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La Sportiva Testarossa Review

By Matthew Ivory

La Sportiva first brought the Testarossa on to the market in 2003, where it quickly gained a reputation for being a high-performance shoe that excels on steep terrain. In 2019, La Sportiva pulled out all the stops and gave the Testarossa a complete makeover, most noticeably with an updated colour scheme and improved heel. Like its 1990s Ferrari namesake, the shoe has embodied the stripped back, no-nonsense sports car look and feel. With a snug heel and stiff toe box, this shoe proves its worth on any terrain, particularly steep overhangs and tiny micro edges. 

Fit & Last

The Testarossa is designed on La Sportiva’s PD85, their most asymmetric last, and utilises the infamous P3 platform, focussing your foot and allowing for a secure placement every time, even on the smallest edges. Despite the highly asymmetric shape, I found the Testarossa to fit similarly to other shoes in the La Sportiva family, such as the Solution, Futura and Miura. The rand around the edge of the toe box keeps tension throughout the foot, and when combined with the high-volume toe box and aggressive downturned front sole, forces your toes into the ideal position for generating maximum power off tiny footholds.

The heel cup is a solid cup of rubber, which reduces the potential for the heel “bagging out” with extended use. While the solid heel design resists deformation when climbing, so even the most marginal of heels have a good chance of sticking.

La Sportiva have utilised a to-the-toe lacing style which means the shoe can be pulled tight over the top of the toes, and the setup is designed to cinch over the toe box creating an incredibly tight and secure fit with no dead space. Opting for laces over Velcro meant a compromise on toe rubber but the lacing provides the best fitting shoe I’ve ever used. The materials used in construction are a combination of both synthetic and leather to provide a small amount of stretch where needed (on the side panelling) but maintains the same fit once broken in as it does straight out the box. 

Performance

Expect supreme edging ability and unmatched heel hooking. The Testarossa is designed with steep terrain in mind but works well on anything with edges it can dig into, from crimpy limestone slabs to steep rhyolite overhangs. The shoe sports Vibram XsGrip2 rubber which allows your foot to really bite down into tiny edges with ease. The Testarossa boasts a stiff, highly tensioned front foot with surprising amounts of sensitivity. To begin with the Testarossa was almost too stiff to use on marginal smears, but once broken in the soft midsole allows the shoe to bend and deform, providing more comfort and peace of mind when standing on smears and flat, sloped footholds. As mentioned, La Sportiva had to make a compromise when it came to the lacing system, and this is clear in when you are reliant on toe hooks as the rubber does not extend high enough on the foot. I believe this compromise is reasonable since the lacing gives you a highly custom and unique fit.

La Sportiva Testarossa Review

The heel cup fits securely on the foot and draws the foot into the optimal position for climbing. By opting for the solid heel design, the heel retains its shape for longer meaning marginal heel scums and hooks feel more secure over the shoe’s lifetime.

Due to the robust design of the Testarossa, it looks like it could be resoled multiple times to really extend the life of the shoe without compromising either the sensitivity or the power of the shoe.

Summary

The La Sportiva Testarossa outperformed any other shoe I’ve used and quickly became my go-to shoe. For me, the fit of the shoe is its most impressive feature, with the noticeable absence of dead space and the reassuring stiffness in the toe box, the Testarossa is the definitive shoe for hard climbing across a range of angles. The performance of this model, with its balance between sensitivity and stiffness, creates a powerful shoe that should find a place in any climber’s inventory.

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