Sorry it’s been a while between posts, I’ve been out here in Val d’Isere since the start of January on a BASI Ski Instructor course and haven’t had much time to gather my thoughts and slap a review together.
So let’s have a look at these Sportiva Solution climbing shoes. You will see a pair of these shoes worn by someone in damn-near every climbing video. For a lot of people they are considered the daddy of all stickies, and if they fit then rightly so.
I’ve been using mine both indoors and out since August of last year (2012) and I have noticed a huge leap in the quality of my technique, both through added confidence in putting a toe on a tiny edge and the ability to properly hook things – something which was impossible in my Boreal Crux shoes.
Until recently this was Sportiva’s most technical climbing shoe (now one-upped by the Futura). Features including Vibram XS Grip rubber, Sportiva’s P3 Systemwhich helps retain the downturned shape of the shoe, and a 3D molded heel cup which holds your foot nice and securely.
These features combine to create a climbing shoe that will put you on routes you didn’t think within your reach, give you the confidence to trust the tiniest nib of rock and put your whole body onto it, and to help you perform those heel hooks that you’ve only seen done on DVD!
When it comes to the fit of these I have found them a bit triangular; wide at the front and narrow in the heel – which is perfect for my feet but may not suit everyone. They’re also surprisingly accommodating, I’m normally a UK 8 but managed to find the perfect fit in a size UK 6! They’re primarily done in Euro sizes (including half’s) which gives great potential in finding just the right size to suit you.
The velcro (hook and loop) fastening system allows for great accuracy with fit. If it’s fastened in the middle of the pad it will give a general overall fit, strapped towards the toes and the front will be tighter, towards the heel the tighter round the ankle it gets. I’ve found the 3D heel to be a brilliant feature as it actively clung around my heel allowing me to confidently make hooks that I’ve never accomplished before in order shoes. Altogether very good for any climbing situation you may find yourself in.
The main consideration to keep in mind with these shoes is that they are not suited to the beginner-intermediate level of climber. The aggressive, downturned shape and tight fit of the shoe aren’t for the uninitiated and even now I can’t wear them for any longer than 3 routes on an indoor wall without giving my feet a breather.
On that note I wouldn’t recommend these shoes for cold weather multi-pitch climbing as the tight fit quickly inhibits blood circulation to your feet and they get cold and numb very quickly
Overall a very well made, technical climbing shoe that has been a favourite of pro climbers for at least the last half decade with good reason. Although one of the priciest shoes on the market they are a definite investment if you are to push yourself on the harder routes.
I’d recommend you definitely try before you buy, preferably at a retailer that has a small demo wall to have a play on too, even a half Euro size either side didn’t fit properly for me so it’s worth making sure you can try on a range of sizes.
Weight: 516g (pair of UK 8)