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An amazing shoe if you can get over the sticker shock...The Solutions are really a well designed shoe aimed at steep and technical over-hang climbing. Minimally designed to give you what you need and nothing else.
I previously demo'd these a year ago and chose to go with the Testarossa's (my feet are medium with, low volume) for the versatility of laces and even though they share many features with the Solutions I eventually came back to the idea of a slipper/velcro shoe that was easier to get on and off. So after a year in Tesstarossas, here i am with another pair of Solutions. Most of the time i'm climbing with the velcro barely strapped as the mesh sock design provides more than enough support for most problems. Granted, the break-in time for the Solutions takes a bit of time in comparison to the Tesstarossas so keep that in mind. The toe box is mostly rubber and isn't nearly as forgiving as a full leather toebox. I sized down 1 full size and haven't had any issues like hot-spots or air pockets.
I needed a shoe to help push me past a plateau. I wanted something more aggressive but not insanely down-turned and of course, comfortable. I have a fairly narrow, low-volume, medium width foot with a narrow heel and despite there being just the slightest dead space in the heel the Katana fits very well. I rarely lace them up, usually climbing with them open. The inner sock design of the tongue is snug enough to provide enough support unless i need to throw a heel hook down.
Don't let the photos fool you though, the Katanas have a significant downturn and a very slight pocket underneath the toes, not as much as the Solutions or the Testarossas but enough to really help with steeper routes. On the flip side, the Katanas aren't so aggressive that smearing is impossible. I wear a mens size 8 (40.5) and downsized a full size to a 7 (39.5) with very little break-in time. the shoes are tight but that's the way i like em. I was very happy with them right out of the box and they made the transition to over-hang bouldering a breeze.
After owning and climbing in them for three months i do have a couple gripes. 1) the P3 design that is suppose to maintain the downturn of the shoe flattened out quite a bit. however i think it was because i felt the shoes were so comfortable i walked around in them, thus, flattening out the shoe much quicker. 2) the inner sock described before makes cleaning the inside of the shoe really hard (this is a strange gripe but i maintain and clean the inside of my shoes to keep bacteria and overall grossness out, thus decreasing the stink).
Overall, awesome shoe for those looking to break out of the beginner mold and find a good all round shoe to climb different types of terrain.
I just recently purchased the Katanas after trying the Solutions for a week of climbing and i must say i am impressed at how dynamic the shoe feels for how simple it looks. Amazing edging power, super sticky rubber and an easy going fit add up to fantastic shoe.
They fit my feet very well (i am medium to large width, low volume narrow heeled foot shape), perfectly snug when sized a full size down from my street size. They are in fact a fairly aggressively shaped shoe so don't be fooled by the images provided. I thought i was going to hate laces but they really do offer more options in fit. the internal lining and unique tubular tongue design is snug enough to allow my foot to breath and still offer enough support for easier routes without having to fully lace up.
the toe shape is similar to the Solution and Miura's but without the rounded aspect to them so the Katanas smear much better than those shoes yet offer enough down turn and point to keep you from cutting your feet in caves and overhangs. Surprisingly thin soled, they have great sensitivity while offering good mid sole stiffness.
It's the perfect shoe for anyone looking to upgrade from a beginner shoe. I haven't seen too many people wearing the lace up versions which makes me think this shoe is going unnoticed as a high performance shoe when compared to other brands and other La Sportiva models.
granted, i did not own the Solutions for very long, they're are a super aggressive asymmetrical down turned shoe for the most technical of climbs. i tried them out for a week and besides the fit (i have a medium width food and narrow heel), i thought they were an amazing shoe. never cut my feet, solid heel hooks thanks to the thin rubber. great toe hooks too. the fit was snug even without the straps locked down.
what killed them for me was how tight and uncomfortable the area was around the Achilles tendon. the exposed seams for the pull straps bit into my heel so badly it left it raw and red every time i climbed. the pain wasn't worth the pros.
pros: - sticky rubber
- amazing toe shape great for overhangs
- flexible sole
cons: - expensive
- uncomfortable break-in time, the nearly covered toe box doesn't stretch to accommodate foot shape.
- extreme down turn can create air pockets in the heel
- bad Achilles area
- strap closure system frayed easily, if i kept them longer they most likely would've broken.
for those of you who have or currently own the La Sportiva Solution, how much have the shoes stretched? i recently purchased these and downsized a full size and a half(39.0) from my street shoe size and i could only tolerate having them on my feet for a couple pitches max.