La Sportiva Genius Review
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La Sportiva Genius
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|Pros||Secure lacing system, precise fit and enhanced sensitivity from the No-Edge technology||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas|
|Cons||Expensive, adjust period to the No-Edge sole||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain|
|Bottom Line||People seem to either love or hate the rounded edges on this innovative shoe||This stiff shoe is an all-day workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||An ultra-high-end shoe that is designed for performance||Decent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choice||An entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva Genius||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva Genius||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Suede leather / Microfiber||Leather / Microfiber||Leather / Microfiber||Eco Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic|
|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||3 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Besides the No-Edge technology, the La Sportiva Genius is an aggressively downturned shoe that's ideal for steep bolt clipping or bouldering. All of our testers appreciated the secure asymmetrical lacing system and a suction cup-like heel fit. The Genius is also one of the highest volume shoes in the La Sportiva lineup, so it even gained some praise from the wide-footed testers that usually are unwilling to squeeze their feet inside this company's shoes.
Sizing the Genius can be a little tricky. Length-wise, it seems to fit slightly shorter than other La Sportiva shoes. For this reason, some of our testers preferred to wear a size that was 0.5-1 higher than their ordinary size. For example, our lead tester has narrow feet, and he likes a size 43 Katana or TC Pro, but he opts for a size 43.5 Genius.
Out of the box, the Genius feels perfectly worn in and project-ready. The No-Edge rubber shaping doesn't require pinpoint precision to stick to small holds. 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 feel and fix an imperfect foot placement. This takes some getting used to, and our testers were skeptical at first because there wasn't a sharp edge like they're used to.
Rest assured, after a brief adjustment period, they were able to stick these puppies to precarious micro edges and ripples. The sensitivity and ability to correct imperfect foot placements also seem to be a tremendous advantage when on-sighting because it can allow you to keep it together and continue moving when you're near your limit.
You wouldn't use a Ferrari to pull a horse trailer, and you shouldn't climb cracks in your sport climbing shoes. When we tried a few moderate cracks with the Genius, our testers were punished with excessive foot pain.
However, in the upper grades, crack climbing isn't tremendously different from hard sport: both include lots of tiny edges and brutally small features to place your fingers and toes. Despite its downturn and the softness of the underfoot platform, the Genius performed well for both hard sport and cracks.
Additionally, the rubber at the top of the toe that is meant for toe hooking also provides decent protection in small cracks. While the Genius could be entirely appropriate for the right high-end traditional route, it would not be an ideal choice for easier traditional climbing where a flatter shoe would likely be a lot more comfortable.
The Genius is built on La Sportiva's most aggressive last: the PD 85. Unsurprisingly, this substantial downturn, combined with a supple Lasoplex midsole, supply considerable benefits on steep terrain. Our testers love the snug heel for tenuous heel hooking, and the extended toe rand also enhanced grip during toe hooks.
The toe box is wider and taller than average, but it manages to focus the weight of your body through your big toe. This can help you direct force onto small pockets, and the rounded edges can help you sneak a little more rubber inside. Nevertheless, a pointier shoe will likely perform a little better for the tiniest pockets.
The Genius and other shoes that utilize the No-Edge concept offer a unique type of sensitivity. The minimal space between the skin of the toe and the rounded edge facilitates enhanced sensations at the margins of the shoe. This sensitivity is further improved in the Genius due to Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber that is thinner (3mm) and softer than most other shoes.
On the other hand, the sole on the forefoot is pretty solid. This means that it provides excellent support but reduced sensitivity across the meat of the foot. Softer shoes are, therefore, able to offer more sensitivity on larger holds, such as tufas or true smears. In this way, the sensitivity of the Genius is unusual--they provide awesome sensitivity at their rounded edges but mediocre across the sole of the forefoot.
The unlined suede upper, wider last, and ample space in the toe box that facilitates a comfortable arch in your toes make the Genius exceedingly comfortable right out of the box for such a downturned shoe. However, your feet may get a little more fatigued due to the soft midsole that doesn't provide the same support as some stiffer high-performance models.
The enhanced sensitivity of the rounded edges can make it less comfortable to stand on sharp features. We also don't think these are a great choice for longer routes or multi-pitch outings, especially when they're sized tightly for bouldering or hard climbing. We noticed that they've stretched a little less than a half size after a modest break-in period.
These are high-performance shoes with a price to match. The steep cost can be totally worth it if you're a convert to the No-Edge concept and appreciate the unique sensitivity. Bear in mind, however, that the 3mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber is softer and thinner than normal so that you may experience reduced durability. And when it's time for a resole, some shops will not be able to provide a perfect No-Edge finish or will charge a premium to do so.
Whether or not you're a believer 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 complete package. Although they might not be everyone's favorite, they're a great choice for anyone who loves steep climbing and enhanced sensitivity.
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