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La Sportiva Futura Review

Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly well
La Sportiva Futura
Photo: La Sportiva
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Price:  $185 List | $185.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Incredible sensitivity, great edging, durability
Cons:  Specalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Thomas Greene ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 29
  • Edging - 20% 8
  • Cracks - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Steep Terrain - 20% 8
  • Sensitivity - 20% 9

Our Verdict

The first time you climb in the La Sportiva Futura, it will let you know everything you've been doing wrong with your feet, and you'll hate them for it. The La Sportiva No Edge Concept forces you to climb more precisely, adapting your style of climbing to the close-to-barefoot sensation of the shoe. The Futura is that sensitive, and brings your toe much closer to the rock than an ordinary climbing shoe. Built with the P3 midsole featured in many premium La Sportiva models, this shoe retains its shape easily under pressure. The fast lacing Velcro closure system works impressively well. All this combined with a soft synthetic upper means it slides on easily, and it fits superbly right out of the box.

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La Sportiva Futura
This Product
La Sportiva Futura
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $185.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$185.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
76
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Star Rating
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Pros Incredible sensitivity, great edging, durabilityVersatile, stiff, durable, comfortableExtremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoeComfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent priceAffordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas
Cons Specalized use, expensive, might be hard to resoleExpensive, limited sensitivityPricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feetMediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitiveInsensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain
Bottom Line Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly wellThis stiff shoe is an all-day crack climbing workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabsAn ultra-high-end shoe that could put you on the podium of your climbing competitionDecent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choiceAn entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price
Rating Categories La Sportiva Futura La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Solutio... La Sportiva Finale La Sportiva Tarantu...
Edging (20%)
8.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Cracks (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Steep Terrain (20%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
Sensitivity (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Specs La Sportiva Futura La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Solutio... La Sportiva Finale La Sportiva Tarantu...
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Lace Lace
Upper Leather/Synthetic Leather Leather/Lorica Leather / microfiber Leather / microfiber Leather/Synthetic
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining Unlined Pacific (forefoot and back) Pacific, lycra Unlined None
Rubber Type Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Edge FriXion RS
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 3 mm 4 mm 4 mm 5 mm 5 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Aesthetic Updates


The good folks at the La Sportiva assured us that none of the technical stats we love about the Futura have changed, but they have gotten a fresh makeover. Check out the latest look of the Futura on the left, below, compared to the older version shown on the right.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Performance Comparison


Although the Futura looks and feels ultra-aggressive, it managed to stay 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 felt up to the task. The sensitivity of this shoe is phenomenal. On visually featureless rock our testers were often able to find something to paste them onto.

Testing the Futura in the Needles, CA
Testing the Futura in the Needles, CA
Photo: Bernd Zeugswetter

Edging


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's No Edge technology allows you to transfer that power directly through your toes, and onto the rock. It also allows for 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.
A side-by-side comparison of the down turn of the Futura and Miura Vs.

Crack Climbing


We took these shoes 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 were forced back to the crack 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 it's less than secure for wide jamming.

The Futura compared to more traditionally shaped shoes the Miura VS...
The Futura compared to more traditionally shaped shoes the Miura VS and Shaman.

Steep Terrain


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 probably come more intuitively. The shape of the shoe, the No Edge concept, and the P3 midsole combine to make it easy. The only drawback is the Futura's tall vertical toe profile, which could limit its ability to slither into horizontal pockets.

Sensitivity


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 come to approximating the feeling of 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 can be an awe-inspiring feeling.

Comfort


This shoe goes on quickly and adjusts easily due to 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. Be advised, however, that some testers complained of acute Achilles pain. If you've ever had Achilles issues with rock shoes, you may want to consider a different model.

Crimping on the Iron Man Traverse in the La Sportiva Futura...
Crimping on the Iron Man Traverse in the La Sportiva Futura, Buttermilks, CA.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Value


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 may 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.
Owens River Gorge sport climbing, Bishop, CA.
Photo: Dave Gardner

Conclusion


We thought we would shred through these shoes in an afternoon at the boulders 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 it will require some time to build your familiarity and confidence with its unusual edges. 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 shortlist of shoes that will let you climb at your absolute limit, or reach a new one.

Thomas Greene