La Sportiva Solution
$180, 1 lb. 5 oz. (men’s size 41)
Sizes: men’s Euro 33-46, women’s Euro 32-43
Are you ready to dial up your performance climbing steep sport routes on rock, bouldering, or in the gym? If so, put your feet in rock shoes designed for highly technical climbing and bouldering. While not new, La Sportiva’s Solution offers a radical design and shape that places it among the best shoes in this category, making them a leading choice for climbers who gravitate toward defying gravity. Here’s why.
I’ve had my 17-year-old son testing these shoes in our local bouldering gym, on routes up to V6 and V7, at his climbing-team practices. As he affirmed, the Solution’s two most conspicuous design features go far toward explaining its performance. An aggressively down-turned toe, with good sensitivity, helps it stay securely in place on the tiniest footholds on overhanging rock, indoor walls, and the underbelly of roofs, while inside the shoe, Sportiva’s P3 Power Platform allows it to retain that down-pointing shape when you’re pushing off those micro-holds. Secondly, the sticky Vibram XS Grip rubber used in the outsole also wraps up over the toe, the sidewalls of the uppers, and the heel, for superior grip in all imaginable situations requiring advanced moves, like heel and toe hooks and forefoot edging.
On top of that, a thin, 1.1mm LaspoFlex midsole adds just a touch of torsional rigidity without compromising sensitivity, and a molded 3D heel cup lets you power confidently through steep heel hooks. The slip lasting makes the shoes less stiff than a shoe made primarily for multi-pitch trad routes—which also means you won’t want them on your feet for hours.
“These shoes are very effective on the front of the toe,” my son observed, “but the effectiveness goes down as you move to the sides, and there’s no rubber at the midfoot for edging. That means anyone wearing them is forced to have good foot placement (toe-on), or the shoes lose effectiveness.” This isn’t a beginner shoe.
The hook-and-loop Lock Harness System wraps the uppers snugly around your foot to create what feels like a custom fit. But exercise some care using the lightweight closure strap, to prevent it from blowing out (another indicator it’s definitely not an all-around, all-day shoe for multi-pitch routes). Synthetic Lorica leather uppers conform to your feet after several hours of break-in time.
In fact, these shoes can be quite painful to wear on your first outings in them. My son reported that he spent about 10 hours breaking them in, before reaching the point where the shoes felt good enough on his feet to not have to remove them when resting between routes.
He reported: “I lost skin on both of my big toes from the pressure on them from the front of the shoe. They’re difficult to walk in and not super comfortable even when broken in—they really should only be used for bouldering and single-pitch sport. Also, they might not break in for someone with a particularly flat foot arch, because of how curved they are. However, once broken in, they’re fairly comfortable for a gym session of bouldering, and when placed right, they won’t come off even the smallest holds.”
Plan on some break-in time, but you’ll be rewarded with an outstanding rock shoe for the gym, bouldering outside, technical face climbing, and steep, single-pitch sport routes. The popularity of the La Sportiva Solution among serious climbers (look around in your gym) speaks volumes about its performance on steep, hard routes.
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See my “Gear Review: A Complete Rock Climbing Kit for Climbers With a Real Life” and all of my reviews of climbing gear at The Big Outside.
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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