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Hands-on Gear Review
La Sportiva Solution - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, specialized
Bottom line: The Solution is an award winner that combines an aggressive shape with incredible sensitivity.
Weight (Per Pair, size 37): 1.04 lb
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Time and time again, La Sportiva has delivered incredible climbing shoes. This stands true for the Solution. This sports car of a climbing shoe is aggressively shaped with a notable downturn and a Velcro slipper fit. Fortunately, it's incredibly comfortable and still rocks it on steep terrain. These features make the Solution our Top Pick for bouldering and sport climbing. Just by looking at the Solution, you can tell it is a designed for a specific use; with that sentiment in mind, it isn't helpful on long alpine days or crack climbs. It will, however, give you the extra oomph on your next overhanging sport project.
RELATED REVIEW: The 11 Best Climbing Shoes For Women
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The La Sportiva Solution is yet another Italian masterpiece from La Sportiva. This aggressively downturned shoe is designed for steep sport climbing and bouldering, yet somehow manages to be a comfortable powerhouse.
How can a shoe this dramatically downturned be comfortable? We're mystified, we'll admit it. The toes are curled into the front of the shoe, positioned for power, but somehow don't feel cramped. The rest of the shoe wraps the foot and cradles the arch snugly. The synthetic, stretchy tongue encloses the top of the foot, and the unique lock harness crisscrosses across the top for a quick, adjustable fastening.
It should be noted that this model, much like other aggressively shaped shoes out there like the Mad Rock Lotus or the La Sportiva Kataki, take some time to break in. At first, their shape can feel very weird on an unconditioned foot, but over time the shoe will mold to your unique foot shape. The women's model, besides being pink, is built on a women's specific PD 75 last, allowing it to fit narrower feet better than the men's model, which better accommodates a wider foot.
The one complaint we have about the Solution: some testers have reported foot problems after wearing it on an almost daily basis. One woman compared the Solutions to barefoot shoes, noting that they are so soft and so extremely downturned that you need to let your feet become accustomed to them before wearing them all the time. One way to do this is to have a separate (maybe cheaper!) pair for your warm-ups, and then you can bust out this weapon for the projects. We have also had many testers use and love these shoes with no problems whatsoever, but more than one woman has reported back that they had issues with them after a while, so be aware until you learn how they work and feel for you.
Initially, we did not expect a shoe this aggressive to be so sensitive. The way the toes fit into the end of the shoe allows them to push into the front, increasing sensitivity, allowing us to feel everything.
The sole of the Solution also feels soft rather than stiff, and it molds and conforms to the foot as well as to the wall, allowing for maximum sensation. We were also surprised by how sensitive the Mad Rock Lotus were as they have a similar toe box to the Solution. For an even more sensitive, but still downturned shoe, we love the Kataki which we found to be ace regarding sensitivity and precision footwork.
Compared to our two favorite edging shoes, the La Sportiva Miura - Women's and the La Sportiva Kataki, the Solutions fall a little behind - but not by much.
The Solutions lacked the stiff midsole to keep us standing on miniscule footholds, but the shape of the toe and the downturn makes any hold magically turn into a decent foothold. The sole of these shoes is coated with 4 mm of Vibram XS Grip rubber, which is sticky and confidence-inspiring on small features. The midsole is thinner than the Miura, with 0.9 mm of Laspoflex (the Miura has 1.1 mm), and it is only in the toe, not throughout the length of the shoe. Laspoflex is an ultra-thin synthetic fiber-laminate that adds rigidity to the shoe. The Solution only has the laminate in the front of the shoe, which allows it to mold, bend, and squish.
These award-winners are not meant for crack climbing.
Their fit and shape are far too aggressive to feel comfortable jamming into cracks, though the rubber on the top of the toe box is good for toe hooks or the occasional foot jam that may be encountered on a boulder problem. If you are looking for a shoe to wear on multi-pitch routes and for crack climbs, we highly recommend the Five Ten Anasazi LV- Women's, which takes our Top Pick award in that category, or the Butora Libra. Both of these shoes have a flat shape and a stiffer midsole and can handle foot-jamming like a boss.
This is the most dramatically downturned shoe in our review and is designed for steep pockets, edges, and technical terrain. It toes into pockets with ease and helps hold you into overhanging faces.
When the terrain gets past vertical, these are the shoes you want on your feet. A less expensive, but good option for an aggressive shoe like the Solution is the Mad Rock Lotus, which also does great on steep terrain. For vertical and less-than-vertical terrain, the Miuras were our top performer.
Ease of Use
The lock harness on the Solution is not only incredibly quick and easy to fasten, but it also allows for customizable tightness that keeps the shoe fitting and performing well.
Additionally, the tabs on the heel make for easy clipping to your harness and are great pull loops for putting on these (probably tight) shoes. It should be noted that the Solutions are pretty hard to get on at first since they take some time to stretch out. This detracts from their ease of use just a little bit.
The Solution is a specialty tool and is not an ideal choice for those looking for an all-around shoe. These are a great option if you're looking to up your game and need an extra boost for your upcoming projects. They are tight fitting, aggressively shaped, and expensive so it's good to know what you're getting into when purchasing these magic slippers. This is not the shoe to wear if you prefer moderate multi-pitch climbs or if you are just starting out. If you are looking to buy your first pair of climbing shoes, take a look at the Evolv Kira, which still have some downturn, but are much more comfortable for those starting out. The La Sportiva Finale - Women's or Black Diamond Momentum - Women's are also a decent option for a first shoe since they are very flat in shape and moderately comfortable.
For $175, the Solution is the most expensive climbing shoe in our review. This is not an insignificant number, and for most people will require some thought before purchasing. But, just like we mentioned with the Miura, if you think regarding "Cents per Send," these shoes could be a good value. Even if you have to spend a lot of money on climbing shoes at the outset, if they help you climb better, then you only really spend your spare change for every climb where you succeed. Is it worth a few cents to put some hard pitches down? We think so.
If you are looking for an aggressive shoe but don't have quite that much money to shell out, check out our Best Buy Winner, the Mad Rock Lotus. We love the Lotus; in fact, they scored third overall, and are $45 less than the Solutions.
The La Sportiva Solutions fit and climb like no other. They manage to be amazingly comfortable and dramatically aggressive. The Solutions position your foot for powerful edging, pulling, and smearing, and can help bring your climbing to the next level. The only real downside is that it's specialized for specific terrain, and it is not an all-around shoe to cross over to a variety of styles of climbing. If you need a more versatile shoe, we recommend the La Sportiva Miura. However, if you love the steep stuff, then you will want to try the Solution. It wins our Top Pick award for the best shoe for sport climbing and bouldering.
— Jane Jackson
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