La Sportiva Skwama

MSRP: $170

La Sportiva’s Solution has long been a favorite for hard climbers seeking a pulling and hooking machine for their projects. Climbers working in this wheelhouse, but desiring a bit more versatile shoe, should definitely take note of the Skwama as well. The Skwama, a high-performance slipper hybrid, truly delivers as a sensitive and powerful shoe with a slightly lower price tag and higher comfort factor than many in its class.

While you still might grab the Solutions for your redpoint burn, think again, the Skwama brings the same performance to the table in a well-executed design that’s also comfortable enough for longer climbs, epic bouldering sessions or all-day cragging missions. The Skwama doesn’t have quite the same edging or pocket-pulling power as the Solution, but it still offers incredible sensitivity on hard routes. Surprisingly, the Skwama does pretty well in crack-climbing scenarios. They won’t be your go-to for desert splitters, but they’d certainly be a good option for trad climbs that have a few crack pitches or a mix of cracks and edging.

The Skwama gets its sensitivity from a relatively soft midsole with a cutout underfoot that allows the rubber to flex and spread when under pressure. La Sportiva claims this feature reduces edge deformation and increases smearing/edging precision. For the record, the shoe edges and smears extremely well. The Skwama locks in heel-hooking power using what they term “S-Heel” construction, intended to keep your heel into a snugly fitted cup that doesn’t deform when pulling. La Sportiva also utilizes their P3 rand system for this shoe, designed and proven to keep the downturned toe profile stable over time. And the mega swath of super sticky rubber across the toe aids in jams, scums and groin-stretching toe-hooks.

The only complaint in testing these shoes was that they required two or three sessions to break in. The heel cup fits beautifully, but is definitely tight on the Achilles at first. And as with any slipper, you’ll have to pull hard the first few times you put them on. But La Sportiva avoids any real hassle with a touch of extra leather under the ankle bones that expands just enough to get the Skwama on without toppling your chair. A single strap of Velcro tightens across the top of the foot to ensure the shoe’s overall fit remains super secure. The leather upper did stretch over the first two weeks of use, but not enough that I would have sized down.

Bottom line for the La Sportiva Women’s Skwama: A killer performance shoe with great versatility and a high comfort factor.

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