La Sportiva Solution Comp Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe
Cons: Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva Solution has become a tried and true favorite among those crushing the steeps. The latest version, the Solution Comp, includes a couple of subtle tweaks to help you hang on when things are really strenuous. The biggest changes are a softer, slimmer heel cup, a more flexible midsole, and extra rubber across the top of the toe. We think they're great improvements to an already great shoe.
These kicks come equipped with 4 mm of sticky Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber that's reinforced with 0.9 mm of LaspoFlex to boost support in the forefoot. Meanwhile, the pronounced pointiness of the toe enhances precision. Together the result is an edging beast that's ready to exploit the tiniest of footholds. The stiffness of the sole, however, ends at the arch where it switches to softer more flexible materials. While this improves sensitivity for the back of your foot, it does reduce overall foot support. In other words, these are ideal shoes for steep boulders or sport projects, but the lack of support could contribute extra foot fatigue on techy, less-than-vertical testpieces.
These shoes aren't exactly designed for crack climbing. The dramatic downturn and severe asymmetry force your feet to curl and your toes to bunch, which amplifies pain for most types of crack jams. The extra rubber coverage across the top of the toe does add some padding and protection, but it also increases the height and bulk of the toe box. That means it's harder to slide these into thin cracks (narrower than 0.75"). We're still confident that there are people who will slay high-end cracks with these shoes, but it's most likely to be barely-there "cracks" that demand precise footwork on face holds, rather than sustained toe jamming.
Many of the changes La Sportiva introduced from the regular Solution to the Solution Comp are intended to improve performance for indoor competitions and insanely steep outdoor projects. In our view, these changes are a runaway success. Our testers loved the extra rubber coverage on the top of the toe for enhancing grip while heel-toe camming and toe hooking. The softer, slimmer heel also boosts sensitivity for marginal heel hooks on aretes or volumes. Both versions of the Solution feature a toe that is notably pointy, which makes them some of the best footwear for pocketed climbs, especially when the pockets are small. The underside of the toe is also shaped with a subtle concavity that improves the angles for pulling your body in to the wall when the climbing gets really steep.
The Solution Comp doesn't supply the same level of tactile feel as some other competition-oriented shoes. This deficiency is starkest in the forefoot where the 0.9 mm LaspoFlex insert adds edging support while sacrificing sensitivity. From the midfoot to the heel, sensitivity is much better, and our testers were able to feel the benefits of the Comp over the original Solution. Nevertheless, this model cannot provide as much sensitivity as you can get from an ultra-soft design. However, on many sharp rock types, your feet will probably be thankful for it.
Aggressively downturned shoes will simply never be as comfortable as shoes with neutral soles. The Solution Comp is no exception. Its downturned sole keeps your foot it in a powerful curled position, but this is an uncomfortable posture to hold for a sustained period of time. Although the design also forces your toes to curl, extra space is given to reduce pressure on the knuckle of your big toe. Meanwhile, the softness of the heel ensures that it can conform to the uniqueness of your heel shape. Overall, the aggressive nature of the Solution Comp sacrifices some comfort, but the designers have made some clever adjustments to ensure that the sacrifice is minimal.
The Solution Comp is a top-of-the-line shoe with a top-of-the-line price. When we consider its outstanding performance, however, we ultimately consider it to be a pretty good deal. The construction of the shoe feels like the highest quality, and we believe the P3 platform midsole and LaspoFlex reinforcement should ensure that it maintains its shape for multiple resoles. Although the extra cost of this shoe may not be worth it to all climbers, the investment should pay off for competition climbers and outdoor crushers.
The original Solution appealed to many climbers and became an exceedingly popular shoe at the gyms and boulders. The subtle adjustments introduced in the Solution Comp should only add to this appeal. It provides the same precision at the toe while adding lots of sensitivity to the heel. The only drawback is a slight increase in price. We believe the improvements are easily worth the few extra bucks.
— Jack Cramer