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La Sportiva Genius Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $195 List | $146.25 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Highest end performance shoe on the market
Cons:  Expensive
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Thomas Greene ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday

Our Verdict

To borrow a few very apt words from the folks at La Sportiva, the Genius is the tip of a very sharp spear. A synergy of multiple concepts and technologies, the Genius is worthy of the high praise (and the hefty price tag) its been given. The revolutionary no-edge concept combined with a wrap-around P3 midsole that provides a taut and responsive feel gives the la Sportiva Genius an unparalleled blend of sensitivity and support on the rock. Add a lacing system that enables you to dial in a perfect fit and some midlife crisis sports car flashiness, and you've got a sending machine that looks as rad as it feels.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rock Climbing Shoes

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Style Upper Lining
86
La Sportiva Genius $195
Editors' Choice Award
lace Suede Leather/MIcro fiber none
86
La Sportiva Katana Lace $185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather/Lorica Pacific (forefoot and back)
86
La Sportiva Futura $185
velcro Leather/Synthetic Leather Unlined
80
La Sportiva TC Pro $185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather Sentex/PU Foam
76
La Sportiva Miura $165
lace Leather dentex
76
Five Ten Arrowhead $175
velcro Cowdura⢠Synthetic synthetic
76
Five Ten Anasazi VCS $165
velcro leather synthetic
74
La Sportiva Solution $180
velcro Leather/Lorica HF
74
Evolv Pontas 2 $130
velcro Non-stretch Synthratek synthetic upper microfiber leather cotton
74
Sportiva Miura VS $175
velcro Leather synthetic
74
Evolv Shaman $160
velcro synthetic Unlined
72
La Sportiva Mythos $145
lace Leather none
72
Five Ten Dragon $175
lace Synthetic (Cowdura) none
72
Mad Rock Flash 2.0 $83
Best Buy Award
velcro Leather / Synflex none
70
Five Ten Moccasym $125
slipper leather none
70
Five Ten Team $175
velcro MicroFiber (Synthetic)
66
Scarpa Force X $139
Lace 1.8mm Suede/Micro Suede none
66
La Sportiva Tarantula $90
velcro Leather/ Synthetic Leather synthetic (tongue and arch only)
66
Scarpa Boostic $180
velcro Suede/Micro Suede none
62
La Sportiva Katana $150
velcro Leather synthetic
58
Evolv Defy $89
velcro Elastic Synthratek synthetic upper nylon

Our Analysis and Test Results

Everything on the Genius is the well thought-out result of some seriously innovative minds with ample time and budget for research and development. From a Testarossa inspired heel that is supple, sensitive, and still manages a suction cup fit, to the now proven No Edge concept toe, the Genius is a marvel of design. The P3 midsole borrowed from the La Sportiva Solution helps the Genius keep its shape and the power of the climber's foot focused through the toe. The clever off-center lacing system allows the Genius to keep the rubber on the top of the toe that makes toe hooking a breeze and lets the wearer dial in a perfect fit. Though aggressively down-turned and moderately asymmetrical, the Genius maintains a natural position for the climber's foot. Complete the package with ultra sticky and super durable XS Edge rubber, and the Genius' name speaks for itself.

The off center lacing system of the Genius provides space for rubber on the top of the toe (critical for toe hooking) but still lets you dial in a snug fit.
The off center lacing system of the Genius provides space for rubber on the top of the toe (critical for toe hooking) but still lets you dial in a snug fit.

Performance Comparison


Amongst a sea of competitors, the Genius (highlighted in blue below) was our favorite, landing at the top of the heap in the overall performance tally.


Edging



The no edge concept on the Genius doesn't require pinpoint precision  instead it molds your toe onto the rock  keeping your foot on imperfect placements where other shoes might skitter off.
The no edge concept on the Genius doesn't require pinpoint precision, instead it molds your toe onto the rock, keeping your foot on imperfect placements where other shoes might skitter off.

Out of the box, the Genius feels perfectly worn in and project ready. The no edge concept doesn't require pinpoint precision to hold, instead, it molds your toe onto the rock, holding on imperfect placements where other shoes might skitter off. The sensitivity of the toe also makes it easier to adjust an imperfect foot placement. This is a tremendous advantage when on-sighting as it will help you push through the moves when you're near your limit. The Genius will make your footwork feel brilliant even when you're pumped stupid and groping.


Crack Climbing


You wouldn't use a Ferrari to pull a horse trailer and you don't send cracks in your sport climbing shoes, but we bet you could. The higher end of the traditional climbing world doesn't look tremendously dissimilar to hard sport: lots of tiny edges and brutally small places to put your fingers and toes. In spite of its down-turn and the softness of the under foot platform, the Genius will get it done in the cracks. The progressive down-turn of the toe and freakish comfort of the Genius means you can size these things super tight. This provides the needed rigidity for standing in cracks. Additionally, the rubber at the top of the toe that is meant to facilitate toe hooking provides decent protection in small cracks. While the Genius would be perfectly appropriate for high-end traditional climbing, it would definitely not be a first choice for most easy to moderate traditional climbing where a flat, rigid shoe would be best. For that genre check out the performance focuses La Sportiva TC Pro or the ultra comfortable and durable Scarpa Force X.


Pockets


You'd have to work hard to find a style of climbing the Genius didn't thrive on, even trees. Pockets are no exception. Built on the Testarossa last, the Genius is aggressively down-turned and unlike the La Sportiva Futura has a Laspoflex midsole that extends beyond the toe, making it a stiffer shoe than the Futura. This means that standing on minuscule edges and in super shallow pockets is even easier.


The Genius is a slightly wider shoe, but still manages to focus the weight of your body through a single, very precise point: your big toe. This gives it the precision to find and fit into even the small pockets with ease.

The P3 midsole and the No-Edge concept toe makes for an unparalleled combination of sensitivity and support on the La Sportiva Genius.
The P3 midsole and the No-Edge concept toe makes for an unparalleled combination of sensitivity and support on the La Sportiva Genius.

Sensitivity


From heel to to toe, the Genius may be the most sensitive shoe on the market, surpassing even the Futura. With a softer heel and a slightly wider toe box that lets your toes rest in a more natural position, the Genius will let you feel your feet and also every feature of the rock. The sensitivity of the Genius allows the climber to have an unparalleled sense of security and confidence in even the most marginal of foot placements. Pushing out of your comfort zone and through the grades has never been easier than in the Genius.


Comfort


The unlined suede upper, wider last, and ample space in the toe box for a comfortable arch in your toes makes the Genius exceedingly comfortable right out of the box, even when sized tight. Though aggressively down-turned and moderately asymmetrical, the Genius manages to be wearable on longer climbs and when its your turn to spot at the boulders. It sizes very similarly to the La Sportiva Solution and can be worn tighter than the Futura without discomfort. The Genius will stretch around a half a size during the wear-in period, something else to consider when sizing them at the store.


Best Applications


The Genius thrives on all things steep and radical, or slabby and moderate, for that matter. You'll want the Genius for your hardest sends, whether sport climbing, bouldering, or high-end traditional climbing. Unless money is no object, the Genius is not a great choice for training days or sessions at the gym. Use a less expensive shoe for the mileage days and save this one for the red-points.

The Genius can be used an an all-around shoe  but it leans towards the aggressive side of the spectrum. Also  the high price makes it more of a luxury shoe. Save it for your projects and the worthwhile climbs  and use something less expensive for the training days.
The Genius can be used an an all-around shoe, but it leans towards the aggressive side of the spectrum. Also, the high price makes it more of a luxury shoe. Save it for your projects and the worthwhile climbs, and use something less expensive for the training days.

Value


Do you love comfort, sending, and bright colors? If the answer is yes than the La Sportiva Genius is the shoe for you. The Genius comes with a whopping price tag that requires a little justification to take the plunge. First, consider the comfort, that works out to 19 bucks a toe. Second, they can definitely up your grade, and getting off the plateau you've been stuck on can be priceless. Third, they're cheaper than a sports car, but they'll make you feel like you're driving one on the rock. In addition, they are remarkably durable, and even with consistent use they have shown little wear after two months of use.

Conclusion


Whether or not you're a believer (or have yet to permit yourself to be converted, go on test your conviction) in No Edge shoes, the worthiness of the Genius is hard to deny. A fusion of many inspired designs, the Genius blends the best aspects of some tried and true favorites to create a unique and very complete package.

Though we love the all-around nature of the La Sportiva Katana Lace, our previous Editors' Choice winner, the Genius impressed us so much that we decided to grant the award to this innovative new shoe. If you aren't quite ready to shell out nearly $200, check out the Katana Lace, which is also a worthy option for most styles of climbing.

Other Versions and Accessories


La Sportiva Solution
La Sportiva Solution
  • Super high performance bouldering and sport climbing shoe
  • Sensitive and precise
  • $175

Sportiva Miura VS or La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's
  • Stiff, high performance edging shoe for sport climbing and bouldering
  • Women's version with low cut ankle and lower volume on the Miura last
  • $170

La Sportiva Futura
La Sportiva Futura climbing shoe
  • An aggressive sending shoe
  • Features La Sportiva's No Edge Concept
  • A very sensitive shoe
  • $180

Thomas Greene
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