The La Sportiva Maverink runs circles around the other shoes we tested, but we wanted to include one high-performance shoe to show what is available and help kids figure out what type best fits their needs.
The Maverink isn't made for climbing lower angle rock, but with its flexibility and sensitivity, it works better than expected.
One might assume that a shoe with a patented technology called "No-Edge", would perform poorly on edges. However what the No-Edge toe does is wrap a thin layer of rubber up over the big toe, eliminating the 90-degree rubber "edge", allowing your toe to be at the very end of the shoe, putting you closer to the rock. More precise footwork can now be used to feel the rock better and shift on small features. There is no mid-sole in this shoe, so the forefoot is quite flexible and flat causing the hard edging ability of the shoe to suffer slightly, but the P3 platform definitely helps. Overall this shoe does a great job of sensing the rock and edging up it when the face gets technical. We also think it's possible to get a longer life out of the sole since the nice 90-degree edge isn't a factor and will also promote better foot work to climb more deliberately.
The No-Edge toe does a great job edging on tiny, even sloped holds.
This shoe won't disappoint when it comes to climbing a few moderate cracks but don't ask too much of it. Its No-Edge toe shape won't allow it to get too far into the cracks when they get thin, and it would benefit by having a thin mid-sole to give the shoe a little extra stiffness. The XS Grip 2 rubber provides great friction in the crack, and the rand does a fine job of protecting the toe and arch. The lightly tensioned P3 on the Maverink keeps the foot in a more natural position, which certainly helps keep you comfortable while swimming up easier hand cracks.
This thing is great in pockets. The No-Edge sole with the XS Edge rubber has great friction and can find the slightest features to use. The P3 platform keeps the toes pointed downwards which helps the toes latch into the pockets in steep terrain. These shoes would feel right at home on the sandstone pockets at "The Red" or the limestone pockets in Thailand.
The No-Edge toe wraps around the big toe allowing the climber to get much closer to the rock for excellent edging and sensitivity.
With only 3mm of XS Grip 2 and no midsole, the Maverink has excellent sensitivity. And now, with the No-Edge toe, not only might you be able to stand on a dime edge, you may be able to feel it. We found it quite soft, and it even did a great job smearing on microfeatures on the steep granite slabs of the Southeast.
For being a "down-turned, aggressive shoe", this model is super comfortable. The foot lays almost flat and having no actual mid-sole other than the P3 platform, it's super flexible. Kids just moving up from a flat lasted, all-around shoe, especially those with small feet may have to get used to the "high top" feeling from the P3 rand. The rigid heel pocket is also going to feel pretty different from the more moderate kids' shoes, but all in all this shoe is super soft and comfortable.
The P3 rand does a great job of keeping the shoe pointed down for steep routes, but the rubber comes up pretty high on the back of the heel and can aggravate the Achilles tendons on some people.
The idea with the Maverink is to offer a high-performance shoe for kids that keeps their foot health in mind. Kids shouldn't spend hours in tight binding climbing shoes, and La Sportiva has done a great job of accomplishing that. To get a good performance fit, size down at least a full European size, if not two, though results may vary, as kids climbing shoes are notoriously tricky to size just right.
Putting the Maverink and the Venga, side by side, shows how much downturn the Maverink really has when compared to a more "all around" shoe.
These shoes are great for young competitors and anyone pushing themselves bouldering or climbing steep sport. Teens that upgrade to super technical adult shoes can use this shoe for training, keeping the foot in a more healthy position, and use the adult, more aggressive shoe to send their latest project. Women with small feet also love this shoe as a softer version of the adult shoes.
We say this shoe is worth every penny. There aren't many options for kid's performance shoes, and they are all about the same price. An adult shoe with the same features would likely cost $170. Still, at $130, young climbers and parents alike might be surprised to see the price double when you make the leap from intermediate climbing shoes to these performance-driven shoes. However, these shoes are still handcrafted in Italy, and the craftsmanship is amazing; there's not a loose thread or stray stitch. Every material has a purpose, and everything is perfectly in its place. La Sportiva knows how to make a quality climbing shoe that holds up to repeated use, year after year, assuming the shoe isn't outgrown first.
The La Sportiva Maverink is a great entry into aggressive performance shoes for kids with growing feet. The performance is worlds better than the intermediate climbing shoes we tested, and the P3 platform gives it just the right amount of downturn. Many women with small feet love it for the price and the softness with the same technical features they've grown to love in the adult model. The aspect of personalization that the markers add is a cool concept that kids are sure to love.