La Sportiva Solution Comp Review
Cons: Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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|Pros||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Sensitive, comfortable, great for toe hooking||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas|
|Cons||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Expensive, too soft for super technical edging||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain|
|Bottom Line||An ultra-high-end shoe that could put you on the podium of your climbing competition||This stiff shoe is an all-day crack climbing workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||These soft shoes excel at steep climbing but aren't a good choice for super technical edging||Decent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choice||An entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Katana...||Scarpa Drago||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Katana...||Scarpa Drago||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Leather / microfiber||Leather/Lorica||Microsuede||Eco Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic|
|Lining||Pacific, lycra||Pacific (forefoot and back)||Unlined||Unlined||None|
|Rubber Type||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Edge||FriXion RS|
|Rubber Thickness (millimeters)||4 mm||4 mm||3.5mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The original La Sportiva Solution is a tried and true favorite among those that seek out steep terrain. The latest version, the Solution Comp, includes a couple of small changes to help you hang on even longer when things get strenuous. The biggest changes are a softer heel cup, a more flexible midsole, and extra rubber across the top of the toe. We think all of these changes are great improvements to an already great shoe.
These kicks come equipped with 4 mm of sticky Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber that's reinforced with 0.9 mm of LaspoFlex plastic to boost support in the forefoot. Meanwhile, the pronounced pointiness of the toe enhances precision. Together the result is an edging beast that's ready to exploit the tiniest of footholds. Our testers loved these shoes for their ability to utilize the small features at any rock angle.
However, the stiffness of the sole ends at the arch, where it transitions to softer, more flexible materials. While this improves sensitivity for the back of your foot, it does reduce overall support. In other words, these are ideal shoes for steep boulders or sport projects, but the lack of midfoot support can contribute to additional foot fatigue on techy, less-than-vertical testpieces. This issue is influenced by foot strength, though, so consider your own feet--we've seen plenty of less-than-vertical routes sent in these shoes.
These shoes aren't exactly designed for crack climbing. The dramatic downturn and severe asymmetry force your feet to curl and your toes to bunch, amplifying pain during most types of crack jams. The extra rubber coverage across the top of the toe does add some padding and grip, but it also increases the height and bulk of the toe box. That means that it's harder to slide these shoes into thin cracks that are narrower than 0.75 inches.
It is possible to perform wider foot jams with these shoes, but it will likely get uncomfortable quickly. We still think that some people will slay high-end cracks with these shoes, but it's most likely to be barely there "cracks" that demand precise footwork on face holds rather than sustained toe jamming.
Many of the changes La Sportiva made between the original Solution and the Solution Comp are intended to improve performance for indoor competitions and insanely steep outdoor projects. In our view, these changes are a runaway success. Our testers loved the extra rubber coverage on the top of the toe for improved grip while heel-toe camming and toe hooking. The softer, slimmer heel also boosts sensitivity for marginal heel hooks on aretes or volumes. Together these changes led all of our testers to prefer the Solution Comp over the original Solution for most applications.
Both versions of the Solution feature a notably pointy toe, making them some of the best footwear for pocketed climbs, especially when the pockets are small. The underside of the toe is also shaped with a subtle concavity that improves the angles for pulling your lower body toward the wall when the climbing gets really steep. The drawback to this design is that people with a broader, less pointy set of toes may find these shoes unpleasant to wear.
The Solution Comp doesn't supply quite the same level of tactile feel as some other competition-oriented shoes. This deficiency is starkest in the forefoot, where the 0.9 mm LaspoFlex insert adds edging support while sacrificing sensitivity. This can be an issue on the slickest plastic holds, but most of our testers thought that the Solution Comp supplied enough sensitivity for the most common types of real rock.
From the midfoot to the heel, sensitivity is much better. Our testers were immediately able to recognize the sensitivity benefits of the Comp compared to the original Solution, particularly in the heel. This thinner, sticky rubber heel now gives much better feedback while heel hooking than the old, bulbous, hard rubber heel. Nevertheless, even the new Solution Comp cannot provide as much sensitivity as you could get from an ultra-soft design. However, on many sharp rock types, your feet will probably be thankful for a modest amount of insensitivity.
Aggressively downturned shoes will simply never be as comfortable as shoes with neutral soles. The Solution Comp is no exception. Its downturned sole keeps your foot in a powerful curled position, but this is an uncomfortable posture to hold for a sustained period of time. Although the design forces your toes to curl, extra space is thankfully built into the upper to prevent pressure on the knuckle of your big toe. The elastic across the upper midfoot is also stretchy enough to accommodate higher volume feet.
We're pleased that the softness of the heel allows it to conform to the uniqueness of different heel shapes. Some people with narrow heels may notice a little dead space, but the spacious design allows it to more comfortably fit wider heels. We're also big fans of the V-shaped velcro closure system. It's quick and easy to operate, and it really locks your foot in position. Overall, the aggressive nature of the Solution Comp sacrifices some comfort, but the designers included several clever adjustments to ensure that the sacrifice is as small as possible.
The Solution Comp is a top-of-the-line shoe with a top-of-the-line price. When we consider its outstanding performance, however, we are forced to conclude that it's a pretty good value. The shoe's construction feels like the highest quality, and we believe the P3 platform and LaspoFlex reinforcement should ensure that it maintains its shape through multiple resoles. Although the extra cost of this shoe may not be worth it to all climbers, the investment should pay off for any outdoor crushers or dedicated indoor climbers.
The original Solution appealed to many climbers and became an exceedingly popular shoe at the gyms and boulders. The subtle adjustments introduced in the Solution Comp should only add to this appeal. It provides the same outstanding precision at the toe while adding lots of sensitivity to the heel. The only drawback is a slight increase in price. We believe the improvements are easily worth the few extra bucks. And after much discussion and deliberations, our editors concluded that they believe the Solution Comp is the best bouldering and sport climbing shoe available today.
— Jack Cramer
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