By Kieran Fallows
Are you struggling to find that indoor performance shoe for competitions that can also crush outside? All without wearing through in a couple of months? If the answer is yes, then this review of the La Sportiva Solution Comp might well be of interest.
Pandemic aside, this year was set to mark climbing's Olympic debut - Tokyo 2020, now to be Tokyo 2021 (hopefully!) - which has in turn sparked an increased popularity in climbing and more specifically indoor gym climbing. This has prompted many of the major climbing brands to release more indoor, competition specific climbing shoes: designed to tackle large volumes, dynamic moves, foot hooks in equal measure. Over the last few months, I’ve been climbing in one such shoe; La Sportiva's Solution Comp.
The Original Solution to all your problems
A veteran in the Sportiva line up, the original Solution was first produced back in 2007 and was marketed as “The solution to all your problems”. This original version, highly recognisable due to its unique heel cup, was worn by many world class climbers (including Daniel Woods and Nalle Hukkataival) on ascents of some of the most notable hard routes and boulder problems of their time, and the shoe still remains a firm favourite with climbers across the globe.
The La Sportiva Solution Comp is similar to the original Solution, with the main differences being a newly revised heel, which better suits those without a high volume, bulbous heel and altered rigidity. I instantly noticed that this heel was narrower and more sensitive than that of the Solution, offering much more feedback and feel when heel hooking on slopers and volumes, for me a huge improvement. That being said, the regular Solution does offer better protection on spiky or uneven rock when outdoors.
The Comp has been fitted with the 0.9mm LaSpo Flex midsole which is softer than the original, specifically designed with the indoor arena in mind. I found the Solution Comp provided enough support when required and plenty enough flex for smearing. This is a huge bonus when climbing indoors on modern comp style boulder problems, especially those co-ordinated running and jumping problems that are becoming increasingly popular. The flexible midsole combined with the ‘P3 Power Performance Platform’ really ties this shoe together nicely and maintains the pressure on the tip of the toes allowing you to put plenty of power on through smaller footholds. Previous to the Solution Comps, I was climbing in the Sportiva Skwama which also have the P3 platform and these held their downturned shape throughout the life of the shoe, which really impressed me.
With regards to the upper, Sportiva have gone to town covering it in rubber, increasing the grip on potential contact areas when toe hooking. I recently benefited from this when on a boulder problem, which required moving smoothly from double toe-hooks into a heel-hooks - the Comp performed impeccably. The Vibram XS Grip2 rubber breaks in quickly and is amazingly sensitive. This rubber is Vibram's softest and stickiest compound and in spite of this it has always impressed me with its longevity. As I've only had the Comps for a few interrupted months of climbing I can't definitively comment on longterm durability, but so far, as with my Skwamas, they seem relatively robust.
After a few months of abuse my Solution Comps are performing brilliantly with few signs of wear and tear. I've found them to excel on overhanging routes, allowing you to put plenty of pressure through the tips of your toes and providing supreme confidence on sketchy moves or sequences. The elastic sock entry and strap closure allow you to get a good fit, although one minor improvement would be the ability to adjust the strap itself (as per the Evolv Phantom or Tenya Oasi) allowing you to really dial down on any dead space. I found the pointy, fairy symmetrical nature of the toe box (which is identical to the original Solution) to be super precise and great for small screw-ons or tiny granite or gritstone crystals.
Overall, I'd say if you were a fan of the original Solution but had gripes about the volume of the heel cup, I'd highly recommend trying a pair of these for your next shoes... particularly if you're a fan of soft shoes and/or indoor climbing.