movement with this fit. As ever with fitting climbing shoes, it is a very personal process and I have sold the Newtro VCS to customers who have enjoyed and stuck to the fit of them at both 0.5 sizes UP from their street shoe all the way down to a 1.5 DOWN size from their street shoe, which was pretty harrowing to watch be put on but it did fit. If you stick to my advice above then I am confident the majority of climbers will be pretty well set with a great starting point and then they can be fine-tuned from there if needed. Street shoe sizing or 0.5 down from street shoe should cover the majority of climbers out there.
A stiff midsole delivers great edging ability especially when things get steeper.
Unparallel have not been scared to stiffen up the Newtro VCS which can be felt immediately when you first stand on a foothold with the stiff full-length midsole being complimented by Unparallels own RA rubber which is their stiffest/most rigid rubber compound. This was my first time using Unparallels RA rubber which comes in a 3.5mm thickness on the Newtro VCS which gives you a good balance in edging ability due to the stiffer compound but still with some sensitivity due to the thinner 3.5mm rubber instead of 4.2mm on a lot of their other shoes. I found the RA rubber to wear just as well as Unparallels RH rubber previously reviewed on the Up Duels and also performing just as well. The rubber on Unparallels shoes definitely wears really well whilst also feeling great on the wall making it easy to trust my feet on small holds and smears.
The toe box is fairly rounded on the outer edge of the shoe but still provides a great accurate point of focus onto the big toe. They are not extremely asymmetrical but accuracy in the big toe is definitely there. The Newtro VCS is definitely a pretty downturned shoe though when new. This is also maintained pretty well throughout the shoes life with it slightly flattening but still keeping that claw like downturn at the toes. This definitely is a benefit in the steep pocket pulling and when wanting to grab as holds which the shoe does incredibly well. The shape of the toe box also felt very precise when used to pick out the smaller more margin foot holds I felt I could really accurately place my foot and forget about it knowing it would stick. This gave confidence in trusting the footholds and let me worry then about what the hell I was then going to do with the rest of my body to finish a climb…at least they helped tick off one problem…
The rigidity of the shoe is maintained very well throughout its life only marginally softening which was great to keep performance on par throughout the life of the shoe.
As mentioned already in this review, edging is where the Newtro VCS shines the most. I am mostly an outdoor climber preferring the local Limestone over indoor walls where ever possible which definitely suits the Newtro VCS well. If you are a climber who exclusively climbs indoors you may find these a little too stiff for smearing on marginal holds/volumes you often get indoors which also applies to rock types/problems/routes which are mostly smear dependent let’s say a gritstone friction slab. With this in mind, I have really found the Newtro VCS a great performer and also very comfortable for a performance shoe in the forefoot when climbing outside in both overhanging and vertical terrain. I have and can smear in them but it wouldn’t be my first choice as I say due to the rigidity of the shoe there are just better bets out there for that.
A solid heel which you can trust when pulling hard. Great rubber coverage also increases grip and ability to utilise the whole heel with ease.
The Newtro VCS continues in providing rigidity and stiffness from the midsole up into the heel of the shoe. From the first session the heel allowed my foot to sink perfectly into the bottom of the shoe which can sometimes be a problem for me as I have slightly flatter feet. It is slightly narrower, as previously mentioned, that some over models from Unparallel and noticeably narrower than other brands such as Evolv. This proved to provide a perfect fit for my heel giving me confidence and performance from the first outing in the shoes and still six months later.
Due to the stiffer heel construction, the increased rigidity of the shoe, and a good fit, meant the heel never rolled when in use on even the highest tension heel hooks or heel toe cams. At times in the past I have found that softer heels can have the problem of rolling underneath the heel when significant pressure is applies even when sized down as the heel can have too much material at the side of the heel giving room for flex and rolling to occur. This was never the case with the Newtro VCS no matter on the terrain or application.
The tension band which runs across the back of the heel to push your toes forward into the front of the shoe proved to not compromise the comfort of the shoe. At no point, even when new, did I feel the tension band or any part of the heel was digging into my foot or Achilles tendon. There was definitely a snug fit from the tension band providing the performance needed in the forefoot but it was never sacrificing comfort in the process.
All in all, throughout my extended time wearing the Newtro VCS I have found it to confirm I prefer stiffer heels and on the first day out with them allowed me to tick off a few harder projects which are reliant on tricky heel tension and precision. This really was hard to believe at first as the rubber was brand new and I had not climbed in them yet but the Newtro VCS instantly worked for me giving me confidence on every heel hook scenario since. From rocking over onto the heel on slopey top outs to using the shoe to get hold of a small edge on steep terrain, the Newtro VCS heel is definitely a massive winner for me and I encourage anyone who finds their shoes often bag at the sides of the shoe to try them. I have every confidence you will see why I like them so much.
A stiff performance shoe with precision in both the toe box and the heel.
The Newtro VCS offers the climber exactly what is needed when wanting a stiffer downturned shoe. There is no doubting the Newtro VCS is comes into its own when used outside on real rock rather than indoor holds due to its stiffness and because of this I would not recommend them to those who spend most of their time climbing just indoors. For those who are the opposite though and spend their time out on the rock then the Newtro VCS is a great option for you.
Offering great edging performance from its stiff midsole on small edges on all angles and a heel that can be relied upon no matter what the circumstances, performance is not something missing from the shoe. The construction of the shoe also keeps consistency for you making the Newtro VCS as good on day one out the box as it is months down the line. From the lined vegan synthetic upper and zig-zag closure system you benefit from minimal stretch in the shoe and a security from the overlapping velcro strap which pulls from all corners of the shoe around your foot.
Unparallel also continue to impress with their rubber production with the RA rubber on the Newtro VCS. When compared to a lot of other Unparallel shoes which use RH rubber, the RA rubber should provide more rigidity which is beneficial on smaller edges with a slight disadvantage when used on smears. I found the RA rubber personally to be just as sticky on all holds with a bit more structure to it when really comparing it to the RH rubber though I think you’d have to really go to extreme lengths to think the RA rubber was anything significantly different to the RH which to me is a good thing as I really like the RH rubber found on the Up Duels I reviewed recently.
In summary, a top performing shoe outdoors on small footholds with great consistency throughout the life of the shoe. A winner in my time with it and one I will continue to use around the next review shoes when things get small and the heels get difficult. Well done Unparallel for yet another great shoe!
The NewTro VCS is built on a high-performance last with an aggressive toe, excelling and feeling right at home on steep terrain. Where this model shines is the Zero Closure System and opened U-throat, providing easy on/off access without sacrificing performance. The upper is a lined synthetic, randed with RA rubber for added edging performance when things get thin.
- 3.5 mm RA rubber sole
- Extended toe rand rubber
- Midsole stiffness: Hard
- Lined synthetic upper
- Approx. weight: 431 g (per pair)
- Size: US 4-14 / EU 35.5-48.5
- Fit: Aggressive downturn
- Upper: SOLO Suede
- Insole: SOLO Suede
- Strap: Webbing
- Rubber: RA rubber
- Z-shaped Velcro strap