The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

La Sportiva Genius Review

This hod rod of a shoe performs well on every angle of rock, from steep to slabby.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $195 List | $175.50 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Best edging shoe on the market
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 4, 2019
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 31
  • Edging - 20% 10
  • Cracks - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Pockets - 20% 9
  • Sensitivity - 20% 10

Our Verdict

To borrow a few apt words from the folks at La Sportiva, the Genius is the tip of a very sharp spear. A synergy of multiple concepts and technologies, the Genius is worthy of the high praise (and the hefty price tag) it has been given. The revolutionary no-edge concept combined with a wrap-around P3 midsole that provides a taut and responsive feel gives the La Sportiva Genius an unparalleled blend of sensitivity and support on the rock. Add a lacing system that enables you to dial in a perfect fit and some midlife crisis sports car flashiness, and you've got a sending machine that looks as rad as it feels.

Everything on the Genius is the well-thought-out result of some seriously innovative minds with ample time and budget for research and development. From a Testarossa inspired heel that is supple, sensitive, and still manages a suction cup fit, to the now proven No Edge concept toe, the Genius is a marvel of design. The P3 midsole borrowed from the La Sportiva Solution helps the Genius keep its shape, and the power of your foot focused through the toe. The clever off-center lacing system allows the Genius to maintain the rubber on the top of the toe that makes toe hooking a breeze and lets the wearer dial in a perfect fit. Though aggressively downturned and moderately asymmetrical, the Genius still maintains your foot in a seemingly natural position. Complete the package with ultra sticky and super durable XS Edge rubber, and the Genius' name speaks for itself.


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La Sportiva Genius
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $175.50 at Amazon
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Pros Best edging shoe on the marketComfortable in cracks, low volume toe fits in thin cracks, great edgingGreat precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/offGreat edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure systemIncredible sensitivity, great edging, durability
Cons ExpensiveHeel cup can feel uncomfortable across the achilles, left some testers with sore archesNot comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurelyNot as comfortable in cracks as lace-up modelsSpecalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole
Bottom Line This high performance model is the ultimate balance of support and sensitivity.These are our go-to shoe for difficult granite crack climbs.A tried and true modern classic, this model excels while steep and technical climbing.This is one of our favorite models that employ a Velcro closure system.An incredibly sensitive and comfortable shoe that excels at edging.
Rating Categories La Sportiva Genius La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Futura
Edging (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Cracks (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Pockets (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs La Sportiva Genius La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Futura
Style Lace Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Upper Suede leather / Microfiber Suede leather / Microfiber Leather / Lorica Leather/ Microfiber Leather/Synthetic Leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining Unlined Pacific HF in toe box and arch area only Pacific Unlined
Rubber Type Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip 2 Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip2
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 3 mm 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 3 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Genius is one of a few La Sportiva models to feature its No Edge technology. That means that what would ordinarily be the edge of the shoe comes rounded right out of the box. Although this design takes a little getting used to, our testers believe it ultimately improves sensitivity and edging performance.

Performance Comparison


The Genius stuck to the rock like glue a beautiful spring day in Sinks Canyon  WY.
The Genius stuck to the rock like glue a beautiful spring day in Sinks Canyon, WY.

Edging


Out of the box, the Genius feels perfectly worn in and project ready. The No Edge rubber shaping doesn't require pinpoint precision to hold. Instead, it molds your toe onto the rock, holding on imperfect placements where other shoes would skitter off.


The sensitivity of the toe also makes it easier to feel and fix an imperfect foot placement. This takes some getting used to, and our testers were skeptical at first because there isn't a sharp edge like we're used to.

The No-Edge technology allowed our tester feel every edge and ripple on this techy  vertical wall at Wild Iris.
The No-Edge technology allowed our tester feel every edge and ripple on this techy, vertical wall at Wild Iris.

Rest assured, after a brief adjustment period, these puppies will stick when you press into precarious micro edges and ripples. This is a tremendous advantage when on-sighting as it will help you push through the moves when you're near your limit. The Genius will make your footwork feel brilliant even when you're pumped stupid and flailing wildly for holds.

Crack Climbing


You wouldn't use a Ferrari to pull a horse trailer, and you shouldn't climb cracks in your sport climbing shoes, but we bet you could.


At the top end of crack climbing isn't tremendously dissimilar to hard sport: both feature lots of tiny edges and brutally small places to place your fingers and toes. In spite of its downturn and the softness of the underfoot platform, the Genius can get it done on both hard sport or cracks.

While not comfortable enough for miles of jamming  the Genius does just fine on steep finger cracks and shorter trad climbs.
While not comfortable enough for miles of jamming, the Genius does just fine on steep finger cracks and shorter trad climbs.

Additionally, the rubber at the top of the toe that is meant for toe hooking provides decent protection in small cracks. While the Genius would be entirely appropriate for high-end traditional climbing, it would not be a first choice for easier traditional climbing where a flatter shoe would be a lot more comfortable. For longer days on multi-pitch adventures, we prefer the La Sportiva TC Pro or Butora Altura. The La Sportiva Kataki is also better for single pitch crack projects because it has a low volume toe that can weasel into thinner cracks while edging almost as well as the Genius.

Pockets


You'd have to work hard to find a style of climbing the Genius didn't thrive on, even trees. Pockets are no exception. Built on the Testarossa last, the Genius is aggressively downturned and has a LaspoFlex midsole that extends beyond the toe. This technology means that standing on minuscule edges and in super shallow pockets is even easier.


The Genius is a slightly wider shoe but still manages to focus the weight of your body through a single, exact point: your big toe. This gives it the precision to find and fit into even the small pockets with ease. Nevertheless, a pointier shoe will likely perform a little better for the tiniest pockets.

The soft mid sole and radical down turn are great for climbing through steep roofs.
The soft mid sole and radical down turn are great for climbing through steep roofs.

Sensitivity


From heel to toe, the Genius may be the most sensitive shoe on the market, rivaled only by the Scarpa Chimera. While the Chimera achieves its sensitivity with thin rubber and an extremely soft sole, the Genius uses its No Edge design, which brings your toe closer to the edge of the shoe and the holds you're trying to feel.

With a soft heel and a slightly wide toe box that lets your toes rest in a more natural position, the Genius will let you feel your feet and also every feature of the rock. This sensitivity gives the climber an unparalleled sense of security and confidence in even the most marginal of foot placements. Pushing out of your comfort zone and through the grades has never been easier than in the Genius.


Comfort


The unlined suede upper, wider last, and ample space in the toe box for a comfortable arch in your toes make the Genius exceedingly comfortable right out of the box for such a downturned shoe. Your feet may get a little more fatigued, however, due to the soft midsole that doesn't provide the same support as some other high-performance models.


Though aggressively downturned and moderately asymmetrical, the Genius manages to be wearable on longer climbs or when it's your turn to spot at the boulders (but you should take them off to extend the longevity of these pricey shoes). We sized it a half size up from the unlined La Sportiva Skwama. The Genius will stretch just under a half size during the wear-in period, but not as much as the Skwama.

The offset lacing system lets you dial in the fit and makes for extra room on top of the shoe for effective toe hooking.
The offset lacing system lets you dial in the fit and makes for extra room on top of the shoe for effective toe hooking.

Value


Do you love smearing, edges, and bright colors? If the answer is yes, the Genius is the shoe for you. It comes with a whopping price tag that requires a little justification to take the plunge. First, consider the comfort, that works out to 19 bucks a toe. Second, they can definitely up your grade, and getting off the plateau you've been stuck on can be priceless. Third, they're cheaper than a sports car, but they'll make you feel like you're driving one on the rock. They are also remarkably durable, and even with consistent use, they have shown little wear after two months of use.

Conclusion


Whether or not you're a believer (or have yet to permit yourself to be converted, go on test your conviction) in No Edge shoes, the worthiness of the Genius is hard to deny. A fusion of many inspired designs, this model blends the best aspects of some tried and true favorites to create a unique and very complete package. If you aren't quite ready to shell out serious cash for the Geniuses, check out their relative the Skwama, which is a worthy but cheaper option for most styles of climbing.


Matt Bento