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La Sportiva Tarantula Review

La Sportiva Tarantula
Price:   $90 List | $79.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, Super comfortable, Durable
Cons:  Low end performance
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The Tarantula was designed with beginners in mind. Offering comfort that will make you wonder what all the veterans are whining about and a neutral shape that functions in many climbing scenarios.
Fairly durable and quite affordable, this shoe will also help keep the soles on your sending shoes newer longer if used as a second shoe for the gym days and warm-ups at the crag.

We tested them on long alpine routes and found they climb as well, but not as comfortably as approach shoes or alpine boots (Trango Cubes). They won't, however, let you waltz away from a day in the mountains without swapping out your footwear. The velcro straps made it a little painful to put feet in any cracks, and they perform like any rock shoe if the terrain is a mix of scrambling/climbing/walking: poorly.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rock Climbing Shoes

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Style Upper Lining
86
$195
Editors' Choice Award
lace Suede Leather/MIcro fiber none
86
$185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather/Lorica Pacific (forefoot and back)
86
$185
velcro Leather/Synthetic Leather Unlined
80
$185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather Sentex/PU Foam
76
$165
lace Leather dentex
76
$175
velcro Cowdura⢠Synthetic synthetic
76
$165
velcro leather synthetic
74
$180
velcro Leather/Lorica HF
74
$130
velcro Non-stretch Synthratek synthetic upper microfiber leather cotton
74
$175
velcro Leather synthetic
74
$160
velcro synthetic Unlined
72
$145
lace Leather none
72
$175
lace Synthetic (Cowdura) none
72
$83
Best Buy Award
velcro Leather / Synflex none
70
$125
slipper leather none
70
$175
velcro MicroFiber (Synthetic)
66
$139
Lace 1.8mm Suede/Micro Suede none
66
$90
velcro Leather/ Synthetic Leather synthetic (tongue and arch only)
66
$180
velcro Suede/Micro Suede none
62
$150
velcro Leather synthetic
58
$89
velcro Elastic Synthratek synthetic upper nylon

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Thomas Greene
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
September 20, 2014

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The La Sportiva Tarantula is aptly named after a largely terrestrial but surprisingly adaptable arachnid. It is, as advertised, an incredibly comfortable shoe good for just about any style of climbing. The caveat: you won't be crushing the grades in it.

Performance Comparison


The Tarantula climbs Crystal Crag  Mammoth Lakes  CA.
The Tarantula climbs Crystal Crag, Mammoth Lakes, CA.

Edging


The Tarantula is no beast in the rankings when it comes to the standard metrics by which all shoes are judged, but it does alright just about everywhere. Their edging ability is contingent on how much comfort you're willing to sacrifice. It is so flat, the the edge needs to be very close to your toe to feel like a higher performing climbing shoe. To give you some perspective, one size down from your street shoe size feels like a tennis shoe, though it will climb better. Size these shoes a little tight to really get their edges cranking.
The Tarantula can stand on some small edges in spite of a comfy fit and rounder shape.
The Tarantula can stand on some small edges in spite of a comfy fit and rounder shape.

Crack Climbing


The listed terrain recommendations of the Tarantula is all-around climbing, which makes it sound like getting C's all through high school is doing pretty well. It climbs cracks like a Converse All Star. The velcro makes it adjust extremely well, but the shoe still floats around your foot, and the rigid sole will stay in place while the rest of the shoe twists around your foot in cracks. Placed straight in, they stand well in cracks, but feel like they're going to stay behind when you are ready move your foot. For a better entry level shoe that still climbs cracks, check out the Mad Rock Flash.
The La Sportiva Tarantula
The La Sportiva Tarantula

Pockets


The Tarantula's toes are round, pockets are sometimes round, once in a while the two work out. For anything smaller than the toe of this shoe, you'll have to rely on another foothold. In contrast, the Evolv Shaman is comfortable and climbs pockets like ladders.
Sometimes approach shoes can be a better option for your objectives
Sometimes approach shoes can be a better option for your objectives

Sensitivity


Size this shoe down for maximum sensitivity. They will never be the most sensitive shoes out there, so don't go too crazy.

Comfort


No lie, these shoes are comfy. A third of their description on the La Sportiva website is about how they are designed with comfort in mind, absolutely no arguments here.

Best Applications


The Tarantula does well in the gym and as a beginning outdoor shoe. It deserves consideration for long alpine routes where approach shoes might be a bit aggressive for newer climbers. Anywhere you take them you'll have fun. They will not hurt your feet, which enormously increases their range of use.
Climbing the South Arete of Early Winters Spire in Tarantulas  Washington Pass  WA.
Climbing the South Arete of Early Winters Spire in Tarantulas, Washington Pass, WA.

Value


This is one of the more reasonably priced climbing shoes out there. The won't last years, but a solid season in these shoes will get you ready for something more aggressive anyway.

Other Versions


La Sportiva Katana
La Sportiva Katana
  • Cost- $150
  • Weight- 7.87 oz
  • Adjustable velcro closure for a close fit
  • A solid gym, sport climbing and bouldering shoe

La Sportiva Mythos
La Sportiva Mythos
  • Cost - $140
  • This is probably the most comfortable shoe on the market
  • A shoe for someone who values all-day comfort over micro-edging

Conclusion


While not a shoe to inspire the masses, they will keep the beginning climber motivated while they strengthen their fingers and toughen up their toes, and offer a great platform for the easy days at the gym or crag. We would consider a good pair of approach shoes before investing in the Tarantula. The Evolv Cruzer, and Five Ten Guide Tennie are both around the same price, and climb just as well or better. Plus, you can walk down to the grocery store in them.
Thomas Greene

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 28, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (2.8)

50% of 4 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 20%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 20%  (1)
2 star: 40%  (2)
1 star: 20%  (1)
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   Jun 8, 2015 - 09:35am
Srbphoto · Climber · Kennewick wa
Got a pair for Christmas, nice shoe for the price. Review is dead on. Good rubber would take it up a notch. I would slip on holds (small or when smearing) that my other shoes never slip on.

They are well made but the rubber wore out pretty quickly.
Still trying to decide if I want to resole them. I could wear them for a couple of hours with no complaints.


If I had someone just starting out or not going to climb a lot, these would be my first recommendation.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 20, 2015 - 10:52pm
cornfreeme · Climber
I like the shoe, they are fairly comfortable. Worked well with top roping both indoor and outdoor climbing. Only problem was that the toe ripped after only having them for 3 months (climbing on them just about every day)

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 23, 2014 - 08:34pm
Seb · Climber · Paignton
I loved this shoe
This was my first climbing shoe and my god how i loved it, climbed up to 6c+ in the gym on tiny edges sized super tight they stretch out into slippers i only wish they where worth getting resoled.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jun 28, 2015 - 04:50pm
Many of the new La Sportiva velcro products are defective. The velcro tears or its clasp breaks off. Watch out, La Sportiva customer service refuses to honor their warranty for defective products.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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