Dave tries out the new mid range Boreal Marduk to see if they can imbue him with God like powers.
Semi-asymmetric shoe with slightly down curved last shap. Comfortable and effective on any kind
Marduk was a Babylonian God associated with magic and judgement. Boreal state that the shoe name has no connection with the god of magic, but I reckon anything helps!
The Boreal Marduk is a mid range climbing shoe that sits nicely in the upper end of the improver/intermediate performance range. They are designed to compete with the Scarpa Vapour, Evolv Pontas. They are definitely not a starter shoe as they are too performance shaped. I was given the choice of shoes to test and chose these as I thought they had a wide appeal to a range of climbers.
Stylewise, they are asymmetric with a slightly downturned toe section. They are velcro fastening and interesting have a non-split, mesh tongue. The colour is a striking blue with orange flashing with the logo and name displayed on the heel and toe. The heel is low cut and was very comfortable around the Achilles heel, I never had any problems there as the split leather was very soft and supple.
When I spoke to the team at Boreal I was advise to size small. My normal test size is a UK 7.5 or a 41.5 as my trainer size is a UK8 or 42. So we agreed on a size UK size 7 and they duly arrived. However, they were too small so they had to be sent back and replaced with my usual 7.5. This just goes to show that it is important to go to a specialist retailer and try any climbing shoes on or at least by two sizes online and send one pair back.
The fit of the Boreal Marduk was very precise with a tight toe box and well positioned heel. This allowed for a snug fit which was great for all the climbing activities on test. The sole was quite stiff when I first got them with the characteristic dome on the ball of the foot to help place the toes on the toe box. They have flattened out over the couple of months on test to develop into a great shape. The shoe is lined with a terry cotton like lining which had a great feel to them and help retain the shape and fit.
The toe shape was great for all styles of climbing and I have worn them teaching on VS routes to my personal climbing 7b+ as well as bouldering and lots of trad. They have performed very well in all these areas. They were not, however, an all day comfort shoe in the size tested. I could keep them on for two or three pitches, then after that they had to come off. They were also not overly comfortable to walk down in either. For instructing work I would like to have had a size UK8. A recent trip to the Ecrin had me having to slip the shoes off on belays. But they were fine, easy to get on and off and when the weather is that warm it’s always difficult to keep a shoe on all day – and performance wins over all day comfort.
One of the areas that Boreal consistently score well on test is in the heel and the Marduk didn’t disappoint. The heel was very comfortable and precise and didn’t budge an inch when heelhooking. There was no dead space at all and as I said earlier the soft, split leather and double heel tags meant that my Achilles heel was nice and comfy. The midsole was also very stiff, which made them great for edging. The stiffness has remained good throughout the test period.
The Velcro fastenings were robust and easy to use and most importantly the right size so there was little excess to get in the way of nifty footwork. I did like the way the top strap was wider and helped offer a better fit. What I didn’t like so much was the mesh tongue. This was a one piece affair that had a tendency to crumple slightly when I needed to really cinch the shoe up. I feel it would have been better split, but I do understand that this can often cause even more problems with a thick strip going down the middle of the foot. It wasn’t too much of an issue except on really hot days (but to be honest the agonising pain in my toes countered anything else!). Once the shoe had worn in there were no real problems getting the shoe on and off and the soft mesh was comfortable and very breathable.
The rubber is the now established Zenith and is 4mm in thickness. I have always maintained that the market advantage for rubber has diminished over the years; escpecially in the mid grade range where comfort with a performance fit outweighs the friction advantage. The rubber however was excellent and provided good friction over a range of rock types. The Boreal Marduk even performed on the polished hell that is Malham Cove reasonably well and that is praise indeed! It is always worth remembering that if you feel the friction of your climbing shoes has become rubbish then wash the soles in hot soapy water to bring them back to pristine condition.
So, in conclusion, the Boreal Marduk is a great mid range performance shoe. It sit neatly in the new range of Boreal shoes and compares well with other shoes in the mid performance range such as the Scarpa Vapour. The price range is good and the quality is great. The colour is the calmest of the new range and I particularly liked the support from the stiffened sole, the heel and the comfort of the split leather heel.
Oh, of course, the Babylonian God like powers? I’m still working on that 🙂
Why not receive our latest reviews and gear news via your inbox by following our blog: perfect for all gear freaks! Just sign up via the home page link in the sidebar. We never keep an email list (too much hassle – we’re out climbing) and we would never, ever pass your email address on to someone else (no, no, no that would be very unethical).