The newest bouldering shoe of 2020, built in Anaheim, California, is the new TN Pro. Built by Unparallel, a brand that has put in the time to produce a great new line of climbing shoes. The TN Pro is the culmination of two years of research and design and the result is amazing.
First off, there’s the name. If TN Pro strikes a familiar chord in you rock-shoe soul, it is not without reason. Unparallel has referenced one of the greatest rock boots of all time: La Sportiva’s TC Pro. In much the same way that the TC Pro is named for big-wall legend Tommy Caldwell, the TN Pro is titled in respect to Japanese Champion Tomoa Narasaki.
Narasaki is a two-time Bouldering World Cup Champion, a Combined World Cup Champion, a two-time winner of the Bouldering World Championships and the 2019 Combined World Championship Gold medalist. His strength extends to outdoor climbing as well with the first flash of Decided V14 in Japan a couple months ago.
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As 2019’s Combined Champion, Narasaki is one of the favourites to win the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo later this year. Throughout all of these great successes, Narasaki also found the time to work with Unparallel on the production of the brand’s new flagship shoe.
Context sorted, it becomes easier to look upon the shoe and better understand what it is all about. To begin, it is unlike any other modern performance bouldering shoe on the market. In a world of tensioning bands, no-edge technology, z-strap closure systems, and lined microfibres, Unparallel has pursued a decidedly simple approach.
Instead of mixing up the game with a newly released bit of technology, Unparallel has instead refined that which makes a good climbing shoe. The model comes complete with a slingshot heel design for sensitive heel-hooking. The outside of the heel is wrapped in their sticky RH, Real Honor, compound making for exceptionally stable heel hooks.
The sole is also made of the sticky RH compound but comes complete with a full 4.2 millimetres that allows for a longer life than other soft-rubber shoes. Though the rubber is soft and sticky, the stiff midsole, along with the slingshot heel design, produces an aggressive downturn that can still stand on small foot holds.
That said, the toe is more rounded than a great majority of bouldering shoes. As such, it is not ideal on pocket feet that require a more pointed design. Instead, it is most at home on steep overhangs where heel-hooks and toe-hooks define the climbing. Inside, the shoe annihilates. The rounded toe allows the climber a margin for error on dynamic foot-movements that would be exceptionally useful in volume-based competitions or indoor climbing.
The heel straps have been reinforced with stitching and a synthetic compound, giving the climber a feeling of security when pulling on the tabs. Similarly, the buckle is stitched into the upper providing maximum durability. The buckle is stitched with an off-set fold-over strip of synthetic material that prevents the loop from rotating.
The synthetic design of the shoe limits the stretch, insuring that the fit will remain constant for as long as possible. There is a maximum half size of stretch, largely derived from the rubber stretch in the forefoot.
Additionally, the midsole is stiff enough that the shoe should be able to handle a resole. Some climbing shoes are too delicate to effectively survive a resole, but that does not apply in the case of the TN Pro.
The shoe is built for a medium width foot, though the closure system is strong and allows for low-volume feet. If you have an exceptionally narrow foot, there will be dead space over the elastic portion of the upper. Otherwise, the shoe should fit even if your foot is on the slim side.
One thing to note is that the TN Pro will likely dye your feet blue. Nothing as crazy as the original Hiangle, but enough that you will notice. Another possible issue doesn’t have anything to do with theshoe, but in communicating with Unparallel. The company is quick to respond over Instagram, but they’re not great about sending the consumer the tracking number for their order. As such, related complications can arise.
If you’re climbing on lots of fibreglass, the rubber will burn away quickly, but if you are climbing on older holds, it will take an eternity to blow out. It’s a little pricey if you live in Canada, but it’s worth it if you can get the sizing right.
Ultimately, the TN Pro is one of the sickest new shoes on the market. It excels on rock and fibreglass, polyurethane and plywood. It is an ideal projecting or competition climbing shoe and will absolutely demolish in the gym.