La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe Review
If you know Bogong, then you're sure to know about Will's La Sportiva climbing shoe reviews. His passion and expertise perfectly captures the highs and lows of the range. Read all of the Bogong Blog climbing shoe reviews here. Read on to find out Will's thoughts on the La Sportiva Solution, a high performance shoe that he grabs for his hardest climbs.
La Sportiva’s Solution is probably the most infamous shoe in the climbing world. It’s synonymous with the hardest climbing and the weapon of choice for the sport’s strongest athletes such as Nalle Hukkataival, Margo Hayes, and Adam Ondra. It’s the shoe used on the first 9A/V17 boulder, as well as the first 9C/39 route. Featuring an aggressive, downturned shape and unique moulded heel cup design, the Solution is nothing short of iconic.
The Solution is a model that defines excellence in climbing shoe construction, and an instant classic from its conception. If you’re a boulderer or sport climber looking to crush with some of the best performance available, then look no further than this classic.
Highly downturned with medium asymmetry, the Solution is designed to excel on the steps where toeing down on tiny footholds is paramount to the send. After extensive use, its design delivers in droves. There’s something to be said about how confidence in your feet affects how you climb, and how likely you are to do the next move. The precise, claw-like toe of the solution made me feel as secure as possible, giving me the ability to get as much purchase as I need on any given hold.
Unlike the Skwama, the Solution is a shoe that demands an amount of precision despite being quite soft itself. Whilst for big, slopey holds this isn’t much of an advantage, I’ve found that for small, pocketed climbing that the point of the Solution’s toe box is crucial for me to be able to weight my feet, and push hard. The same holds true for the edging potential. Thanks to the structure at the end of the shoe, weighting a micro edge is a breeze, and surprisingly comfortable to boot. The added structure also makes the Solution supportive enough for longer, steeper sport climbs when compared to softer models.
When you combine this with the amazing 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber, the stickiest compound Vibram offers for climbing shoes, there’s rarely a time that the Solution fails to glue you to the rock. Of course, the generous toe patch of the Solution is also covered in the stuff, making toe hooking a breeze.
The moulded heel-cup of the Solution is rather infamous at this point. It’s often the make or break for any climbing shoe. That said, if this heel does work for your foot then you’ve got a powerful tool at your disposal. I noted in my review of both the Kataki and the Skwama that the S-heel offers some of the best heel-hooking performance you can get in a shoe. I stand by that, but the Solution is more of a side-grade than a downgrade. The full rubber heel cup will adapt itself to holds, allowing you to pull until your hamstring breaks without feeling anything. This makes it incredibly useful for the uber painful heel hooks and heel-toe cams that you may find yourself doing. The caveat of this is that you lose a lot of sensitivity, making a blind heel hook around a corner a bit trickier if you need to aim for a specific location on the rock.
Gone are the days where we expect to crush our feet in tiny little shoes, expecting them to stretch. For how aggressive it is, the Solution is one of the most comfortable, performance climbing shoes I’ve had the pleasure of using. The soft, microfibre tongue feels like a plush sock against the skin, easing the pressure between the foot and the leather. Like most aggressive-performance shoes, the Solution is meant to be worn tight, so ensure you get sized up correctly. In my experience, these shoes don’t give much more room over time, however they softens up inside and mold to the foot nicely. I would recommend buying a pair that is as tight as you want it from the point of purchase, rather than trying to accommodate for stretch.
Honestly, there are not many bad things I can say about this shoe. No singular part of it would deter me from buying or advising others to purchase a pair. In saying that, here are a few nitpicky points you may want to consider:
For modern bouldering, the Solution will still volume crawl at a level similar to other La Sportiva climbing shoes. However, being a bit more structured in the toe box means that in a properly downsized shoe you won’t get quite as much flex as other models, such as the Theory. Not to say that the Solution will hold you back. If the purpose of your purchase is exclusively indoor competition bouldering then there may be some other models that fit that niche a bit better.
The La Sportiva Solution is a performance shoe first and foremost. Due to the thinner, stickier rubber used on the sole, it will be less durable than a thicker, harder rubber found on more intermediate level shoes. If you’re a beginner, then I would recommend choosing a model that allows you to get a lot of mileage in while your footwork isn’t as fancy. Precise footwork means longevity on shoes with thinner sole rubber. This is the case with the Solution.
The single strap on the Solutions will give you precise adjustability, meaning you can tighten and loosen to your foot shape and liking. In my experience, I haven’t had any issues with the strap itself, although its design means that if it was to break, the shoes performance is out the window. For longevity of the shoe, take care when locking your foot in place. Besides the rubber on the sole, this is most likely going to be the part to wear out first.
In conclusion, the La Sportiva Solution is a premium rock climbing shoe that’s an undeniable staple within the lineup. Since its conception, it has been used for some of the hardest climbing in the world, from pitches on free ascents of El Capitan, to the hardest boulders in our local Grampians national park. This is the shoe I slip on the most for any hard climbing I choose to do, whether that’s sport or boulder, indoors or outdoors. Its precision and perfect amount of support works for my foot like no other shoe has. I already own a few pairs, and will likely own more in the future.
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