Friday, April 29, 2011

Shoe Reviews

Over the past few months I've had the privilege of purchasing new approach shoes and rock climbing shoes. After several miles of hiking and many vertical feet here are my 'professional' review of the shoe performance.

La Sportiva Solution
These are a very specialized high performance rock climbing shoe. They have an aggressively down-turned toe that is very precise. These shoes feature a permanent plastic piece under the toebox to ensure that the shoe remains down-turned through out its life and any resoles. The slingshot rand is aggressive and pushes the foot forward to leverage the powerful toe. These shoes are fantastic with pockets and edging on the steep surfaces. They performed very well in the Red River Gorge and Red Rock. I was able to stick the pointy toe into tiny pockets on Prometheus Unbound and stand on it with confidence. They have been great for bouldering on the steeper rocks. The trend here is that the Solutions are brilliant on steep rock, but are less than desirable for slabs and smearing. I did not like them for Mt. Lemmon in Arizona. I have had a love/hate relationship with these. After a conversation with a fellow Solution wearer, I think part of my issue is that I did not size them small enough. Currently, I have a 36.5 and I need to downsize to 35.5 or 36 for optimal performance. Below is a photo of my Solutions in action at the Druid Stones.

La Sportiva Muira (women's):
My unhappiness with the Solution led me to purchase a more versatile shoe when we arrived in Bishop. I wanted a more versatile shoe that was good on the vertical edges and smears of the Owen's River Gorge. I settled on the women's Muira. The Muira has been a long-standing all around performance shoe for many years. I was immediately happy with the shoes and felt comfortable and confident my first outing. They remind me a lot of my formerly favorite rock climbing shoe, the Boreal Stingers (these are no longer made). The Muira's edge well and I have confidence when smearing on the polish in Owen's. The break in period didn't last long and I was able to cinch them down tight after only a few days climbing. I purchased a size 35.5 and believe it is a perfect downsizing.

La Sportiva Boulder (women's):
Alright, the above link is to the men's version because La Sportiva doesn't have the women's listed on their website. After many years my Keen approach shoes had lost most of their cushion and support. I think I tried on every shoe that REI in Las Vegas had on their shelf in my size. I finally landed with the La Sportiva Boulder approach shoe. This shoe is fairly stiff, yet it offers nice cushion and support for long approaches with a heavy pack. They provide an excellent walking platform when trudging along a sand wash or loose through loose gravel. My feet don't hurt after a long approach or return. I've been happy with the sticky rubber when scrambling down across boulders into the Owen's River Gorge. They have taken some time to break in, but they are starting to get there. I do wish that they had a wider toe box for my funny feet. Other than that, I've been pleased with these shoes. Below is a photo of the shoes in action.

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