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La Sportiva Solution - Women's Review

The Solution gets our Top Pick for steep climbing and bouldering for their aggressive shape, precision, and comfortable design.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $180 List | $180.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good for steep climbing, break in well, conforms to foot shape, comfortable, aggressive shape
Cons:  Expensive, lacks versatility
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 29, 2018
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Sensitivity - 25% 9
  • Edging - 15% 7
  • Cracks - 15% 7
  • Pockets - 15% 10
  • Ease of Use - 5% 9

Our Verdict

It's always a gamble when a favorite product gets redesigned, but the La Sportiva Solution has been revamped for the better in our opinion. The women's specific model is not pink, which we appreciate, and has a new Velcro tap that reminds us of Tron. Besides the flashy new looks, the new Solution has the same aggressive shape that we loved. The shoes combine comfort with performance, especially on steep terrain. Best for pockets, small foot holds and toeing in on steep terrain, these are bouldering and sport climbing machines. By their overall appearance (and price tag!) you can tell these shoes are designed for a specific use. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a one-shoe-quiver model, as the Solution is a bit too specific for that. It will, however, give you the extra oomph to level up on your next sport climbing trip.


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

Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Solution vs. the Old Version
The Solution has been updated with not only a new appearance but also a refined 3D heel cup for more precise heel hooking. These new shoes also have a newly revamped locking harness system that hugs the foot and a new closure system that is more durable and allows for the shoes to be tightened even more, if that's what it takes. These new attributes come at a price, though, and the newest version of the Solution costs $180, as opposed to the still hefty $175 price tag of the old model.

The Solution is yet another Italian masterpiece from La Sportiva. This aggressively downturned shoe is designed for steep sport climbing and bouldering, but somehow still remains comfortable.

Performance Comparison


Testing out the Solutions on the super steep Leaning Tower in Yosemite Valley.
Testing out the Solutions on the super steep Leaning Tower in Yosemite Valley.

Comfort


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, 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 updated women's model has the same women's specific PD 75 last, allowing it to fit narrower feet better than the men's model.

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.

The new vs. the old La Sportiva Solution. We tested these pairs side by side to make sure we could note all the differences and similarities between these two models.
The new vs. the old La Sportiva Solution. We tested these pairs side by side to make sure we could note all the differences and similarities between these two models.

Sensitivity


Initially, we did not expect a shoe this aggressive to be so sensitive. The updated Solution fits very similarly to the old model, but we found that the toe is even more pointed, making it difficult to get our big toes all the way to the front of the shoe. This took away from the overall sensitivity of the shoe for us, but we found it to become less of an issue over time as the shoes broke in.


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. In the past, there had been complaints about the Solution's heel cup and its ability to heel hook successfully. We were excited to see that La Sportiva has worked to improve this aspect of the Solution with the newly designed 3D Heel Cup, which we found to improve performance overall.

Testing the heel hooking capabilities of the new Solution.
Testing the heel hooking capabilities of the new Solution.

Edging


Compared to our two favorite edging shoes, the Solutions fall a little behind - but not by much.


The Solutions lacked the stiff midsole to keep us standing on minuscule 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.

The Solutions have a very pointy toe  which works well on steep terrain  but less so on the vertical.
The Solutions have a very pointy toe, which works well on steep terrain, but less so on the vertical.

Crack Climbing


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 suitable for toe hooks or the occasional foot jam that may be encountered on a boulder problem. Perhaps if they are sized large, they would work ok in cracks, but for the most part, these shoes are not designed for jamming. If you are looking for a shoe to wear on multi-pitch routes and for crack climbs, look for a shoe with a flatter shape and a stiffer midsole.

Pockets


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.

Hidden amongst the trees are a brand new pair of Solutions!
Hidden amongst the trees are a brand new pair of Solutions!

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.


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 new Solution also has an improved locking harness system and a fast lacing system that is more durable and, in our opinion, looks better (because style matters!).

Hard to get on at first  the Solutions break in to be a comfortable pair of shoes.
Hard to get on at first, the Solutions break in to be a comfortable pair of shoes.

Value


The Solution is one of the most expensive climbing shoes in our review. Their price tag is significant, 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.

Toeing in with the Solution. The downturn shape helps your foot grab small holds.
Toeing in with the Solution. The downturn shape helps your foot grab small holds.

Conclusion


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 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