La Sportiva Skwama - Women's Review
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
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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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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