Published on: 04/14/2022The La Sportiva Solution is a classic high-performance shoe. It's still a favorite of advanced climbers for steep sport routes and aggressive bouldering.
The Solution was designed to crush steep terrain. If that is your milieu, whether indoors or out, sport climbing or bouldering, this model deserves a look. It’s not the softest, or the stiffest, or the most aggressive downturned shape, but it hits a sweet middle spot for many intermediate climbers who don’t want their climbing shoes to limit their potential.
In fact, the Solution’s only real weak area is multi-pitch trad climbing, where its lack of support and protection will strain your calves and toes, respectively.
On vertical walls with dime-thin edges, tiny pockets, or glassy crystals, however, the Solution boosts confidence by sticking to everything. Overhanging boulder problems and roofs provide another revelation. Heel hooking, toe hooking, bicycle moves, and other fancy footwork techniques are dispatched with aplomb, so long as your ankles aren’t too narrow.
Read the rest of this La Sportiva Solution review for a deeper dive into this amazing climbing shoe’s technical features and real-world capabilities, then decide if these are the best shoes for you!
- Ultimate confidence on small edges and pockets
- Flexible enough to smear at an elite level, despite aggressive shape
- Sticky rubber wrapping heel and toe box enables hooks and scums at any angle
- Molded 3D heel cup is a love it or hate it affair
- Not useful as a single quiver shoe if you have a thirst for crack climbing
- Velcro strap system on pre-2018 version is fragile
La Sportiva Solution Detailed Analysis
La Sportiva says the Solution is “purposely built to provide the solution for modern bouldering problems.” That should give you a good idea of what type of climbers, and what styles of climbing, the shoes are meant for.
It might also clue you in to who isn’t the ideal customer for these shoes. If you don’t relish the thought of powerful, overhanging routes and technical foot work, save your money and look for less aggressive shoes.
The Solution rock climbing shoes are downturned and highly asymmetric, just short of the most aggressive shoes in La Sportiva’s line. Relative to other La Sportiva models, the Solution is medium-low volume with a performance fit.
Is it the right climbing shoe for you? Let’s find out!
The La Sportiva Solution climbing shoe sports some of the brand’s top technology to achieve its performance and justify its relatively high price. The P3 (Permanent Power Platform) rand system is a patented design that connects the sole and the heel with one continuous structural piece. It allows the shoe to retain its downturned shape long term, and to help focus edging power on the big toe.
The Fast Lacing System is a single strap, single hook-and-loop closure system that has two attachment points on each side of the shoe to achieve a highly customizable fit. A 1.1 mm LaspoFlex midsole only extends under the toe box area, so the arch of the shoe remains highly flexible but edging performance is enhanced with the additional rigidity of that part of the sole.
Next, the Lock Harness System claims to hold the wearer’s heel more securely in place and keep the upper from shifting on one’s foot. It consists of an x-shaped component that wraps from the back of the heel under the arch and over the midfoot.
Finally, the Solution uses the very popular Vibram XS Grip2 rubber in its 4 mm thick outsole. The softest compound in Vibram’s climbing rubber palette, XS Grip2 will wear slightly faster than the XS Grip or XS Edge. The extra stickiness, and resulting elite edging ability, are worth it for a shoe in this category though.
The Solution sells in the upper end of the climbing shoe price range at $185. Mind you, there are other models that cost significantly more. So we still consider the high price a fair to good value, given the higher price of many of its performance peers.
Other Versions of the Solution
The Solution is marketed as a men’s model. However, there is also a La Sportiva Solution Women’s version.
The women’s Solution has several design differences from the men’s version. First, the midsole is thinner in the women’s model, 0.9 mm vs 1.1 mm. This makes it slightly lighter and more flexible versus the men’s.
Second, the women’s version uses a different last compared to the men’s. With an overall lower volume than the same sized men’s version, this would be a good option for men with narrower feet and ankles.
There’s another newer model in the Solution climbing shoe family called the Solution Comp. It also comes in both men’s and women’s versions. The Solution Comps are softer shoes, with more rubber on the toe for better toe hooks, and a narrower heel. For some users who dislike the molded heel of the Solution, the Comp model is a perfect alternative.
People with average to smaller volume feet tend to find the La Sportiva Solution fairly comfortable right away, and fully broken in after a few sessions. However, the shoe has a lot of rubber on top and a partially synthetic upper. As a result, don’t expect this model to stretch much in length; a half size at most.
Reviewers who sized this shoe for high performance were happy choosing one to two sizes lower than street shoe size, depending on personal preference. In any case, the Lock Harness System does enclose your foot in softer materials that create a precise fit, with no voids or rubbing.
Testers don’t consider the Solution an all day wear kind of shoe for long outdoor routes. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an all day shoe for single pitch climbing. It’s just that if you fit the shoe tightly to match its intended use, you won’t want to belay in them.
A handful of reviewers expressed one minor complaint that affects performance more than comfort. Users with narrower ankles and heels found the molded cup too rigid to fully mold and conform to the back of their feet. As a result, they occasionally felt slippage during heel hooking maneuvers and felt less secure as a result.
The Solution’s construction approaches edging from a slightly different perspective. Rather than building an extremely sensitive shoe, or an overly stiff shoe, the shoe designers inserted a partial midsole. This provides a solid edging platform right under the toes but maintains the flexibility and sensitivity of a softer shoe.
The result is quite excellent for the majority of Solution users. The aggressive downturn, grippy XS Grip2 rubber, and slight extra stiffness help your toes cling onto tiny jibs and polished granite edges like extra fingers.
Unlike some shoes that are designed for vertical and steeper terrain, the La Sportiva Solution maintains its high performance on lower angled rock. The two-part outsole and lack of a full-length midsole means you can easily bend your foot, and the shoe, to maintain good contact on slabs and smearing moves.
The softer rubber of the Vibram XS Grip2 formula also gives you the highest friction possible with whatever contact you are able to find. From sandstone slab to granite corners, the Solutions hook up on flatter surfaces and allow you to push without thinking about your feet slipping.
When it comes down to using your feet in ways that require you put pressure on any surface except the bottom of the shoes, the Solution lives up to La Sportiva’s claims as a premier bouldering tool.
With ample rubber half way up the top forefoot and a super sticky molded heel, you’ll never lack contact with grippy rubber no matter what type of move you dream up. For climbers whose feet are a secure fit in the Solutions, they’ve never experienced better shoes for toe and heel hooking.
On the other hand, the 3D molded heel cup led to one of our only shoe complaints. Reviewers with narrower heels and ankles said the stiff nature of the molded rubber didn’t allow for a snug fit. Even worse, the shoe slipped on their foot during high force hooking maneuvers.
There are divided opinions on the Solutions’ suitability for toe and foot jams and other crack climbing specific technique. It may depend on how tightly an individual sizes them and what type of cracks you want to climb.
For some reviewers, the precision footwork allowed by the sharp toe box is perfect for smaller-than-hands size cracks. When the cracks widen, though, to the point where jamming and camming your foot sidways is necessary, the pain and pressure on the top of your foot aren’t bearable for long.
Likewise, on fists and larger cracks, you’ll wish for more support underfoot, and more padding and material around the forefoot and ankle.
These climbing shoes are ideal for short, steep, and challenging terrain. No wonder then that many sport leaders chose the La Sportiva Solution when attempting their hardest projects and redpoints. Their sharply chiseled toe is deadly pulling on pockets in limestone and volcanic tuff, balancing on granite crystals, or smedging polished congolomerate pebbles.
And the steeper the better, as you would expect from a shoe with these design specifications. The combination of a stiffer shoe under the front with a softer midfoot leads to an optimal blend of power and suppleness for gymnastic endeavors that demand sensitivity and high body tension.
Bouldering is the Solution’s highest purpose, according to its manufacturer. It’s hard to argue with that marketing message. Although a slew of newer models have been developed in the past decade, the Solution is still receiving awards as some of the world’s Best Bouldering Shoes.
On short, overhung boulder problems, the Solution’s lack of support doesn’t hinder anything. On the contrary, it’s flexible middle lets you use your feet as prehensile tools in a variety of ways. Pushing, pulling, and hooking on the front, rear, and side of the shoes are possible with the huge surface area of rubber available to make contact.
We already mentioned the issue some users have with performing a heel hook, due to an ill fit with their particular heel and ankle. The problem seemed to be exacerbated by the hardness of the molded rubber heel cup, which also reduced sensitivity.
Indoor Gym Climbing
The Solution is a superb climbing shoe for the local gym. Technical face climbing is what indoor sport leading is all about, with some juggy roofs and slopey volumes thrown in for good measure.
In this environment, the Solution is a shark amongst guppies. Equally adept at stabbing micro chips or smearing a desperately sloping volume, the shoe’s talents are perfectly suited for the plastic canyon.
Technical heel hooks in the bouldering cave are another task easily dispatched by the Solution’s heel, with the proper fit. As we noted, some narrower footed testers found the heel loose or insensitive. The shoe’s toe hooking skills are universally applauded. Generous rubber coverage and a flexiblity makes a solid toe feel like pulling with another hand.
Trad and Crack Climbing
What kind of trad climbing do you like to do? Super technical, thin cracks with holds from finger tips to small hands? The Solution might be magical on this type of route, where its pointier toe and face climbing chops would be a plus.
For hands to offwidth cracks and longer missions, though, the lack of ankle coverage, minimal support, and aggressive shape are real deterrents.
La Sportiva Solution Review: Final Words
Are you fairly experienced and ready to push past 5.10 and V3? Do overhangs and micro footholds trigger a Pavlovian itch to send burly, footwork-intensive routes?
There are newer shoe models with more modern design features than the La Sportiva Solutions. However, none of them have the pedigree of stout lines vanquished and massive global popularity. For many high-level climbers who have worn the Solutions, they are still their number one shoe for hard routes and problems.
The Solution was at the top price point when introduced, but now it almost seems a bargain as other ultra-performance climbing shoes have pushed past $200+. Its moderate aggressiveness also lends itself to a higher level of comfort than other shoes with more extreme designs, without hampering its all around professional level capabilities on the most difficult, technical boulder problems and sport routes.
|Weight||8.9 oz (258 g)|
|Sole thickness||4 mm|
|Activities||Bouldering, Sport Climbing, Gym Climbing|
|Level||Intermediate to Advanced|
|Outsole||Vibram XS Grip2|
|Midsole||1.1 mm LaspoFlex|
Reference: La Sportiva official website
How does the Solution fare against the La Sportiva Miura? Check out our comparison!
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