La Sportiva Solution Review
Compare prices at 3 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 La Sportiva Solution has long been a stalwart at boulders and sport crags the world over. We hemmed and hawed for weeks about whether to grant this ever-popular shoe an award. Ultimately we concluded that the lack of sensitivity in the Solution's heel was a distinct disadvantage compared to the softer heel on the Solution's close relative, the Solution Comp. Both are excellent shoes, but our testers prefer the Solution Comp over the original Solution.
The Solution was one of La Sportiva's first shoes to incorporate their P3 platform, a revolutionary design that helps climbing shoes retain their shape and provide a solid edging platform. This shoe's pointy toe supplies an outstanding sensation of precision to ensure your toes are properly placed on the tiniest footholds. Our testers think they're some of the best shoes for utilizing micro edges, especially on steep terrain. Their only complaint is that the downturned shape makes them less comfortable during prolonged single-pitch leads or big days on multi-pitch routes.
Although these shoes aren't designed for crack climbing, they're not terrible for some sizes. Climbing hundreds of feet of hand cracks in these puppies will probably leave you hobbled for days, but for short stretches of perfect hands, 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. The low-volume toe occasionally allows you to eke out a marginal toe jam or two in places where many other shoes would be too bulky.
These shoes mow down pockets like no other. Their pointy toe and short toebox fit into smaller, shallower pockets than anything else we've tried. If you're headed to Lander, Tensleep, or any pocketed limestone crag this summer, you can't go wrong with a pair of these shoes in your quiver. On more general steep terrain, they also perform well. The downturn shape is great for pulling your lower body into the wall. The heel cup, however, is bulbous and covered with an unusually hard rubber that lacks sensitivity. For really aggressive heel hooks, we think the Solution Comp is superior.
This shoe is stiff compared to many others. Although there is some bendiness across the mid-foot, the forefoot is firm, dense, and especially resistant to lateral torsion. After a short break-in period of ten or so pitches, sensitivity improved, but it never reached the level of many softer bouldering shoes. Our testers didn't seem to mind, though, and they didn't complain of any problems while they were feeling their way around on technical granite. One noted that they thought could employ crystal bumps in the Buttermilks just as well as they could with softer shoes. Still, in head-to-head comparisons, we must acknowledge that there are several shoes that can transmit more sensation between the rock and your feet.
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 when they were released over ten years ago. The heel bothered a few of our testers after wearing them for long periods of time, and the narrow toe box can make the fit feel worse as your feet swell throughout the day. Still, some of our testers argued that these are perhaps the most comfortable bouldering shoes for people with narrow feet. The sock-like cloth tongue is also super stretchy to help accommodate high-volume feet. This seems to work during shorter sessions, but eventually, the narrow toebox led to discomfort for many of our wide-footed testers.
The Solution is a premium shoe with a correspondingly premium price. But if they fit your feet well, then it's probably money well spent. Compared to other high-dollar climbing shoes, we think the Solution offers a superior design and materials that are above average in quality. Compared to cheap climbing shoes, the Solution's advantages are myriad. They're also a shoe that resoles well, so hopefully, you can keep the same pair running for several years.
The popularity of the La Sportiva Solution isn't a fluke. These kicks offer unrivaled precision and some of the best edging performance on the market. They're ideal for the steeper terrain of the boulders and sport crags where their aggressive downturn won't be too taxing on your feet. Although they aren't the most sensitive climbing shoes, this drawback is overcome by many more reasons for why you should consider adding them to your quiver.
— Jack Cramer & Matt Bento
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