Olympians Janja Garnbret and Brooke Raboutou on Crafting the Best Climbing Gear
The athletes spoke to HYPEBAE about collaborating with adidas on the perfect shoes.
Premiere Digital and Windfall Films have unveiled a feature-length climbing documentary titled The Wall — Climb for Gold, which features four elite female climbers — Brooke Raboutou (USA), Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), Miho Nonaka (Japan) and Shauna Coxsey MBE (Great Britain) — as they make it through qualifying events for the first-ever Olympic climbing competition.
The 90-minute film, directed by Nick Hardie, follows a demanding season of fierce competition and vigorous training before each athlete’s original path to the Olympics is thrown off course due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As each climber faces mental and physical battles en route to the following year’s games, the movie chronicles both their perseverance in overcoming various obstacles and the enormous pressure that comes with being an Olympian.
While training plays a critical role in each climber’s success, a major emphasis is also placed on their gear and the minor adjustments made for both indoor and outdoor climbing. Garnbret, who was a child prodigy and holds the most world climbing titles, partnered with adidas Five Ten in order to create the perfect climbing shoe for competition: the Five Ten Hiangle.
“We put a lot of work into making that shoe perfect, making sure the Stealth rubber sole was just the right softness for the competition and making sure the heel was perfect,” Garnbret told HYPEBAE. “It fits like you are wearing nothing at all, with no gaps or air pockets between the shoe and the foot. When we considered the Hiangle, we needed a shoe that was super soft to perform on the volumes (the big three-dimensional forms on the climbing wall), but still stiff enough for standing on extremely small footholds.”
adidas worked closely with Garnbret to make micro-adjustments to the shoe’s construction, incorporating a “close-fitting heel” so that the shoe would “fit like a sock,” Garnbret said. “I like my competition shoes to be softer, which means I have worn them more frequently to break them in. I prefer stiffer shoes for outdoor climbing, which means, ideally, bringing a newer pair of shoes,” she added.
Similarly, Raboutou, who was one of the youngest competitors at the XX Games at 20 years old, entered a partnership with adidas Terrex, a subset of the sportswear company that is known to use GORE-TEX, which provides a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane to its designs, as well as continental rubber.
“The GORE-TEX technology is really important to have as an option for my hiking shoes since we often have long, snowy approaches to the boulders which require very grippy rubber for rock hopping as well as the GORE-TEX component that keeps my feet warm and dry,” Raboutou said.
“All of my favorite leggings and tops for climbing, as well as running and hiking shoes, consist of the brand’s Primeblue and Primegreen sustainable technologies that are made out of recycled materials, which is really important to me as I’m continuously learning how I can be more sustainable and advocate for our planet,” she added.
With ample training and the appropriate competition shoes, Raboutou noted that the largest challenge she faced while competing at the Olympics had nothing to do with her athleticism, but instead with maintaining a healthy mindset.
“My biggest takeaway from competing at the Olympic level was the importance of focusing on my mental health and mental game in general,” Raboutou said. “I started to take time and work on my mental game for the first time ever and I saw huge improvements in my performance while also realizing how much I still have to learn.”
“I hope that those who watch The Wall are inspired,” she added. “I hope that they can both understand and relate to all four of us athletes and realize that progress and success doesn’t come without failure and many highs and lows along the way.”
- Dylan Kelly