La Sportiva Futura Review (2023): The Jury is Still Out!
Published on: 02/26/2022
The La Sportiva Futura is a high-performance downturned climbing shoe with great sensitivity but with potential durability issues.
The Futura is not a forgiving, versatile workhorse for climbers of all skill levels. Climb with poor technique, and you’ll find your Futuras wear out quickly. The shoe’s all synthetic upper and soft sole aren’t the most supportive you’ll see on the market, either. If you’re looking for a durable, hardy climbing slipper, then you may want to consider alternative models. However, if you’re in the market for an elite, incredibly sensitive, high-performance shoe, then look no further.
- Short break-in period
- Incredible sensitivity
- More homogeneous wear than most of its competitors
- Offers unparalleled performance when used correctly, especially when edging
- Snug fit can make longer climbs uncomfortable
- Not the most versatile model (it’s a specialized model)
- Longevity leaves something to be desired (especially for less-experienced climbers)
Perhaps one of the most sensitive climbing slippers out there, the La Sportiva Futura comes close to mimicking the feeling of climbing barefoot. This has primarily been made possible thanks to super-thin Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber. La Sportiva has created a climbing shoe that maximizes your feet’ contact with the rock. This aggressive, downturned model shines when edging, smearing, or used on sports climbing routes.
It’s important to note that this model by La Sportiva is quite a specialized shoe. Are you looking for a slipper that smears like a dream or offers maximum edging advantage? If not, we’d likely recommend that you find a more generic, durable shoe, especially if you’re newer to climbing. Despite the better edging performance and downturned power this model boasts, it will wear out quickly if not used correctly.
One of our favorite things about La Sportiva’s Futura model is how quickly the shoe breaks in. Once you’ve worn your Futuras a couple of times, they should completely mold to your feet. This is probably partly due to the lack of artificial edge in the Futuras. La Sportiva shoes use the minimalist No Edge concept instead, and they tend to break in fairly quickly. The ultra-thin Vibram rubber that the Futuras use also adjusts its shape efficiently to your foot. In addition, the Futuras use La Sportiva’s fast lacing system with hook and loop closure. This makes the shoes effortless to pull on and start climbing with. The toe box is also roomy enough to accommodate the big toe without being too tight.
The Futuras will stretch somewhat with use, thanks to their leather inner. Most climbers find that the model stretches about half a European size when breaking in. If you already use La Sportivas, then you’ll likely want to go down a half size when wearing Futuras. Otherwise, try on a pair at your local climbing store and keep in mind that Futuras should fit very snugly. If the shoe is too roomy, then you’ll struggle to get the most out of La Sportiva’s No Edge technology. When playing around with your sizing in these shoes, we’d recommend going up or down in European half sizes. These smaller increments should help you find the best possible fit for your feet.
While the Futura is a very comfortable model, you’ll likely want to steer clear of it for longer routes. This is generally true of any climbing shoe that is so sensitive or soft. The Futura achieves tremendous sensitivity by using the thinnest possible rubber and a very slim profile. So, the shoe doesn’t offer much by way of support, at least when compared to sturdier models. The tight fit of the Futura may also make it uncomfortable to use in general for some.
Still, one strength of the Futura is that it fits a wide range of foot shapes and profiles reasonably well. This is somewhat unusual for such an aggressive shoe with a downturned shape. Do you have something of an unusual foot shape and find it tricky to find a climbing shoe that fits? In that case, the Futura may end up being exactly what you’re looking for.
We’d argue that durability is one area where the Futura falls somewhat flat. While it’s far from being a flimsy model, the shoe doesn’t tolerate being applied improperly to climbing problems. This is especially true of the sole but also the Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber upper. If you want to get the most out of a pair of Futuras, you’ll likely want to be a very experienced, precise climber. Less-than-ideal footwork and maneuvers will probably see your Futuras wearing out faster than you might expect.
Let’s note that it’s possible to resole the Futuras if necessary. One perk of resoling the Futuras is that the toe patch is attached to the sole. So, if you resole your Futuras, you’ll also end up with a new toe patch! However, they proved trickier to resole than other, similarly-priced climbing shoes. As a result of its durability alone, we’d generally only recommend this model to skilled, experienced climbers who make few technical errors.
The edging performance of the La Sportivas sets the shoes apart from their competition. This is partially due to La Sportiva implementing its No Edge concept with these shoes. Historically, shoes designed for edging have used, well, an edge as part of their design. You’ll find that many climbing shoes for edging come with a highly rigid platform at the front of the shoe.
Not the Futura, though. La Sportiva has adopted a novel approach to climbing shoes for edging with its ‘No-Edge technology.’ Rather than equipping shoes with an edge, the idea behind No-Edge technology is to support the natural profile of the foot. La Sportiva achieves this by cradling the front of the shoe with a layer of unique rubber. In turn, this allows the foot to maintain its natural shape. It also allows more power transmission and stability throughout the shoe and much greater sensitivity.
While No Edge shoes are renowned for their edging performance, they also make great shoes for smearing. This is especially true of the Futura, being as sensitive as it is. The sticky rubber that the Futura climbing shoe uses is also incredibly sensitive. We find that this makes for easier smearing, as it helps you stick to just about any rock climbing surface with ease.
Also, the Futura’s increased sensitivity gives you greater confidence when smearing. While good footwork is still important, the Futura is more forgiving than many climbing slippers. The uniform pressure that the Futura creates with its P3 band helps you transfer more power directly to the rock. What’s more, the minimal profile of the rubber upper gives you far more contact with the wall. This helps you get better traction while smearing and find a more optimal placement for your feet.
The Futura offers mostly great performance when heel and toe hooking. The heel on the Futura is especially sensitive compared to similar models. This makes it easier to latch onto even the smallest holds with relative ease. What’s more, the shoe offers excellent structural support when heel hooking. You won’t need to worry about the midsole collapsing, which can sometimes be with such sensitive shoes.
As mentioned above, the Futura is also a reliable option for toe hooks. The toe box is pretty durable and holds up well to most standard toe hook holds that you’ll find out there. One thing to note about the rounded toe patch is that it’s slightly bulkier than on many other shoes. So, you might have some difficulty jamming it into the narrowest of holds.
In our experience, the Futuras held up just fine to different jamming styles. However, we feel that you could quickly wear your Futuras out through frequent jamming. As previously addressed, the Futuras aren’t flimsy per se, but they aren’t the hardiest shoes out there. We feel confident that the rubber upper and sole would take quite a beating on jam-heavy routes. So, we’d advise that you opt for another shoe if your climbing involves heavy jamming.
Use in Different Climbing Styles – How does the Futura Hold Up?
We can argue that you won’t find a better shoe for sport climbing than the Futura. This aggressive, downturned model is perfect for short, technical routes. The La Sportivas’ sensitivity greatly helps with awkward and bad holds. Plus, these are some of the most substantial smearing shoes out there.
While you can climb indoors with a set of La Sportiva Futuras, this is not where you’ll find the model at its best. We’d recommend against investing in a set of Futuras instead of a more durable model for gym usage. If you want to try out the Futuras at the gym, make sure to bring your best footwork!
Bouldering is another area where the Futuras shine. The toe patch works incredibly well for hooking on limestone and granite. What’s more, the Futuras allow you to utilize even the tiniest edges and most awkward holds, thanks to their sensitivity. We feel that hard boulder problems bring out the best in the Futuras; short, technical routes that won’t wear the shoes out.
Overall, the Futuras hold up best when bouldering outdoors. The toe box doesn’t quite have the stickiness that works best for indoor bouldering. However, the Futuras are more than acceptable for indoor bouldering and should get you through most problems without too much issue. We would mainly caution you against wearing them for long training sessions, as you might find that they get worn out very quickly.
Trad and Crack Climbing
You absolutely can use the Futuras for technical trad climbing and crack climbing. However, for the sake of practicality and comfort, you may want to opt for a hardier, more supportive shoe. Unless you climb with near-flawless technique, you’ll likely wear the Futuras out quickly when crack climbing in particular. And, because they are so sensitive, you might find them uncomfortable on longer trad routes. This could be due to the lack of support or their extra snug fit.
Some climbers who prefer sensitive shoes like the Futura for longer routes take them off between pitches to give their feet a break. This is absolutely a viable option, and you may find it worthwhile if you like the level of performance that the Futuras bring to the table.
The La Sportiva Futura truly offers top-of-the-line technical performance and sensitivity. These little Ferraris of the climbing shoe world shine when edging, smearing, or performing technical footwork. Despite their incredibly minimalistic profile, they’re surprisingly comfortable when worn on shorter routes. Most climbers also find that they’re easy to break in and fit a wide range of foot profiles. They also boast some of La Sportiva’s most sophisticated technology, like the fast lacing system and No Edge concept.
However, the many benefits of the Futura come at the cost of excellent technique. If you’re a less experienced climber, or your technique is a work in progress, these might not be the shoes for you. You’ll likely find that you burn the Futuras out reasonably quickly. Given the price tag that the Futura comes at, you may want to opt for a sturdier climbing shoe. At least until you can climb in the way that the Futura demands.
We would argue that the Futuras are good value for money if you use them properly. Take good care of these shoes and wear them on the right routes, and they should last a good while. They’ll also offer some of the best performance you’ll find in a climbing slipper, period. However, if you treat them like your average climbing shoe, they’ll quickly get worn down. Given the price tag that they come with, we’d likely only recommend the Futuras to experienced, technical climbers. Less experienced athletes may risk wearing them out very quickly due to improper use.
|Weight||15.1 oz/430 g|
|Sole thickness||2.3 mm|
|Closure||Laces, Velcro (VS)|
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|Activities||Sport, Bouldering, Crack|
|Level||Intermediate to Advanced|
|Outsole||Vibram XS Grip 2.3 mm|
|Midsole||Anatomical support in Hytrel in the metatarsal region + P3 system. 1.1 mm|
|Upper||Suede leather combined with microfiber|
Reference: La Sportiva Official Website