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Hands-on Gear Review
Butora Libra Review
Cons: Very stiff, lacks versatility, only one color option (pink)
Bottom line: The Libra is a moderately priced, moderately aggressive shoe that is designed for edging on vertical terrain.
Butora is a relatively new company out of South Korea that has come to the US within the past three years. The Butora Libra is less expensive than brands like La Sportiva and Five Ten but performs nearly as well as the most recognizable names on the market. The Libra is Butora's mid-range shoe when it comes to performance. It has a very stiff sole and a slight downturn; they at home on vertical terrain, as their stiffness helps keep us on our toes on small holds. This is a positive for edging but makes the Libra fall short regarding smearing and precision footwork, as it is hard to feel the holds beneath these stiff soled shoes. Overall, the Libra is an excellent introductory or all-around shoe for multi-pitch climbing, gym climbing, and sport climbing.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Butora Libra received relatively high scores in most of our rating metrics, with sensitivity and pockets being the Libra's lowest categories. These shoes are an edging contender more than anything. They also work well in cracks with their padded tongue and ample rubber on the toe box.
Initially, the Libra was a tight fitting and took a few days to break in. Though they aren't as tight fitting as the Butora Acro, these shoes run smaller, and ordering a size up from your street shoe is not a bad idea. The stiffness of the sole also made the Libra a tad uncomfortable at first, but we found that we got used to it over time. The Libra felt similar to the La Sportiva Miura, with a less-asymmetrical toe, which makes them more comfortable in the toe box. Overall, the Libra was relatively comfortable, though their stiffness and small size made them fall short in the comfort ratings since they compare to an introductory shoe when it comes to overall performance.
The Libra did not excel in the sensitivity department, earning the lowest score of the fleet. These stiff-soled shoes work well when standing on small, but obvious edges, but they seriously lack as a smearing shoe. In fact, it was hard to feel any hold beneath our toes in these shoes. Their stiffness also made them hard to use on less-than-vertical climbing, where a soft, flexible shoe, like the La Sportiva Miura or even the La Sportiva Kataki, excel. Perhaps with more use, the Libra would relax and become a better shoe for precision footwork, but during our testing period, the Libra's remained fairly stiff.
The features that sabotage the Libra when it comes to sensitivity are the same qualities that make this shoe an incredible edging shoe. The stiffness of the sole means that you can hang out on tiny edges for a long time without exhausting your feet and calves. Also, the stiff rubber soles provide enough surface area on small holds to inspire confidence, even on the smallest footholds out there. Our favorite for technical climbing, the La Sportiva Miura, performs similarly to the Libra on vertical terrain but has the added versatility of a softer shoe to work well on slabs. Other flat-soled shoes that work well on vertical terrain were the La Sportiva Finale and the Five Ten Anasazi LV. All of these shoes are great for all-day climbing, trad climbing, and multi-pitch endeavors.
As a crack climbing shoe, the Libra performed fairly well. This was especially true in areas where the cracks are incipient and edging, and face climbing skills are a necessity. For this kind of climbing, like the multi-pitch routes found in Tuolumne Meadows, the Libra is a good shoe to have in your quiver. All that said, the stiffness of the sole can inhibit jamming on continuous splitters, like those found in the Utah desert, so if that is your jam, we would suggest a softer shoe like the Five Ten Anasazi LV.
For pockets and steep climbing, the Libra may not be the best tool for the job. These shoes are not designed with a downturn, so toeing in on steep terrain can be difficult. The Acro is a much better option for pockets and steep climbing, as they are designed for this kind of terrain. We also like the Mad Rock Lotus and the La Sportiva Solution for more aggressive styles of climbing.
Ease of Use
The Libra is reasonably easy to use; their lace-up design takes a bit more time but allows for lots of adjustability along the length of the foot. The laces don't get stuck and move easily through the leather eyelets, which helps with tightening the toe box. Overall, these are easy to use as far as a lace-up model goes.
The Libra is best for multi-pitch climbing and climbing on vertical terrain. They excel on small edges, rather than smears. For slab climbing and lower-angle terrain, they are not the best option since they are stiff underfoot. This stiffness makes them less versatile in general since it takes away their ability to toe in on steep terrain and cam well into cracks.
For $110, the Libra is a shoe of excellent value. Both of the Butora models we tested are well-made and durable. The rubber is sticky, and we saw no signs of delamination on either model. The Libra is a good introductory and all-around shoe, though the stiffness may be a bit off-putting for new climbers. For a shoe that will last a long time and not break the bank, the Libra is a good choice.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Butora Libra, especially by their technical prowess. These shoes are comfortable and well-padded in the tongue and have a good range of adjustability in their lacing system. Their stiffness makes them an edging machine, but also makes them fall short in terms of sensitivity. If you plan to climb on mostly vertical terrain, the Libra is a good shoe for you!
— Jane Jackson
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