Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first climbing shoe, or a long time climber looking to expand your climbing abilities and find a shoe more suited for a specific type of climbing, Bufo might have your next pair or two of climbing shoes. Bufo, a relative newcomer to the North American climbing scene, has been sold in Europe for over 14 years. Forget the fact that they would be bargains at even 15% to 20% more money than they cost, these shoes do what they say they do, a good sign of a good deal all by itself.
We looked at four of Bufo’s models, the Shark, The Fly, The Pharoah, and the Spider. All the shoes were very sticky, well built and took the usual beating that climbing shoes get—walking around the base of sport climbs, peeling them off and cramming them on, and of course climbing. With the prices as low as they are, we looked at them with a critical eye for manufacturing details, wear and tear, and survivability. They all stood up to our examinations, making us wonder—just how much should a good climbing shoe cost? When asked about the price, the folks at rockshoes.com say the difference isn’t how the shoes are made, it is how the shoes are sold—less overhead and less advertising.
We took these shoes climbing all over the Utah, testing them on everything from basement bouldering and climbing gyms to outdoor bouldering and sport climbing—including sandstone, granite and limestone routes. They also got a workout during some trad climbing on Navaho Sandstone.
Here are the shoes, and what the testers had to say about them.
Bufo PharaohWe couldn’t find any thing these shoes didn’t do well. They are great for hard bouldering, and seemed to excel at heel hooking. Edgy and slabby climes were done in this shoe, and they held up well. They took on friction climbs and did great. The lacing on this shoe allows you to cinch it up as tight or as loose as you need. The sole is curved for great edging, and they held up to tight crack climbing. The Pharaoh sells for $79.95
Bufo SharkThis shoe earned its keep on multi pitch routes. I don’t want to use the word comfortable—hey, we are talking climbing shoes, but I was able to leave them on during long belays. The narrow shoes were great on the sandstone cracks found in Moab, where they inspired confidence on trad climbs. The curve of the sole allowed them to excel on small pocket holds. These are great all around shoes. The Shark can be picked up for $77.95
Bufo SpiderThis shoe is hard to beat for all around versatility. It goes on and off with two Velcro strips, making it great for bouldering and the gym. But I loved the narrow toe for crack climbing. Seems to be a favorite for small micro holds. And even though it got the most use of the four shoes, it has held up well. It’s great to find a shoe that goes on and off like a bedroom slipper. But climbs like a lizard. The Spider sells for $75.95
Bufo FlyThe Fly has quickly became the favorite gym shoe. With a great toe, it seemed to be well suited for the plastic holds. For as tight a fit as it gives, it comes off and on relatively quickly, another plus for gym use. The soul gives a tight sensitive feel. Price $77.95
Negatives: The only thing we could find was that the heel pull on a couple of models tended to rub at the back of the heel. Raising blisters along the Achilles tendons. The company has now changed this heel pull design, putting the heel pull on the outside of the shoe, and this should eliminate that problem.
Summary: These shoes are the perfect fit of price, performance, and personality. They do what they are built to do, and are backed by a company that wants to please its customers. At the prices they are delivered to your door for, you could have all types of climbing covered— far as your feet go. The rest is up to you!
Bufo climbiing shoes are distributed on the internet at www.rockshoes.com.