La Sportiva Genius Review

La Sportiva Genius Review

Can a shoe really be comfortable and high performance? And does no edge technology really stand up to its claims?

Initial Impressions

As I pulled on the Genius for the first time, the thing I noticed straight away was the “out of the box” comfort.  I’ve never pulled on a technical shoe which has felt so immediately snug.  A quick test around the bouldering wall confirmed La Sportiva’s description of these shoes, soft and secure.

At first I was dubious of the “no edge technology”.  Was it just marketing hype?  A friend of mine, who’d just climbed his first 8b+ shortly after buying a pair, unequivocally said these shoes had changed his climbing because “they were forgiving of poor footwork on small holds.”  Sounded perfect to me!

La Sportiva Genius Review
 

So how do they perform in practice?

This shoe is marketed as a shoe adaptable to all different rock types, and it was only right to test this out.  Over the past couple of months, I’ve tried to use them on as many different varying rock types as possible. Here’s just a handful of the routes and rock-types I’ve used these on:

Route List
 

I knew these shoes would perform well on limestone sport routes and steep bouldering, and they did, without question, but I was sceptical of how they’d perform on sandstone and granite. Both rock-types with smeary, often vertical or slabby terrain, both technical and requiring precise footwork.

 

First up, sandstone. Nesscliffe often requires very technical smearing and edging on tenuous gritty holds. It was the first time I felt I’d really pushed the shoe to their limit and they rose to the challenge, allowing to me to make quick progress on the project that day. All except for a tiny outside edge which was excruciatingly painful.

 
La Sportiva Genius on Chamonix's Digital Crack
 

Second up, granite. I really didn’t expect the shoes to perform that well on the micro edges of Digital Crack (it’s not actually a crack, more a balancey groove featuring the smallest of granite edges and smears). I was blown away. Making snappy moves onto small holds, these shoes had no problem front pointing on matchstick edges, where a lack of precision would normally have me falling into space. Sure it was a little painful, but the grab that they brought for higher grade climbing was an easy trade-off.

 

As I used the shoes more and more they began to become my go to pair for harder routes over and above my normal redpoint shoes. I’ve also noticed that, with more use, the rubber has roughened significantly, bringing with it a stickiness that would match or exceed rival manufacturers.

 

Taking a break on Digital Crack

 

Overall

 

This is a high performance shoe, with remarkable straight out of the box comfort. Whilst they are comfortable and secure, I wouldn’t use them for day to day training or general sport or trad climbing and on certain routes, but as a high performance red-point, bouldering and hard-trad shoe, La Sportiva Genius are exceptional.

 

These shoes are sold as a medium fit, suitable for wide feet. Like most, I’ve always struggled to find the perfect fit rock shoes. My wide fore-foot with a narrow heel never really match the designed fit of any rock shoe, and for me it’s usually the heels that suffer as I opt for toe comfort over heel power. As a result, powerful heel hooks on the Genius did tend to slip slightly. However, because they are lace-ups and because the lacing systems comes up so high toward the side of the foot, you can tighten these shoes enough to make up for it. As a result, heel-hooks no longer became as much of a nemesis for me as they have done in many shoes. The result of the lacing system design means that they’re probably suitable for most foot types.

 

Whilst the shoes are remarkably comfortable for such a high performance shoe, the support on small holds, and especially outside edges was not as good as front on and on the inside edge. The outside edge is so sensitive it was excruciating on small holds. This suppleness is not perfect for slabby slate or gritstone.

 

The true test of a positive review is whether you’ll continue to wear them after the review, if they replace your normal red-point shoe, and if you’d buy a second pair when they wear out. On all three counts, I’m sold.

 

John Roberts

 

John is a climber and alpinist living between the UK and Chamonix.

John is supported by Prana

 

Twitter: @johnrobeds

Instagram: @johnrobeds

Website: www.johnroberts.me

Embedded photos: 
La Sportiva Genius Review
Route List
La Sportiva Genius on Chamonix's Digital Crack
Taking a break on Digital Crack

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