La Sportiva Solution
Sizes: 33-46, including half sizes
Material: Leather, Lorica
Lining: HF (toe-box and arch)
Midsole: 1mm Lapsoflex (toe only)
Sole: Vibram XS Grip 2
Weight: 8.89 oz • 258 g
My Foot: Small, fat in front, narrow in back
Street Shoe Size: 5-5.5
Size Tested: 34.5
Time Tested: About three months
Locations Tested: Indoor gyms; The Dungeon, New Mexico; El Rito, New Mexico; Sailing Hawks, Colorado; Hueco Tanks, Texas
The La Sportiva Solution isn’t new (it’s been around since 2007), and it’s not a secret.
While I may be late trying this shoe, I think it’s safe to say that the Solution has reached the point of a pretty much global thumbs up. After a summer playing in the Solution, I am now one of many who will view it as a reference shoe—a standard I’ll always have in mind when I try something new.
I think standards are set once a product outlives its novelty. After the test of time and an agreement that something is officially “good,” stuff becomes classic—like the Model T Ford, spaghetti and meatballs, or Patsy Cline. And what makes a classic? Good question, but part of the answer might have something to do with living beyond and outside of the trends. To me, this seems a likely outcome for the Solution.
Before trying the Solution, I’d been climbing in the Miura VS— a shoe that I love. For this reason, I was not in a hurry to try a new shoe. But one day this spring the Miura VS was out of stock when I went to order it. So I thought, Okay, I’ll finally try the Solution.
So how do they compare?
The Solution vs. the Miura VS
The Women’s Miura VS has everything I like (nicely sculpted toe for edging, power and pop when I want it, comfort, and versatility), and so does the Solution.
I didn’t think it was possible, but I think the Solution is actually better than the Miura in a few key ways—it increases precision and power in the toe with a very sculpted point and an aggressively downturned edge.
And I think the Solution has the Miura beat when it comes to technical heel and toe-hooking capabilities. For me, this matters when I’m bouldering and sport climbing on steep routes.
We all evolve as climbers, and at some point we notice when a shoe gives us a fraction more power, frees us to be a smidge more precise with our feet, and allows us to do stuff like stick your toe into a shallow little hueco at a weird angle and…no way! It held!
The Miura VS rocks. I would be hard-pressed to criticize anything about it. But I have to say that the Solution has been a fantastic partner as I seek to climb a little more technically on steeper sport routes and on more techy boulder problems.
The send is about the climber. But sometimes a shoe teaches us about our technique because it enhances what we’re trying to do as climbers. The Solution did this for me.
One of the best illustrations of personal technique refinement in my Solution would be what I call a “technical toe hook.” I was playing on a boulder problem at Hueco Tanks called Cory the Pimp with what, for me, was a mandatory toe hook. I was able to take note of the fact that rotating my toe five degrees clockwise in the hueco gave me the purchase I needed to get out of the move.
This is interesting because I found myself fine tuning that move in particular. In the past, I chalked up my failure with toe hooks to my deficit as a climber or to the idea that a toe hook simply was not viable. Now success became a matter of nuance, of testing how many degrees of rotation were needed—and I give some credit to this sophisticated shoe.
Insofar as toe-hooking technology goes, success with the move is likely due to the shape and the angle of the Solution’s toe box. The shoe is asymmetrical and the line along the inside of the big toe is relatively straight, while the arc from the little toe to the point of the big toe is curved. This lets you play with angles in foot placement and toe hooks where a uniformly rounded toe would not.
Additionally, the rubber extends past my big toe knuckle and there’s no velcro in the way, no laces. Only shoe and rubber.
I see now that there’s simply too much happening on the top of my foot in the Miura VS for the shoe to excel at toe hooking. When I study my foot in the Miura VS, the first velcro strap starts just past my big toe knuckle and there’s a small wrinkle in the leather where it meets the rubber. All this happens precisely where I want uninhibited, uninterrupted contact between rubber and rock.
Ultimately, I feel like the Solution has helped lead to an evolution of my technique.
The Solution edges nicely on face, but so does the Miura VS. And since the Miura VS has a less downturned toe, the Powerhinge System, and a Slingshot Rand (and the Solution does not), it might be a bit better on edgy face than the Solution.
For me, the Solution goes deeper into the territory of bouldering and steep sport routes than the Miura VS. The Solution excels when trust in a wacky toe-hook is essential, cranking on a heel-hook is mandatory, and generating movement from pushing and pulling on a toe in moments of dynamism is a must.
And yet, once those particular moves are over, the Solution is no slouch when a route demands edging (even if the Miura VS does have it beat by a smidge). The Solution’s no-fuss toe, its closure and harness system for heel-hooking, and its aggressive downturn (which creates power for dynamic moves), all work together to set the Solution apart.
The Solution is more sophisticated than the Miura VS when it comes to sport climbing and bouldering because it adds to the scope of what we can trust the shoe to handle in a given problem or route.
Ok, so after all this, you might be wondering—why wouldn’t I buy the Solution?
I wouldn’t recommend this shoe to climbers looking to do crack and edgeless slab. Featureless slab requires smearing where you need as much surface area on the rock as possible. The Solution’s stiff, aggressive, downturned toe makes this difficult.
There are other shoes on the market that will likely perform better in cracks. Again, the aggressive toe, the velcro closure, and the incredibly sculpted edge on the forefoot are made for sport routes and bouldering, not for cracks.
This won’t be the most comfortable shoe on a multi-pitch route, but I suppose the amount one wants to suffer varies. And finally, I think some of this shoe’s sophistication will be lost on a climber who hasn’t yet discovered the importance of feet and toes.
The Solution, like the Miura, has P3 (Permanent Power Platform), to keep the shoe downturned and aggressive for as long as possible, and Lapsoflex in the toe box to give you power, pop, and staying power on miniscule foot-holds.
It also features Lock Harness and a 3D heel cup to keep your foot in the shoe when you weight a crazy heel hook. There’s a lot of rubber on the toe to keep it in that weird little hueco when you use a toe hook or a bicycle.
The sculpted toe provides precision for foot placement on technical face or hanging upside down on a boulder problem. The Vibram XS grip rubber is sticky and, in my experience, wonderfully trustworthy. If my toe pops off a hold it’s due to operator error.