The Genius stuck to the rock like glue a beautiful spring day in Sinks Canyon, WY.
Out of the box, the Genius feels perfectly worn in and project ready. The no edge concept doesn't require pinpoint precision to hold. Instead, it molds your toe onto the rock, holding on imperfect placements where other shoes might skitter off.
The sensitivity of the toe also makes it easier to adjust an imperfect foot placement. This takes some getting used to, and our testers were hesitant because there is no brand-spanking-new 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.
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 groping.
You wouldn't use a Ferrari to pull a horse trailer, and you don't send cracks in your sport climbing shoes, but we bet you could.
The higher end of the traditional climbing world doesn't look tremendously dissimilar to hard sport: lots of tiny edges and brutally small places to put your fingers and toes. In spite of its downturn and the softness of the underfoot platform, the Genius will get it done in the cracks.
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 to facilitate 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 most easy to moderate traditional climbing where a flatter shoe would be best. For longer days on multi-pitch adventures, check out the Five Ten Quantum or the Scarpa Vapor V. The La Sportiva Kataki is better for climbing because it has a low volume toe that can weasel into even thinner cracks while edging almost as well as the Genius.
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.
The soft mid sole and radical down turn are great for climbing through steep roofs.
From heel to toe, the Genius may be the most sensitive shoe on the market, surpassing the La Sportiva Skwama and the Five Ten Quantum. With a softer heel and a slightly wider 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. The sensitivity allows the climber to have an unparalleled sense of security and confidence in even the most marginal of foot placements. With the no-edge design, your toe closer to the edge of the shoe than a traditional climbing shoe with crisp, thick rubber edge. Pushing out of your comfort zone and through the grades has never been easier than in the Genius.
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.
Though aggressively downturned and moderately asymmetrical, the Genius manages to be wearable on longer climbs and 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 La Sportiva Kataki edge almost as well as the Genius, and are a better choice for a quiver-of-one shoe.
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 Genius thrives on all things steep and radical, or slabby and moderate, for that matter. You'll want this award winner for your hardest sends, whether sport climbing, bouldering, or high-end traditional climbing. Unless money is no object, the Genius is not an excellent choice for training days or sessions at the gym. Use a less expensive shoe for the mileage days, like the La Sportiva Skwama and save this one for the red-points.
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.
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 nearly $200, check out the $165 Skwama, which is also a worthy option for most styles of climbing.