La Sportiva Futura ReviewApril 7, 2013
- Very sensitive, soft bouldering and sport-climbing shoe.
- Perfect, suction-cup fit.
- Design is very long-lasting.
- “No Edge” design requires you to be more precise.
- Not supportive enough for long routes or pitches.
- Harder to toe down on oblique edges.
- Not the best at toe-hooks.
- No Edge design requires you to be more precise.
If you’re like us, you may think that buying a climbing shoe with no edge is like buying a new car with bald tires. But we’ve come around on this futuristic design. After more than a year of use, this shoe is still going strong, making it one of the longest-lasting slippers we’ve tested.
The La Sportiva Futura is a super-soft ballet-style slipper with a peculiar design called No Edge. (Wait, a climbing shoe with no edge?)
The first time I wore the La Sportiva Futura, it was in a climbing gym containing antique, greasy foot-jibs from the 1990s. During my session, in which I climbed a circuit of problems that I had wired, my feet unpredictably skated off the jibs. I was frustrated, and ready to give the Futura a deleterious review.
I had an easy scapegoat. “There’s no edge!” I complained, referring to the Futura’s No Edge toe, which is shaped like the bottom end of an egg. Usually, when a normal climbing shoe gets worn down after tens of thousands of feet climbed, it begins to looks like the Futura does brand new. Climbers, at this point, either replace or resole their well-worn footwear.
“The shoe actually lasts longer,” a representative from La Sportiva told me. The logic is a bit weird: no edge, nothing to wear down; ipso facto, longer-lasting shoe.
I decided to give the shoe another chance, and over the last year of testing, the Futura has truly impressed me.
For a shoe that technically has no edge, the La Sportiva Futura really edges quite well. But there are some caveats to that observation.
You need to learn how to climb in these shoes. The main concept behind the No Edge design is that the rounded edge gets your toes closer to the rock than shoes with a blockier layer of rubber. Indeed, this design is super sensitive, allowing me to feel footholds better than in other climbing shoes.
However, the Futura demands that you are more precise in where, and how, you place your toe on holds. When you get the foothold aligned with the “sweet spot” of your big toe, you feel completely locked in on that edge. In these moments, I would rank the Futura up there as one of the most powerful climbing shoes ever made. Miss that sweet spot by a few millimeters, and, well, you get what happened to me on my initial trial in the gym. Feet unexpectedly popping off the wall.
I’d say that my footwork has gotten better as a result of wearing a slipper that demands so much precision. I’ve experienced some personal best sends while wearing them. But I’ve also been really frustrated when I’m trying to send and my foot blows off an easy smear just because I was a little too tired, too rushed, or too sloppy to place my toe exactly right.
One situation where the No Edge concept really shines is on slightly-less-than-vertical smears and other concavities in the stone. The rounded toe increases the surface area you can get with your toes on the rock, and of course, the more rubber grinding against the rock, the better.
This is why the Futura is a mediocre toe-hooker. Very little rubber on top of the foot makes toe hooking impossible in all but the easiest situations. Most beginner and intermediate climbers probably won’t know the difference, but more advanced climbers who rely on toe-hooks to climb steep stone will be let down here.
The Futura has an unlined leather upper that is really comfortable, and does a good job of wicking moisture in normal (cool) climbing conditions. Being an unlined slipper, the Futura will stretch a bit. For sizing beta, I recommend going down a half size from other La Sportiva shoes.
I was happy to see Sportiva’s “Fast Lacing System” (FLS), which first appeared on the super popular La Sportiva Solution, on the Futura. Simply put, I think the FLS is one of the simplest, sleekest, most innovative, and best designs for securing a climbing shoe on your foot. Pulling a single strap tightens the shoe down at multiple, crucial points. Getting the shoes on, or taking them off, is really quick, which highly suits the demands of bouldering and gym climbing.
After more than a year of use, I’m still wearing my original pair of Futuras, which I definitely can’t say about any other shoe I’ve used in the last year. Whereas other shoes wear down and get holes in the rubber, the Futura’s No Edge design looks, basically, the same.
Shorter sport climbs. Bouldering. Gym.
Rubber: 3mm Vibram XS2