Review: Cypher Codex

Feb 8 • Gear • 4635 Views • No Comments on Review: Cypher Codex

I must admit I’d never heard of Cypher rock shoes, and when I brought them to the gym I got constant questions about what I was wearing, especially with the neon green suede. The small company from Sandy, Utah has been quietly making shoes and quickdraws for a few years, and people are starting to appreciate the quality of Cypher shoes.

reviewed by Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor

Retail: $119.95

The Codex is Cypher’s new shoe designed as a hard-edging sport and bouldering slipper. I took it out on some of the local Vedauwoo boulders to test it on micro-edges and dodgy smears, and a bit of steep limestone as well. Here’s how it performed:

A stiff slipper—this shoe is pretty stiff for the lace-less variety, a design that will come in handy on routes or problems that demand purchase on small edges. A sole made of 4.2mm Vibram XS edge rubber has great grip, but combined with the stiff platform has less sensitivity, so it’s not the best for delicate smearing. A slight down-turn lends this shoe to vertical and overhanging climbing, although it’s not a dedicated cave and roof shoe like the Scarpa Instinct or La Sportiva Solution.

Wide toe box—the toe box on these shoes is pretty wide. People with a wide forefoot will fill out the shoe and benefit from the stiff edging power. Unfortunately my skinny feet have some wiggle room, so much room that during a sweaty indoor gym session I actually slid off an edge as the shoe deformed around my foot.

Hybrid materials break in well—the synthetic toebox is married to an unlined leather heel cup; this hybrid design is intended to create a shoe that holds its forefoot form over time, but breaks in quicker. This innovative strategy seems to work well; they’ve adapted better to my heel shape over time.

The funky stuff—the heel cup fits great and sucks to my foot on heel-hooks. These shoes close tight with a single strap instead of two, intended to leave room for unencumbered deep toe-hooking (the hurts so good, but feels great when you get it kind of hook). While this is useful for that small fraction of moves that require an aggressive toe hook, I could use a second strap to tighten the forefoot.

Bottom line: A wide-footed climber looking for a precise and edge-powerful slipper need look no further. At only $120, these shoes are remarkably cheaper than comparable shoes from the big brands, and perform just as well on vertical and overhanging edgy climbing if the fit is right. I can’t recommend it for people with narrow feet, it’s just too wide.

Get your own: Cypher Codex

Drew Thayer blogs at Carrots and Peanut Butter. He is a Senior Contributor to The Climbing Zine.

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In the vertical world, quality gear is as important as good weather or the right partner.  At the Climbing Zine, we review gear that we put to the test in our personal climbing pursuits, over months of use. If we like it we’ll tell you, and if we don’t we’ll tell you. That’s our policy…If you have gear for us to consider for a review please contact us at 


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