There was a La Sportiva shoe demo at the Climbing Works last night, organised by Lyon Outdoor. It was also a pleasant coincidence that I was planning on bouldering that evening. This offered me an excellent opportunity to try out some of the top range Sportiva products, and at a time when I was looking to buy a new pair of high-end bouldering shoes. Fortuitous for me and La Sportiva (I'll come onto that).
Just a quick detour into the past, and I do not recollect ever owning a pair of La Sportiva. I took an interest in them a few years ago and tried on a pair of Katana but the fit didn't feel right so I never gave them another thought. I shrugged the whole brand off as not for me. I've owned various types of Five-Ten, Evolv, Red Chili and Scarpa, but never Sportivas. And thus it stayed... until I tried on the new Futura that is.
To be perfectly honest, I was hugely surprised they fit as well as they do. Like a glove, but better. They were easier to get on than they were to get off, they fit so well. When I yanked that heel off they made a satisfying pop noise as air quickly escaped into the vacuum previously occupied by my foot. On the wall, they performed incredibly well, the rubber feeling so sticky compared to my 6 month old Scarpa Instinct S shoes, which now slip around on my feet like baggy socks. The precision is exceptional - the demonstration pair I wore looked almost out the box new - largely down to the highly publicised "no edge" technology no doubt. This no edge tech also allows your foot to feel exactly what you're stepping on, which is a revelation for a new pair of shoes.
As you can probably guess... I was mighty impressed. I asked the chap from Lyon how much a pair retails for and my adoration quickly turned to disgust. £130-140 he told me. That's more than I've ever spent on a pair of climbing shoes. While I loved climbing in them, could I justify spending that much cash on them? I wrestled with that a while before deciding YES, yes I could. After all, bouldering doesn't require much equipment and arguable the only bit of equipment that will make a difference to your success or failure on a problem is the type of shoes you are wearing. I found them for slightly cheaper online too - at Banana Fingers.
Just to prove that I'm not a La Sportiva sponsored climber lauding up the brand that pays for my habitual need to molest rock (not that any proof is required - anyone that knows me knows I'm weak), I wasn't taken in by any of the other shoes on demo. The Solution felt oddly imprecise to me, like I was standing on edges a centimeter in front of my toes, and the buckles on the Miura VS painfully dug into the side of my foot.
Now the only thing I'm wondering is whether I jumped into bed too soon with the Futura. Was I drawn in before I gave any other top end shoe a good seeing to? What are the Scarpa Instinct VS like in comparison? Or the Five-Ten Team VXi? Or the Evolv Shaman? There's a whole new field of Super Shoe that seems to have been established right under my nose and I've never partaken before. Saying that, I've worn the Anasazi VCS for years and I was shocked to see them shoot over the £100 mark in the Works shop!
I'm considering splashing out for a comparison blog - purchasing a pair of Team VXi to see how they stand up against the Futura. What do you reckon? Or have you tried them before? I'd be keen to hear from you. What are your thoughts on this new field of top bouldering / sport climbing shoe?
Please comment below.