Monday, September 3, 2012

The Futura is Now

The La Sportiva Futuras
By Kreg Dobzinski

I don't take a climbing shoe purchase lightly. It's usually a long, annoying process that requires me to research the crap out of it. I read through all the user comments and size comparisons on the various online retailers, scroll through all the different views, and grill any current owners for information. Heck, I even tried these Futuras on more than four times over the course of two weeks before actually committing. So I guess I want to save you guys some of the unrealistically stressful experience I usually curse myself with. I don't want this sound like a softball review because my opinions of shoes are usually quite harsh, but I have been wearing these bad boys for about a six or seven weeks with mostly positive results.

My initial impression once I slid them on was that I finally experienced a straight out the box comfortable fit - a feat I did not deem possible. This is especially odd considering my overly sensitive big toe joints from previous injuries. Upon closer inspection, it appears this mysteriously well-fitting shoe is the result of a few clever design attributes. One, and my personal favorite, is the split along-side the tongue of the shoe that allows you to peel open the supple material and easily place your foot inside - instead of the usual toe-scrunching, arch-bending push that is required to get on most slippers. The P3 tensioning system that runs through the rand of this particular La Sportiva shoe sufficiently locks your heel in place without being as down-turned as say the Solutions and definitely more mellow than most of Five Ten's aggressive models as well. In my case, this is actually a positive factor because I appreciate the relief from constant binding and it allows the shoe to more versatile on different types of climbs. Also, the toe box seems to be relatively roomy and did not really aggravate either of the problem toes on my stupid feet.

Conversely, there are a few flaws to be found. While an improvement over the Solution, the velcro strap system for cinching the shoe down still seems prone to breakage after prolonged use. Also, the super soft and sensitive feel may be at a cost of longevity if you don't watch your footwork carefully. While the construction of the shoe is to the same high-quality of all La Sportiva shoes, there are many joints and curves at different points of the rubber that may be prone to weakness. Also, the 'No-Edge' design might throw a few people off at first, but personally I think it is a more natural design for this type of shoe that loses any edge on the rubber after a few weeks anyways.

As for sizing, I can only go with what I know from personal experience. My street shoe-size ranges from 10 to 11 and I ended up getting a 41.5 in these Futuras. I had downsized from my 42.5 Testarossas in order to eliminate all dead-space around my foot, but the new shoe is still oddly more comfortable. This is a problem only because I intended to spread out the wear by donning my old shoes to warm-up and then switch em' to the Futuras, yet instead I find myself just using the blue slippers pretty much from the get-go because of the performance and fit. In relation to other companies, I once wore size 10.5 Five Ten Dragons and also am size 10 in most Evolv offerings.

Until recently, I was resigned to the dull ache or shuffling waddle that resulted from a prolonged session in performance shoes and assumed it was just the price to pay for the precision and power. Now, that discomfort is a thing of the past and presently my Futuras are the go to shoe for almost everything. It offers me everything I want in a climbing shoe and my relationship with my old pairs is suffering. Sometimes, I guess you just gotta let go and move on because the future is now.

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  1. What retailer has these to try on??? I live in Orlando and the only retailer I know of is travel country, who's inventory normally only gives me a couple of options to try on. I bought the dragons a couple months ago and have yet to completely break them in because the toe box is just a little too tight for my foot and I am looking for other options. Please help, I have blown out my old shoes and need a replacements relatively soon.

    1. You can try them out here at Aiguille Rock Climbing Center :)