The fit on the Runners is great for me and hugs everywhere! And the fit does remind me a LOT of the 5.10 Blackwings/Dragons, as far as shape and tension goes. I really like the construction of the upper as the gluing and stitching is solid and the mesh is crazy comfortable, as is the velvety black lining inside the shoe. That being said. . .
Crazy Soft and Spongy and Grippy is really the only way to accurately describe the Dark Matter. It seeps into nuances of the rock or plastic and tends to stay nicely when the accurate pressure is applied to counteract the overall softness of the shoe and the sponginess that makes them stretch a bit at the same time.
THESE ARE SOFT SHOES!! The mid-sole isn't too soft, but the fish-hook shape of it only covers about 1cm from the edge of your forefoot. The hollow center of the midsole allows for some serious grip in seriously overhanging terrain on larger holds and lends a lot of flexibility for excellent smearing. The edging isn’t spectacular for vertical dimes or precise overhanging edges, but it is manageable and grippy when smedging (smear-edging). The Dark Matter is, however, super grippy for smears and bumps on any terrain (when the correct amount of pressure is applied to counter the spongy stretch of the rubber).
So iLL's Dark matter rubber is softer and spongier than 5.10's Stealth c4 rubber, Vibram's xs grip rubber, and definitely softer than Evolv's Trax rubber. Any feeling of mild tightness when you first put them on will almost immediately change to 'comfort' as the softness of the shoe rubber molds it hastily to your foot shape and bumps of your toe knuckles within minutes of your first routes. The heel also packs out considerably to help tension the last of the shoe to promote the fit in the toebox and keep the downturn strong. The heel doesn’t get sloppy, but it is incredibly thin and soft so it tends to ‘stretch’ a bit when applied to tiny edges or powerful hooks. Toe Hooks are pretty bomber though.
After only 3 months of climbing plastic (and a bit of rock) in them I can without a doubt say that the rubber is easily the softest rubber on the market. Hands Down, even being a normal 4mm rubber thickness! You can crumple this shoe into a wad of rubber and mesh in your hands. They’ve stretched about a ¼ size and are fully lined. I climb about 15+ hours a week and have used these almost exclusively and the wear is barely starting to show in them. I still don’t prefer them for outdoors, but that’s my personal preference for a stiffer outdoor shoe coming into play, so I can’t speak to their overall outdoor durability though.
My feet are ~9.5 inches long (9.75 on my big foot) and I ordered the 9.0s and they are 'comfortable' w/o being too sloppy to edge or smear reliably. That being said, I have a very average/narrow width fore foot with a high arch and fairly rounded heel so they fit the nuances my foot very well. I also do not have Morton’s toe and tend to like my shoes a bit tighter so they feel ‘fitted’, but still allow me some toe flexibility.
The size of 9.0 So ill Runner is similar to:
5.10 Teams (black) – 10.5
5.10 Blackwings (red) – 9.5
Hope this helps someone out as I was pretty curious before I got my Kickstarter. . If I were to do it over again I probably would have ordered an 8.5 in the Runners to make them into what they’re meant to be, an aggressive super soft and grippy shoe for performance overhang bouldering on porous rock, but I'm content with the 9s for comfort. I think they’ve made my feet stronger and actually improved my footwork as I typically rely on shoes with a stiffer midsole. These shoes grip well, but the Runner definitely makes your toes do more than their fair share of the work.