As per BD’s lit­er­a­ture, the new Shadow is de­signed for rock so steep it casts shad­ows. Take this at face value: These light (16 ounces for size 10), su­per-soft, su­per-grabby, down­turned bad boys are a spe­cial­ist’s shoe that ex­cels at the way-be­yond-ver­ti­cal.

I sized the Shadow the same as my street shoe, and noted a tight, sock-like fit that has loos­ened a quar­ter size—i.e., not much. The shoes run small com­pared to BD’s other of­fer­ings, so be pre­pared to take them off be­tween prob­lems dur­ing break-in. Dou­ble pull tabs and a sup­ple, mid-cut heel let you slip in and out rel­a­tively eas­ily, and the sin­gle Vel­cro clo­sure over the tongue gives good con­trol and range.

The big news was the Shadow’s amaz­ing sen­si­tiv­ity: With a 4.3mm printed out­sole and a barely there mid­sole, you feel

ev­ery hold, from the sparest rip­ple to a pea-sized peb­ble to a mi­cro-spike jib—it’s so no­table, you need to re­cal­i­brate your foot­work. The shoes are su­per-grippy, most no­tably on smears and smear-edges (smedges). They just glom on.

My first im­pres­sion, and one that’s re­mained while test­ing in the gym, on the over­hang­ing gneiss of Clear Creek, and on the sand­stone con­glom­er­ate of Castle­wood Canyon, is that the Shad­ows are fun—they have a light, sporty, pre­cise feel with mad power and big-toe pre­ci­sion thanks to the ag­gres­sive last and bi­lat­eral ten­sion rands. I no­ticed rel­li­able per­for­mance on heel hooks, heel-toes, and toe scum­ming, de­spite a bit of bag­gi­ness on the grid­ded fric­tion strips over the toe­box that in the end didn’t af­fect per­for­mance; per­haps hav­ing more ma­te­rial there to de­form while scum­ming was the in­ten­tion. The En­gi­neered Knit tongue, mi­crofiber up­pers, molded rub­ber, and printed rub­ber—all black—make them form-fit­ting, light, and aes­thetic.

The one Achilles heel is that they’re so soft that for edg­ing and facier ter­rain as en­coun­tered, they may roll. Still, for ex­treme steeps, the Shad­ows are a to­tal beast.

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