|Value for money:|
|Fitness for purpose:|
Price when purchased- too long ago.
Price now (September 2014): £60 - £70
The Boreal Joker is a classic beginner climbing shoe. Based within the Boreal Comfort range the shoe is designed to be worn for many hours without feeling compelled to take it off. Due to a fairly hard sole rubber the shoe is very durable and, aside from the edges, will not wear out quickly. With a low price tag for a climbing shoe this is a perfect backup shoe to have lying around for muddy days outdoors or general playing about on a climbing wall without wanting to shred your more expensive technical shoes. However, the low price tag does take a toll on the overall quality of the shoe, despite the durability of the sole itself.
I have owned a pair of Jokers for the last 6 or 7 years - the same pair that is. They have served me well, are still in use and the only damage to them is the sole separating from the leather at the toes. While this has caused some chilly toe days outside, this is nothing a bit of duct tape cannot fix for the time being. Regarding the chilly toes I have never felt bad wearing socks in these shoes as the lacing allows for easy adjustment of the fit. The sole itself is still in good enough condition for outdoor climbing despite the edges having worn out years ago. Especially on grit and other coarse rock where smearing is the order of the day I have not experienced any problems. I have never felt the urge to take off the Jokers while climbing, although walking around on crags with them has resulted in the shoe's toe damage. One niggle I have had with the Jokers from the start is the quality of the shoe itself. The leather is cheap and stretches more than with other shoes. I had to replace the laces after about a year and the stitching in some of the models is substandard quality. That said, I have not had any stitching break aside from the toe damage which most climbing shoes are prone to at some point in their life.
If you are a climber with some technique to your climbing you will find that the Boreal Joker is quite possibly the most non-technical shoe you can find. It is flat as a pancake, sports hard rubber, provides no heel support and has a wide toe section. As mentioned though, for muddy days on a crag where any form of hard climbing is out of the question anyway they are a good way of preserving your expensive shoes for better days.
Although I would no longer buy a pair of Boreal Jokers for general climbing use, their low price tag and relative durability have grown on me. If my Jokers ever give up completely past the point of duct tape repairs I would have to seriously think about not having a pair of "mud" shoes to grab anymore. I have recommended the Boreal Joker to many beginners looking for a generic climbing shoe and have never received any complaints about the choice. Most climbers will move on and within a couple of years purchase a more technical shoe after settling on a style of climbing and understanding the techniques involved. Since the shoe is largely a beginner shoe and has got some flaws that put off the more technical climber it receives 3.5 peaks.