Hands-on Gear Review

La Sportiva Solution Review

Price:  $180 List | $134.94 at Amazon
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Pros:  Great precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/off
Cons:  Not comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurely
Bottom line:  This shoe is a favorite of many veteran climbers and still feels cutting edge over ten years after its first release.
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  Velcro
Upper:  Leather/Lorica
Lining:  HF
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Solution has one of the more aggressive and unique designs out there. It is intended for performance on sport climbs and boulder problems. It edges well while retaining excellent sensitivity. Due to the low volume toe, this shoe even does well in thin cracks; in fact, Honnold has been spotted rocking the Solutions on finger crack test pieces in the Utah desert. It's hard to believe the Solution is over ten years old when looking at its mega aggro, futuristic design, but this shoe has influenced the industry and was way ahead of its time when first released. It still holds its own against modern marvels like the La Sportiva Genius, the Tenaya Tarifa, and the Scarpa Instinct.

2018 Solution Update
La Sportiva updated the Solution slightly this year with some aesthetic changes and a refined strap closure system. The new version is pictured above. Scroll on to see comparison photos and some info about the new strap!


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Matt Bento

Last Updated:
Saturday
April 28, 2018

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The 2018 Solution vs. the Previous Version


The Solution got a makeover this year. The changes are largely aesthetic, though Sportiva did make some minor updates to their velcro Fast Lacing System, with an updated shape to the velcro portion and rounder eyelets for the straps to slide through. See the new version below, right, followed by the previous version.

La Sportiva Solution

We expect this new version to perform very similarly to the version we tested. The text from here on refers to the older model of the Solution.

Hands-On Review of the La Sportiva Solution


These shoes are perfect for the steep climbing found in the Red River Gorge.
These shoes are perfect for the steep climbing found in the Red River Gorge.

Edging


The Solutions are the solution to the problem of designing a shoe that can edge well while still being sensitive. These shoes are very stiff compared to other La Sportiva offerings like the La Sportiva Skwama or the La Sportiva Genius, and offer loads of support on granite crystals and tiny limestone spikes. Our testers loved these shoes on long, off-vertical granite pitches in Pine Creek Canyon, where the stiffness gave some respite for our fatigued calves. Pretty good for a shoe designed to tackle the steepest of boulder problems.

Crack Climbing


These shoes are little too narrow for long days of blissful jamming up the big stone, but on technical single pitch crack climbs, they rage! The super pointy, low volume toe box fits into thin cracks were comfortable all day shoes like the Five Ten Quantum or the TC Pro just won't go. The La Sportiva Skwama features a similarly low volume toe box, but it has a wider fit, and feels more comfortable in wider hand cracks than the Solutions.

Sensitivity


Despite being fairly stiff, these shoes offer enough sensitivity to feel good on technical granite slabs and limestone micro edges. Out of the box, they feel clunky when compared to the No-edged, Editors' Choice Award winning La Sportiva Genius but after a break in period of ten or so pitches, they soften and let you know exactly where you are on the wall. The Vibram XS Grip rubber has no trouble sticking to glassy smears and is only limited by your own belief. Never fear, trust the smear! The Solutions were bested in the sensitivity metric by the La Sportiva Skwama and the hypersensitive Tenaya Tarifa

Pockets


These shoes have a pointy toe that can worm its way into pockets of most sizes. Combine that pointy toe with formidable edging power, and you've got perfect pocket climber. The pocket climbing powers of the Solutions are only surpassed by the narrow fitting Tenaya Tarifa. The Butora Acro, the Evolv Shaman and the Scarpa Instinct don't have the pointy shape that makes the Solution cruise up pocketed limestone.

Our tester uses the Solutions to pull into steep pocketed limestone in Kalymnos.
Our tester uses the Solutions to pull into steep pocketed limestone in Kalymnos.

Comfort


The Solutions are a comfortable shoe if sized correctly. Our lead tester sizes both his TC Pros and his Solutions in an EU 41, and he wouldn't go any tighter in his Solutions. Their permanent power platform allows for maximum energy transfer into the big toe when you push down on an edge, without having to be sized painfully tight. They aren't as comfortable as all day shoes like the TC Pro, or our Top Pick For All Day Comfort, the Five Ten Quantum.

The heel on the Solutions is snug and doesn't slip, but it has a bulbous shape that "sticks out" more than some other models and compromises sensitivity if you're trying to use a marginal heel hook. Conversely, the heel shape has helped our testers lock in a heel-toe cam on more than one occasion. For a lower volume, tighter fitting heel that also employs a single velcro strap closure system, check out the Scarpa Instinct.

One velcro strap provides for easy on and off.
One velcro strap provides for easy on and off.

Best Applications


If this shoe fits, you can take it anywhere. We've used them everywhere, from Spanish limestone to Yosemite granite, without thrashing our poor, abused feet. They also perform well on steep boulders of all rock types. If you mainly climb cracks, check out its cousin, the La Sportiva Skwama or the Katana Lace. The generous amount of rubber on the upper toe makes this shoe a good option for the gymnastic 3D climbing found at areas like Hueco Tanks.

The heel on these shoe sticks out a bit  giving our tester more rubber to hook with.
The heel on these shoe sticks out a bit, giving our tester more rubber to hook with.

Value


At $180, this shoe will set you back a bit, but if they fit well, they'll accompany you up many successful onsights and hard-earned red points, which are always priceless. For $30 less, the Butora Acro has a similar fit in the toe box, but the heel doesn't fit quite as well. Winner of our Best Buy award, the $165 La Sportiva Skwama is a high performer, but is not as stiff as the Solution.

These shoes are relatively stiff but offer great sensitivity for climbing vertical terrain with small footholds.
These shoes are relatively stiff but offer great sensitivity for climbing vertical terrain with small footholds.

Conclusion


After more than ten years on the market, the Solution remains a formidable contender in the climbing shoe market and a favorite of pros and silent crushers alike. It's undergone some slight cosmetic adjustments but is pretty much the same shoe as when it first came out, and we hope it never changes.
Matt Bento

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Most recent review: April 28, 2018
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