New to the climbing shoe scene, the Korean company Butora (BOO-TORE-AH) has come out with some great shoes and a unique fitting ideology that is sure to please climbers with hard-to-fit feet. While it would be fun to test the entire line-up we have to start somewhere and so chose the Butora Altura, a laced high-top like the TC Pro, to get us started.
- High-top with flat laces
- Sole: Butora’s own proprietary rubber
- Upper: hydrovelour split leather
- Lining: organic hemp
- Tongue: mesh with poron padding
- Regular (orange) & Wide (green) fit options
- Padded ankles
Fit: What really sets Butora apart from other shoe manufacturers is the regular & wide fit option they offer in each of their shoes. Everyone’s foot is a little different and many climbers have a hard time finding a pair of rock shoes that both fit well and meet their particular climbing needs. With the option of two widths (regular and wide) Butora will be a good match for a lot of people. As for the fit on the Altura shoes in particular, we tested both the wide and regular versions and the fit between the two is definitely different. I would categorize them as regular and high volume more so that regular and wide. The toe box is blunt allowing toe room for people with relatively even toe lengths. The heel fits is secure without any undue pressure on the achilles tendon. Lastly, the hemp lining (which is glued to the leather to avoid wrinkles) and poron padded ankles give the shoes a very nice next-to-skin feel and kept my feet from feeling slimy during long multi-pitch climbs or stinky as the shoes age (so far at least).
Stretch: The combination of a thick sole and a lining means that the Altura has little noticeable stretch though they do relax just a bit as they break in. I sized the Alturas a half size larger than the TC Pro for a similar fit (43 vs. 42.5).
Performance: The big question I had when first looking into these shoes was how the proprietary rubber would perform on the rock. After using the Alturas on a range of rock types (quartzite, granite and limestone) we found that the rubber is ok at the start but seems to improve a bit over time. Almost like the surface of the rubber is a bit harder and has to be worn off. The soles feel a little hard on the rock and don’t immediately inspire confidence though the actual performance is good. The Alturas have a flat profile and are very stiff making them great at edging and wider cracks. Overall the performance is great for all-day multi-pitch routes where the flat profile and stiff sole prevent foot fatigue. Not the shoe for steep overhanging routes or thin cracks though.
Many people use a high-top rock shoe for offwidth climbing which involves a lot of scumming, rubbing and general abuse of the top part of a rock shoe (not to mention the abuse to one’s body). The Altura shoes have stood up amazingly well to this type of abuse. None of the rubber along the sides of the shoe is peeling away from the leather, a big issue with the TC Pros, likely due to the heat welded manufacturing process employed by Butora. A burly, well built shoe.
Pros: Options to fit a wide range of foot shapes and types, amazing craftsmanship and attention to detail, stand up well to abuse, relatively inexpensive
Cons: Rubber seems to have a break-in period.
Overall: Stiff, comfortable and exceptionally well made all-day multi-pitch or offwidth climbing shoe. If you’re looking at climbing long routes that involve wider cracks, lots of edging, etc. or just want to thrash out some OW’s then this is a great shoe. Also, if you have trouble finding shoes to fit your unique foot in general then check out Butora, they might just have what you’re looking for.
Butora provided several pairs of shoes for testing but this in no way influences our review. Photo credit’s go to Bonsta.ca