CGR reviewer Dave Sarkar relives his glory days with the Red Chili Nacho
Value for Money ****
The Nacho is a full-blooded slipper and perfects Red Chili’s high-end segment of climbing shoes. As we would expect from a slipper, the Nacho has a very soft and sensitive sole construction.
Slippers go back a long way, they were very popular in the late 80’s when Boreal bought out their eponymous Ninjas. I remember doing laps on Raindogs in Ninjas, I thought (at the time) they were the ultimate climbing shoe. Since then slippers have come and gone and they have been largely replaced with Velcro fastening shoes. But they are making a comeback and some die hards would argue they never went away.
It was a real delight to test a pair of Red Chili Nachos as it gave me a chance to pretend I was in my twenties again and training on 8a’s at Malham. They certainly looked the part straight out the box. They are a fully elasticated and enclosed slipper and in true 80’s style it took me a full two weeks of wearing them in plastic bags before I could get them on. I initially received a pair in a UK7 but I had to exchange them for my normal rock shoe size of a UK7.5.
Once I had broken them in I have been able to get them on and off quite quickly, except when my feet are hot, then they take a bit of squeezing into this is because of the fit. The fit is aggressive and asymmetrical, but overly radical. The toe area is flat (that is the toe doesn’t point down) and the profile is narrow. The heel is fully encased in rubber and well fitted, there was some space between the shoe and my heel but this was minimal and I never felt any creep when heel hooking. As I said earlier they took a little effort to get on and the best method I found was to put the shoe on the ground and force my feet into the toe area whilst pulling on the heel tabs, there are three large, handy tabs to help pull the shoe over the foot and bring the shoe into place.
The styling on the Red Chili Nacho was very modern and loud, lots of red and white with plenty of graphic detail gave it a very edgy (excuse the pun) appearance. Very grungy and subculture like, which is exactly what what bouldering is! They did draw some comments on the crag but then I hang out with old skool climbers a lot and not so many young dudes! Younger climbers will like the styling and they didn’t stay white very long.
I thought the fit was very good and found none of the movement that was typical in the old type slippers. The shoe was held firmly in place using a double layer of elastic. The fold was quite clever with its slight change of angle thereby helping to have the elastic working in two directions. The cover was nice and high, it needs to be in slippers as there in no lacing. It came right up the midtarsal joint of the foot. There was also a layer of rand that wrapped around the heel to help keep the heel in place.
The main material is rubber Red Chili Super Friction RX-2 (more on this later) , there is a full rand, the extra around the Achilles area and the toe area is almost entirely encased in rubber except for a small area around the little toe. The only reason I can think of as to why this area has been left uncovered is because the little toe tends to be very scrunched up in climbing shoes and leaving the area without rubber could alleviate the pain. The rest of the shoe was made up of synthetic leather and the large patches of elastic. The shoe was fully lined, not with canvas, but a softer pile lining that helped make the shoe quite nice on. They have not been smelly at all which you can sometimes get with a synthetic material. The top of the shoe was finished with piping around the Achilles area. The fit around the Achilles was comfortable, I have had no issues with rubbing in this area.
So that’s the fit and the materials so how about the performance? The Red Chili Nacho is marketed as a bouldering shoe and that’s how I’ve used them most of the time. I’ve used them at Malham and Kilnsey, I felt they performed a little better on the steeper routes at Kilnsey. They edged OK at Malham but my feet got tired after a couple of routes in them. Now to the bouldering, for this activity they excelled the fit was great for gritsone and the 4.5mm RX-2 rubber sole was very grippy. The thickness and duarability are just right, I have been using them for several months now and the shoes still have a good edge.
I was happy bouldering on both steep ground and slabs, the edges were good and the toe profile precise. At first I thought they were quite stiff (too stiff for grit) but after a month or so they have softened up nicely. They come with a very thin midsole and this has help retain some lateral stiffness in the sole and prevent them going too floppy. They have also been good on limestone bouldering, even the hideously polished Minus Ten Wall at Stoney was OK as long as I kept the rubber dry and clean. The toe profile and rubber meant that toe hooks could be dispensed with precisely and I felt no real creep when ‘scumming’ rock and what creep I did feel was more my lack of power than anything else.
I’ve also used them at the bouldering wall all spring and they have performed great, I can see them performing just as well on leading routes (I haven’t been indoors very much this spring as I’m very close to some great bouldering and limestone climbing). So, in conclusion, the Red Chili Nachos have been a great climbing shoe to use, I have used them for a variety of bouldering situations and they have performed brilliantly for this activity. They will be fine for short sport climbs but your feet may get tired on longer more vertical ones, they would be fine on very steep stalactite cave routes. If you find lace-ups and velcro shoes a pain and like the slipper style you’ll like these.