La Sportiva Genius Climbing Shoe

8.6
8.6 score
[Editors rating (8.6)] = (GearWeAre.com) score (8.6)/10

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Editor rating: 8.6 / 10
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La Sportiva Genius Climbing Shoe Review Facts

Described by La Sportiva as “the highest performance climbing shoe,” the Genius certainly manages to grab people’s attention with its latest No-Edge technology, asymmetrical lacing, and P3 randing. Look closely and you will notice that the Genius has the support and shape of the Testarossa, combined with the fit and comfort of the Solution and the precision rubber of the Futura. The shoe is quite durable too and delivers reasonably good performance on different terrain.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Comes with a ground-breaking no-edge technology
  • Highly durable 3mm Vibram XS Grip2 sole
  • Leather upper for maximum comfort
Cons
  • May not be that suitable for edging
  • A bit expensive
Outsole

Outsole

When it comes to choosing a quality climbing shoe it is the outsole that really matters and the outsole of The Genius packs a punch. The Genius surprises you with its 3mm Vibram Xs Grip2 sole that is designed using a high-quality rubber compound. It ensures good friction and works great when you rely heavily on the maximum grip. It means that the Genius may be a great choice for sports climbing, bouldering, and indoor climbing. It serves as a reasonably good option for extremely smooth, polished routes.

It is the ‘No-Edge Technology’ that makes the Genius stand apart from the crowd. This design innovation increases touch sensitivity by reducing the space between the rubber and the toe making the Genius an excellent choice for smearing and featureless rock. You get to feel even the tiniest of a foothold with precision and accuracy with increased overall contact for extra support and stability.
Midsole

Midsole

The uniquely designed outsole and Midsole are the primary reasons why the Genius can compete with other top climbing shoes, including the Scarpa Instinct Lace and Butora Acro. With Permanent Power Platform (P3) technology, the shoe works with the outsole of the La Sportiva Genius to create and maintain flexibility. The technology allows it to be flexible on the climb but also ensures that the shoe does not lose its aggressive shape on a slabby top out.
Upper

Upper

The overall look of the upper is quite impressive with its combination of suede leather and very comfortable mesh half-sock complemented by the offset lacing system. We were impressed by the lacing and found it to be an intelligent and secure system. The option to adapt it to suit foot shape and size and tightness preferred along with eyelets that really do keep the laces in place, make the whole shoe feel safe and secure. The lacing in no way interferes with the toe hooking rubber.

The bar-tacked pull tabs are another feature that lifts the La SportivaGenius climbing shoe above the standard. Pulling on the tabs as you slip the shoe on stretches out the slingshot like a rubber band and the moment you let go, it sucks your heel back and into place using vacuum-like power. The pull tabs make fitting the shoe or even adjusting it mid-climb fast and straightforward.
Comfort

Comfort

When it comes to comfort, La Sportiva has really pulled out all the stops with the Genius. The blend of the wider last, the unlined suede upper and enough space in the toe box to be able to arch and flex your toes does make the Genius one of the most comfortable climbing shoes around. Its looks are deceptive, with its asymmetrical design and severe downturn, but it is surprisingly comfortable and wearable even on the longest of climbs.

The La Sportiva Genius is designed to fit like a sock, and you have to expect some stretching of about half a size. Keep it in mind when ordering a pair for you. You may want to take care too if you have wider feet, particularly with the fit around the front of the foot. However, if you have tried the La Sportiva’s Miura with some success, the comfort the Genius offers may be just the thing for you.
Style

Style

As smart as the name implies, the Genius certainly looks stylish, at least to those who know how varied rock climbing shoes can get. If it is the first time you're buying anything from La Sportiva, its Permanent Power Platform patented technology will certainly impress you with its aggressive downturn. Yellow and bright red on black rubber give it a mean ‘I mean business’ look. In all, the Genius is a reasonably good forging of aesthetics and build.
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Genius is built for steep terrain. Thanks to that aggressive downturn it is responsive in most conditions including sports climbing, bouldering and even overhanging trad climbs. While wearing the Genius, it feels easier to stick with difficult foot divots on the most overhanging rock. Most climbers will notice that the heel hooking and toe hooking are highly responsive and effective, which in turn will significantly enhance your ability to rest on tough terrain. Overall, the Genius feels quite responsive, but we really believe that it may not perform very well when you decide to tackle slab and thin cracks.
Durability

Durability

With all its technology and forward-thinking design, you would be right to expect the La Sportiva Genius to be durable for its high price. And thankfully, it is. We really put the Genius through the wringer, testing it out with a variety of climbing styles from all angles.

However, considering what you paid, if you really want to test it to the limit when taking your spot on the boulders, we leave that task entirely up to you. While the No-Edge technology helps the shoe last longer than your traditional shoes, you may eventually need 're-soling' that can be quite expensive.
Terrain

Terrain

There is no doubt the La Sportiva Genius can help you take on the most difficult terrain and is an impressive option for outdoor sports climbing. Its grip is easy to appreciate on steep limestone, conglomerate or sandstone where imagined footholds no bigger than a tick mark magically appear. You might be disappointed on vertical granite with sharp-edged gneiss and angular edges and it may not the best indoor shoe either but the genius of the La Sportiva Genius is that it does exactly what it sets out to do.

It may not be the best finest indoor shoe either, which is the result of its No-Edge sole that makes it a little less effective on precise edges and foot chips. When taking on sharped-edges, you may be better off trying something like Five Ten Anasazi Pinks that performs better because of its traditional edging platform.
Support

Support

Expect good support from this pair of climbing shoes mainly because of the asymmetric toe box. It comes with a good downturn – it is reasonably good but is certainly not as aggressive as compared to many other shoes, including the Solution. Its wrap-around p3 midsole, combined with no-edge technology, helps you get a taut feel. The lacing system also plays a role in making it feel secure.

The midsole is relatively rigid though, which means that the company has focused more on making it comfortable. The rigidity makes it a bit less supportive in the downturned position. It does flex a little on the climbs, which is why it offers more support when trying to stand on slab smears or grab at positive edges. There is rubber right at the top of the toe, which is mainly added to provide you with decent protection and support when tackling small cracks.
Sizing

Sizing

The sizing is quite the same for every Sportiva shoe. What it means is that you may want to go down a size from your street shoes. For instance, if you wear 8.5 street shoes, you may want to order the Genius at 7.5 to find it comfortable enough right from the word go. Interestingly, it is a good idea to go down another half size in case you are really into sports and climbing.
Traction

Traction

The shoe offers good traction on rounded footholds, but it may not outperform many other brands when you talk about its ability to handle edges. The Genius is slightly different from other shoes that usually have a well-defined cut to the perimeter of the sole. With a distinct edge on the sole, traditional climbing shoes make it easier to stand upright, but you can take advantage of it only when you are skilled enough to match the edge of the shoe to the specific edge on the rock.

The use of No-Edge technology means the Genius will serve you well on steep climbing mainly because you do not need to stick perfectly to any foothold and can move to the next handhold quickly. Expect significantly less traction when confronting vertical rock though.
Value

Value

While you may notice a slight variation in price from site to site, one thing is for sure that the Genius does come with a whopping price tag. If you value comfort on your rock climbing expeditions, the Genius is certainly well worth the money.

The traction is outstanding and may be enough for a beginner to get off the plateau. The pair is remarkably durable, which also means that your investment will keep serving you well for years to come. Overall, the Genius does provide you with a good value for money, but it all boils down to your skill levels and if you really want a No-Edge shoe for your next climbing mission.
Flexibility

Flexibility

How flexible your pair of shoes is will have an impact on how you perform on a climb. La Sportiva offers shoes that use different types of rubber, but they mostly rely on XS Edge and XS Grip 2 (like in the Genius). Some other manufacturers use the same technology, like another Italian shoemaker, Scarpa. You need to know that XS Edge is an extremely firm rubber that is rather suitable for big granite walls, where you need a combination of technical edging and smearing.

The Genius, however, uses the XS Grip 2 that is quite soft and flexible. It feels a lot more sensitive and makes you feel what your feet are contacting on the rock. Depending on your climbing style, you may find the Genius to be reasonably flexible and sensitive.

Nevertheless, the Genius is flexible enough to perform well on high-end traditional climbing outings, but we believe you will be better off going with a flatter shoe when going on an easy to a moderate traditional climbing expedition. The Scarpa Vapor V and the Kataki from La Sportiva may be a better choice for crack climbing with their low volume toe.
Weight

Weight

The Genius is extremely lightweight at 15.25oz, which really helps make it even more comfortable to wear. The TC Pro is another popular choice, but it weighs 17.4 ounces. The increase in weight is mainly due to the foam padding at the ankles that offer more protection to your feet. The Futura by La Sportiva is another shoe with patented No-Edge technology, but the Genius is almost half the weight of the Futura.
Comparison to Other Brands

Comparison to Other Brands

It would not be wrong to call the Genius the Maserati of rock climbing shoes, but you may have to look for something else if you are a fan of Porsche. While there are so many things going in favor of the Genius, like durability, design, and exceptional comfort, many other high-end options are also available for you to choose from. For instance, if you want a shoe with more stiffness as compared to the Genius, you may want to put your money on the Testarossa, which also provides improved adherence to in-cut edges.

Similarly, the Solution is another nice offering from La Sportiva. For those who do not want to let go of the No-Edge technology may want to try the Future that uses the same technology, but unlike the Genius, comes equipped with a Velcro closure. Other brands may also have nice options available, but in terms of sensitivity, you are less likely to find shoes that can match the performance of the Genius, even the Five Ten Quantum, and the La Sportiva Skwama are not that sensitive.

If your primary choice is a shoe with super-sticky rubber, you may want to give Five Ten's Team VXi a shot. The price of La Sportiva Genius can be a deal-breaker for some, and in that case, you can try some rather traditional bouldering and high-end sports shoes such as Tenaya's Oasi or Evolv's re-designed Shaman.
The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

With its asymmetrical design and aggressive downturn, La Sportiva Genius is an outstanding option for caves, steep terrain, and roofs, where technical toe hooking, heel hooking, and generating core strength through smaller roof holds, is needed. The shoe fits snugly but not painfully, which keeps you comfortable on longer and harder climbs. It may be a bit expensive, but you may have to cough up extra money to avoid feeling weary after a climbing expedition. Just remember it may not be the ideal choice for edging because of its downturned shape and No-Edge concept, but it certainly excels in overhanging sports climbs. So, know your requirements before you take the plunge!