April 28, 2021

Boreal Dharma Review

by Kevin

Our review of the Boreal Dharma climbing shoe will reveal one simple truth; it is a supportive climbing shoe precisely made for bouldering or technical sport, with the ideal edging power. Boreal, a Spanish-based climbing shoe manufacturer, initially introduced tacky rubber to the climbing industry in 1979, which was integrated on the Fire Rock Shoe.

For this reason, Boreal become among the most infamous manufacturers in the climbing industry, precisely between the 1980s and early 2000s. This is thanks to the production of shoes like the Ninja, Ace, and laser, which were incredibly handy in the gym or crag. 

While this brand's name was forgotten for some time, Boreal is once more attracting a lot of attention with their new line of climbing shoes, including the Dharma. For this review, we tested the Boreal Dharma for some time, and here is what we have to say about it.

What we like:

  • Excellent edging ability.
  • Extremely comfortable once you break-in.
  • Ideal for sport climbing.

What we don't like:

  • Reduced sensitivity around the heel.
  • Zenith rubber. 

Boreal Dharma Feature Highlights

Dharma is the ideal shoe for sport climbers and boulderers looking for the highest performance available on steep rock.

Dharma Front

Feature Toe Box

Since this is a high-performance climbing shoe, it is vastly asymmetric and downturned. Nearly the entire toe box features Zenith rubber, which offers the climber just the right amount of confidence required for toe hooking. 

We also found that the toe box features a conspicuous knuckle bump that puts your toes in a potent crimped placement, perfect for pulling pockets and standing on minor cracks. The toe is rather pointy, which adds to this climbing shoe’s capacity to locate and handle those small edges.

The upper and the toe box are made using soft microfiber. The tongue is made of elastic, breathable material; thus, you don't have to worry about the shoe's smell. What's more, the Boreal Dharma is specifically designed for climbers with wide feet.


Feature Heel

When we tested the Boreal Dharma climbing shoe, we found the heel to be fitting, except for those of us with narrow feet. This is because this shoe is for climbers with wide feet. It has a 3D heel cup which is designed from a specific rubber into a stiff sphere. 

It is designed to remain stiff, and we never had problems with it. Also, this climbing shoe has a wrap-rand mechanism which is handy in keeping the heel protected. Besides, it makes heel hooking look easy. 

Whether it is smearing, or a rounded pocket, or even bouldering, this shoe does it all. This heel is indeed designed for high performance. It delivers an excellent balance between sensitivity and rigidity. Once we wore them, our feet were secure, and the shoes never slipped out.

Dharma Rubber

Feature Rubber

The Boreal Dharma climbing shoe utilizes the Zenith Pro rubber compound and depending on its size, the thickness varies from 4 to 4.5mm. Additionally, this is blended with an anti-distortion midsole that guarantees the downturned build remains that way for a long time. 

After using them for a long time through various adventures, we're glad to tell you that these climbing shoes kept their aggressive shape. Truth be told, the Zenith rubber might not be your rubber of choice. Boreal claims that it is a moderately stiff rubber, but 4mm rubber is quite a bit for bouldering shoes. 

However, the Dharma has still managed to keep a bit of sensitivity. This stiff rubber is handy in keeping the shoe durable, and it also makes it perfect for edging. Nevertheless, the primary issue we had with this rubber is that it does not have as much friction, which is the case with more expensive climbing shoes. 

This rubber has very little friction compared to shoes such as the Solutions, which have the Vibram XS Grip rubber. Therefore if you intend to utilize your Boreal Dharma on polished limestone a lot, be ready to slide frequently as you climb. These climbing shoes flaunt their best performance in high-friction areas such as granite and sandstone. Also, they are ideal for indoor climbing.

Feature Comfort and Fit

Our first impression after wearing the Dharma was discomfort. They were rather painful to wear since the entry hole features a relatively small diameter, thanks to the elastic tongue and the second strap. However, once we squeezed our feet in, we found a bit of comfort. 

After breaking in, this is a highly comfortable shoe than other high-performance climbing shoes. The first strap of the Boreal Dharma's three-strap closing mechanism was more of decoration since the shoes had such a perfect fit that we felt the extra security was unnecessary. 

The Boreal Dharma is among the few shoes that we have tested that were not buggy in the upper on our low-volume feet. This climbing shoe is aggressively asymmetric and downturned when new. A bit of this downturn relaxed the more we used them, though the downturn in the toe box remained. 

What's more, the concavity on the rear of the toe box generated by the midsole remained. We felt that the arch was relatively high, and the broad rand beneath supported our arch and assured firm contact between the feet and the inner sole the whole time. 

Furthermore, we found the broad rand to be under increased tension and ran up high when we took the shoes off. The durable heel cup felt more secure than most shoes we have tested, and it gave us the feeling that the whole heel was in touch with the back of the climbing shoe.

Dharma Excels on the Hardest, Steepest Climbs

Boreal Dharma is the pinnacle of climbing performance, developed in conjunction with their world climbing team. The aggressively downturned and asymmetric last shape combined with supportive midsole and BOREAL® Zenith Pro rubber mean that Dharma excels on the hardest, steepest climbs.

The Verdict

The Boreal Dharma is a high-performance climbing shoe ideal for bouldering and technical sport. It is precisely designed for climbers with low-volume feet, a small heel, or broad forefeet. Also, it is ideal for steep climbing since it has a magnificent heel design that delivers excellent all-around sport climbing performance. 

But who is it for? Considering all it offers, the Boreal Dharma is the perfect climbing shoe for intermediate to professional level climbers. The material and build of the Boreal Dharma is quite incredible, and it promises unmatched durability. 

If you are looking for a high-performance climbing shoe, comfortable enough to wear for a long time without taking off, and one that edges excellently, the Boreal Dharma is the shoe to go for. The issue we found with this climbing shoe is the sub-par adhesion from the outsole on softer surfaces. Otherwise, this climbing shoe is worth trying out. 

Related Articles:

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 


Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


eBook: Rappelling Equipment Guide

 $ 29.99  FREE

Download our Rappel Rapport eBook: a Rappelling Guide for Beginners. It's free.