La Sportiva Skwama Review
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La Sportiva Skwama
|Price||$149.19 at Backcountry|
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|$156.75 at Backcountry|
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|$96.69 at REI|
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|Pros||Comfortable, sensitive, awesome for crack climbing||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||Leather upper stretches more than other models||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||This is a versatile shoe for high-end sport and trad climbs at a decent price||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 Skwama||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva Skwama||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Leather / Microfiber / Rubber toe cap||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||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We love the Skwama shoes for their sensitivity, comfort, and their crack climbing ability. While not the absolute best, they still edge better than many stiffer models. Their medium-soft midsole makes them excellent for all manners of granite schmoozing, and the unlined leather ensures they're super comfy and not as stinky as a synthetic shoe.
These shoes edge fairly well due to the P3 permanent platform, but their softness limits their maximum performance ceiling to some extent.
They don't edge quite as well as the "no edge" technology employed on other La Sportiva shoes, which most of our testers preferred for standing on dime edges in dead vertical terrain. The wide, slightly asymmetrical shape of the Skwama places the big toe in a perfect position to feel small edges and toe in hard with precision, but since they are soft in the mid-sole for flexing and smearing, you won't feel as much support on footwork-intensive climbs as you would with a stiffer shoe.
A slim profile and a wide midfoot made the Skwama a crack climbing powerhouse for our hobbit-footed lead tester.
The low volume fit in the front of the toes is ideal for wiggling into thinner cracks all the way down to tight 0.75 camalots. This soft shoe also allowed our testers to wedge their toes into crackless corners and use them as footholds. The single velcro closure is located high on the upper of the shoe, so it doesn't cause discomfort or get in the way on tight hand cracks. While effective for swimming up offwidths and chimneys, you'll likely want to throw some socks on or opt for a shoe with some ankle protection. More difficult thin cracks are often too small to use your feet in. Fortunately, the Skwama can still edge on jibs or micro-features found on granite faces.
The sensitivity of the Skwama makes it easy to know when you are toed into a pocket or ready to utilize your feet on steep terrain.
As mentioned in edging performance, this shoe curls your foot and big toe in the power position for maximum energy transfer. The downturn also helps you pull your body in on overhanging terrain. The Skwama shoes were not our go-to model for the vertical, techy pocket pulling, but on steeper featured terrain or granite smear fests, they killed it.
The Skwama is one of the most sensitive shoes in this season's selection, only outdone by the ultra-soft models designed specifically for competition climbing.
Our testers enjoyed the Skwama on the granite climbing of Pine Creek Canyon, where technical smearing, edging, and a bit of crack climbing can all be encountered on the same pitch. Our lead tester switched to these soft shoes in lieu of his beloved Solution and was able to finally send a long-term project. These shoes offer great sensitivity for smearing while still offering some edging power. On slab climbs, we preferred shoes with just a little bit more support because they do a better job at utilizing micro features when the terrain is too steep or glassy to smear.
Out of the box, some of our testers noticed some pain under their arches where the midsole pushes upwards to maintain the shoe's downturn and eliminate dead space and push your toes to the front of the shoe. After the break-in period, this discomfort went away as the shoe molded to our feet - or maybe we just got used to it. Due to the leather upper, our lead tester sized a half size down from his regular Sportiva size in anticipation of stretch. After a few months of testing, we can say that the stretch was pretty minimal, but the Skwama does start to feel comfy enough for shorter multi-pitches without feeling too stretched out or sloppy.
Remember, you can't climb well if you are distracted by searing foot pain. We recommend getting these shoes a half size down from your regular La Sportiva size and allow for a slow break-in period for a glove-like fit. The single Velcro strap does a more than adequate job of keeping the Skwama locked in place when our testers used them to heel and toe hook their way across steep roof climbs.
Versatile and well constructed, the Skwama is also among the less expensive shoes in this year's selection. Its performance is on par with premium models that cost a bit more and is a favorite of many a tester. Climbing shoes are getting more expensive, and it's great to see a new, high-quality offering that bucks the trend a bit.
We've seen this shoe everywhere, on pros and dirtbags alike, and our testing reveals that they are gaining popularity for good reasons. Their affordability is unmatched by other high-end climbing shoes, they climb all styles well, and they don't hurt our feet. We can't wait to bring them on winter sport climbing trips to Spain and then use them for springtime adventures on desert sandstone. These versatile shoes are an excellent addition to anyone's climbing shoe quiver.
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