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La Sportiva Skwama - Women's Review

The Skwama are impressive in many realms, combining comfort with a high performance fit.
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Price:  $165 List | $164.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatile
Cons:  Stretch out quickly, costly, lack support
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 30, 2018
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Sensitivity - 25% 8
  • Edging - 15% 5
  • Cracks - 15% 7
  • Pockets - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8

The Skinny

The La Sportiva Skwama is one of our favorite shoes we tested this past year. Though they stretch out quite a lot and are comfortable to begin with, 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 these shoes 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 shoe and bouldering shoe.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The new 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



Comfort


The Skwama is one of the most comfortable pairs 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. The La Sportiva Solution compares in this way — as both shoes mold to the foot over time, though the Skwama stretches out way more.

The Skwama are easy to put on and take off - perfect for sport climbing.
The Skwama are easy to put on and take off - perfect for sport climbing.

Only the Five Ten Anasazi compares to the Skwama in our metric comparisons, with both shoes scoring a 9 out of 10. Both of these shoes have a Velcro closure and a relatively soft shape which adds to the overall comfort.

Sensitivity


Though these shoes are not necessarily designed for precision footwork, the Skwama excel in this metric after wearing them for a significant amount of time. 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 (which is similar to that of the Solution), the Skwamas will stick to any foot. We tested on the slippery, smeary limestone of Tensleep Canyon and found them to miraculously stick to even the greasiest looking foot holds. They are also useful on the ubiquitous granite smears of Yosemite Valley. Overall, the Skwamas held their own next to our beloved Solutions and Katakis in both limestone and granite venues.

Though they are comfortable  the Skwamas have a downturned shape that help with toeing in on steep terrain and standing on small holds.
Though they are comfortable, the Skwamas have a downturned shape that help with toeing in on steep terrain and standing on small holds.

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; no shoe came close to the Kataki in terms of edging power. The P3 technology of the Skwama does make the shoe hold its downturned shape, which allows it to perform much better on small edges and vertical terrain than other soft shoes, like the Five Ten Anasazi or the Evolv Kira. For slabs and lower-angle projects, a shoe with a bit more support underfoot will likely be more comfortable.

The stretchy tongue of the Skwama makes them adjustable and form fitting.
The stretchy tongue of the Skwama makes them adjustable and form fitting.

Crack Climbing


We were pleasantly surprised with the Skwama's performance on cracks. Perhaps not our first choice for hand cracks and long days of moderate trad climbing because of their aggressive shape, the Skwama's 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 doesn't get in the way in hand cracks. Though these did not win our Top Pick for Crack Climbing award (they were beat out by the Five Ten Anasazi), the Skwama performed surprisingly well in the granite cracks of Yosemite. These shoes strike a wonderful balance between a comfy slipper, ideal for crack climbing, and an aggressive shoe designed for steep, techy sport climbing.

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. Both the La Sportiva Solution and the Mad Rock Lotus ranked similarly in this category. What the Skwama provides that these other models do not, though, is comfort. 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.

The Skwamas felt right at home on the steep  pockety rock found in Tensleep Canyon.
The Skwamas felt right at home on the steep, pockety rock found in Tensleep Canyon.

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. Unlike the Solution, the Skwama is much easier to put on, mostly because it lacks the stiffness of the Solution, while still providing support and an aggressive shape.

The Skwamas have a lot of rubber - on the heel cup  on the toe box  and underfoot.
The Skwamas have a lot of rubber - on the heel cup, on the toe box, and underfoot.

Best Applications


These shoes are high performers in almost all realms of climbing. From crack climbing to steep pockets, the Skwamas will keep you on your toes. Where they fall short is in precision edging and slabs. For these styles of climbing, we preferred a stiffer shoe, like the La Sportiva Kataki. For a comfortable, yet high performing shoe, the La Sportiva Skwama is one of our go-to pairs. They are easy to slide off in between goes, making them great for sport climbing and bouldering as well.

Value


Like most La Sportiva models, the Skwama come at a fairly high price. Sold online for $165, they compare to the La Sportiva Miura in price. They are less expensive than the Solution, making them a good option for a similar quality shoe at a slightly lower price.

The Skwamas kept us on our toes in Tensleep!
The Skwamas kept us on our toes in Tensleep!

Conclusion


If the Skwama were to receive an award, it would be for the most comfortable, technical, and well-rounded shoe out there. These shoes are 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've taken them to. We found them to stretch out a bit over time, so make sure to downsize a half size or so if you want them to have a performance fit. Otherwise, they are a great, comfortable all-day shoe for multi-pitch sport climbs.


Jane Jackson