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Five Ten Impact VXi

Tom Collier reviews the Five Ten Impact VXi, Blister Gear Review

Five Ten Impact VXi (Team Black)

Five Ten Impact VXi

Intended Use: Gravity Flat Pedal Shoe

MSRP: $149.95

Size Tested: 8.5

Stated Weight: 720g/pair (size 9)

Blister’s Measured Weight: ~720g/pair (size 8.5 – see notes on weight below)

Test Locations: Park City, Utah

Days Tested: 5

Five Ten has been producing flat-pedal riding shoes since the early 2000s when they made them for Intense Cycles. Their STEALTH rubber sole provided unprecedented grip on flat pedals, using a compound with very little rebound energy, and their shoes quickly became popular with downhill racers and trail riders who preferred flat pedals over clipless ones. The two flat pedal all-mountain shoes from Five Ten that I’ve used are the Freerider VXi, and the weatherized version of it, the Freerider VXi Elements.

Now comes the Impact VXi, the newest version of their flagship, flat-pedal downhill shoe, the Impact 2. Not only was I interested to see how the new Impact VXi compared to the old Impact 2 as a downhill shoe, I had a hunch it could also be a better all-mountain shoe than the Freerider VXi Elements for riding in cold, wet conditions.

Construction & Weight

Like the Freerider VXi and VXi Elements, the construction quality of the Impact VXi is impressive, and seems higher than previous Five Ten offerings. Wrapped in their new Mi6 compound rubber, Five Ten claims that the Impact VXi offers 50 percent more cushioning and better grip than previous shoes in the Impact line.

Tom Collier reviews the Five Ten Impact VXi, Blister Gear Review

Sole of the Five Ten Impact VXi.

Additionally, the easily water-logged foam used throughout the ankle and tongue in the Impact 2 has been replaced with a hydrophobic foam that dries more quickly and is claimed to make the Impact VXi 25 percent lighter.

I just so happen to have a pair of (fairly beat-up) Impact 2s sitting by my door, so I did my best to test these claims about the VXi’s lighter weight. Five Ten states the Impact VXis weigh 720g/pair in a size 9. Though my scale is not super accurate, my old Impact 2s weighed in at about 1100g per pair, and my size 8.5 Impact VXis weighed right around 720g. That suggests there is about a 35 percent weight difference between a size 9 Impact 2 and a size 8.5 Impact VXi, and I’m willing to trust Five Ten’s claim that the new Impact VXi is 25 percent lighter in a given size than the old Impact 2.

The Impact VXi shoes ship with black laces installed and a second pair of red laces included, allowing you to play with color schemes or replace the original laces once they’ve worn out. The laces included are flat as opposed to the round laces on the Impact 2. In my experience this makes them less likely to come untied, but more likely to catch on brambles.

Fit & Sizing

The Impact and Impact 2 were always known for being quite wide, and the Impact VXi continues that trend; they fit my wide feet quite well. I found the Impact VXi to be a touch roomier in the toe box than the Freerider VXi Elements, and very comparable to the previous Impact 2. As with the Freerider VXi Elements, I had to size down from a size 9 to a size 8.5 in the Impact VXi.

The Ride: Impact VXi vs. Impact 2 vs. Freerider VXi Elements

I couldn’t tell if the Impact VXi’s upper offered more protection than the Impact 2’s, which Five Ten also claims, but the cushioning it does offer is totally sufficient and the padding certainly has been slimmed down.

Tom Collier reviews the Five Ten Impact VXi, Blister Gear Review

Laces and upper cushioning on the new Impact VXi (left) and the Impact 2 (right).

Water can seep in through the top of the shoe, either by slipping around the tongue or the ankle, but otherwise the Impact VXi’s water resistance is good, as good as the Freerider VXi Elements’, in fact. I had an unexpectedly very wet ride the other day and was pleasantly surprised by how warm and dry my feet stayed (until an unfortunate step in a deep puddle). I was even happier when I discovered that the soaked shoe was dry the next morning. My old Impact 2s would have taken a full day stuffed with newspaper to dry out.

In my review of the Freerider VXi Elements, I mentioned that I would like to see a similar shoe with a dot pattern spread across the entire sole, and the Impact VXi offers exactly that. The sole on the Impact VXi has a full dot pattern with smaller dots than the original Impact 2’s, and it provides more grip on pedals than any shoe I’ve used. The tread pattern also provides better traction while hiking in loose soil than the tread on the Freerider VXi Elements.

Tom Collier reviews the Five Ten Impact VXi, Blister Gear Review

Tread patterns of the Impact 2 (top) and Impact VXi (bottom).

The Impact VXi’s sole, while very grippy, is also slightly thicker than the sole on the Freerider VXi and Elements to help with shock absorption. I can’t say I think Impact VXi’s sole offers more cushion than the Impact 2’s, but it certainly provides enough (I never thought shock absorption was a weak point of the impact 2s in the first place). With good water resistance, dampening, great pedal grip, and an ability to dry out fast, the Impact VXi is undoubtedly a better downhill shoe than the old Impact 2.

The Impact VXi’s thicker sole does mean its pedal feel isn’t quite as good as that of the Freerider VXi or Elements, and because it’s designed as a downhill shoe, it doesn’t breathe quite as well as the Freerider VXi Elements (which is an all-mountain shoe). Even so, I would take the Impact VXi over the Freerider VXi Elements to use in cold, wet conditions on a trail ride (and not just a cold, wet downhill run). The important factor, for me, is that the Impact VXi’s tread pattern makes it much better for hiking around in soft or muddy soil than the Freerideer VXi Elements, and its warmth and water resistance are just as good.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to trail riding exclusively in warm, dry weather I would pick the Freerider VXi. It’s made to breathe better than both the Impact VXi and Freerider VXi Elements, offers good pedal feel, and its poor traction isn’t much of a problem in dry conditions (where the Elements’ is in wet ones).

Bottom Line

I’ve yet to notice any signs of wear and tear that would suggest the Impact VXi’s durability might be an issue, but I’ll be sure to update this review if it does.

With design improvements over the Impact 2, the Impact VXi is a great new downhill shoe from Five Ten. And though its pedal feel isn’t quite as good as the Freerider VXi Elements’, the Impact VXi’s water resistance and full tread pattern also make it a great option for cooler, wet trail riding conditions, especially when it might involve hiking in soft and even slightly muddy soil.

Update: 7.7.15

Additional Days Ridden: 30

I’ve found the Impact VXi to hold up noticeably better than the original Impact shoes. The sole rubber does eventually wear out, but it wears out at a much slower rate than it did on the old shoes.

Tom Collier reviews the 5.10 Impact VXi for Blister Gear Review

Sole wear on the 5.10 Impact VXi after 30 additional days of riding

Aside from rubber wear, I found the original Impacts and Impact 2’s wear out in a couple ways:

(1) The sole would separate from the upper, and (2) the foam around the ankle would pack out and the lining would tear.

I haven’t noticed any separation of the sole from the upper on the Impact VXi, and the foam still feels fresh and the lining is intact. That might have something to do with the thinner foam used, making crank arm contact less common, but that is certainly only part of it.

The quality of 5.10’s shoes has definitely gone up. When I went back to look at this review, I was shocked to be reminded that I started riding in these shoes more than a year ago. They still look and feel so new! In the past, I would wear out a pair of Impacts pretty handily in a year to a year and a half. I might be able to get nearly twice that life out of the Impact VXi.

2 Comments

  1. rob warden September 2, 2015 Reply

    I have to disagree. My experience on this exact shoe using the spank spike pedal on a 160mm travel bike. I had the bottom of the shoe fall apart. The sole is thinly stretched rubber tensioned around a foam core. The Rubber being soft separates from the foam under pressure from the traction pins and then tears. Once torn, the rubber offers a fleeting at best connection with the pedal. The rubber was unusable in less than five rides on my local trail system in SW Utah. My shimano AM shoes have been insanely durable. The same shoe i race is the one i ride in every ride.

    • Tom Collier September 2, 2015 Reply

      Rob,

      Sorry to hear of your experience. I wonder if you might not have a defective shoe. I’ve hiked in mine, ridden it with pedals with very tall pins, and generally abused it without significant signs of wear. You might want to explore with Five Ten.

      -Tom

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