Anyone who’s ever bought La Sportiva climbing shoes knows they can be a bitch to break in. That’s par for the course with most climbing shoes. Some rock hounds refuse to wear anything that doesn’t torture their feet in medieval-type ways. Others buy several sizes higher in hopes of avoiding that pain until they discover that loose climbing shoes don’t really cut it in rock climbing when things get intense.
So how exactly do you break in La Sportiva climbing shoes? Well, it’s trial and error for many climbers, but generally speaking, it comes down to this.
You can either:
1 – Buy Women’s La Sportiva climbing shoes. They have genderless colors, and many guys find they’re less painful than the man’s shoe. This is a common practice with the La Sportiva Solution.
2 – Buy La Sportiva SOFT climbing shoes that are about 2-3 sizes smaller than your regular street shoes, or 1-2 size smaller for STIFF climbing shoes (for trad rock climbing). That’s made a little more dicey if you’re a North American climber because La Sportivas are European shoes and, guess what – they use European sizes!
3 – Break in your climbing shoes
Relax, I got you covered. Let’s look closer at La Sportiva climbing shoe sizing, and how you might avoid that whole thing about climbing shoes so painful you wish you were dead.
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La Sportiva Climbing Shoes: Size Chart
La Sportiva uses European shoe sizes. They use half sizes similar to North American sizing. For example, in Canada and the United States, you might buy climbing shoes sized 9, 9.5 or 10. Each size goes up in half size increments.
With La Sportiva Climbing shoes, those exact Men’s shoe sizes are 42, 42.5 and 43.
Here is La Sportiva’s shoe size chart.
To find your size with La Sportiva, men and women should both use the ‘Euro’ size from this chart.
It’s also important to distinguish between stiff and soft climbing shoes. While that’s a huge topic (and debate) to itself, generally speaking, here’s how that works:
Stiff Climbing Shoes Are Good For:
New Climbers Who Need to Develop Their Foot and Toe Muscles
Climbing For Long Periods
‘Edging’, and Powering Up Surfaces
Soft Climbing Shoes Are Good For:
Climbers Concerned About Shoe Pain (and Downsizing Your Climbing Shoes Considerably)
Trying to ‘Level Up’ Your Climbing Skills
For Better Sensitivity
How to Find the Right Climbing Shoes
Finding the right climbing shoes is a trial-and-error process. Generally speaking, the La Sportiva Solution, which is a tighter climbing shoe, is the best all-around shoe for experienced climbers. Those new to the sport may want something a little softer, which means less rubber, and more comfort, like Tarantulas – and no, they’re not big hairy spiders.
Climbing shoes are about finding the right balance between comfort, skill, and what kind of climbing you’re going to do. La Sportiva is a good line to choose from. It’s arguably the biggest name among climbing shoes and has a variety of options to fit pretty much any sole, skill level and other variables to consider when you weigh your options.
La Sportiva Climbing Shoes: Finding The Right Fit
We’ll discuss what to do after you select your perfect shoe. First, a closer look at La Sportiva climbing shoes, and how to find the one that works.
Also, consider this:
All-Around (Neutral) Styling – These are more general climbing shoes, with less of a downturn, in which your toes will be flatter (rather than curled). These are good for the gym, climbing walls and most outdoor terrain. They’re more comfortable than Aggressive Climbing Shoes.
Aggressive Styling – Aggressive climbing shoes have a pronounced ‘downturn’. They’re less comfortable than all-around general climbing shoes, however, they’re very good for bouldering, steep faces, overhangs and technical climbing for those with more advanced skills.
La Sportiva Solution – Best Technical Climbing Shoe
Use It For: Bouldering, Edging, Free Climbing, Trad Climbing
Try This: Drop 1.5 Euro Sizes, or 2.5 Euro Sizes For Extremely Technical Climbing OR Buy Women’s Shoe
La Sportiva Solution is a tight climbing shoe with an ‘aggressive’ downturned toe. This makes it excellent for pockets and toe-hooking. This is a stiff shoe, and it’s excellent for edging and powering up surfaces, although it’s not suitable for long climbs. Also, if you’re a guy, give serious thought to buying women’s La Sportiva Solutions. They’re not as tight, and they have genderless colors.
If you buy the women’s shoe as a man, you might want to go down about one half Euro sizes.
La Sportiva Tarantula – Best Climbing Shoe For Beginners
La Sportiva Tarantulas are a good beginner climbing shoe. It’s a lace-up or velcro shoe that you can use in the gym, on a climbing wall, outside and building up both your foot and toe muscles and climbing skills in general. They’re more comfortable than La Sportiva Solutions, and while not quite as durable, they’re relatively easy to break in. They will stretch a little.
La Sportiva Finale – Good For Mid-Level Climbers
Use It For: Edging, Durability, Comfort, Longer Climbing Sessions
La Sportiva Finale is a good shoe for mid-level climbers. It doesn’t excel at technical climbing quite like Solutions, nor does it bring the same comfort as Tarantulas. It does, however, bring good durability and more comfort than a highly technical shoe. This is the climbing shoe for longer climbs when you’ll be doing a little of everything. A good shoe between Tarantula’s starting point and Solution’s durability.
La Solution Kataki – Good Comfortable Technical Shoe
Use It For: Crack Climbing, Edging, Longer Technical Climbs
Try This: Drop 1.5 Euro Sizes (Technical Climbers)
La Sportiva Katakis are a ‘comfortable’ technical climbing shoe. Yes, those really do exist, and they don’t trade off performance either. Katakis are an aggressive-styled shoe built with the same P3 platform as the Solution, and indeed, some climbers find them superior to the latter for edging and climbing granite cracks. This is a good medium foot-sized shoe – one you can likely wear for longer climbs than some of the more intense technical shoes.
La Sportiva Katana – Best For Narrow Feet
Use For: Narrow Feet, Versatile Climbs, Long Climbs, Edging
Try This: Drop 1 Euro Size (Standard Climbing), 1.5 Euro Sizes (Technical Climbing)
Katanas are a good climbing shoe for people with narrow feet. It’s an all-around neutral-styled climbing shoe, with durability thanks to its Vibram XS rubber sole and a snug heel. Still, it’s a comfortable shoe, provided you don’t have wide feet, and more than holds it own in cracks and edging up rock faces. You can wear them on longer climbs too. The drawback? They’re among the more expensive La Sportiva climbing shoes – and they can be hard to find.
La Sportiva Futura – Good For ‘Climbing Feedback’ (Yes, Really)
Use It For: Sensitivity, Edging, Cracks
Try This: Drop 1.5 Euro Sizes (For Technical Climbers) or 2.5 Euro Sizes (If You’re Alex Honnold)
Can climbing shoes actually tell you what you’re doing wrong? If it’s the La Sportiva Futura, the answer is Yes. These are sensitive shoes, thanks to the same P3 Midsoles found in other La Sportiva Climbing shoes, like Muira VS. That helps it keep its shape under pressure, with a soft, synthetic upper that easily slides on. Think of Futuras like your climbing nanny – one that excels at edging and cracks, and offers feedback whether you like it or not.
La Sportiva Testarossa – Best Technical Shoes For Wide Feet
Use it For: Wide Feet, Bouldering, Overhangs
Try This: Drop 1.5 Euro Sizes, or 2.5 Euro Sizes For Super-Technical Climbing
The La Sportiva Testarossa is an aggressive climbing shoe for advanced climbers with wide feet. They’re a curved shoe that you wouldn’t wear in cracks or flatter routes. But they will simply tear boulders apart and/or eat vertical overhangs for breakfast. Or another way to look at it: do you have wide feet and want to hit up some boulders? The Testarossa is your shoe.
FAQS About Sizing La Sportiva Shoes
That’s a lot to take in, and finding the right climbing shoes can be a little confusing, especially if you’re new to the field. These are some of the more common questions people ask about La Sportiva climbing shoes related to sizing, fit, and the right shoe for their needs.
How Do I Find the Right Climbing Shoes?
That depends on your skill, your feet, and what you’ll be doing. La Sportiva climbing shoes have a good selection for pretty much all climbers at every stage of their rock climbing journey. The best climbing shoe for beginners will likely be Tarantulas. La Sportiva Solution is the best technical climbing shoe. And there are a variety of shoes to choose from between those extremes.
Are Climbing Shoes Supposed to Be Tight?
Yes, but not too tight. All-around, neutral-styled climbing shoes like Tarantulas are flat. They’re ‘soft’ climbing shoes and not as tight as more aggressive, technical shoes, like the Futura or Solution. They will likely be tight at first though – especially if you’ve never worn climbing shoes.
As you gain climbing experience, you will likely trade up for more advanced, aggressive climbing shoes with down-turned toes for cracks, edges and boulders. Technical shoes are tighter, and harder to break in, than soft beginner climbing shoes. However, by that point, you will have already built your toe and feet muscles, so you’ll likely have more tolerance for them.
Keep in mind that tight climbing shoes offer more support. If you go with La Sportiva Futuras, they will likely ‘teach’ you to be a better climber because they’re so sensitive.
How Many Sizes Should I Go Down With La Sportiva?
La Sportiva climbing shoes are sized a little smaller than other options. If you’re a new climber, go with Tarantulas and you might go down about half a Euro size, or none at all (because they’re a ‘soft’ climbing shoe, and they will stretch to your feet). The more advanced you get, the tighter shoes you’ll want.
So, you might want to do this:
Beginner Climbers – Buy your normal size
Standard Climbers – Drop 1 Euro Size
Technical Climbers – Drop 1.5 – 2 Euro Sizes
Super-Technical Climbers – Drop 2.5 – 3 Euro Sizes
Keep in mind this will vary according to each shoe we’ve discussed. But it gives you a good idea of how to size La Sportiva Climbing Shoes.
How Do I Break In La Sportiva Shoes?
There are two good ways to break in climbing shoes:
Shower Method – Wear the climbing shoes in the shower. Get out, walk around (indoors) on towels, and then before they dry, stuff them with newspaper filling for a few more hours, take it out, and walk around in them again. Then, take them climbing. Repeat as required.
Freezer Method – Fill two bags with water, put them in the shoes, and put the shoes in the freezer until the next day.
Some climbers find the Shower Method is more effective, so if you go with the Freezer Method, you may have to do it several times.
Remember, climbing shoes should be tight. But if they’re destroying your toes after you’ve broken them in, that’s likely too tight. Soft climbing shoes are easier to break in than tight climbing shoes, so if it’s your first pair, you’ll probably want to go with La Sportiva Tarantulas or another soft shoe.
La Sportiva climbing shoes are a little smaller than others, like Five Tens, but many climbers swear they’ll wear nothing else. With the selection and quality they bring, it’s not hard to see why.