As of now, I am getting to know a lot of new shoe brands. Starting with So iLL, then Unparallel and lastly Asakusa. Each of their high-performance-shoes sparks my interest and now I got the chance to boulder with the Tsurugi from Asakusa.
With this review, I will try to spark the same interest in other boulderers to try out brands that aren’t as popular.
Visual Appearance and Manufacture
The moment I saw the shoe for the first time (fun fact: at bestboulders), I immediately fell in love with its looks.
Detailed ornaments in a Japanese fashion at the latch of the shoe, Japanese Kanji, as well as a simple color pallete makes this shoe a true eye candy, which gave me a few jealous looks at the bouldering gym.
From my point of view simply the most beautiful shoe on the market. (Also available in green)
The manufacturing is perfect, no seam is out of place or sticking through and the gluing has no visual errors.
Construction & Fit
Looking at the fit, one realizes, that the Tsurugi is really similar to other shoes on the market.
It compares to the Solution by La Sportiva, although without the fully gummed sole.
Also the Free Rage by So iLL is really close. It could be held for one and the same shoe, except for the closure system and the loops.
But it is most similar to the Evolv X1. Same fit, same closure system, same aid loops. The sole of the Tsurugi is 4mm thick, that of the X1 4.2mm. The midsole of the Tsurugi is 0.8mm and that of the X1 0.6mm. Both have a similar downturn and preload. Even the gumming and the toepatch are very similar except for the decoration. These shoes are almost identical in their construction.
But what about the fit?
I wear street shoe size 41.5 (EU) / 8.5 (US). With Egyptian foot shape the shoe fits me almost perfectly in 41 (EU) / 8 (US). I suppose my pain limit would be 40.5 (EU) / 7.5 (US). Putting on is comfortable and simple and thanks to the 3 loops you slide into the shoe.
When I wore this for the first time I was very surprised about the comfort. I had out-of-the-box a sock-like feeling, no pain and also my feet did not become numb after longer wearing (15min+).
I was quite skeptical, because from experience, too comfortable shoes lose a lot of performance after a while. For example, with the 5.10 Dragon I had a very agonizing time in the beginning, the same with the 5.10 Team and the La Sportiva Solution but in the end the pain paid off in terms of performance of the shoe. Evolv’s X1, which is so similar to the Tsurugi, also caused some pain and agony.
So the crucial question is: How does the Tsurugi perform on the wall?
At this point I can only give my first impressions, because I tested the shoe for 46 hours. If my opinion about the shoe should change or other points come into my head, I will simply update this review.
The performance is the same as the X1. Only the stepping feels somehow more precise and safer with the Tsurugi. Is it the 0,2 missing millimeters? No matter in which position, overhang or not, small footholds and edges were never a problem, no matter how greasy the footholds were. The feeling and power distribution in the toes was indescribably good. The rubber certainly contributes to this. So far, I haven’t really had any comparable rubber on my foot. Heelhooks in any angle posed no problem.
The biggest highlight of this shoe is the Toe-Patch. The rubber seems to be a bit roughened and provides unbelievable grip for Toe-Hooks. I never had it before that I felt and could influence the force distribution and the pressure of each toe during a Toe-Hook, not even with the Scarpa Drago or La Sportiva Genius. Since the shoe is completely synthetic, I hope the performance will last for a long time.
I would rate the Tsurugi as a great all-rounder, with a clear preference for overhang terrain and toe-hooking. To describe the performance in shoe examples I would say: The manufacturer took the construction of the X1, adjusted the look more asian and created a mixture of X1 and Boreal’s Mutant performance wise.
No statement can yet be made about the durability.
Conclusion – The Good & The Bad
All in all, a great shoe. With this Pro & Contra comparison I would like to express my recommendation for this shoe.
- Optically very beautiful
- No break-in time or pain with correct foot shape
- No performance weak points, very sticky rubber, fishing after footholds is child’s play, heelhooks do not slip
- Toe-Hook Monster
- In my opinion, one of the best rubbers on the market, feels like a real sock, without causing pain or the like
- Completely synthetic usually means development of smell (only barefoot was tested)
- No statement as to how long the performance or the downturn will be maintained (wait and see)
- Hard to get, long waiting times and shipping from Japan
- Pretty expensive (~145€ / $164), for the price you can find offers with a better price-performance-ratio
I hope I could help with my opinion in this review and I am looking forward to answering any further questions in the comments.
If you are interested in bouldering shoes, you might find the survey results about the most popular indoor bouldering shoes 2019 interesting.
This is a guest post by Tom Seng.
I use affiliate links and may receive a small comission on purchases.
I wanted this review to be honest and unbiased, that’s why not me but a very experienced and independent climber testet the shoes and wrote this review.
Read more about me here.
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