Shoe Review

Testing Japanese sawanobori shoes and FiveTen…

Canyon Magazine
August 2013

Shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment a canyoneer can have and there are many ideas and styles on what is considered a good shoe. Canyoning requires a good grip for sticking to slippery rocks and walls, comfort for long days walking and durability for last an entire season.

There are many brands available around the world and Japan has quite a lot to offer. As a sport growing every year, the main style of shoe available to buy is the felt soled sawanobori shoes from several manufactures. The canyoning standard Five Ten Canyoneer shoe is also available here but in limited quantity and other shoes like the Bestard Canyon Guide or Adidas Hydro Pro are not yet available.

In this short spread we review 2 shoes from Montbell, a Japanese manufacture with many years of experience in outdoor equipment who make several styles of Sawanobori shoes. We also compare these to the Five Ten Canyoneers.

During our photoshoot we only had available the Canyoneer SAR shoes which we use for our own canyoning but essentially the sole and boot are the same as the standard Canyoneer (only main difference is the hard plastic toe cap and the flexability).

shoereview-fiveten-canyoneer-01 shoereview-fiveten-canyoneer-02 shoereview-fiveten-canyoneer-03

Five Ten Canyoneer

The Five Ten Canyoneer 2 is the standard shoe for canyoning. With its specialised rubber sole which practically grips to anything and built strong enough to last an entire season of hard core canyoning, this is the shoe to buy.

Fairly comfortable but this is a big and heavy boot. The plastic buckles on to tie up the shoe can be difficult to make your feet feel snug.

Has survived everything we have thrown at it. It’s built to last and entire season of canyoning and trekking without any issues.

Stiff but flexible. Grips on practically everything. Has drainage holes so you’re not carrying extra water around. Good warmth as well when your feet are always in water.

As said before this is the standard. It’s used by professional and recreational canyoners around the world. The grip, comfort and performance is second to none.

Montbell Sawar Shoes Long

The Montbell Sawa Shoe is a lightweight felt sole neoprene boot. Specifically made for river trekking, it is ideal as a basic beginners boot for walking up or down a gentle river system. For the occasional sawanobori person or someone just getting into canyoning for the first time this would be an ideal shoe.

Very soft and comfortable. Head is very wide. Inside the head of the shoe, the tabi toes make it feel nice to grip. Ankle support is low but this does allow you to climb easier up walls.

Being a lightweight neoprene boot the durability would easily last a season of low activity canyoning. Being a felt sole it can degrade and there are no drainage holes.

Very flexible. Easy to tell where you are on the rocks. Does grip to the rock fairly well. Still slips on moss like most shoes.

The shoe is comfortable and nice to wear. You can feel everything through the sole and the felt sole was gripping enough for basic walking around. The lack of ankle support for long days could be a problem though.

shoereview-montbell-sawar-01 shoereview-montbell-sawar-02 shoereview-montbell-sawar-03
shoereview-montbell-sawa-trekker-01 shoereview-montbell-sawa-trekker-02 shoereview-montbell-sawa-trekker-03

Montbell Sawa Trekker

The Montbell Sawa Trekker is a sturdier felt sole boot with a soft neoprene liner. Ideal for someone with more experience this is good shoe for going up or down the canyons. With a full lacing systems up to the ankle it provides better support.

Comfortable and feel like a boot. Ankle support is good and the lacing allows you to get the boot nice a tight around your foot. We did have some issues with pinching at the ankle but this could have been associated with the size.

Similar to the Sawa Shoes Long, they have felt sole which can degrade and there are no drainage holes so you can slosh around a boot full of water.

Not as easy to tell where you are on the rocks. Does grip the same as the Sawa shoe. Still slips on moss like most shoes.

The shoe is comfortable and feels like you are wearing a normal boot. You can feel everything through the sole and the felt sole was gripped enough for walking around. The ankle support was good but we did have issues with it.