La Sportiva Tarantulace - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, easy to adjust, comfortable, soft leather upper
Cons: Not great for smearing, soles lack stickiness of more expensive models
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With high scores in comfort and edging, and an affordable price tag, the La Sportiva Tarantulace provides great value and is one of our top recommendations for a great introductory shoe.
Though they are barely downturned to the naked eye, the Tarantulace provides just enough shape to hold up the arch of the foot and cradle the heel. The shoes are highly adjustable, with a soft, leather tongue (with a synthetic lining) and wide laces that don't cut into the top of the foot when tightening the shoes down. The heel comes up high enough to feel secure in the back, and we never felt like our foot was about to come out of these shoes, unlike some other beginner-style shoes. The best part about these shoes in terms of comfort is the soft leather uppers. Our feet enjoyed being put into these shoes because the inside was so soft and forgiving.
It should be noted that because these shoes are unlined, they will stretch out over time. This means that you may need to size down a half size to make sure they maintain a decent fit in the long term. If sized properly, the Tarantulace will work well for anything from long multi-pitch climbs and after-work gym sessions. If sized super tight, these shoes will fit like a glove and may even be appropriate for harder climbing and even bouldering.
We tested the Tarantulace in the climbing gym and out in the boulders for the most part. Slippery volumes and tiny, polished granite crystals in the Buttermilks were the perfect test ground to assess this shoe's sensitivity. Compared to the more performance-oriented models in this review, the La Sportiva Tarantulace obviously falls a bit short. That being said, considering they are a beginner shoe designed with comfort in mind, their sensitivity is adequate for most introductory climbers.
The shape of the toe box is subtly tapered to provide a precise surface for smearing and edging. Though be warned, the Frixion RS rubber takes some time to break-in, and we found these shoes to be fairly slippery on smears at first. Glassy footholds in the Buttermilks were too polished for the Frixion RS rubber to engage with. When we switched to other, more technical shoes, we were able to stand on these terrible holds.
As mentioned above, the La Sportiva Tarantulace has a very subtle downturn that allows room for a beginner climber to progress toward more technical climbing throughout the life of the shoe. The downturned shape and fairly still sole makes the Tarantulace a fairly solid edging shoe. We found them to excel more at vertical and less-than-vertical technical edging than lower-angle slabby smearing. We were definitely impressed by some of the tiny granite crystals that these shoes were able to engage on.
Though the toe box is not tapered nor very aggressively precise, the Tarantulace still holds its own on small edges. If anything, learning to climb in these shoes will help you focus on precision and proper weighting of the feet, which will inevitably make you a better climber in the long run.
Their relatively flat shape, stiff sole, laces, and leather uppers make the Tarantulace a totally acceptable crack climbing shoe. If fitted properly, the toe box should be roomy enough not to crush your toes, which helps a lot when jamming one's feet into thin hand cracks.
If you're planning on spending a month in Indian Creek honing your crack climbing skills, then the leather uppers and laces may see some significant wear and tear. But, if longer, moderate multi-pitch trad climbs are what you seek, then the Tarantulace will work just fine. The stiffness underfoot will provide a stable base for low-angle jamming, and their arch support will help provide comfort and support on long days. With a softer shoe, long multi-pitches can start to feel like a living nightmare where one must rip their shoes off at each belay as quickly as possible. In the Tarantulace, though, the supportive arch and soft leather upper kept us from having to bail from foot pain.
If you've ever heard the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none," you will understand why it applies to the La Sportiva Tarantulace. These shoes are a great all-around shoe, with their fairly flat sole, stiff midsole, and extremely subtle downturn. That said, the toe box is also roomy enough to keep a newer climber excited about climbing and not in pain. This means that the toe box is not necessarily designed to be crammed into tiny pockets.
Depending on the style of pocket climbing, the Tarantulace will work just fine, but don't expect it to excel on steep, technical pocket climbing. It will work well on vertical terrain but might start to fall short once the terrain gets more technical.
Ease of Use
The Tarantulace totes La Sportiva's quick-pull lacing system that allows you to find a snug, highly adjustable fit with ease. The speed lace design allows you to get the shoes on quickly without fiddling with each individual lace. When pulled tight, the shoe uniformly tightens and conforms well to the shape of your foot. There is also no need to fiddle with each lace toward the toe of the shoe - the speed lace design allows you to pull the laces tight from the top.
We also liked the loose and highly maneuverable tongue, which helps find a snug and comfortable fit once the shoe is on. Both of these aspects of the shoe's design make it one of the highest-ranked lace-up models in this review.
Compared to almost every other shoe in this review, the La Sportiva Tarantulace is one of the most affordable climbing shoes on the market. Though they are simple in design and features and do not have the stickiest rubber compound out there, these shoes are of great value, especially for the beginner climber. It can be hard to commit to spending a ton of money on climbing shoes when starting out in the sport, and the Tarantulace provides a great option for beginners.
The La Sportiva Tarantulace is a great budget option for beginner climbers. These shoes work great as a gym shoe, multi-pitch trad shoe, and a comfortable all-day shoe for sport climbing and cragging. Its design is simple. A slight downturn, a moderately stiff midsole, and an easy-to-use lacing system combine to make for a solid all-arounder. We were impressed by the Tarantulace's edging abilities, though we were a bit disappointed by its smearing abilities. After some time breaking in the stiff rubber soles, the shoes began to feel more comfortable on all different types of rock and climbing styles.
— Jane Jackson