Italian company La Sportiva has been producing outdoor equipment since 1928, and since the 50s, have specialized in skiing and mountaineering equipment. They are also one of the top worldwide brands at producing quality climbing shoes, used and loved by both professionals and beginners alike. We are going to have a look at some of the most iconic and popular models of their current La Sportiva catalog, comparing features and discussing what makes these shoes so fantastic to use on the climbing wall.
What are the Best La Sportiva Climbing Shoes?
Every climber needs something different from their high performance climbing shoes, and the following list should help you understand which La Sportiva shoes are best for which types of climbing and how they differentiate from each other in terms of usage. After climbing with some of these models for years and trying different ones, we may be a little biased, but we have combined our indoor and outdoor rock climbing experience with real climber feedback, product specifications, and price, to come up with this rundown of La Sportiva climbing shoes.
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Sole Material: Vibram Sole, Suede Leather Upper
Closure Type: Velcro
Skwamas are a fantastic choice for the modern and seasoned boulderer, and those passionate about both indoor and outdoor bouldering will find it quite difficult to fault these shoes. When putting them on for the first time, you may well experience a world of pain, but this is a sensation that most in the sport are accustomed to, and besides this, the benefits are huge. The shoes come equipped with a sharp edge on the inside of the foot which is great for confidently gaining traction on those tiny ledges. The front of the shoe is absolutely coated in rubber which protects your toes in all of those pretentious toe-hooks that competition climbing demands of you. The shock-absorbing heel protects your feet a little when coming down off the routes. They have an aggressive downturn to help you squeeze your toes and retain power on steep overhangs, however, the middle of the shoe is quite malleable and, while not adapted for slab climbing, can allow enough grip when standing on sloping volumes when used well. They are, however, a little expensive, as are most La Sportiva shoes, and do take some time to break in.
- Sharp edge helps to stand on small holds,
- Minimalistic and lightweight,
- Good coating of rubber for toe hooks,
- Quick and easy to take on and off,
- Great after a resole
- Take a long time to break-in
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Sole Material: Vibram XS Grip2 Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro
The La Sportiva Theory is a relatively new shoe, streamlined for modern bouldering and competition climbing. The shoe is heavily coated in rubber to protect your feet in almost any ambitious technical move, whether you are to-hooking, heel-hooking, or standing on sloping volumes. The sole varies in thickness in key areas, to give the user maximum sensitivity and to connect with their feet on the routes that they are attempting to ascend. The aggressive downturn is great for steep overhangs, where you may have to jam your toes into tiny pockets to powerfully throw yourself up the route.
The downturn is great for overhanging routes, however, it limits these shoes drastically on slab climbing, and you may find that you will perform better by taking two pairs of shoes to the climbing gym so that you can vary the types of climbing that you do.
- Premium product,
- Perfectly streamlined for indoor bouldering,
- Varying sole thickness for ultimate sensitivity,
- Heavily coated in rubber for toe hooks
- Very aggressive downturn makes it harder to stand on slabs
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Sole Material: Vibram XS Edge
Closure Type: Velcro
The La Sportiva Otaki is a colorful and great-looking shoe that performs well in indoor settings. The shoe has quite a sharp downturn which is great for powerful overhanging routes, yet it is soft and flexible enough to provide ample footing on sloping surfaces. While not as much as the Solution, Theory, or Skwama shoes, there is some rubber on the toe to protect your feet during potentially painful toe-hooks. The rubber is quite thin and soft, which is great for retaining sensitivity when climbing, however, it wears through quite quickly, and while the shoe performs well after a resole, it will be required to change the rubber quite frequently when using the shoes regularly.
- Soft and flexible, despite the aggressive downturn,
- Fantastic bright colors,
- Some rubber on the top for toe-hooks,
- Quick to put on and remove
- Quickly need to be resoled
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Sole Material: Recycled/Repurposed Rubber and Eco Idro-Perwanger Biodegradable Leather
Closure Type: Lace-up
The Mythos is a streamlined shoe for multi-pitching, and it is not rare to spot climbers sporting these tremendous shoes in places such as Yosemite. The soft and malleable structure is designed to be as comfortable as possible while maintaining a maximum grip on sloping volumes or pieces of rock. With that in mind, while they might benefit you on slab climbs in the gym, these shoes will not help you so much on standard sports or boulder routes. The lack of protective rubber, the flat profile, and the long time it takes to take on and put off the shoes make them unsuitable for competition climbing.
- Extremely comfortable, perfect for a long multi-pitch,
- Durable leather material
- Take a long time to remove and put on,
- Not so much use in a bouldering gym
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Sole Material: Vibram Rubber
Closure Type: Quick-Pull Lacing Velcro
The solutions model by La Sportiva is one of the most popular ones in the market and are even worn by the likes of famous climbers like Adam Ondra. They are extremely comfortable and perfect for a multi pitch or bouldering session. With its downturn design, they can handle overhangs very well and have a thick padding on the interior to tackle smears and edging. The edges are not as sharp as the Skwamas and you may struggle to stand on tiny ledges, however, the softer profile makes them an excellent choice for crack climbing and standing on sloping volumes.t still performs, almost as well as before.
- All rounder shoe
- Soft and malleable sole for slab climbing
- Agressiv downturn
- Adequate padding at toes and heel area
- Velcro straps are weak and might wear and tear with use
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Sole Material: 5mm FriXion RS
Closure Type: Lace-up
The La Sportiva Tarantulace is a very popular model and for a very good reason as well. They have a relatively flat profile and a stiff upper and mid sole, yet provides enough flexibility and range for a mid level or even a beginner.
Great design, comfort focused as well as a snug fit due to its laced design makes this model a popular choice over the years.
- Long lasting rubber,
- Optimal fit and Comfortable,
- Stylish design and colours
- More suited for narrow feet climbers
Based on all of our experience with Climbing Shoes from La Sportiva, we found that La Sportiva Skwama is the best La Sportiva Climbing Shoes available today.
Our Premium Option is La Sportiva Theory with all the best features and high-quality materials, but that’s only if you have more money to spend.
However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the La Sportiva Otaki as an affordable alternative.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying La Sportiva Climbing Shoes
Most Important La Sportiva Features
Each La Sportiva shoe shines in some aspects of climbing but may lack in features for other styles of routes. If you are looking to buy shoes that are good for overhangs and roofs, try to find something with an aggressive profile so that you can retain power when you jam your toes into small pockets on the wall and push up. Additionally, a lot of rubber on the top of the shoe will also protect your toes from protruding bits of rock. Slab climbers should look for a softer shoe that is flexible enough to smear on sloping surfaces. Some shoes can cope with both styles, but not specialize in both styles. Multi-pitchers and big-wall climbers will most likely want a laced shoe that is comfortable to wear all day without taking off. Beginners should ultimately look for a comfortable shoe with a fairly flat profile so that they can work their way slowly and comfortably into the extreme sport, and so padding and profile are very important.
Downsizing La Sportiva Shoes
Downsizing is a hotly debated topic in the world of climbing, and while the majority of climbers tend to jam their toes into the smallest of climbing shoes, it isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. Especially for beginners, a climbing shoe should be snug and quite tight, but you should still be able to feel your toes and have a little sensitivity, particularly when climbing with softer shoes on slabs. If you try to put your feet into something that is far too small, the pain is going to limit your ability.
La Sportiva climbing shoe comparison – bouldering vs rock climbing
La Sportiva has made shoes that are streamlined for bouldering, and they have also made other shoes that are fantastic for climbing. There are even some shoes which perform really well in both disciplines of the sport. When rock climbing, consider that you will be wearing the shoes for longer, so they should be more comfortable. When bouldering, you usually are trying much more difficult and technical moves than you might on a climbing wall, and so precision is key.
La Sportiva Pricing
Climbing shoes are an industry-specific, specialized piece of sporting equipment, and, as a result, tend to cost a lot more than shoes you use in your daily life. La Sportiva has firmly earned a place amongst other highly respected brands, and while there are some more budget-friendly options available, they do tend to cost a lot. With that being said, they are made of exceptional quality, and the company is constantly researching to be able to provide the most innovative and modern designs, hoping to give you that little bit of extra confidence that can make all the difference when sending difficult routes. They will cost you a lot, but it is worth investing a bit more than buying cheap shoes from an unknown brand which will likely disintegrate, or not provide you with the grip that you expect of a climbing shoe.
Questions and Answers About La Sportiva Climbing Shoes
Are La Sportiva Climbing shoes good for women?
La Sportiva makes specialized shoes for both men and women, and some unisex models as well. Every major model is either unisex or has a version that is fitted to the standard shapes of women’s feet.
Should you size down in your La Sportiva climbing shoes?
his is a strongly debated topic amongst climbers. As a beginner, you will hate having to squeeze into climbing shoes, and feel nothing but pain and resentment, and will subsequently be shocked when everyone starts telling you that the smaller the shoe, the better. This is not necessarily the case. Your first pair of climbing should be tight but comfortable, bearing in mind that they are going to stretch a bit as well. As you progress and develop, you may decide that a tighter fit will give you more confidence, but if you go too tight, to begin with, you can damage your feet and the excessive pain will also limit your climbing. With that being said, climbing shoes tend to be sized a little differently from your regular shoes. It helps if you can try them out before you buy them, as often if you buy climbing shoes which are supposedly for the same shoe size as your regular shoes, you may find that you have to wear 20 pairs of socks to fit in them.
How much are La Sportiva climbing shoes?
La Sportiva does produce their products to a very high standard and has become an international name in the production of climbing shoes, and, as a result, most of their shoes do fall at the more expensive end of the climbing shoe price scale. There are some more affordable models, such as Tarantulas, but these are best suited to beginners. It is an investment to own a pair of La Sportiva shoes, however, the quality, durability, and precision of these technical shoes will have you climbing with confidence and comfort.
How long does it take to break into La Sportiva climbing shoes?
If you are one of those people who buy their shoes a few sizes too small, it will of course take a little longer to break in your La Sportiva shoes. It is not essential that you do this, but many people still do. After three or four standard sessions in the bouldering hall or climbing gym, you will scream considerably less when jamming your toes into your shoes. When they are brand new, it is worth taking a more comfortable pair of climbing shoes with you (if you have them), so that you can change into something more comfortable if the pain is too much for you to handle.
Is La Sportiva shoe sizing very different from the average climbing shoe?
Every climbing shoe producer has their own perception of shoe sizes, and it is definitely worth, if possible, trying before you buy. My 2 pairs of La Sportiva climbing shoes are 2 and 2.5 sizes smaller than my regular hiking shoes respectively, according to the European shoe sizing scale. My Tenaya shoes, on the other hand, are only 1.5 sizes smaller.