Leather vs Synthetic... Your Thoughts?

  • Synthetic textiles have come a long way. Micro-fibers and all-way-stretch materials have become widely used and "vegan-leather" has made a splash. Still, many climbers prefer leather and consider it a higher quality material.

    While some argue that synthetics are not as "green" as they might appear at first glance, others argue that leather isn't "ethical". Performance and comfort, sustainability and price, all come into balance when choosing a pair of shoes.

    We'd like to know what you think. Which material do you prefer and why? Does it make a difference as far as comfort or performance? What are your thoughts?

    Thank you!

  • @ACOPA

    Most synthetic shoes tend to smell pretty bad after a bit of wear. Leather seems to mostly avoid this issue. I think leather wins for comfort too

  • @ACOPA

    I prefer leather. Leather breathes. Leather also "breaks in" and conforms to your foot after a while.

    Synthetic stuff tends to also be using a lot of nylon stuff of heel cups and such. Might work great for uniform consistency of product but... I rather have leather. Maybe I am waxing nostalgic for Fires. Synthetic anything tends to be hydrophobic and retain odors from sweat and such. So, if you're one who cares about stinky feet. I also wax nostalgic for 5.10's that used cambrell and leather. They stank. Worked bitchin' as a general multi pitch all rounders though. Some slippers I had here and there would be a mix of leather and synthetic/nylon materials. Hmm... Some dandy slippers. Let's see... my Dolomites were the cat's meow of the day for Smiths' pockets and nubbins and were all synthetic. And damn stinky.

    Hmmm.... so ... maybe synthetics like nylon give you more production control over the finished shoe product - and an all synthetic can obviously work well. My "higher performance" slipper/shoes did tend to use a mix of materials. But still.... when my focus drifts to comfort... I think leather.

    With regard to performance, comfort, sustainability and price, I don't really associate comfort w/a climbing shoe so that takes a back seat out of the gate. Ditto sustainability. Not that one doesn't necessarily not care about sustainability but because in any grouping it's pretty much always necessarily fourth. That leaves what counts most as performance and price when rubber meets rock. Moreover, I question the degree to which any differences really matter much comparatively to all that rubber?

    My $0.02.

    Caveat emptor: I have not climbed in decades. So wtf do I know, eh?

  • Stink is definitely a consideration. Many synthetics are now treated with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents during production. And of course they make production easier, but that's not our priority. As you say, it takes a back seat to performance and comfort. Leather is also more expensive than synthetic materials.

    Thanks for your feedback!

  • I think most of us are willing to pay for quality shoes, especially at the prices you charge here in Mexico!

  • @Scole said in Leather vs Synthetic... Your Thoughts?:

    I think most of us are willing to pay for quality shoes, especially at the prices you charge here in Mexico!

    Thank you!

    You might be surprised to know that our "Rock On" line, which we currently offer in Mexico, is built with anti-stink micro-fiber. It's all-way stretch, comfortable, very durable and 100% synthetic.

    Leather shoes, exported, shipped, marketed, distributed and retailed in the US, would probably come at a higher price than we are able to offer in Mexico. The models in the Acopa line are also a bit more complex to build and require more work, particularly models like the JB, Legend, Merlin and Spectre.

    Of course, we think the difference in performance is worth the added cost, but we are also doing our best to be competitively priced among comparable quality shoes.

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