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La Sportiva Finale Review

Decent performance at an affordable price
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $109 List | $109.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price
Cons:  Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 3, 2020
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#23 of 34
  • Edging - 20% 7
  • Cracks - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Pockets - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 7

Our Verdict

Climbing shoes ain't cheap and dedicated climbers can wear through more than a few pairs a year. The cost of all these shoes can quickly become significant. Enter the La Sportiva Finale. These shoes are available at an affordable price and come equipped with a generous 5 mm of Vibram XS Edge rubber for enhanced durability. The combination produces an outstanding value. At the same time, the Finale offers respectable levels of performance across nearly all criteria. There are plenty of premium shoes with more sensitivity and better performance on steep terrain. However, we know of no other rock climbing shoe that provides the same level of performance at such an affordable price.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

For a niche sport, rock climbing has attracted a surprising array of shoe manufacturers. The market has long been dominated by two Italian companies, Scarpa and La Sportiva, but new entrants and smaller companies have continuously tried to disrupt this dominance. One of the ways they've been able to do so is by challenging the popular brands on price.

For this review, we intentionally tried to test products from the upstart competitors with the hope of finding some shoes that could match the performance of the most established manufacturers. After trying more than 34 different models. However, our testers concluded that Scarpa and La Sportiva deserve their popularity because they make some of the best shoes at both premium and bargain prices. Case in point, the La Sportiva Finale.

Performance Comparison


The La Sportiva Finale is priced slightly above the cheapest shoes  but their performance greatly exceeds the budget models.
The La Sportiva Finale is priced slightly above the cheapest shoes, but their performance greatly exceeds the budget models.

Edging


These kicks come equipped with Vibram XS Edge rubber. That's the same rubber as the top-rated Katana Lace, but in a model that's available at a fraction of the cost. The Finale also comes with 5 mm of rubber, which is 1 mm more than the Katana.


Although this reduces sensitivity to some extent, it enhances durability. We believe this is a smart tradeoff for a bargain shoe and makes these an even more attractive choice to beginners who are frustrated about wearing through expensive shoes too quickly.

Like most performance areas  the Finale scored good  but not great  in edging.
Like most performance areas, the Finale scored good, but not great, in edging.

Beyond the rubber, the Finale an interwoven system of colorful rubber at the heel that's reminiscent of the P3 system found on some of La Sportiva's more premium shoes. It's worth noting, however, does not provide the same support or edging performance as this more expensive technology. The Finale's edging performance is still respectable, but just like its price, it's a notch or two lower than the top-shelf models.

The interwoven yellow rubber on the Finale (top) looks vaguely similar to the P3 system on the Solution Comp (bottom). The real P3 system  however  provides a vastly more supportive edging platform.
The interwoven yellow rubber on the Finale (top) looks vaguely similar to the P3 system on the Solution Comp (bottom). The real P3 system, however, provides a vastly more supportive edging platform.

Cracks


The Finale has a couple of features that work in their favor when it comes to cracks. Their neutral sole keeps your foot in a comfortable, relaxed position for torquing foot or toe jams. This design also allows your toes to lay flat, which minimizes the dimensions of the toe box.


It's easier to sneak this low-profile toe into any thin cracks narrower than hand size. Additionally, the lace closure reduces pressure points during foot jams compared to the velcro closures found on many other bargain models.

The neutral sole of the Finale leaves your foot flat and unconstrained  improving comfort during crack jams.
The neutral sole of the Finale leaves your foot flat and unconstrained, improving comfort during crack jams.

Although there is plenty to like, there are also some flaws. The same neutral sole that supplies comfort limits edging power, which can make bouldery crack cruxes more challenging. And while we prefer laces over velcro for crack climbing, the Finale's particularly simple lace system leaves the laces exposed so they are damaged more easily by the rock.

The Finale's ideal environment is terrain that's vertical or less  where it's neutral sole isn't a hindrance.
The Finale's ideal environment is terrain that's vertical or less, where it's neutral sole isn't a hindrance.

Comfort


Most climbing shoes with neutral soles feel comfortable, and the Finale is no exception. The flat sole leaves your foot in a relaxed position, and if sized appropriately, your toes should remain uncurled. This is an ideal position for moderate multi-pitch climbs or any sort of big day that doesn't involve particularly steep or difficult climbing.


The unlined leather upper will also stretch more than a lined or synthetic model, allowing the shoes to stretch and form to your feet over time. Keep this in mind when choosing your size. Our testers believe these shoes match the sizing of most other La Sportiva shoes — they preferred the fit of a pair that was one full size smaller than their ordinary street shoe size.

There is plenty of flex in the soft sole of the La Sportiva Finale.
There is plenty of flex in the soft sole of the La Sportiva Finale.

The Finale lost a couple comfort points, however, because its neutral sole is soft and unsupportive. Less support means that your feet have to work harder when utilizing small holds, which can lead to increased foot fatigue during sustained leads or at the end of a long day. Experienced climbers can probably deal with this, but beginners with less developed foot muscles will likely feel the burn.

Heel hooking is one area where this shoe underperforms. The heel cup seems to have excess space that makes these moves less secure.
Heel hooking is one area where this shoe underperforms. The heel cup seems to have excess space that makes these moves less secure.

Pockets


Pockets and steep terrain is probably the performance area where the Finale does the worst. The toe dimensions are svelte, making it possible to squeeze the toe inside small pockets. However, the neutral sole and thick rubber make it hard to pull your body in on steep terrain or feel the micro features of a pocket.


We're also not huge fans of the heel cup. Our testers complained that it felt loose with empty space on either side. We even observed one shoe pop entirely off our tester's heel while attempting a strenuous heel hook. He switched to a different pair of shoes.

With a hearty 5 mm of Vibram rubber  the Finale sacrifices some sensitivity to enhance durability.
With a hearty 5 mm of Vibram rubber, the Finale sacrifices some sensitivity to enhance durability.

Sensitivity


Being able to feel the rock can boost your confidence when you're standing on tiny holds way above your last piece. Shoe sensitivity, however, usually comes with a cost in the form of a higher price and thinner materials that harm durability. The Finale is designed to have a low price and considerable durability, so its sensitivity is sacrificed to some degree.


The shoes are made with 5 mm of Vibram VS Edge rubber which is more than double the thickness of the most sensitive shoes. Although this reduces sensitivity, the soft sole through the mid-foot counteracts the problem to some extent. Still, these shoes are not particularly sensitive. For beginners, however, this drawback may be worth accepting because the price and durability advantages could save real money until they develop more precise footwork that can slow down the rate at which they wear through shoes.

Value


Although value is not a performance criterion, we know it's an important consideration for many shoppers, especially new climbers who face the prospect of different pieces of expensive climbing gear. The Finale is not the cheapest shoe on the market, but they do provide considerable savings over many premium models. We also believe the Finale offers considerable performance benefits over its more affordable rivals. All things considered, we've concluded that they present an excellent value as a durable shoe that is well-suited for beginners or casual climbers who seek decent performance at an affordable price.

The lace-up closure supplies lots of adjustability for a precise fit. However  the laces are left very exposed to getting damaged while crack climbing.
The lace-up closure supplies lots of adjustability for a precise fit. However, the laces are left very exposed to getting damaged while crack climbing.

The hard part then becomes whether it's a better choice to shell out for a new pair of these shoes or save a little money and resole a pair you already have. For experienced climbers who have other shoes, they can wear while they wait for a resole, we think that option may be the best. Less experienced folks, however, would probably be better served with a new pair of Finales that would broaden their footwear knowledge and save them from a forced break from climbing.

Bargain shoppers have a tough choice between an affordable shoe like the Finale or resoling a premium pair. We recommend impatient folks with limited shoe quivers go with the Finales.
Bargain shoppers have a tough choice between an affordable shoe like the Finale or resoling a premium pair. We recommend impatient folks with limited shoe quivers go with the Finales.

Conclusion


When it comes to rock climbing performance, footwear is arguably the single most important piece of gear. However, sticky rubber wears out quickly so climbing shoes are one of the highest recurring costs for regular climbers. The Finale presents a two-prong way to reduce those costs — it's available at an affordable retail price and the durability advantage of its thicker rubber means that you should wear through a pair less quickly. Although their performance cannot quite match some premium models, we still think this is a model worth considering by anyone searching for an excellent value.

Jack Cramer