When La Sportiva announced that many of their classic shoes were due for an update, we got scared. What would become of the Solution? Would they change the glove-like fit? Plaster more rubber on the upper? Redesign the heel?! Longtime fans of the Solutions can take a deep breath; the changes to one of our favorite shoes are mostly cosmetic, and these shoes still edge on dimes right out of the box and smear like a dream after a little breaking in.
La Sportiva Solution Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Great precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/off
Cons: Not comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurely
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The 2018 Solution vs. the Previous Version
The Solution got a makeover this year. The changes are largely aesthetic, though Sportiva did make some minor updates to their velcro Fast Lacing System, with an updated shape to the velcro portion and rounder eyelets for the straps to slide through. See the new version below, left, followed by the previous version.
The Solution is a surprisingly versatile shoe. Though they look like robot hawk talons designed to catch giant mutant squirrels from the future, they're actually pretty comfortable and feel better than the La Sportiva Genius for longer pitches. When a pitch demands a few jams in a flair or a short crack section, the solutions are more than up to the task, excelling in finger cracks and flares thanks to their low toe profile. While not comfy enough for all-day romps up the big stone, there are a few big wall free climbers out there who bust out some Solutions on crux pitches.
The OG Solution was one of Sportiva's first shoes to include the P3 platform, a revolutionary design that helps climbing shoes retain their shape, and give you a solid edging platform. The New Solutions retain the P3 platform and edge beautifully, without having to be sized down so small you can only wear them for a few minutes. The La Sportiva Genius is the only shoe that can out edge a trusty pair of Solutions. They have a pointier, more narrow shape than the La Sportiva Katakis, and our testers felt this gave the Solutions an edging advantage when backstepping, at the sacrifice of comfort.
These shoes aren't designed for crack climbing, but they're not terrible in a pinch. Climbing the stove legs in these puppies will leave you hobbling for days, but for short sections of hand cracks, the Solutions don't feel all that bad. For difficult finger cracks where you can hardly get your feet in the crack anyway, the solutions are a great choice, providing edging power, while occasionally eaking out the marginal toe jam or two thanks to their low profile toe shape.
These shoes mow down pockets like no other. Their pointy toe and awesome edging platforms fit into smaller, shallower pockets than any other we've tried. If you're headed to Lander, Tensleep, or any pocketed limestone crag this summer, you won't go wrong with a pair of these shoes in your quiver, unless you feel they cost too much. If that's the case, check out our Best Buy Award Winner, the Butora Acro.
This shoe is stiff compared to shoes like the Evolv XI and the Scarpa Drago, but after a short break in of ten or so pitches, our testers had no problem feeling their way around on technical granite, and found they could employ crystal bumps in the Buttermilks just as well as they could with a softer shoe. The La Sportiva Genius takes the cake for sensitivity because your toe is so close to the end of the shoe thanks to the "no edge" tech, but the Solution is no slouch on slabs and techy vertical climbing, despite their downturned appearance.
Performance climbing shoes are never going to feel like bedroom slippers, but the original Solutions set a new standard in comfort for high performing shoes over ten years ago. The heel bothered a few of our testers after long periods of wear, the toe box is narrower than the Five Ten Quantum and the La Sportiva Katana, so Solutions will feel worse as your feet swell throughout the day, but remember, these shoes are designed for bouldering and difficult sport climbs, not all day wear. The single strap design has been updated with a more durable material which will hopefully hold up longer than the softer strap on the original design that would sometimes break where they ran through the lacing grommets. The sock-like cloth tongue is super stretchy and easily accommodates high volume feet, unlike the tight, lower volume Evolv XI.
These shoes are well suited to single pitch climbing and bouldering of just about any style and rock type. We've climbed in Solutions all over the world, from the technical granite of Squamish, the Gymnastic style boulder problems of Hueco Tanks, and the sweeping limestone arenas of Spain. Unless you're exclusively crack climbing or tackling long multi-pitch routes, the Solutions can handle anything you can through at em'.
One hundred and eighty dollars makes for one expensive climbing shoe. That's 180 packets of ramen, two and a half tanks of gas in the ol' Sprinter van, or half of one of those super expensive Bob strollers for the kiddo. Think of your priorities before swiping the credit card, but if sending is a the top of your list, then swipe away! These shoes resole well, and hopefully, the new velcro strap will hold up longer than the original, though we've seen a few resolers who do a good job replacing a broken strap.
La Sportiva knew that the devotees to the Solution are legion, and if they dared change these fine-tuned sending machines, then we would march upon their Italian headquarters with pitchforks and torches. Or maybe they just knew they had a great thing going with the original design. If your old pair is about to wear out, don't fear, because the new Solutions will fit and feel the same as your beloved old shoes.
— Matt Bento