La Sportiva Python

Gym Performance / Comfort

Ultimately, the Python’s ability to perform at a relatively high level while remaining comfortable is the shoe’s defining feature, and allows the Python to really shine as an indoor climbing and training shoe.

When I go to the gym to train, I am able to put the Pythons on when I arrive, and only have to remove them a few times during a two-to-three-hour session. And when I do take them off, it’s usually only because I am taking a longer rest between climbs and not because my toes have gone numb or because my feet need a break from any significant discomfort. I have even been bringing the Python along when I go bouldering outside as a warm-up shoe, because I can keep them on without any discomfort as I move through my warm-up circuit.


Another feature I have been extremely pleased with is the Python’s ability to heel hook. While the heel is less narrow than that of the Five Ten Dragon, I have found that it fits my narrow-to-average-sized heel well without any substantial dead space and performs exceedingly well, especially for a slipper. On even the most powerful heel hooks, I have never had a problem with the Python heel getting pulled off, which I have almost come to expect with slippers. This is not to say that the Python is an all-around heel-hooking machine, as lace-up shoes such as the Five Ten Dragon and La Sportiva Testarosa still provide more a more secure heel-hooking platform. But when compared to other slippers such as the La Sportiva Cobra, the Pythons perform exceptionally well.

Ultimately, the reason for this is that La Sportiva included the single Velcro tension strap to help keep the shoe snug to the foot and the slingshot rand for the midsole to keep one heel locked into the heel cup.

To further improve heel hooking performance, La Sportiva also included full Vibram® XS Grip 2 rubber coverage on the outside of the heel cup. This extra rubber helps ensures that the Python could handle everything from technical to powerful heel hooks with ease.

Additionally, this wider heel profile will likely accommodate a wider variety of foot types than the narrower Dragon heel. Essentially, just like with the toe, the Python heel does not provide the same security as the top-level performance shoes, but does not sacrifice much performance for being such a comfortable slipper.

Rubber / Sensitivity

The Python also features 3.5 mm Vibram® XS Grip 2 rubber. In terms of stickiness, I have been very pleased with the Python. Whether on delicate smears, recessed pockets, or plastic holds in the gym, the Vibram® XS Grip 2 has provided the necessary friction to get the job done.

La Sportiva Python, Blister Gear Review
Matt Pincus in the La Sportiva Python, The Happy Spaniel V6, Joes Valley, Utah (phot0 by Noah Hanawalt).

In terms of sensitivity, the 3.5mm rand creates an extremely sensitive shoe that allowed me to feel even the most minute features of any foothold. Ultimately, this added sensitivity over shoes like the Evolv Shaman, which has a 4.2mm rand, is, in my opinion, one of the Python’s best attributes, as the extra feel allows climbers to be even more precise with foot placement, especially on delicate smears.

This is not to say, however, that the Python is a perfect all-around shoe that can handle every type of foothold. In fact, because the thinner rand trades stiffness for sensitivity, I find that the Python does not edge nearly as well as shoes like the La Sportiva Miura or the Five Ten Dragon. Ultimately, this tradeoff simply means that the Pythons should not be considered an all-around shoe for outdoor performance, but more of a quiver shoe that can be used when a little extra sensitivity and feel are required.


This is the only major drawback of the Python as a comfortable, mid-level performance shoe for outdoor climbing and gym training. Other than some isolated delaminating of the toe-hook rubber on one shoe, the Pythons have held up fairly well to the abuse of several gyms sessions a week. But since the rand is on the thinner side, I have noticed that over the three or so months I have been climbing in the Python, the high-wear point on the inside of the big toe is already starting to shoe signs of significant wear.

Bottom Line

The Python is a moderately aggressive slipper that is designed to perform well as a bouldering, sport climbing, and gym shoe, yet it still remains comfortable. Climbers looking for a shoe with a supremely comfortable fit that does not sacrifice much on the performance front should give the Python a look.


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