La Sportiva Genius Review

La Sportiva

When it first came out, the Genius was described by La Sportiva as ‘the tip of a very sharp spear’ – their most complete, high-end shoe ever. Does it live up to the hype?

The Quick

  • Indoor - 9/10
  • Outdoor - 9/10
  • Sensitivity - 10/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Durability - 7/10
  • Value For Money - 8/10


  • Incredible sensitivity
  • Great for edging
  • The toe rand
  • Laces help get the perfect fit


  • The price Wears fast
  • Off-center laces get destroyed in cracks


Sport Climbing



Foot Shape




From the many climbing shoes I have tested, there are very few that match the awesomeness of the Genius. These aggressive performance shoes utilize the mysterious No-Edge technology that makes the Genius one of the most precise shoes in the game.

For various reasons, these shoes wouldn’t be my first choice for crack or big wall climbing, but for virtually everything else these shoes won’t disappoint.

The Full
La Sportiva Genius Review

Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 03:14 am

When it first came out, the Genius was described by La Sportiva as ‘the tip of a very sharp spear’ – their most complete, high-end shoe ever. Does it live up to the hype?

A lace-up version of the pre-existing Speedsters (slipper) and Futura (velcro), the Genius is a classy piece of engineering. The No-Edge technology that LS pioneered with these three shoes is at its best in the lace-up variant, which vacuum packs your foot into an unbelievably sensitive yet aggressive shoe. Climbing in it, you can tell it’s a bit different from almost everything else on the market. At home in whacky, 3D climbing or on disgustingly steep board problems, the toes seem able to stick to the glassiest feet, even on a roof.

I have used them for the best part of three years, do most of my hardest climbing in them, and have never really identified any major faults with their design or use.

Toe Box

The No-Edge shape means that the toe on the Genius is already rounded, giving you a ‘molding’ effect on lots of footholds – the shoe ‘squishes’ onto small feet. This can be an absolute blessing, but probably also highlights the shoe’s only identifiable weakness – it isn’t very good on small, sharp edges on vertical terrain.

Whilst some of its proponents (Neil Gresham) might be willing to wear it at highly technical crags like Malham, most would agree that this is a shoe better suited to big overhangs and highly featured terrain.

It is easily the best shoe I have ever used on upside-down, roof-style climbing, largely because the toe hook is so secure. Similar to the Solution, another front runner in the La Sportiva range, it features a toe bump above the knuckles of your toes, which makes placing toe hooks extra secure.

In Spain recently, this allowed me to clip a quickdraw in a roof with almost all my weight sucked into a ‘bicycle’ – a clamp between a toe and a toe hook.


Similar to the toe hook, the heel on the Genius is incredibly advanced. The lacing closure system allows zero slippage, and for most people’s feet the heel cup will fit fairly snugly (although some complain it is slightly roomy – not a problem I have noticed).

Due to the overall shape of the shoe (hyper-aggressive downturn, pulled on all around the foot), the heel and toe feel perfectly linked and balanced, allowing you to use the whole shoe to drag and control swings on featured terrain like tufas.

A (very) small downside – the heel features two different rubber strips, one of which is dyed red and extremely soft. Be careful if your heel slips, as it will leave unsightly red stains on rocks or walls.


The No-Edge concept means that Genius (and Futuras/Speedsters) come out of the box more or less ready to go – the only challenge that arises in using the Genius is that this can make it harder to get accustomed to them. The outsole rubber is XS Grip 2, as on most of Sportiva’s softer, downturned shoes, but the real story is in the No-Edge and the way it performs.

La Sportiva Genius Rubber

Many commentators have suggested that it promotes lazy or sloppy footwork because the No-Edge can do the work for you on moderate footholds. But I’m not entirely sure that’s true, but it is fair that without an edge you can sometimes paste your feet on in a rather haphazard way. Nevertheless, the shoe remains incredibly effective and provides unparalleled levels of control on footholds in steep or horizontal terrain.

The rubber can wear down very quickly, as the No-Edge is by design thinner and more sensitive than traditional shoes. However, Sportiva has worked to make some changes to the rubber since the shoes first came out which has undoubtedly improved the shoe’s longevity.

Comfort and Fit

As mentioned above, the No-Edge concept changes the way we look at shoes, especially the idea of breaking them in. I have found (with two pairs of Genius over several years) that it still takes quite a few sessions to get them feeling ‘ready’. They are aggressive, they are very downturned, and they should be sized accordingly.

This does mean occasional discomfort and some users have found the shape difficult to wear comfortably. But the vast majority of climbers, including many elite users, report them being as comfortable or more so than other high-performance shoes, and this is certainly backed up by my experience.

The neoprene inner, combined with the laces, gives a suction style fit that allows significant amounts of customization – for example, I wear mine with extra give around the toes for more comfort but keep the heel locked in with tight lacing.

As with many Sportiva shoes, the size you wear will probably be significantly different from your street shoe, varying between about 1.5 and 2.5 sizes.

The Verdict

The shoe of choice for elite climbers, from Adam Ondra to Molly Thompson-Smith, has to be given the respect it deserves.

It’s an amazing bit of kit that any climber who likes steep and featured climbing will enjoy using. I personally don’t think it’s as suited to more technical hard climbing, and normally only break them out if the angle is more than 15/20 degrees overhanging (or if the footholds are exceptionally polished).

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for any type or combination of hard climbing, from two-move boulders to 50m sport routes.

These are an impressive and exciting pair of shoes. Although undoubtedly expensive, they are very much worth it, offering a very significant bump in performance compared to a mid-range shoe that might only be $20-$30 cheaper.

Try and keep them in good condition to avoid going through the thin rubber too fast though! If you enjoyed our La Sportiva Genius review, you can find them on REI here.

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Tested By


This shoe has been tried and tested by a member of our climbing community. All our contributors are seasoned climbers with a minimum of one month of hands-on testing prior to writing a review.

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