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La Sportiva Skwama - Women's Review

An impressive shoe in many realms, combining comfort with a high-performance fit
la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review
Credit: La Sportiva
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $199 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatile
Cons:  Stretch out quickly, costly, lacks support
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Whitney Clark ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2022
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 20
  • Comfort - 25% 9.0
  • Sensitivity - 25% 9.0
  • Edging - 15% 7.0
  • Cracks - 15% 9.0
  • Pockets - 15% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 5% 9.0

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Skwama is one of our favorite shoes. Though they can stretch out quite a bit, these shoes manage to perform at a high level while still providing comfort. The simple Velcro strap holds your foot in place, and the stretchy cuff makes them easy to get on and off. The Skwama holds the foot in an aggressive shape without crunching toes or cutting into heels. On technical cracks, smeary feet, and pockets, the La Sportiva Skwamas really shine. Since they are so comfortable and easy to put on and take off, they also make for a great cragging and bouldering shoe. We've worn the Skwamas on all types of climbing — from crack climbing to steep pockets, the Skwamas will keep you on your toes. Their impressive, consistent performance in many different styles earns them our Top Pick for Versatility Award.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileGreat edging shoe, precise, versatileGreat edging capabilities, excels on thin cracks, great for multi-pitchingInexpensive, comfortable, easy to get on and offInexpensive, easy to adjust, comfortable, soft leather upper
Cons Stretch out quickly, costly, lacks supportSpecific shape can cause discomfort for some, expensiveExpensive, leather uppers wear outLacks stiffness, not designed for high-performance climbingNot great for smearing, rubber lacks the stickiness of more expensive models
Bottom Line An impressive shoe in many realms, combining comfort with a high-performance fitA technical climbing powerhouse, perfect for crimpy limestone or long granite free climbsThis is a do-it-all workhorse that excels in all aspects of climbing, from difficult cracks to lower angle and techy face climbsThis shoe is a reasonably priced and very comfortable option great for beginner climbersA great option for beginners, these shoes are comfortable and easy to use
Rating Categories La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Miura VS La Sportiva Katana... Five Ten Kirigami -... La Sportiva Tarantu...
Comfort (25%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Sensitivity (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
Edging (15%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
4.0
7.0
Cracks (15%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Pockets (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
4.0
4.0
Ease of Use (5%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Specs La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Miura VS La Sportiva Katana... Five Ten Kirigami -... La Sportiva Tarantu...
Style Velcro Velcro Lace Velcro Lace
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 0.95 lb 0.94 lb 1.09 lb 0.99 lb 0.97 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical Low Asymmetry Low Asymmetry
Upper Leather/Microfiber Leather Microfiber/leather Synthetic Leather, microfiber
Lining Unlined Dentex 1.1 mm full-length LaspoFlex with P3 system Synthetic Unlined
Sole Rubber Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 4 mm thick Vibram® XS Edge rubber Stealth C4 Frixion RS

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Skwama from La Sportiva combines comfort with performance in this elegant, technical slipper. The Skwama is great for smearing, steep climbing, and even crack climbing, making it an excellent choice for high-level sport and trad climbing.

Performance Comparison


la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - the skwamas kept us on our toes in tensleep.
The Skwamas kept us on our toes in Tensleep.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Comfort


The Skwama is one of the most comfortable shoes we tested. Many of the shoes that compare to these in terms of comfort cater to beginners, but the Skwama is a high-performance shoe that delivers the comfort of a slipper.


At first, the shape of the Skwama can be hard to get used to, as they are both soft and downturned. This combination can make the arch of the foot feel a bit strange at first, but once these shoes break in, they fit like a glove. With that in mind, during testing, these shoes stretched out more than most La Sportiva models. We suggest downsizing at least a half size if you are looking for a performance fit. Otherwise, size them regularly and expect a very comfortable shoe once the break-in period passes.

la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - the skwama are easy to put on and take off--perfect for sport...
The Skwama are easy to put on and take off--perfect for sport climbing.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Sensitivity


We found the Skwama to be some of the most sensitive and precise climbing kicks out there. From small edges to smears, they stick to almost any foothold you are willing to try. Initially, we found there to be a lot of rubber right at the toe, which detracted from their sensitivity at first. But, after wearing down this pointy toe, the Skwamas will stick to any foothold.


We tested on the slippery, smeary limestone of Tensleep Canyon and found them to miraculously stick to even the greasiest-looking footholds. They are also useful on the ubiquitous granite smears of Yosemite Valley. Overall, the Skwamas held their own next to other beloved Sportiva models in both limestone and granite venues.

la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - testing edging capabilities of the la sportiva skwama's on the...
Testing edging capabilities of the La Sportiva Skwama's on the granite boulders of Yosemite Valley
Credit: Will Stanhope

Edging


When it comes to edging, the Skwama is a touch underwhelming. These slippers lack the stiffness and support underfoot to really be considered an edging shoe.


The P3 technology of the Skwama makes the shoe hold its downturned shape, allowing it to perform much better on small edges and vertical terrain than other soft shoes. Edges and small footholds on steep terrain, where there is less weight on the foot, were areas where the Skwama excelled. But on slabs and lower-angle routes, a shoe with a bit more support underfoot will likely be more comfortable.

la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - the stretchy tongue of the skwama makes them adjustable and form...
The stretchy tongue of the Skwama makes them adjustable and form fitting.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Crack Climbing


We were pleasantly surprised with the Skwama's performance on cracks. Because of their aggressive shape, they're not our first choice for hand cracks and long days of moderate trad climbing, but the Skwamas are a good option for harder cracks. Their narrow profile and toe box allow them to fit into small cracks with ease, while the single Velcro closure higher on the foot doesn't get in the way in hand cracks.


The Skwama performed surprisingly well on the granite cracks of Yosemite and alpine wonderland of the Bugaboos. These shoes strike a wonderful balance between a comfy slipper ideal for crack climbing, and an aggressive shoe designed for steep, techy sport climbing.

la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - who said techy shoes were just for cragging? putting the la sportiva...
Who said techy shoes were just for cragging? Putting the La Sportiva Skwama to the test on cracks in the Bugaboos.
Credit: Will Stanhope

Pockets


The Skwama was one of our favorite shoes for the steep, pockety limestone that abounds in Tensleep Canyon. Right out of the box, when the rubber felt a little insensitive for edging and small holds, the Skwamas were able to hold their own in the smallest of pockets. The shape of the toe box makes for a precision tool that can fit into small pockets with ease. Their stickiness and soft midsole allow them to ease into smears and tiny divots in a way that was surprisingly confidence-inspiring.


Additionally, the Skwamas provide technical mastery in a comfortable package. Typically, a downturned, aggressive shoe like this would take time to break in, but the Skwama felt great right out of the box. So much so that we suggest downsizing, since they stretch out with use.

la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - the skwamas felt right at home on the steep, pockety rock found in...
The Skwamas felt right at home on the steep, pockety rock found in Tensleep Canyon.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Ease of Use


These shoes are about as easy as it gets to put on and take off. The Skwama's simple Velcro closure and stretchy sleeve make it easy to slide these shoes on and off in between burns on your project.


The loop on the top of the shoe makes them easy to slide on. We also like this loop because it is large enough to slip a finger through easily. The Skwama is very easy to put on because of its soft midsole, but it still provides an aggressive shape that performs well on hard routes.

la sportiva skwama for women climbing shoes review - the skwamas have a lot of rubber on the heel cup, on the toe box...
The Skwamas have a lot of rubber on the heel cup, on the toe box, and underfoot.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Should You Buy the Skwama?


The Skwama is a great option as a go-to for most kinds of climbing, from cracks to steep boulders to sport climbs. We like having these in our fleet as a shoe that will perform well at most any crag. We found them to stretch out a bit over time, so make sure to downsize a half size if you want them to have a performance fit. These are a great, comfortable all-day shoe for multi-pitch sport climbs or a difficult crack project. They're pricey, but because they are such high performers overall, we feel like they're worth the splurge and will deliver the performance you want out of a high-end climbing shoe.

What Other Climbing Shoes Should You Consider?


If you're searching for a shoe in this price range, consider some of the other high-end La Sportiva models. The La Sportiva Solution and the La Sportiva Solution Comp are similar in price, and both shoes excel on steep sport climbing and difficult boulder problems. With their Velcro closure system, they are also easy to slip on and off in between gos on your project. The La Sportiva Miura VS is also an excellent choice for steep climbing with its mildly downturned toe and asymmetrical fit.

Whitney Clark
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