La Sportiva Testarossa ReviewSeptember 1, 2015
- Aggressive last
- Highly adjustable fit
- Excellent heel cup
- Time-tested quality
- Pushes definition of “all-around” shoe
- Poor toe hooker
The Testarossa is arguably the best aggressive lace-up on the market. Designed for toe power and hooking ability, they excel at steep bouldering, gym training and sport climbing. That said, they’ve proven themselves over the years on everything from 5.14 slabs to the hardest cracks in the desert (Alex Honnold sent almost every 5.13 at Indian Creek in Testarossas, including Belly Full of Bad Berries, an overhanging offwidth!). Testarossas have been around for more than a decade and are still a favorite shoe for many-a-pro climber.
The Testarossa was born from the original (and radical) highly asymmetric shoe: the Mirage. A heavy twist and downturn forces power to the toes for excellent grabbing, edging and hooking. With all the power in the big piggy, this shoe dances on pockets with ease. The pointy toe stuffs into small, shallow pockets without feeling like it’s going to pop. With a high, tensioned rand, mid-volume heel cup and plenty of thin rubber, these are among the best heel hookers ever made (when one tester was testing a different pair of shoes on a project in Rifle he cheated and wore a Testarossa on his left foot for the crux heel hook sequence). For toe hooking they’re only so-so. Because the climbers’ foot is curved in the shoe, it’s tough to get enough toe-top surface area for primo hooking. A unique lacing system with many eyelets and a web of laces near the toe takes some getting used to, but once it’s figured out you’ll see the genius in the system, which allows for a wide variety of foot shapes. The Testarossa is one of few shoes that fits narrow and wide feet. It’s no coincidence this kick is named after a Ferrari—expect a sensitive, powerful, and highly responsive shoe.
Not as stiff as a traditional edging shoe, the Testarossa more than makes up for its lesser rigidity with a 3D cupped Hytrel midsole that puts all the power to the climbers’ big toe. Testers were actually front-pointing more than inside-edging like with most shoes. And it works beautifully: Testers found they could stand on anything with a fresh pair of Testarossas.
The Testarossas are not for being stuck on a low-angled slab; smearing just isn’t their thing. But they do well enough when quickly padding up on vertical smears between real footholds, like is often done in sport climbing.
A P3 semi-stiff midsole offers a perfect blend of stiffness and sensitivity. Out of the box, sensitivity is not the most noticeable feature, but once broken in climber will be able to feel what’s underfoot and grab what’s overhead.
The Testarossa is simply not designed as a crack shoe.
The 4mm Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber offers a perfect combo of hardness for edging and stickiness for grabbing.
Even though they’re only $5 below the most expensive rock shoes out there right now (La Sportiva’s TC Pros), they’re one of the best. So are they worth it? Absolutely.