It’s common for new climbers to find the world of climbing gear somewhat daunting to break into or fully understand. Finding the right climbing shoe can seem quite overwhelming at first blush. How on earth do you find the right model for you with so many different offerings on the market?
Experienced climbers often use highly aggressive, technical shoes on the wall, which enable them to pull off tricky maneuvers with relative ease. However, premium shoes like these aren’t always the most beginner-friendly. If you’re new to climbing, you’ll likely benefit more from something that strikes a good balance between support and comfort.
La Sportiva is one of the most significant shoe manufacturers in the climbing world. The brand’s Tarantulace and Finale models are often touted as two of the top slipper models for beginner to intermediate climbers. But which of the two is likely to be the better option for you? In this article, we break down the differences between these two La Sportiva shoes and their strengths and weaknesses.
Our Breakdown of the La Sportiva Finale and Tarantulace Climbing Shoes
The Tarantulace – a Highly Neutral, Comfortable Beginner Shoe
When you’re new to climbing, having a supportive, comfortable shoe goes a long way. Building up your technique and conditioning for the sport takes time, and having the best beginner climbing shoe can make a huge difference in how much you’re able to get out of your training sessions. The La Sportiva Tarantulace is one of our favorite beginner shoes right now, thanks to its durability, comfort, and support.
The Tarantulace boasts decent performance across just about all climbing areas, offering impressive versatility no matter where you take it. Its generous use of thick rubber (5mm FriXion RS sticky rubber for the sole) makes the Tarantulace a highly durable shoe. The suede leather upper also keeps the shoe comfortable and breathable and keeps pressure points to a minimum. Overall, the Tarantulace seems aimed at beginner climbers looking to prioritize comfort and adjust to the sport rather than providing a high-performance climbing experience.
The Finale – an Intermediate Bouldering-Focussed Shoe with Elite Qualities
If you’re an intermediate climber looking to take their footwork to the next level or explore more complex boulder problems, then the popular La Sportiva Finale may be just the shoe for you. Offering respectable versatility and performance at a reasonable price point, the Finale is especially adept on bouldering routes and boasts decent sensitivity. The Finale uses a Vibram XS Edge 1.1mm sole and a highly breathable suede leather upper, keeping it relatively comfortable and offering good sticking power for smearing and edging.
While the Finale isn’t the ideal shoe for more steep terrain, it can easily handle just about any other climbing style. The shoe uses an unlined leather upper and laces, making it easy to get a tighter fit and minimize empty space in its interior. We’d say that this shoe is aimed at climbers with some experience who need a balance between good performance and a high level of comfort.
Key Differences Between the Finale and the Tarantula
Build and Design Features
The Finales are more expensive shoes than the Tarantulaces, which ultimately shows their build quality to some extent. The Vibram XS Edge rubber that the Finales use offers better performance than the Tarantulaces’ FriXion sole in terms of sticking power and durability. And while the Tarantulace’s sole is thicker (1.8mm) and thereby more comfortable, it also limits its sensitivity significantly. The Finale’s 1.1mm sole is still reasonably thick, but the difference is enough that you can simply feel much more with the Finales than you can wear the Tarantulaces.
The toe box is another area where the Tarantulace and Finale differ. Designed with comfort in mind, the Tarantulace has a low-asymmetry, low-profile toe box, which gives the toe plenty of room but limits technical flexibility. On the other hand, the Finale has a toe box with greater asymmetry – this is less comfortable than the Tarantulace’s toe box but allows you to do far more with the shoe technically. For moves like toe hooking, smearing, and toe scumming, the Finale’s toe box makes the shoe feel like a far stabler and more viable option than the Tarantula.
In addition, another thing that sets the Tarantulaces apart from the Finales is that they use a quick pull lacing system. This makes the Tarantulaces quicker to get on and lace up than the Finales. While this isn’t necessarily a game changer, it is a nice touch that makes getting the shoes on feel less finicky.
Unlike most climbing shoes made by La Sportiva, the Tarantulace and Finale both have a less aggressive, more comfort-orientated profile. However, we would argue that the Tarantulace is the more comfortable and wearable of the two models. We found the Tarantulace’s lace closure easier to adjust, allowing us to get a truly dialed-in fit.
From a comfort standpoint, this is crucial because it prevents your shoe from putting excess strain on your foot muscles. The Tarantulace also sports a nice, roomy toe box, helping to protect your foot in thin cracks or on smaller holds. We recommend the Tarantulace for moderate multi-pitch climbs or longer projects. Being a relatively more aggressive and sensitive shoe, the Finale offers better technical performance but is less comfortable for more extended periods of use.
Another area where you’ll notice significant differences between the Tarantulace and Finale is the shoes’ performance in various climbing styles. While the Tarantulace is arguably one of the best beginner climbing shoes on the market right now, it can’t always compete with the Finale in terms of raw performance capabilities.
One example of this is more advanced technical maneuvers like heel hooks. While its heel cup feels durable and reasonably sturdy, the Tarantulace has such a neutral profile that riskier heel hook moves just don’t feel that viable; you just can’t quite get the leverage you need. The Tarantulace also doesn’t hold up quite as well to crack climbing as the Finale.
And while the Tarantulace offers good stability for edging, we found that it couldn’t compete with the Finale in this area. The Finale uses Vibram’s XS Edge rubber and a higher tension rand, giving it excellent stability and support for edging.
Which is the Right Climbing Shoe for You?
Both the Finale and Tarantulace are very respectable offerings for beginner to intermediate climbers looking for a pair of climbing shoes worth investing in. Which of the two models will be the better option for you depends on your proficiency as a climber and the types of projects you’re looking to tackle.
If you’re a beginner or aren’t treating climbing as an especially serious hobby, then the Tarantulace may be the right choice for you. It’s a great rock climbing shoe if you’re mainly looking for something accessible, comfortable, and budget-friendly. The Tarantulace is comfortable enough to wear for longer sessions, offers decent versatility, and represents excellent value thanks to its durability.
However, if you’ve already got some climbing experience or are looking to take the sport more seriously, the Finale might be the better shoe for you. Thanks to its more aggressive profile, the Finale offers superior performance to the Tarantulace in several areas, especially on routes requiring more precision or technical footwork. While it comes at a higher price than the Tarantula, we think the Finale is a worthwhile investment if you want to take your climbing to the next level.