Gear Review: La Sportiva Futura Climbing Shoe
The La Sportiva Futura is an aggressive sport climbing and bouldering shoe with a narrow toe profile. I wore this shoe sport climbing on limestone around Mesquite, Nevada. Usually a shoe with no edge would have me guessing, but after an adjustment period, I found these shoes made my feet stronger and eliminated my sloppy footwork.
Profile Shape: Aggressive downturn
Asymmetrical Curvature: High
Closure Style: Webbing with hook-and-loop tab
Upper Fabric: Leather / synthetic leather
Sole: 3mm Vibram XS Grip2
Weight (Single): 8oz (225g)
Additional Features: Pull-on tabs
Size Tested: EU 40
Foot circumference around the ball: 10.5in
Foot circumference around the arch: 10.25in
Foot-sole length From longest toe to back of heel: 10.25in
The La Sportiva Futura works best on featured sport climbing. The narrow toe profile allows for digging into small pockets, edges and tiny wrinkles in the rock. The softness of the shoe makes it great for pulling in on holds. I’d suggest the shoe for an advanced boulderer or sport climber.
The shoe fit snugly at first but stretched a bit. They broke in very quickly. I wear a 40 Solution and bought 40 Futuras. The shoes felt easier to slip on than the Solutions but stretched a little less. As the shoe broke in, I had to use the closure a lot more, but the downturned nature of the shoe lasted longer than in Solutions. The heel cup felt reasonable. I was able to perform fairly technical heel hooking, but if I wanted to send a Squamish heel hooking test piece, I’d wear Miuras. The toe box is narrower than other La Sportiva shoes, but after some wear, I learned to take advantage of the difference and enjoy it.
Durability & Construction
The shoe follows La Sportiva’s standards. As you would expect from fine Italian shoes, the stitching lasted a significant time, and the rubber is solid. The Futuras would be hard to resole, but the lack of edges translates into a longer-lasting shoe. I also had some delamination on the inside edge of my left shoe; I suspect this is partly because I wore the shoes on over a hundred pitches of difficult sport climbing and a solid 16 hours and 100 boulder problems at Dogpatch. I also ground them down on the slabs of Yosemite just to double check.
I was initially skeptical of the lack of edges. “The rounded sole offers extra sensitivity and conforms very well to shallow dishes and ‘dimples’ in the rock where maximum surface area and friction are required,” said La Sportiva athlete manager Ian Achey. After a few adjustment pitches, I learned that instead of edging, I could smear. The narrow toe made placing my foot in the tiny limestone pockets easier and added precision to my foot placements. The downturn and softness of the shoe allowed me to pull my weight over my foot. The shoe felt extremely sensitive, a nice feature when stepping on tiny wrinkles on the Camp 4 slab circuit. The shoe changed my climbing style a bit, and it’s always nice when this old dog learns some new tricks. The Vibram XS Grip 2 provides great friction. I prefer the stiffer feel of the Vibram XS as opposed to the softer Stealth C4 rubber. I’d save these shoes for bouldering and sport climbing. You could take them on multi-pitch sport routes, but they’re better for routes and problems closer to the ground.
The wrap-around webbing with hook-and-loop closure helps cinch the shoes down more than a simple slipper style does. The pull tabs on the rear help with a tight fit. These are standard features of any aggressive shoe, and La Sportiva did a good job. The hook-and-loop tab works well and stays closed. I liked the simplicity of the shoe and the No-Edge concept. The no-edge concept will definitely change the way people stand on their feet and the way they climb.
Sport climbers and boulders looking to up their game on steep or technical terrain would do well with this shoe. It heel hooks, edges, smears, and toes in with awesome precision, especially on pockets. The rounded edge will change your climbing style in a positive manner. If you need something extra sensitive, the Futura is ideal. This shoe is a great one to add to the quiver.