La Sportiva Genius Review

la-sportiva-geniusThe Genius is the latest offering from La Sportiva, featuring the same No-Edge technology that I first tried and loved on the Futura.

If you aren’t familiar with this technology, take a look at the video here (skip ahead to 1:40 unless you want to watch the cheesy intro.) The main idea is that it gets your foot closer to the rock, and creates more contact between the rubber and the hold you are standing on, which means better sensitivity, and improved footwork. So what does that look like in the real world, outside of some fancy marketing video?

Before winter closed it’s iron fist around Western Colorado, I got to try out a challenging route I’d never been on before at a local crag. It features devious, techy climbing on small holds with generally poor feet. The kind of climb where you are looking down for footholds and think, well, there ain’t much but I guess I’ll try standing on that! Even though I’d been wearing the Geniuses for a couple months at this point, I was surprised at how easily (and confidently) I could stand on small bumps and smears as I worked out the technical sequences.

In Maple Canyon, they excelled on the steep, slick cobbles, and something you generally hear across the board from people who’ve worn them is that they smear very well, though I do think they feel a tad bit stiffer than the Futuras. I love how precise they feel for steep sport climbing, and of course the red and yellow is just fun. (Unless you hate Ronald McDonald, then you might not think so.)

Built on the same last as the Testarossa, the 3mm of XS Grip2 is delightfully sensitive, while the P3 platform supports your foot even on less steep, technical terrain. Most lace ups don’t toe hook well, but thanks to the ample rubber on the toe down the front of the shoe, these excel in that category as well. Also, while it hasn’t been my experience, others have said that you can afford to be a little less precise with your foot placements because the No-Edge shape is more forgiving than hitting the sweet spot on a traditional shoe.

It’s easy to look at the shape of the shoe, the No-Edge, the price tag, and think these must be for high-end climbing only. And while it’s true I don’t use them as my everyday shoe, they excel on steep terrain, regardless of what grade you’re climbing. For people who like the Solution or Testarossa, this is the next step up the evolutionary ladder. It’s also worth noting that if you’re curious about some of the new high-end shoes out there like the Furia or Team VXi, this is more supportive than both of those.

The only downside is that they retail for $190, which makes them the most expensive shoe on the market. However, climbing shoes are the only piece of gear that can really affect your climbing, and if you are looking for a precision tool for your latest project, these are worth checking out.

Also, it’s important to note that Rock and Resole can resole these now, so you should be able to get several seasons out of them, which helps take a little sting out of the price.

Fit: My street shoe is a 46, and 43.5 in these is perfect for the steeps. I originally tried 43’s but it was just too tight. If that’s how you roll, maybe you’ll like it. I have a very narrow foot, if you have a wider foot, they probably won’t feel as comfortable. They are unlined and will stretch out a bit, but not as much as Testarossas due to the rubber on the toes.

Retail: $190
Sizes: 32-46
Upper: Suede leather/microfiber
Sole: 3mm Vibram XS Grip2
Midsole: 1.1mm LaspoFlex
Stretch: 1/4-1/2 size.
Break-in time: Generally feels pretty good right out of the box, after a couple sessions you’re good to go.
Ideal use: The steeps.

More info on the La Sportiva website.

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

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