La Sportiva Skwama Review – Your new favorite climbing shoe

The highly anticipated La Sportiva Skwama made it’s North American debut in early May 2016.  After an extended testing period we have put these through the wringer and we’re excited to present our results. Those who are fans of the Skwama’s predecessor – the La Sportiva Python will be pleased to see the similarities of the new upgraded version. Here we will walk you through the anatomy of Sportiva’s new powerhouse.

Starting with the materials, the Skwama is formed with a leather upper giving the user the ability to downsize for a performance fit. The hide will stretch and give way to their foot, conforming to any hot spots. This is different from many modern performance slippers as they are usually made with synthetic materials that don’t allow much stretch. This feature makes the Skwama a highly comfortable shoe compared to it’s competitors.

The outer toe box is protected by a generous amount of rubber that is fantastic for toe-hooking on steep or technical boulders. However, after extended use we noticed that some of the toe rubber on the inside part of the foot is starting to peel.

 After heavy usage the to rubber is starting to peel away.

On the top of the shoe is a stretchy material that helps secure the shoe that is similar to that of the old school La Sportiva Speedster. A one piece velcro strap is included for extra security.

LS Skwama strap
The hook & closure system adds extra security to heel hooks

The strap allows the user to adjust tension closer to the heel or the forefoot of the shoe.

Now this is where things get interesting. A new feature for the La Sportiva Skwama as well as the Otaki is the S-Heel construction.  The idea behind the strip of unbendable rubber on the inside of the heel is that it avoids inner torsion of the heel and that it won’t rotate like softer shoes. Through testing we absolutely loved this feature for setting confidence inspiring heel hooks even on smaller jibs.

Another new innovative feature for this shoe is the split-sole design cut into the Skwama’s Vibram XS-Grip 2 Rubber. Now that may sound like a bunch of fluff, but the idea is that the split sole has a greater ability to conform to the shape of a rock hold. This allows more rubber to come in contact with the rock, creating better purchase.

LS Skwama Sole
Similar to the hoof of a mountain goat, the sole on the Skwamas are split to give it some flexibility.

The outside edges of the sole have been rounded off as well. This assists with friction smearing on slabs when no real feet are available. At the tip of the sole, the XS-Grip 2 rubber is able to deliver plenty of edging power on small feet with great  precision. However, this is no Miura or TC Pro, the XS Edge rubber that these models have is much stiffer to better perform on credit card sized foot holds.

Climbing Rubber Comparison

LS Skwama edges
The inner and outer edges of the soles are rounded off for smearing.

Wrapping the package together is the La Sportiva’s P3 rand system which stands for Permanent Power Platform. This makes sure that the Skwama and Sportiva’s other models with the P3 rand retain their aggressive posture throughout their lifetime. After about 10 months of hard outdoor bouldering, the shoes have not appeared to have flattened out. They are good as new when when it comes to toeing in on tiny foot chips.

Outside view of the LS Skwama
Outside View
The P3 Platform ensures that the shoe will retain it’s aggressive posture.

The icing on the cake here is that this shoe performs as if it were twice the price. It retails at around $140 USD but can be found for even less on (U.S. Outdoor affiliate link) for as little as $119 with free shipping! Now that’s bang for your buck. Make no mistake, this sale price does not make this a beginner or a budget shoe, the La Sportiva Skwama is the real deal and will help you crush your projects for years to come.

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