The La Sportiva Mythos is a rock climbing shoe icon. The original model, revised several times over the past 30 years, was recently retired in favor of an updated version with a more earth-friendly construction and production process. Does the new Mythos Eco live up to the standards of the original model on slabs, cracks, and long routes?
The Mythos was designed as an all-arounder in the days before extreme specialization, and highly aggressive geometry became the norm. It’s still a top option for this purpose, even considering its dated technology.
The Mythos Eco will rarely let down beginners who may not know what type of rocks they’ll end up on (from the gym to easy trad). It will faithfully serve until you’re ready to move past its limitations. And then you’ll keep it in your quiver for those times when it’s still the best tool for the job.
- Ultimate all-day comfort once broken in
- High, full wrap-around rand rubber provides durable protection and grip in cracks
- Excellent all-around performance on less than vertical terrain
- Pricey compared to other neutral, flat-lasted shoes
- Several reviewers questioned the Eco’s durability and quality compared to the original
La Sportiva Mythos Detailed Analysis
Description and Technical Features
The original Mythos shoe was introduced in 1991 and became a cult classic, to the extent that La Sportiva issued both 20th- and 30th-anniversary special editions. Then, shortly after that 2021 release, the standard Mythos was discontinued entirely and replaced with the current Mythos Eco model.
The Eco version is nearly identical to the original but uses revised processes and materials to reduce environmental impacts.
The Mythos Eco is shod with 4 mm of La Sportiva’s ECO rubber, which comprises recycled materials from making their other climbing shoes. In addition, the laces, heel loops, and tongue padding contain 95% recycled content. While the upper is still in leather, metal-free tanning produces less toxic waste than traditional processes. La Sportiva also claims this process results in biodegradable leather.
Aside from its updated materials, the Eco shares with the original Mythos a classic design with a flat last. Also unique to all Mythos models a lacing system that loops around your ankle and extends all the way down to the toes. The stretchy unlined leather and adjustable lacing allow for a custom fit that accommodates different foot shapes and high performance for such a comfortable shoe.
La Sportiva Mythos Eco Women’s Version
The Mythos Eco comes in a women’s version with a lower volume last. Otherwise, the women’s Eco is identical in design and construction to the men’s model.
Fit and Comfort
According to one reviewer after another, the Mythos’s most superior trait is its ability to conform to any foot shape. With a flat last, highly adjustable lacing, medium volume, and unlined leather upper, most long-term users report the Mythos Eco to be the most comfortable climbing shoes they have worn after proper breaking in.
Not that the break-in process is particularly painful, but given the Eco’s propensity to stretch, most people wear this model at least one size down from street shoe size. Some even think the soft unlined leather merits going down a few sizes, but I wouldn’t recommend this for a new climber who wants to climb in comfort.
The wide variation on how climbers want their shoes to fit, and the extreme stretch allowed by the soft leather upper, can make sizing La Sportiva Mythos a little tricky.
In any case, after a few good climbing sessions, the Mythos Eco will transform into a gapless, sock-like fit that molds to your feet and to whatever rock surface you choose to stick it on.
Beware if you fit the Mythos with any wriggle room. You’ll find the shoe quickly begins to feel sloppy and unsupportive as the unlined suede upper stretches, with too much room in the toe box for any precise edging.
Given this shoe’s reputation for softness and flexibility, its edging prowess is somewhat surprising. Part of that is due to support provided by the full-length 1.1 mm midsole.
The Mythos’s edging power primarily relies on its snug fit, which allows you to feel smaller edges and other micro features and find the optimal stance. This leads to more of a smedging technique on smaller holds, as the shoe’s sole molds onto the feature rather than remaining rigid and supportive.
As you might expect from this description, the Mythos Eco is overmatched in technical face climbing on vertical or steeper terrain. Sloping footholds and dime edges on overhanging boulder problems is another recipe for frustration.
The Mythos is more than up for the task if your climbing objectives provide secure edges on lower angled rock.
As noted, the Mythos Eco is designed as an all-day cragging shoe for beginner to intermediate level climbing. The features that make the shoe comfortable also contribute to the Mythos’s superb smearing ability.
The flat profile and flexibility allow your foot to bend and create maximum surface contact between rubber and rock, one of the main benefits of softer shoes.
The only downside reported in smearing is related to the ECO rubber used in the outsole. A few users felt this compound offered less grip and traction than La Sportiva’s other formulas (Vibram XS Edge and XS Grip) used on La Sportiva’s other rock climbing shoes.
Toe and Heel Hooking
The laces on the Mythos Eco run all the way down to the top of the toe knuckles, which is excellent for sizing versatility but terrible for toe hooking. There is very little rubber on the toe box to engage and grip the rock.
Thanks to the Mythos’s tight fit, heel hooks are slightly more accessible and secure. However, the heel is shallow and angled, so it’s difficult to put a lot of pressure on tricky footholds.
The La Sportiva Mythos climbing shoe excels at moderate crack climbing. The generous forefoot volume and flat last make them ideal for jamming your feet into cracks in any orientation without pain. Also, the leather upper and high rubber rand aid durability and grip when jamming and camming.
Best Uses for the La Sportiva Mythos
The Mythos Ecos are fine for sport climbs on lower angled routes and climbs with a mix of slab and crack climbing. For steep face climbing on edges, pockets, and similar small features, you’ll quickly find the Mythos Eco is out of its element and be wishing for a stiffer shoe with less blunted toes.
Trad climbing is the Mythos Eco’s highest calling. Indeed, trad routes take longer, on average, and are more likely to be multiple pitches. The Mythos’ high comfort level, durability, size adjustability, and crack climbing abilities all combine into a climbing shoe that is more than the sum of its parts.
The Mythos will hold you back on overhanging terrain and micro-sized footholds, so anything beyond the lowest bouldering grades will prove unnecessarily challenging for most climbers. There are soft shoes designed for bouldering, but they all have much more aggressive downturns and asymmetrical shapes.
Pushing grades at the local climbing gym isn’t the Mythos Eco’s strong suit. Indoor climbing tends toward steep walls, and plastic footholds reward shoes with a stronger underfoot platform. Beginners especially will have a hard time sticking to anything small on an artificial wall in the Mythos.
La Sportiva Mythos Review Conclusion
Some climbers wonder why La Sportiva even continues to make an old-school shoe like the Mythos. Fans of the shoe swear they’ll keep buying them forever.
Whatever your climbing ability may be, if you’ve been looking for the most comfortable shoe for all-day slab and crack climbing adventures, it might be worth the price to test out the La Sportiva Mythos Eco rock shoe.
|Weight||8.2 oz./233 g|
|Sole thickness||4 mm|
|Activities Trad, Crack, Face|
|Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced|
|Outsole||4mm La Sportiva ECO rubber (recycled)|
Reference: La Sportiva official website
Where to Buy It?
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Eric Neyer was introduced to the joys of rock climbing while studying creative writing in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. He has lived and climbed all over Colorado for the past 20 years. Currently residing in southern Colorado, on most weekends you’ll find Eric sport climbing the local granite or limestone, scouting out the next great boulder problem, or hiking one of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks.