The La Sportiva Solution is one of the most popular climbing shoes for challenging bouldering projects and steep sport routes. This aggressive, downturned shoe strategically positions the toes for powerful movements on the wall without being overly uncomfortable.
La Sportiva first released the Solution in 2007. The shoe quickly gained popularity in the climbing community and has come to be trusted by some of the world’s best climbers, including Adam Ondra, Daniel Woods, and Margo Hayes.
More than ten years after its release, the Solution continues to be one of the top picks among elite climbers and intermediate climbers seeking to take their skills to the next level. At $180, the La Sportiva Solution doesn’t come cheap, but most wearers say the shoe is well worth the steep price tag.
The Solution is ideal for situations where you’re looking for maximum performance out of your climbing shoe. The shape concentrates force over the big toe and gives you a powerful platform to push and pull on even the tiniest of holds. This results in a shoe that excels on overhanging sport routes, technical face climbs, and hard boulder problems indoors and out.
Handmade in Italy with high-quality materials, the Solution includes a number of unique features and innovations that make it a top pick for climbers on their challenging projects.
The P3 (Permanent Power Platform) rand system helps maintain the Solution’s downturned shape and provide a solid edging platform throughout the shoe’s lifetime. Like many of La Sportiva’s higher-end climbing shoes, the Solution has an incredibly sticky Vibram XS Grip2 sole for excellent grip on smears and dime-sized edges.
The leather and microfiber uppers contain La Sportiva’s Lock Harness System, an x-shaped rand towards the back of the shoe. This system, combined with the molded 3D heel cup, hugs the foot and prevents the heel from deforming under pressure for more power when heel hooking.
Thanks to the adjustable Fast Lacing System, the Solution’s hook and loop closure provides a better fit than a single velcro strap while remaining quick and easy to use.
This shoe also comes in a women’s version, which has the same technical features as the men’s with a few slight adjustments that increase sensitivity and make it better for lightweight climbers. The Solution Woman is built on a lower volume last, is less rigid, and has a softer midsole than the men’s version. It also has a thinner 3.5mm sole compared to the men’s 4mm sole.
Since the Solution Woman uses a different mold than the men’s version, it has a narrower forefoot and heel. Most women will prefer this lower volume style, but it is also suitable for lighter weight male climbers looking for more sensitivity through the toe.
The La Sportiva Solution is one of the best climbing shoes available when it comes to performance. Below you can find more details on the Solution’s superior edging, smearing, precision, toe hooking, and heel hooking.
The Solution has a pointier toe than many other La Sportiva models, leading to better edging performance. The shoe excels on a range of rock types and noticeably outperforms the competition when it comes to pocketed limestone.
The men’s version offers greater rigidity and provides more precision edging than the softer women’s version. Heavier climbers, as well as those seeking a stiffer shoe, will therefore prefer the men’s Solution.
In spite of its aggressively downturned shape, the Solution smears well after spending a few sessions breaking them in. Since the women’s version is softer and provides greater sensitivity, many male climbers prefer this if they’ll be doing a lot of smearing.
However, this shoe is not designed with slabs in mind and performs best on vertical to overhanging routes. The Solutions are much stiffer than La Sportiva’s Skwama. If you’ll be doing a lot of slab climbing and smearing, you may want to look into a softer shoe designed for that style of climbing.
While the Solution is not the most sensitive shoe, it still provides excellent precision and sensitivity on varied terrain and rock types, especially technical vertical climbs.
Toe and Heel Hooking
The Solution is one of the best shoes out there for toe and heel hooking. The molded 3D heel cup supports the foot through powerful heel hooks, while the extra large sticky toe rand extends up to the shoe’s velcro closure. These features, combined with the Lock Harness System, make the Solution a top performer when it comes to toe and heel hooking. The fitting of the heel is can be a bit divisive, as it seems to fit certain climbers perfectly while some have reported it to be too wide.
Support and Durability
Because of the Permanent Power Platform, the Solution will provide you with precision edging and support throughout its lifetime.
With 4mm of Vibram XS Grip2 rubber, the sole on these shoes is quite durable but will need to be replaced with time, as is the case with all climbing shoes. Fortunately, the Solutions are easy to resole, so you can take them to a resoler many times before retiring your pair. You should always bring your shoes to an authorized resoler who will repair them using the same high-quality materials La Sportiva originally made them with.
Some reviewers complained that the velcro strap broke or wore out quickly, but most people don’t run into any issues with it. La Sportiva has improved this feature on newer versions of the Solution and will likely continue to improve it with future updates.
Comfort and Fit
For such an aggressive shoe, the Solution is surprisingly comfortable. Like most climbing shoes, this model does take some time to break in. It is unlikely to be comfortable out of the box but should feel better after a few wears.
The Solution is uncomfortable for all-day wear and is therefore best suited to bouldering, single-pitch sport climbing, and gym sessions. You don’t want to bring these on a multi-pitch route or wear them for a full day of crack climbing.
Compared to other climbing shoes, the Solutions have a mid- to low-volume fit and are therefore best for narrower feet.
While the deep, 3D molded heel cup on the Solutions provides outstanding heel hooking performance, this feature is a deal-breaker for some climbers since it can apply too much pressure on the Achilles tendon. Some people with lower volume feet also find there to be too much space around the heel.
The adjustable velcro closure and sock-like synthetic tongue provide a snug fit but make the shoes a bit hard to get on, especially if you size them down.
La Sportiva recommends downsizing the Solution to minimize the volume in the shoe and concentrate power over the toe for greater precision. Since the Solution is lined only in the toe box and arch, you can expect this shoe to stretch about a half size with time.
Most athletes will find that 1-1.5 sizes down from their street shoe size is a good fit with the Solution. You want to feel your toes beginning to curl, but it shouldn’t be overly painful. More advanced climbers may prefer to size down even further for a tighter fit and better performance.
Downsizing will help you get the most out of the Solution’s performance features. If you find that going down a full size is too uncomfortable for you, you may be better off with a less aggressive shoe such as La Sportiva’s Kataki, Otaki, or Katana Lace. These models offer a more comfortable fit without compromising much on performance.
Beginners should generally avoid the Solution. If you’re new to climbing, you’ll likely find these shoes uncomfortable and won’t be able to take advantage of their high-performance features. Improving your footwork and overall climbing skills will go much further in boosting your redpoint grade than wearing an aggressive shoe. Check out our post on the best beginner climbing shoes for some great options to start with.
Upper: Leather / Lorica Microfiber
Lining: HF (toe-box and arch area only)
Midsole: 1.1mm LaspoFlex (toe only)
Sole: 4mm Vibram® XS Grip2
Last: PD 80
Weight: 8.89 oz / 258g per shoe
This Climbing Shoe is Ideal For:
- Intermediate to advanced climbers
- Bouldering, overhanging sport routes, technical face climbs, and gym climbing
- Narrow feet
La Sportiva Solution
When it comes to steep terrain, few climbing shoes will outperform the La Sportiva Solution. If you’re climbing challenging boulder problems in the gym or outdoors, pocketed limestone, or overhanging routes, this is an excellent shoe that is worth the high price tag.
- Superior performance on hard and technical problems on the steepest boulders and overhanging sport routes
- Top-notch toe and heel hooking
- Supremely precise edging
- Uncomfortable for all-day wear
- Less versatile than other shoes at this price point