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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  ⋅  Jul 19, 2018
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 34
  • Edging - 20% 9
  • Cracks - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Pockets - 20% 9
  • Sensitivity - 20% 10

Our Verdict

Is the La Sportiva Futura a smartphone compared to the old Nokia bricks you've been climbing in? The first time you climb in this shoe it will let you know everything you're 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. If you keep the velcro closed when storing, it will help the shoe keep their shape longer. We've even worn them on a few multi-pitch traditional routes in Red Rocks and the Needles. They are not designed to be used as an all-day shoe, but their long term comfort and performance is a testament to how remarkable these shoes are.

2018 Aesthetic Updates
The Futura got a fresh look in the spring of 2018. See the new version in the photo above, and scroll down for a side-by-side the cosmetic updates.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Incredible sensitivity, great edging, durabilityVersatile, durable, comfortableGreat precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/offBest edging shoe on the marketExtremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe
Cons Specalized use, expensive, might be hard to resoleExpensiveNot comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurelyExpensivePricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet
Bottom Line An incredibly sensitive and comfortable shoe that excels at edgingAn awesome shoe for long climbs requiring a variety of crack climbing and edging techniquesA tried and true modern classic, this model excels while steep and technical climbingThis high performance model is the ultimate balance of support and sensitivityA comp-oriented shoe with a plethora of nice features
Rating Categories La Sportiva Futura La Sportiva Katana Lace La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Genius La Sportiva Solution Comp
Edging (20%)
9
9
9
10
9
Cracks (20%)
7
9
8
6
7
Comfort (20%)
7
9
7
7
7
Pockets (20%)
9
8
9
9
9
Sensitivity (20%)
10
8
9
10
9
Specs La Sportiva Futura La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Genius La Sportiva...
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Lace Velcro
Upper Leather/Synthetic Leather Leather/Lorica Leather / Lorica Suede leather / Microfiber Leather / microfiber
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining Unlined Pacific (forefoot and back) HF in toe box and arch area only Unlined Pacific, lycra
Rubber Type Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip 2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 3 mm 4 mm 4 mm 3 mm 4 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Futura Updates


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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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
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 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.
A side-by-side comparison of the down turn of the Futura and Miura Vs.

Crack Climbing


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

Pockets


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.

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 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.

Comfort


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

Conclusion


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.

Thomas Greene