Monday, October 31, 2011

Gear Review - La Sportiva Speedster Climbing Shoes

My favorite climbing shoes of all time were the La Sportiva Venoms.  They fit perfectly, felt amazing and performed extremely well.  The down turned toe was phenomenal, the elastic form of the shoe made the fit great and the sensitivity was the best, bar none!  This shoe, the La Sportiva Speedster, delivers on almost every facet that the Venom had to offer.  I was talking to the Sales Director of La Sportiva at Outdoor Retailer about the Venom and he let me know that La Sportiva actually abandoned the model because the Vibram webbing, that covered the top of the shoe, was too expensive to make and unreliable coming out of the mold.  I decided to give the Speedsters a try and left OR with a pair.  By comparison the Speedster has a great fit and feel as well and the performance compared brilliantly to the Venom.  I have really liked climbing in this shoe so far.

The Speedster is like a sour beer and requires some time with it before you can make a fair evaluation of the shoe.  There are multiple innovations that seem negative, but in fact, overtime, prove to be great improvements for a high performance slipper.  The first design difference that most climbers see will be the wrap over the front of the toe that doubles the toe rand.  This seems like it would hurt sensitivity, but it actually creates a good buffer that allows your toe to really feel any foot hold.  It also adds durability and creates a good rubber strip that goes over your forefoot for toe hooking.  Pretty good design overall.  The shoe is also extremely low cut.  The cut in the back comes down very low below the ball of your ankle.  This feels strange at first, but it allows for a lot of movement and the heel fit isn't hurt by this design.  I actually like the low profile feel and the fit.  This also allows for super sensitive climbing.  Every foot hold can be felt and really rocking into perches, heel hooks and precise foot points is easy and gives instant response to the climber.  Adam Ondra even uses the Speedster, so I figure they are a pretty good shoe.  I also like the P3 platform that La Sportiva is using to ensure that any downturned shoe will not lose its aggressiveness.  Over a full season we'll see how they do, but so far the shoe has been the same every time I put them on.  Overall I am really liking this slipper as a replacement to the Venom.
Just a little note on fit.  I wear a size 13 street shoe.  Specifically for La Sportiva I wear size 47 trail runners.  In the Speedster I got size 43.5.  These are very tight and I use them for difficult bouldering and overhung sport.  Be careful when sizing climbing shoes, especially if you order them online.

Final Say:
The Speedster is a super sensitive slipper that fits like a glove and performs extremely well on difficult boulder problems and overhung sport.


Been curious about these for awhile, wondering what other size shoes you wear in Sportiva to get an idea of the fit?

I hear you on fit, you never know. I wear 42/43 in Venoms and 43.5 in Miuras. Hope that helps. I definitely recommend them.

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