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La Sportiva Solution Comp women’s climbing shoes review: for competition climbers with specific expectations

The La Sportiva Solution Comp is a super-aggressive, high-performance climbing shoe suitable for steep climbing and bouldering

La Sportiva Solution Comp
(Image: © Jessie Leong)

Our Verdict

If you’re looking for a precise, technical shoe for indoor bouldering and competitive climbing, the Solution Comp is the go-to competition option.

For

  • • Easy to tighten
  • • P3 system tension ensures aggressive shape
  • • Fast lacing
  • • Easy-to-grab loops

Against

  • • Not super-versatile for outdoors
  • • Uncomfortable for long routes

La Sportiva Solution Comp: first impressions

Want to climb like a pro, such as Brooke Rabatou or Margo Hayes? Of course you do – and according to La Sportiva, the brand’s Solution Comps are a go-to shoe for indoor competition climbers. 

Designed for maximum performance in climbing competitions, the inspiration for a comp-specific shoe originates from an update on La Sportiva’s famous Solution climbing shoes. The tweaks include a female-specific fit, which focuses on lower structural rigidity alongside technical features such as greater coverage at the front, thanks to the rubber toe cap designed for toe hooks on overhangs and a more tapered heel to favor heel hooks on micro-holds. Perfect distribution of tension is guaranteed thanks to the P3 System technology, which allows the shoe to maintain its shape over time.

The La Sportiva Solution Comp is a soft, precise, very elastic and reactive climbing shoe. The lacing is noticeably precise and quick to adjust for tighter/looser fit, thanks to the Fast-Lacing system, which made it super straight forward to take off, compared to a traditional thick velcro strap. 

It has a lock –harness construction for a perfect foot binding, supplying confidence. The XS-Grip2 sole provides maximum grip for a precise and safe climb on rough, large volumes. 

Specifications

• RRP: $180 (US) / £145 (UK) / €163.90 (US)
• Weight (per shoe): 210g / 7.4oz
• Lining: HF (toe box and arch area only)
• Outsole: Vibram XSGrip2 - 3.5mm
• Upper: Leather / Lorica mix
• Colors: Hibiscus / Malibu Pink
• Compatibility: Bouldering and indoor climbing

La Sportiva Solution Comp Women’s

Better suited to indoor climbing, La Sportiva Solution Comps need to be so tight fitting, they become uncomfortable if you’re climbing outdoors in hot weather and your feet swell (Image credit: Jessie Leong)

La Sportiva Solution Comp: on the crag

The La Sportiva Solution Comp is a curveball of a product, combining the tight-fitting capability of a high-performance rock-climbing shoe with a full rubber patch that helps with overcoming tricky pockets and toe-torquing delights – yet it’s well worth considering for those who want a shoe for performance climbing (ideally bouldering indoors.)

While it’s important to point out that I’m not an indoor wad – nor am I much of a boulderer – I really noticed the way I climbed was dictated by the form and fit of these shoes. La Sportiva climbing shoes traditionally fit quite small, but against the other shoes in the test, they looked miniscule in the way they were curved in their aggressive P3 (Permanent Power Platform) System technology which allows the shoes to maintain their shape over time.

Features

Keen tech-focussed fans of La Sportiva Solution Comps will note that the use of the Vibram XS GRIP 2 as a rubber sole for providing improved grip alongside a level of firmness goes hand-in-hand with moderate edging and slope holds. This is one up from the Vibram XS GRIP, favored – unsurprisingly – by many bouldering world championship winners for its high-performance climbing rubber specifically recommended for overhanging routes.

Tricky footwork manoeuvres can be easily tackled, thanks to the full-rubber toe patch for scumming (a kind of smearing where you’re flagging your feet along a minimal pic of foothold) and toe hooking (see more rock climbing terms explained).

La Sportiva Solution Comp Women’s

The midsole supports the arch of your foot comfortably without glueing to the underside (Image credit: Jessie Leong)

Breathability

The La Sportiva Solution Comps are available in suede – a natural, breathable scuff-resistant material – along with a synthetic microfiber tubular construction. Worn outside on Spanish limestone on their first breaking-in period, I found the shoes were uncomfortable because of their very snug fit – there wasn’t much give and the slight increase in temperatures made my feet feel quite tight in the shoes. 

It’s worth noting that these shoes feel much better suited for use indoors, or on powerful overhanging rock in the shade outdoors. While the sizing felt okay when I initially tried the shoes on, they are better designed for the cooler climes of a UK indoor bouldering gym.

Fit

The La Sportiva Comps took a few wears to break in, but once they had been worn on a few sessions it was certainly a different shoe. With the sizing based on the toes curling into the front toe box, it’s about accepting they will be in a powerful position, rather than resting in a flat toe bed. 

The midsole supported the arch of the foot comfortably without glueing to the underside, but does require the shoe to be “yanked” on using the two webbing loops at the back of the shoe. I was a fan of the synthetic, stretchy tongue, which helped lock the foot into place, while the velcro strap provides a surprising level of fine-tuning in terms of fit.

See also: how a rock climbing shoe should fit – busting the “no pain no gain” myth.

Size

Sizing can be hit and miss with La Sportiva – in climbing shoes I was surprised to learn I wore climbing shoes 1.5 sizes down from my normal trainer size, and 2.5 sizes down from my mountain boot fit. For a performance fit, it was necessary to go down smaller to avoid my foot from slipping around, but this meant the shoes were very tight during the initial product test, especially when climbing in hotter-than-normal temperatures. I’ve worn a lot of La Sportiva shoes before and knew that they came up small – but for those after a slightly more comfortable feel a size down would be suitable.

La Sportiva Solution Comp women’s

They have an innovative adjustment system (Image credit: Jessie Leong)

Performance

The La Sportiva Comps are not an all-day comfort shoe, but keeping technical considerations at the forefront of its suitability, the aggressive shape and downward turn of these shoes mean aspirant Olympic climbers concerned with “precision footwork” are going to find a shoe well suited to smears, heel hooks and overhangs. 

The Comp series takes the “best bits” out of indoor climbing footwear, and combines them to deliver outstanding performance with an innovative adjustment system and velcro strap. 

They don’t claim to be an “all-rounder” – rather they’re a specific shoe for athletes expecting rigorous requirements from their shoes to perform “on the day”.

Obviously, users after a multi-purpose shoe would do better to look at another shoe in the La Sportiva range. 

A former brand ambassador for Merrell and current Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Jessie Leong’s lifelong outdoor odyssey began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award walks in the Peak District. This segued into long hill hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, multi-day treks in the Lake District, scrambles in North Wales and adventures scaling alpine pinnacles. When not walking, she can be found rock climbing, wild swimming, cycling, photographing, filmmaking, writing and modelling. Jessie’s most recent claim to fame is playing a Miss World contestant in the 2020 feature film Misbehaviour.