Slippy holds at the climbing gym? Super polished routes that feel almost like marble? Water on your climb? No problem. The new MI6 rubber from Five Ten will grip its way up even the blankest of walls. Originally created to keep Tom Cruise stuck to the side of a glass building in the MI6 movie, the ultra sticky Five Ten rubber will finally make it to market, debuting Fall 2013 in a few products including the Team VXi climbing shoe.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Five Ten founder and rubber master Charles Cole to talk about his MI6 rubber creation. He claims it acts like a second skin on the base of your climbing shoe, with the ability to smear on just about any surface. He concedes that the shoes may not be the best edgers, but will get you up even the blankest of walls.
A durometer scale is a type of measurement for rubber material hardness. Climbing shoe rubber generally comes in at a durometer reading of 75-80. Basketball and hiking shoes sit at around 60-70. By comparison, the new Five Ten MI6 rubber measures 48 durometer, about level on the hardness scale with a pencil eraser.
As the MI6 rubber sticks to pretty much anything, you need to be careful to keep it clean. As soon as it starts to feel slick, a simple wipe down with water will bring it right back to super stickiness level. Cole is excited to get the Team VXi climbing shoes in the hands of some athletes to see what they can do with it.
Not only is the new rubber ultra sticky, it is incredibly cushioning as well. The company will look to new applications, such as bike grips, where both the sticky and dampening properties come in handy. The rubber will bring a whole new approach to footwear with the ability to provide cushioning at ground level instead of in the midsole.
Over the next year, MI6 rubber will be unveiled on three Five Ten shoes including the Freerider VXi bike shoe, a light hiker called the Aescent Elements, and the Team VXi climbing shoe ($170), pictured top. Each Team VXi climbing shoe weighs in at only 5.6 oz, and the shoes are so light and flexible that they can literally bend in on themselves. I am really psyched to try these out – bring on the slab!