Hands-on Gear Review

Butora Brava Review

Best Buy Award
Price:  $45 List | $45.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Soft microfiber upper, EVA heel cushion, Affordable, lightweight
Cons:  Thin toe rand, poor at edging
Bottom line:  The Brava is a comfortable shoe, great for beginners and casual climbers alike, with good performance at a great price.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Butora

Our Verdict

When Butora entered the climbing shoe market, many dismissed them, thinking there was no need for another player in the shoe game. But when people saw how well they performed for the price, that doubt faded fast. The Butora Brava is no exception. At $45, this shoe is a bargain and offers excellent features that make this shoe our pick for Best Buy. Although the shoe is narrow and relatively low volume, a wide hook and loop opening makes it easy to get in and out of. The heel strap allows the kids to size up enough to give some growing room, though the strap isn't quite as useful as the one on the Evolv Venga or the Mad Rock Mad Monkey. A small wedge of EVA under the heels helps with cushioning for kids who tend to play at the base all day in their shoes.

Any kids entering the sport will love this shoe (especially those with narrow feet). The proprietary Neo Friction Fuse rubber is sticky and holds its edge pretty well; anyone looking for top performance may eventually want a stiffer shoe like the Black Diamond Momentum - Kids. For better edging, the La Sportiva Maverink is a more aggressive, down-turned shoe for bouldering.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Adam Paashaus

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 16, 2018

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As a whole, we like this shoe for its fit and wearability. The performance of Butora Brava is only fair, but few shoes in the kid's market have excellent performance. Instead, comfort tends to be the priority. We did also find some areas where this shoe outshines others in the category.

Performance Comparison


The Butora worked great high up on the moderate walls of Linville Gorge  NC.
The Butora worked great high up on the moderate walls of Linville Gorge, NC.

Edging


Kids climbing shoes are not known to be excellent at edging, and that rings true with these shoes. The Brava is a soft, flexible shoe that has a hard time standing on small footholds. They would be much better at edging if they were slightly downturned and a bit stiffer. But let's be honest, for the majority of routes most kids are doing, these shoes will perform just fine. The kids who crush and start to seek out harder thin face routes should look towards the Black Diamond Momentum - Kids, or the La Sportiva Maverink - Kids.

Here you can see the Evolv is flat  while the Butora has an up-turn  making Evolv the better edging shoe.
Here you can see the Evolv is flat, while the Butora has an up-turn, making Evolv the better edging shoe.

Crack Climbing


This shoe is a lot like the adult La Sportiva Mythos in that it excels at moderate crack climbing. It's got a symmetric narrow flat last with low profile toe box that fits well into cracks "hand size" and down. A sticky rubber toe rand helps to protect the toes and add extra friction, which naturally provides more comfort and confidence in the crack climbing performance of the shoes. The NEO Friction Fuse rubber also has great friction in cracks and has no issues on moderate terrain. Even though it's an extremely flexible shoe, it is quite rigid across the width of the toe box and does a good job of protecting the foot because it retains quite a bit of its flat shape in cracks, allowing the feet to stay in their natural position.

A little mix of moderate face and crack pose no problems for the Brava.
A little mix of moderate face and crack pose no problems for the Brava.

Pockets


The narrow, slender shape of the to box on the Brava helps make this shoe decent at climbing pockets, but if the shoe were a bit stiffer, it would be appreciated. The flexible sole that hurts the performance on small edges is also what prevents this shoe from being better on pockets, but the shape and volume of the shoe are at least working in their favor. However, when the climbing steepens, the performance suffers greatly.

Sensitivity


The rigid forefoot that helps with crack climbing, works against this shoe when it comes to sensitivity. Even though it's super light and flexible, that lateral stiffness makes it difficult to really feel the rock. But don't feel that just because it's not a sensitive shoe, that you can't smear on small holds. This shoe smears and slab climbs extremely well despite the lack of sensitivity. As the kids start to learn about sensitivity in shoes, they can check out what the market has to offer. Out of those we tested, the La Sportiva Maverink, with its No-Edge technology, was by far the most sensitive and responsive but takes a little time to get used to. The Evolv Venga also performs well when you need a sensitive shoe that doesn't cost $120. In all fairness to the Maverink, the $120 price tag is totally worth it.

The Brava makes a great long multi-pitch climbing shoe  not once any complaining or foot discomfort.
The Brava makes a great long multi-pitch climbing shoe, not once any complaining or foot discomfort.

Comfort


The Brava was one of the most comfortable shoes we tested. While it's more narrow, and lower volume than the others, it is closer to the right amount of space for the average kid's foot. All the other shoes had more dead space over the toes. Unless you need a particularly wide shoe, this should fit great. The symmetric, flat last, surrounded by a soft microfiber and a wide hook and loop strap combine to make this a super comfortable option. We also found the EVA wedge under the heel did a good job of giving a little cushion which is nice, and it doesn't add to the weight; quite the contrary, it's actually the lightest shoe in our test.

We liked the EVA wedge under the heel for the added cushion.
We liked the EVA wedge under the heel for the added cushion.

The microfiber upper, doesn't breathe very well but that's to be expected in most kids climbing shoes, other than the Black Diamond Momentum - Kids with its knit upper.

The Brava works great in any casual climbing situation  from a multi-pitch 5.8  to a fun day at the climbing gym.
The Brava works great in any casual climbing situation, from a multi-pitch 5.8, to a fun day at the climbing gym.

Best Applications


This is a great all around shoe that will perform well for a wide range of kids, whether they are veterans to the local crag or it's their first time to the gym. The Brava also makes a great shoe for learning those crack climbing skills that will open up options as they grow into the sport.

Stemming her way up the last corner pitch.
Stemming her way up the last corner pitch.

Value


We named the Butora Brava, Best Buy because it is an all-around great shoe, loaded with good attributes for only $45 - a steal of a deal. Even with their adult models, Butora does a good job of bringing a good competitive product at a lower price. A thicker rubber toe rand would have been a nice addition for better durability, but we haven't had any issues yet. However, a new climber with sloppy footwork will wear through the average toe rand faster than green grass through a goose. The only shoe in our test that will hold up to poor footwork is the Evolve Venga, with its VTR3D variable thickness toe rand.

Scoping out the steep finish.
Scoping out the steep finish.

Conclusion


The Butora Brava is worthy of a close look. This kids shoe has some great things going for it. Sure, it may not be the highest performer, but it makes up for it with its incredible value and having a few great features like the adjustable heel strap, the EVA heel wedge, and the wide hook and loop opening. A soft, almost sock-like, microfiber upper and a flat neutral last also make this shoe super comfortable. If top performance is a priority, we recommend looking toward the La Sportiva Maverink. The Maverink is the best choice for advanced climbers looking for a shoe that excels on steep sport climbs and boulders due to the semi-aggressive downturn P3 system and the No Edge technology; at $120, they are on an entirely different playing field. However, the Evolv Venga, or the Black Diamond Momentum - Kids would perform at a moderately higher level, but at a more comparable price.

Adam Paashaus

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Most recent review: May 16, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
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