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La Sportiva Skwama - Women's Review

The Skwama are impressive in many realms, combining comfort with a high performance fit.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $170 List | $127.50 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 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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89
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Sensitivity - 25% 9
  • Edging - 15% 7
  • Cracks - 15% 9
  • Pockets - 15% 10
  • Ease of Use - 5% 9

Our Verdict

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. From crack climbing to steep pockets, the Skwamas will keep you on your toes. As you can see, we've worn the Skwamas on all types of climbing. Their impressive, consistent performance in many different styles earns them our Top Pick for Versatility Award.


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Pros Comfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileSensitive, great for edging, supportive, comfortable, versatileComfortable, extremely sensitive, great for smearing and steep climbing, easy to get on and offGood for steep climbing, break in well, conforms to foot shape, comfortable, aggressive shapeGreat edging shoe, precise, versatile
Cons Stretch out quickly, costly, lack supportExpensiveExpensive, No-Edge technology could be an acquired tasteExpensive, lacks versatilitySpecific shape can cause discomfort for some, expensive
Bottom Line The Skwama are impressive in many realms, combining comfort with a high performance fit.The Kataki wins our Editors' Choice Award for their combination of comfort, sensitivity, and edging prowess.If you let them, they may revolutionize your footwork; they'll take some getting used to, but are top notch for steep climbing.The Solution gets our Top Pick for steep climbing and bouldering for their aggressive shape, precision, and comfortable design.A technical climbing powerhouse, perfect for crimpy limestone lines or long granite free climbs.
Rating Categories La Sportiva Skwama - Women's La Sportiva Kataki - Women's La Sportiva Futura - Women's Solution Miura VS
Comfort (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Sensitivity (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Edging (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
Cracks (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
Pockets (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Kataki... La Sportiva Futura... Solution Miura VS
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 1.00 lb 1.08 lb .91 lb 1.06 lb .94 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical High Asymmetry
Upper Leather/Microfiber Suede leather microfiber Leather/ Synthetic Leather/Lorica Leather
Lining Unlined Pacific Unlined HF (heel and toe box only) Dentex
Sole Rubber Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2

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 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.

Sensitivity


The Skwama excels in this metric after wearing them for a significant amount of time. We found these shoes to be some of the most sensitive and precise kicks out there. From small edges to smears, the Skwama sticks to most 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 foot.


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.

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. 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.

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, 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. 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 divets 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.

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. 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.

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.

Value


Like most La Sportiva models, the Skwama comes at a fairly high price. Their price tag lands them in the middle of the typically expensive La Sportiva pack. They fall a bit short in value because they seem to wear out fairly quickly, due to their soft, slipper-like design. But, because they are such high performers overall, this balances itself out.

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