La Sportiva Cobra Eco
The perfect shoe for the eco-warriors amongst us. Not only is this shoe single handedly saving the planet, but is also a force to be recond with. Take a read of our La Sportiva Cobra Eco review now!
- Performance: 70% 70%
- Sensitivity: 75% 75%
- Comfort: 85% 85%
- Value For Money 85% 85%
- Total Score 78% 78%
Basic but quality shoe
We Don’t Like
No suitable for high performance
Prepare for a lot of stretch
Built For: Bouldering, Sport Climbing, Indoor, Warming-up
Summary: We love that La Sportiva have made the appeal to the eco-warrior in all of us, but unless you’re an Olympic speed climber, the Cobra probably won’t be your crushing shoe of choice.
Nevertheless, this is a great shoe that can deliver all day comfort while still giving you the tools you need to climb hard.
La Sportiva Cobra Eco Review
One of the original staples of the La Sportiva family, the Cobra is a remarkable slipper that some swear by, while others struggle to get along with. Despite this Marmite effect, it remained popular until it was discontinued recently.
Lucky for us, it was replaced by the Cobra Eco, a shoe that shares many of the same features of its predecessor. The main difference between the two is that the new Cobra Eco isis predominantly made of recycled materials (85% to be exact).
The new shoe also garuntees minimal environmental impact through metal free tanning and water based-adhesivers – so you know this shoes going to be a hit with the eco-warriors amongst us (and lets face it, most climbers are.)
The Cobra is all about cool, functional design and as Sportiva’s primary slipper, it excelles in indoor and all-day use. Frequently seen on hard grit and occasionally on competition style boulder problems, it can hold its own on the technical stuff, but is best suited to slabby, comfortable terrain where its soft moulding allows the user to wear it for long periods of time (as long as the fit is right).
1) Toe Box
Probably the main source of its Marmite ‘love it or hate it’ effect, the toe on the Cobra splits opinion.
Narrow and pointed, it’s diametrically opposed to its obvious competitor of yesteryear, the 5.10 Mocc (which has an excessively rounded toe). If you’re the Cinderella for whom the pointy slipper fits, it can be perfect.
However, I found that the point on the toe didn’t work particularly well with the rest of the shoe (which is extremely soft, making tension along the sole largely irrelevant and nullifying potential gains from a tapered toe). Having said that, I didn’t have any issues with the toe contributing to a loss of comfort, which some users reported.
Although listed by LS as a downturned slipper, I feel like they presented as an almost completely flat shoe once broken in, which generally gives great comfort but sacrifices performance, especially on overhanging ground. And whilst you can toe-hook in them (it’s certainly not the worst shoe out there for them) it isn’t really intended to be used in that way.
As above with toe-hooking, this isn’t a shoe that’s necessarily designed for technical heel hooks. You can play around with the sizing and make sure that there is sufficient tension into the heel for it to stay on while you hook, but that would probably detract significantly from the overall comfort (which is what this shoe is designed for).
I certainly wouldn’t be throwing any overhead heelhooks above bouldering pads in this shoe, but for indoor use (where heelhooks are commonplace) it works well enough. The LS Python is a similar shoe that features a velcro strap, which may be helpful if you like the fit but want a more technical and aggressive variant.
For the old Cobras, La Sportiva went with the Vibram XS Grip 2, an obvious choice for a shoe that excels on friction based climbing.
However, as the new Cobra Eco is singal-handedly saving the planet, the shoe has swapped the XS Grip 2 for La Sportiva’s very own ‘FriXion eco rubber’.
What is eco rubber I hear you ask? Well put simply, La Sportiva use the off cuts from their regular FriXion rubber and re-develop it instead of chucking it in the trash.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this give you second rate rubber though. The shoes do grip unbelievably well and are especially impressive on medium textured footholds, like indoor volumes or rocktypes like grit and hard sandstone. The sizing is key to get the most out of the rubber (more on this in the next section) as if they are too baggy they will be really comfortable, but will slip around on your feet and reduce the efficacy of the grippy rubber.
Despite being fairly soft and needing to be well moulded to work well they last a long time with careful use, like most Sportiva shoes, and can be used easily in a variety of settings without degrading the sole.
4) Comfort and Fit
Like with any slipper, to get the most out of them you may need to downsize slightly. LS recommend you downsize at least a full size, but it is unclear what this means – the vast majority of climbers already wear their LS shoes between 1.5 and 3 sizes down from their street shoe.
Despite the confusion, they are a versatile shoe – sized aggressively they give great performance on hard boulders and outdoor friction climbing, but sized comfortably they make an excellent, simple shoe that can be used for all day cragging and even trad.
Sportiva shoes tend to be forgiving to different foot types as well, and these are no exception. The added simplicity of the slipper format makes them suitable for most feet, with the caveat mentioned above that some may find the toe excessively and uncomfortably pointy.
Most people downsize significantly in Sportiva shoes, though I found these could be used for all-day, long session comfort at or just below street size (I wear a 44 normally, and used a 43.5 in these). However for a more performance fit, you may need to go lower.
The Cobra Ecos are a high-quality bit of a kit – as good as many slippers get, with the comfort, ease and versatility that is inherent to this shoe type.
Although some climbers just simply can’t get on with them, many more can and indeed excel using them. British pros like Jim Pope have shown off the Cobra in competitions and on fiendishly hard grit ascents, so you know they’re put to use at the very top end.
But they are equally suited to comfort down at the wall or on casual crag outings. Most of all, they’re sleek and cool with a great, cutback design that allows you to focus on nothing but the climbing.
We hope you have enjoyed our La Sportiva Cobra Eco review. If you can’t wait to get your hands on these shoes, why not get them on Amazon here!