La Sportiva Skwama Review

Last spring, you started seeing these shoes everywhere. All the pros had them and they were all over Instagram. Which apparently worked it’s marketing magic, because for several months they were really hard to get. So when I finally got a pair in November, I was eager to see what the fuss was all about. I had heard they were positioned as replacing the Python, though if you were looking for a similar shoe you’ll likely be disappointed, as this is a different beast altogether.


They are similar in stiffness to the Solution, perhaps a bit softer, which surprised me as I was under the impression they were replacing the Python and would be similarly soft. That being said, they are incredibly versatile. I’ve used them on steep boulder problems in the gym, techy sandstone face climbs and steep thugfests. They are supremely comfortable, although when I used them for a day of less steep terrain while I was breaking them in, my toes were protesting a little bit by the end. There were also times when they weren’t as sensitive as I would have liked for certain smeary moves, but the trade off was being able to stand comfortably on smaller holds that would require more foot power in a softer shoe. The split-sole construction supposedly allows the sole to spread when weighted, reducing edge deformation, though I can’t say that I found this to be something I did or did not notice.

Split sole construction.

One thing I will note, I’ve seen several reviews out there claiming this is a “soft” shoe, and I don’t think that is accurate. In the Sportiva line, it’s stiffer than the Testarossa, Genius and Futura, and quite a bit stiffer than Scarpa models like the Drago, Furia, Chimera and Booster S. Sure there are stiffer shoes out there, but calling the Skwama soft seems misleading to me.

Because I think they are so similar to the Solutions, I’ll point out a couple key differences. The toe on the Solutions is more pointy, and hence better for pockets, but I thought the Skwama was better for standing on small edges. To me, the Skwamas are more comfortable, which I attribute to the unlined leather. The midsole is also thinner on the Skwamas, being .8 mm of Laspoflex versus 1.1mm on the Solutions, and probably the reason they are a little bit more sensitive.


The single strap closure is simple, easy on easy off. At first they felt pretty tight but they stretched quite a bit, in fact more than any other Sportiva I’ve worn recently. The sizing is a bit wonky, I usually wear a 44.5/45 in Sportiva, but I’m comfortably in a 43.5 in these. Initially I thought maybe they were too small but they broke in very quickly and then I was thinking maybe I could have gone down another half size for mega performance. In the end I think I picked the right size for me. With a narrow foot, I don’t quite fill them out the way a wider foot would, and if you have medium width feet, I imagine these fit perfectly. One other thing to note is that initially they dug into my heel for the first couple times I used them, but that part of the shoe quickly softened up and is no longer an issue.

On my foot, toes are pretty downturned.

Bottom line

I’ve used them in the gym, on local limestone and for the sweet sandstone of Red Rocks. Because they are so supportive, they edge really well, but don’t smear as well as I had hoped. I do find myself reaching for them often, and for an all-around performer, they are an excellent choice. They also buck the trend of all new shoes that are coming out being super expensive, and clock in at a reasonable $165. If you are a fan of the Solutions but want something a little more sensitive, give them a look.

Retail: $165
Sole: 4mm Vibram® XS Grip2
Upper: Leather/microfiber
Lining: Unlined
Ideal use: Steep sport climbing, bouldering
Sizes: 33-46

More info and specs 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!

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

Connect with Us

Real Time Web Analytics