Back in 1985, Charles Cole, founder of the climbing and mountain-biking shoe company Five Ten, launched the brand by essentially inventing the approach-shoe category. It began with the (nearly) eponymous Five Tennie, which Cole made by slapping grippy rubber on the bottom of a tennis-shoe upper. The design quickly became a cult favorite for bridging the gap between climbing and hiking footwear.
Cole went on to develop Stealth, Five Ten’s trademark, über-sticky climbing-shoe rubber, and the company has since grown into a major player. (Cole died earlier this month.) But the Five Tennie dropped out of production in the late eighties, replaced by the Guide Tennie and others. That changes next spring, when Five Ten brings the seminal shoe back.
The new Five Tennie includes a few modern updates, of course, some courtesy of Adidas, which bought Five Ten in 2011. Many of Five Ten’s approach shoes have circular lugs for grip, but the lugs on the rebooted Five Tennie are notched, running widthwise across the outsole to provide traction when scrambling uphill on rock and scree.
Another modern feature: a gusseted tongue. That means it’s attached to the inside of the leather upper, forming a sock-like construction to prevent pebbles and grit from breaching the shoe. And the inside of the upper is buttery soft, ideal for slipping on between sends when you don't want to don socks as well.
Most important, the company corrects a significant flaw in the original Five Tennie—the lack of a women’s version. Five Ten failed to make one in the eighties due to a perceived lack of women climbers and demand. That’s rectified this time around.
After getting a first glimpse of the reboot at Outdoor Retailer this week, we’re excited by the shoe’s return. Approach shoes are a staple in a climber’s kit these days, necessary for hiking to and from the crag and for walking down after a multi-pitch climb. It’s fun to see the original Five Tennie done up with the latest materials and construction. The retro design, with chunky green and blue panels on the upper, only make us want it more. (Both versions come in more subdued black if that’s more to your taste.)
The new Five Tennie goes on sale in February 2019 for $125.