The good folks at the Sportiva store in Boulder assured us that none of the technical stats we love about the Futura have changed, but they have got a fresh makeover this season. Check out the latest look of the Futura on the left, below, compared to the older version shown on the right.
Hands-On Review of the Futura
Although the Futura looks and feels ultra aggressive, it manages to be comfortable, even after climbing several pitches in a row. The supple feel of the shoe allows for easy smearing, and the super sticky Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber is up to the task. The sensitivity of this shoe is phenomenal. On visually featureless rock they can find something to paste themselves onto.
Testing the Futura in the Needles, CA
Using this metric to assess the Futura is almost unfair. The Futura redefines the standards by changing the way your foot interacts with the rock. Instead of relying on an artificial edge that can bend and collapse, this shoe allows you to transfer that power directly through your toes, and onto the rock. It also allows for a much more uniform pressure on the hold, increasing your foot security and your confidence. We will say this several times in this review: be patient when learning to climb in the Futura. They will let you know when your footwork is getting lazy, like a gentle drill sergeant reminding you to keep it tight.
A side-by-side comparison of the down turn of the Futura and Miura Vs.
We took this shoe to the Needles in California, and they did remarkably well for a high-performance, specialized rock shoe. We found ourselves doing a lot of face climbing in them, not because we had to, but because we could. When we had to wander back into the cracks for protection, they inspired confidence where we expected them to produce flailing. Though not at home on granite trad climbs, they still climbed well enough that we'd consider using them again. The velcro closure is free from uncomfortable buckles, but is less than secure for wide jamming.
The Futura compared to more traditionally shaped shoes the Miura VS and Shaman.
Imagine the sensation of placing your fingers in a pocket and weighting it, then being able to translate this feeling almost perfectly to your toes. That's how good the Futura is. It pulls into holds with nearly the same dexterity as your hands, with great support, and the protection of 3 mm of sticky rubber. This aspect of climbing with these shoes will come more intuitively. The shape of the shoe, the No Edge concept, and P3 midsole combine to make it easy. The only drawkback is the Futura's tall vertical toe profile, which could limit its ability to slither into horizontal pockets.
Wouldn't it be cool if your foot was naturally tough enough to climb everything by itself? The Futura is as close as we've ever come to climbing at our grade while barefoot. La Sportiva achieved this without any major sacrifices to the shape. Other very sensitive shoes can feel sloppy in spite of a tight fit because the shoe lacks structure. This is another feature you'll have to get comfortable with, but probably the first you'll really love. Feeling confident while standing on something you couldn't get your fingernail on is a pretty awe-inspiring feeling.
This shoe goes on quick and adjusts easily due to using a clever velcro tensioning system that pulls your foot and heel toward the sole. It is stiff enough to feel supportive. It manages to keep your foot in a fairly natural position, in spite of its shape, via some smart engineering.
Crimping on the Iron Man Traverse in the La Sportiva Futura, Buttermilks, CA.
The Futura is a very specialized shoe, and if you're buying it you have to know that it won't be your only shoe. Unless all you do is send, all the time. It is comfortable, and durable enough for a ton of climbing, but at the listed price you'll want to hold it in reserve for the days you really want to put in a big effort.
Owens River Gorge sport climbing, Bishop, CA.
We thought we would shred through these shoes in an afternoon at the Buttermilks because the toe seems so thin, but after a year of use they are just starting to look ready for a resole. This could be attributed to the toughness of the rubber and the lack of an edge, which distributes the pressure of your toe more uniformly on the rock.
This shoe has a very short wear-in period, but they do require time to build your familiarity and confidence. The bottom line is that the Futura is at the forefront of a concept that we believe is headed in the right direction, putting them on a short list of shoes that will let you climb at your absolute limit, or reach a new one.