There’s no doubt that the Runner grabs attention. I had countless people approaching me at the gym to ask what brand made this shoe. So iLL launched into the climbing shoe game after an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, getting funded in just five hours, and finishing out as the highest funded climbing gear campaign in Kickstarter history—impressive!
Modeled after retro running shoes, the Runner is unapologetically style driven. It’s eye grabbing teal blue color can easily been seen from across the gym. What makes it unique is the rubber, called “Dark Matter,” which is colored to match the upper on the shoe. The rest of the shoe has a pretty timeless design with simple accents, like a single yellow line on the bottom to signify the Dark Matter rubber.
The upper is a synthetic material and features a three velcro closure with a thick padded tongue. It has mesh on the outside and a suede material on the inside. The midsole is thin and definitely on the more flexible side for a performance shoe.
So the shoe is stylish and really comfortable, but how did it climb? The short answer is, pretty good! It has a couple things that So iLL could tweak to make it a little better, but for me it was great for everything up to about V8 or 5.12, after that I would probably want a shoe that was a little more powerful and precise. To be fair, So iLL actually makes a more aggressive shoe, called the Free Range, which might have more of what I’m looking for.
There were two things that I think could make this shoe a little bit better. First, the sizing is a little weird. I sized up 1/2 size, per their recommendation, but it was almost too big. So iLL is honing in the fit and offers exchanges at no additional cost, they even cover return shipping. The next thing is that the material on the inside of the shoe isn’t bonded to the mesh on the outside, which means that the two layers can move somewhat independently. It’s not super noticeable, but I felt like it would be an improvement if it was fixed.
Ultimately I thought this shoe climbed pretty well, and again, it was really comfortable. Chances are you’re not sending in the double-digit V-grades, and even if you are, everybody needs a good session shoe. If you’re looking to send your project, you might check out the Free Range, but for the other 95% of the time, I think you would really enjoy the Runner.
Weight: 8.8 oz
Best used for: Bouldering and sport climbing