Gear Review: Cypher Codex
The Cypher CoDex is the top of the line performance climbing shoe made by Cypher. I’ve been putting this shoe to the test on everything from steep sport climbs to vertical faces to plastic pulling in the gym.
The verdict? This shoe earns a permanent home in my climbing pack.
Specs to know
Rubber: 4.2 mm Vibram XS Grip
Material: Synthetic toe box (lined) / Leather heel (unlined)
Out of the box and onto the rock
Just as I was about to head out the door for a day of climbing in the Red River Gorge, UPS pulled up and dropped off a box from Cypher. My first thought as I opened the box was, “hot damn, I’m going to be the flashiest climber at the crag today!”
The CoDex is a real eye catcher with the neon color scheme so at least if my climbing day was a fail, I’d be looking good hanging on bolts. Pulling the shoes on for the first time was something of a struggle as to be expected with brand new shoes. However, I have discovered that even when broken in, the single pull tab makes for a difficult shoe to get on. Fortunately the tab construction is super solid so I just hook the tab with a quickdraw and yank it on easily.
First pitch was the standard new shoe feeling of having no sense of what I’m standing on, but by the second and third pitches I knew already the CoDex was not a shoe to be overlooked. These shoes are super easy to break in and reach that sweet spot mega quick. By the end of the day I was getting after it on hard climbs and my footwork was on point.
I’ve put the CoDex up against a wide variety of climbing styles and have yet to find a terrain where they don’t meet my needs and then some. On steep rock the aggressive downturn is perfect for toeing in and keeping glued to the wall. No joke, one of my first statements to my climbing partner on day one was, “I’ve got talons for toes!” (there may have been an eagle screech associated).
Switching to a less overhanging wall where standing on small edges becomes important I found that the flexible softness of this single strap shoe means that the downturn was not uncomfortable and as I weighted tiny footers, the downturn leveled out and resulted in all of the force being applied to the edge of the toe box, right where I want it. With a thick 4.2 mm of rubber on the toe, my first thought was sensitivity would be lacking. Nope. The CoDex features Vibram XS Grip rubber, a softer compound than the XS Grip2 found on many high end shoes. The softness of the XS Grip molds to the tiniest foot holds and grabs on tight making the perfect complement to the thick 4.2 mm sole (for comparison: Sportiva Solution = 4mm, Scarpa Instinct VS=3mm).
Heel hooking is a pleasure cruise in these kicks! For me, the heel of a climbing shoe is equally important to the toe as I am a heel hooking machine. The unlined leather heel cup of the CoDex fit me like a glove with no dead spots. The strap of rubber going to the top of the heel gave a bit of an edge to catch on small heel hooks without feeling clunky.
Size up! The CoDex sizing is closer to street shoe size than other brands.
After trying a couple sizes, I went with a 9.5 CoDex. For comparison, I personally I wear a 10/10.5 street shoe, 7 US/40 EURO Sportiva Solution/Testarossa and a 8 US/ 41 EURO Scarpa Instinct. The toe box fit great even with my extra-long second toe, which did bend some (if you’ve got the long second toe you know what I mean) yet the soft cotton material on the front let that bit of toe bend happen without being painful. The heel curves in at the top but not as drastically as a shoe like the Five Ten Dragon (I get dead spots in that shoe). Again for comparison, this hell hugged my foot snug just like the Solution or Instinct if you’ve tried those models.
The single strap cinches down nicely and holds tight though I’d run into a bit of an issue with there being a bit too much material so I have to watch how I cinch to avoid getting pinched. The synthetic material across the body of the shoe does seem to be a bit oversized and could use a bit of trimming.
Build quality and price
Lumping build quality under the same heading as price is no accident. The CoDex shoes come in at a retail price of 120 yet the performance matches that of any one of the most expensive shoes on the market. So when I discuss build quality, it’s only fair to keep that price tag in mind. The CoDex stitching is not as clean and tight and the rubber not as laser perfect as found on Scarpa or Sportiva top models. I can’t give the quality an A+ rating but what I can say is these shoes have held up without a hitch to the abuse I’ve put them through and the performance earns the A+. Thus a bit lower quality build is not off-putting when all factors are considered.
Glowing recommendation! These puppies will be in my pack from now on and have quickly become my go to weapon of choice for hard sends. The performance is top notch, the price is better than fair and, most importantly (right?), I look like a rock star wearing them.
super soft and sticky rubber
quick and painless break in period
talon claw downturn
phenomenal heel hooking
comfortable all day
rock star style points
single pull tab makes getting the shoes on difficult
small amount too much material across top of foot