La Sportiva Skwama review

The La Sportiva Skwama does everything very well, won't hold you back on any type of terrain, and are exceptional for securely heel and toe hooking.  However, the real standout feature of this shoe is that they manage to be excellent shoes while still being very comfortable.  I've never climbed in a shoe with this combination of comfort and all-around performance.

Who should buy the Skwama

The La Sportiva Skwama is ideal for those who are looking for a climbing shoe that offers:

  • exceptional toe hooking
  • a combination of comfort and performance

Who should NOT buy it

The Skwama should not be your first pair of shoes.  They are an aggressive performance shoe making it the wrong choice for:

  • a newer, inexperienced climber (in this case, consider the La Sportiva Tarantulace)
  • those looking for superior edging (the Miura is worth checking out)

Also, if you are looking for something that is more budget-friendly, consider the La Sportiva Tarantula, which is also an entry-level model.

The Skwama fit as expected 

I like my climbing shoes to fit snug without being excessively painful, and these fit the bill. I ordered my typical climbing shoe size for La Sportiva and that was the right choice. In relation to my typical tennis shoe size, I go down a half size for climbing shoes.

I found the Skwama fit to be slightly different from the comparable La Sportiva Solutions, specifically a slightly shorter shoe length, and a slightly wider toe box. Despite the differences, I think my typical climbing shoe size was still the right choice as anything smaller would have been too painful, and anything larger too loose. 

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The shoe is a slipper style and the strap is only there to ensure the shoe stays put. My foot is snug and secure without having to tighten the strap, but I have found the shoe performs better with the strap tightened up. 

The heel design on the Skwama holds your heel in without being uncomfortable or overly difficult to put on, which I prefer to the more snug fit of the comparable Solutions. The only drawback for me on the Skwama fit is that I also own a pair of La Sportiva Solutions and they fit perfectly. The Skwama is a little less than perfect, but only slightly.

La Sportiva Skwama is easy to break-in

I was surprised at how fast the break-in period was, especially for a more aggressive climbing shoe. After 2 climbing sessions, I found that the shoes were easier to put on and I was able to wear them for multiple problems without needing to take them off. 

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The Skwama uppers are mostly leather, which means that over time they will stretch out. In the time I was trying these out, I began to notice the stretch already and could easily see these stretching out ½ - ¾ size which is a bit more than normal. 

Comfort comes quickly

This shoe quickly became a go-to long climbing session shoe for me due to how comfortable they are. As with all aggressive climbing shoes, I will often need a break between climbs but I found very quickly that I was needing fewer breaks with the Skwama. I’m able to climb for extended periods of time and my feet stay happy. This shoe will definitely be in my bag for the longer days at the crag or gym and I’d even happily strap them on for a multi-pitch climb.

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Designed to heel and toe hook

If you enjoy using heel and toe hooks in your climbing, this shoe is for you. Full coverage on the top of the toe allows the shoe to be used for crack climbing as well!. I feel confident in heel hooking knowing that my heel is going to be supported, snug, and still comfortable in my Skwama. The heel is supportive and comfortable and gives me confidence wherever I place it.

Sensitive soles

The rubber sole has a cut-out in it and the midsole support system is not as rigid as the Solutions. The combination of these features creates a more flexible shoe that provides increased sensitivity while climbing. Trusting your feet in this shoe happens almost immediately.

 The flexibility in the Skwama improves confidence and comfort when climbing more slabby routes.  I quickly was able to use the smallest footholds confidently and effectively.

Crack climbing is not off the table

The rubber is quite durable but it is on the softer side. Despite that, the Skwama’s have full coverage, primarily leather uppers and the toe rubber goes up much higher than the Solutions. This design and the comfort of the shoe make the Skwama a solid option for crack climbing. 

I’m not sure I’d take these to an exclusive crack climbing area such as Indian Creek, UT but I would definitely bring them to an area with more varied climbing where you will definitely encounter a crack or two, like New River Gorge, WV or the Gunks, NY. 

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The Skwama offers long-lasting durability

This shoe is extremely durable. I climbed indoors multiple times and have only found normal signs of wear that I would see on any climbing shoe. With good climbing technique, these soles will last quite a while. When they do finally wear out, this shoe can be resoled!  

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Does not allow for much breathability

The upper portion of the shoe is primarily leather, which does not allow for much breathability. This shoe retains moisture and I’ve noticed the leather is damp after a longer climbing session. Overall, this doesn’t detract from the shoe for me. As a bonus, because the material is leather, the shoe does an excellent job with odor control. After 8+ climbing sessions, over 20 hours of climbing, my shoes still smell new!

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The La Sportiva Skwama is expensive

The average price for a climbing shoe is $146. At $170, the Skwama is expensive for a climbing shoe. But compared to other shoes of this caliber, such as the La Sportiva Solution or Scarpa Instinct VS, they come in slightly more affordable for the performance shoe line-up. 

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Conclusion

If the Skwama fit my foot just a tad more perfectly, this would easily usurp my current favorite, the La Sportiva Solutions. However, this is definitely a close second and I know many climbers whose go-to shoe is the Skwama because it fits like a glove for them.  The level of comfort combined with performance that is found in this shoe is very uncommon. 

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This shoe will continue to be my go-to for longer climbing sessions. If I could combine the comfort and design of the Skwama with the perfect fit of the Solutions, I think that would be my ideal climbing shoe. 

Facts / Specs

Weight: Men 7.4oz / Women 6oz
Construction: Slip lasted
Closure: Velcro
Fit: Performance fit
Downturn: Aggressive
Environment: Indoor, Outdoor
Material: Leather, Vibram

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Author
Eliza Porterfield
Eliza Porterfield

I am an avid rock climber of 11+ years currently living in the Pittsburgh area. I enjoy being outdoors in general whether it's climbing, hiking, biking, paddle boarding, etc. I climb indoors during the week but try to get outdoors on weekends with my Husband and our dog as often as possible, whether it be one of the local crags or exploring new crags elsewhere!