Hands-on Gear Review

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.
By: Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 29, 2018
Price:  $180 List  |  $180.00 at REI
Pros:  Good for steep climbing, break in well, conforms to foot shape, comfortable, aggressive shape
Cons:  Expensive, lacks versatility
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Sensitivity - 25% 8
  • Edging - 15% 7
  • Cracks - 15% 7
  • Pockets - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 5% 7
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Top Pick Award

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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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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 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 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. 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.

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 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 foot hold. 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, 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.

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. A less expensive, but good option for an aggressive shoe like the Solution is the Mad Rock Lotus, which also does excellent on steep terrain. For vertical and less-than-vertical terrain, the Miuras were our top performer.

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 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.

Best Applications


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. The Solution 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.

Value


For $180, 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.

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.

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.

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 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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