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La Sportiva Cobra Eco Review

Cobra Eco

The perfect shoe for the eco-warriors amongst us. Not only is this the Cobra Eco single-handedly saving the planet, but it also makes for a great training shoe when comfort is more important than performance.

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Summary

Overall
7.5
(2 reviews)
  • Edging - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Smearing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Steep Terrain - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sensitivity - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value For Money - 7.5/10
    7.5/10

Pros

  • Basic but quality shoe
  • Very comfortable
  • Eco-friendly

Cons

  • Not suitable for high performance
  • Prepare for a lot of stretch

Best For: Long climbing trips and training days

Summary: I love that La Sportiva has 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 sending shoe of choice. That said, the Cobra is a tried and tested training shoe that offers all-day comfort while still giving you the tools you need to climb hard.

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La Sportiva Cobra 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, a few new additions were added to the Cobra line including the Cobra Eco, and more recently, the Cobra 4.99.

The Cobra Eco, is a shoe that shares many of the same features as the original model. The main difference between the two models is that the new Cobra Eco is predominantly made of recycled materials, an impressive 85% to be exact.

Testing Cobra Eco

The new shoe also guarantees minimal environmental impact through metal-free tanning and water based-adhesives – so you know this shoe going to be a hit with the eco-warriors amongst us (and let’s face it, most climbers are.)

The Cobra is all about cool, functional design, and as Sportiva’s primary slipper, it excels 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 molding allows the user to wear it for long periods of time (as long as the fit is right).

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.

Cobra Toe

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 the 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.

 Heel

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).

La Sportiva Cobra sizing

I certainly wouldn’t be throwing any overhead heel hooks above bouldering pads in this shoe, but for indoor use (where heel hooks 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.

Rubber

For the old Cobras, La Sportiva went with the Vibram XS Grip 2, an obvious choice for a shoe that excels on friction-based climbs.

However, as the new Cobra Eco is single-handily 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 uses the offcuts from their regular FriXion rubber and re-develop it instead of chucking it in the trash.

Cobra Sole

Don’t be fooled into thinking this gives you second-rate rubber though. The shoes do grip unbelievably well and are especially impressive on medium-textured footholds, like indoor volumes, or rock types like grit and hard sandstone. The sizing is key to getting 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 molded 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.

Comfort and Fit

Like any slip-on climbing shoe, 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 a 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 Verdict

The Cobra Ecos is 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 Backcountry here.

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Community Reviews

We’ve had our say, and now it’s time for you to have yours. If you have a history with this shoe, then please leave a review! The climbing community needs your wisdom.

1 thought on “La Sportiva Cobra Eco”

    • 6.5/10
      Edging - 6.5/10
    • 7.5/10
      Smearing - 7.5/10
    • 7/10
      Steep Terrain - 7/10
    • 8/10
      Comfort - 8/10
    • 7.5/10
      Sensitivity - 7.5/10
    • 8/10
      Value For Money - 8/10

    I have had two pairs of the cobra’s the shoes are pretty sensitive but also have a short life span at least that is what i noticed. However they are very nice all-round climbing shoes! I would advise these to a beginner climber who likes bouldering and toprope/ lead climbing!

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    Edging
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    Smearing
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    Steep Terrain
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    Comfort
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    Sensitivity
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