Review: La Sportiva Solution Comp Climbing Shoe
The La Sportiva Solution Comp is one of three new, competition-focused shoes released by La Sportiva recently, emphasising adaptability and sensitivity for the varied angles seen on world cup circuits and the Olympics (the La Sportiva Cobra 4.99 speedclimbing shoe and La Sportiva Theory being the other two models).
Don't let the Solution Comp's name fool you. This is far more than a pure competition climbing shoe. It has already been on the feet of elites on some of their hardest ascents. Most notably it was the shoe of choice for Stefano Ghisolfi to repeat Adam Ondra’s Change (9b+/38): a 55-metre monster pitch in Flatanger Cave in Norway. For a shoe this soft to be used on such a pitch should be a testament to its versatility and performance.
When I ordered in a pair of Solution Comps for myself back in June of last year having never tried them, Bogong Equipment owner Neil Blundy scoffed: “You know they’re nothing like the Solutions, right, Will?”
And, to his credit, he is absolutely correct. Besides namesake and aesthetics, I would first like to dispel the idea that the Solution Comp is the “next Solution”. Like most La Sportiva performance shoes, the Comp boasts soft, grippy Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber and shares the Solution's popular toebox.
Compared to the Solution, the Solution Comp is softer and slightly less downturned. This allows for greater flexion of the midfoot for volume crawling and sensitivity on marginal holds. Comparatively, the Solution is rather stiff, giving greater confidence on tiny edges on more moderately angled terrain. They are situationally different shoes, with the Solution being my preferred choice if I was looking for a soft sport climbing shoe.
So, how does the Solution Comp perform?
From the moment I put it on my foot, I knew the Solution Comp was going to be a fantastic performance shoe. To qualify my assessment, I have put roughly 6–10 hours a week into this shoe since I purchased it in April of this year. It has seen plenty of real rock, and a lot more training time in gyms, predominantly for bouldering. The low volume, medium asymmetric toebox gave me fantastic confidence for digging my foot into small pockets and helped me gain maximum purchase on incut footers on steep terrain.
The Solution Comp also feels amazing on a variety of wall angles. After taking them for a spin at the local Urban Climb in Collingwood, I can say with confidence that thanks to the thin midsole, the Solution Comp chews up all the smeary footholds you can throw at it. When it comes to volumes, I actually think that another new La Sportiva shoe, the Theory, is slightly better in this regard. However, edging is much more enjoyable in the Comp. With both the Theory and the Comp, the silly amount of toe rubber lets you grip onto the worst of toehooks, no matter which part of your foot makes contact.
On real rock, I found the Solution Comp to perform just as well, with a few caveats. When toeing down on small quartz crystals or sharp edges, the Comp performed admirably. As the angle became closer to vertical, applying full weight through these footholds became less and less comfortable. However, on steep routes and boulders the feedback is a welcome addition to ensure the best possible foot placement.
Heel hooking on micro-edges was also a breeze in the Comps. It sticks with incredible ease, thanks to a sticky rubber heel cup that is incredibly thin. In fact, I do not think I could tolerate any more sensitivity. On certain moves, the soft heel cup, combined with the sharp edges found on rock, made applying hard pressure downright painful. I am willing to accept that I am being a touch delicate on this one, but in these situations, I would rather be using a Solution or La Sportiva Skwama. In those models, the moulded heel cup and S-Heel respectively provide much more protection to the outside edge of the heel. This allows me more confidence to pull and cam hard on the holds, without feeling as if I am damaging my foot. For this reason, unless you’re climbing on the steepest of routes, I believe the La Sportiva Solution is a more comfortable shoe for 20+ metres of climbing.
Fit and Comfort
Overall, I find the Solution Comp to be an incredibly comfortable shoe. Sizing down from my regular size of EU 41.5, I was shocked to find that I could keep them on for nearly an entire session from the get-go. I rarely worry about stretch in my climbing shoes, and the Comps have been no exception. I am not sure I could say any part of the shoe has gotten significantly looser over the hours I have put into the shoe. If anything, the heel cup has softened up a touch, but the fantastic strapping system keeps my heel locked down and secure.
Those of you who struggle with the fit on La Sportiva heel cups may find a little more success with the Comp, due to its slightly less aggressive heel counter. Due to this comfort, the Solution Comp has been my preferred training shoe for bouldering and system boarding. The Theory would still be my shoe of choice for performance, but is comparatively far less comfortable in the same size (likely due to the increased downturn).
The Solution Comp is likely going to be an incredibly successful shoe going forward for La Sportiva. It is a sensitive, comfortable, high performance and (most importantly) fun shoe to climb in. I have loved them to death over the last three months, and plan on putting many more pitches into them. If you are looking for a no-compromises indoor training shoe, or sensitive performance model for your hard outdoor sends, then give it a go! Like all shoes, I recommend coming in to have a chat with our fantastic staff to find out what the best fit and model is for you and your specific needs.
- LA SPORTIVA SKWAMA CLIMBING SHOE REVIEW
- LA SPORTIVA THEORY CLIMBING SHOE REVIEW
- VIDEO: LA SPORTIVA 2018 WOMEN'S SOLUTION REVIEW
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