La Sportiva P3: What Does It Do?

More kick-ass shoe tech from La Sportiva.

La Sportiva P3 Climbing Shoes

Last updated on April 10th, 2023 at 03:12 am

La Sportiva has had skin in the climbing game for well over four decades now. The Italian shoemakers first entered the market in the late 70s, although it was in 1982 when the Italian company started emerging as a leading climbing shoe manufacturer thanks to the release of their now iconic La Sportiva Mariacher. 

The La Sportiva Mariacher, along with other trailblazers like the Boreal Fire, marked a big step forward in the climbing world. Climbers could now practice more precise footwork with shoes that offer a superior fit and better fiction on rock surfaces, opening the doors to elusive grades and making ascents previously deemed impossible.

Even today, La Sportiva continues to deliver clever shoe innovations. They introduced us to No-Edge technology in 2011, and more recently, created the first-ever purpose-built speed climbing shoe, the Cobra 4.99, for Sport Climbing’s 2020 Olympic debut.

Perhaps one of their most important innovations though, which is widely used on many of their high-end shoes, is the P3 Platform. So what is La Sportiva’s P3 wizardry exactly? And what does it do to your shoes?

What is the La Sportiva P3 Technology?

Simply put, the P3 is La Sportiva’s patented active rand technology.

Shoe manufacturers all have their own tricks for creating tension in their climbing shoes. That said, one thing every climbing shoe has in common is that they are all plastered in highly tensioned pieces of rubber, known as rands. Rands have many important jobs on climbing shoes, including protecting the high-wear areas, helping the shoe remain rigid when standing on footholds, as well as minimizing stretch, and helping to maintain the shoe’s downturned camber.

One of the most common types of rands, found on almost every climbing shoe, is called a slingshot rand. Wrapping around the heel and connecting under your mind foot, the slingshot rand ensures there is a little movement within the shoe and keeps your foot secure as you weight the toe box on a foothold.

Could you imagine standing on a small edge if your climbing shoes didn’t securely grip the back of your heel? Your ability to exercise precise and powerful footwork would be significantly diminished. 

La Sportiva’s P3 tensioning system, or Permanent Power Platform, is essentially an upgraded design to this traditional slingshot rand. Instead of the rand starting at the midfoot, the P3 is embedded under your toes, in the shoe’s forefoot, and wraps the entire way around the length of the shoe.

The image below clearly shows the P3 in action.

La Sportiva Climbing Shoe-Rand

One of the biggest benefits of this design over a traditional slingshot is that by extending the rand under the forefoot, it provides additional structural support to help maintain the downturned shape of the shoe. 

Because the toes and heel are also directly connected to one another through the single piece of elasticated rubber, there is also an enhanced transmission of power through the shoe. 

In a nutshell, the La Sportiva P3 is designed to ensure your shoes maintain their shape, and performance, for longer.

La Sportiva P3 Climbing Shoes

As you now know, the main benefit to the P3 platform is to help maintain a downturned shape, so it’s hardly unsurprising that the P3 rand is found on many of La Sportiva’s performance models.

Currently, there are 14 different P3 climbing shoes on the market, more if you could the high and low volume variations of each model. 

  • Futura
  • Genius
  • Katana Lace
  • Kataki
  • Kubo
  • Miura VS
  • Otaki
  • Skwama
  • Speedster
  • Solution
  • Solution Comp
  • Testarossa
  • Theory
  • TC Pro

Of course, all the aforementioned shoes are great, we would expect nothing less from La Sportiva. But if you are needing some inspiration to find the perfect P3 shoe, here are a few of our favorites. 

La Sportiva Solution

La Sportiva Solution Review

The Solutions were released in 2007 and marked a major milestone in the evolution of modern climbing shoes. Even today, well over a decade later, the shoe is still a hot favorite for sport climbers and bouldering specialists.

Their downturned profile really forces your foot into a talon-like shape, more so than many other aggressive climbing shoes we have tested. This allows you to grab pockets with ease and exercise laser precision on the tip of the shoe.

The solution has plenty of other great things going for it too. The synthetic sock lining is comfortable, the closure has all the benefits of velcro closure but allows for better control over the fit and the 3D heel cup can handle any heel hook you throw at it.

Although the  Solution is still one of the company’s bestsellers the new, more sensitive, Solution Comp was designed just before the Olympic Games to cater to competitive indoor climbers.

La Sportiva Miura

La Sportiva Miura VS

It’s only right we start with the Miura VS, after all, it was the first shoe to use the P3 Platform. Although the Miura line has been around for over two decades, these shoes are still as amazing today as they were in.

In fact, I think the Miura VS might be one of the most versatile shoes ever made. It uses 4mm of Vibram XS Edge on the outsole and a 1mm midsole in the forefoot which makes the shoe extremely precise for delicate foot placements. It also has a pretty aggressive shape to it, which helps on the steep stuff. 

Although the Miura isn’t my first choice for a smeary problem at the bouldering gym, outside, these bad boys can do it all. 

The Miura VS is the velcro sibling of the classic Miura and although both shoes share similar characteristics, although the Miura VS is better suited to higher volume feet, it uses the P3 technology and also a tubular, sock-like, upper.

La Sportiva Futura

La Sportiva Futura review

The first (modern) shoe to utilize revolutionary “No-Edge” technology, La Sportiva Futura is another popular one with gym rats. The incredibly sensitive Futura is one of the softest La Sportiva shoes around and shines in demanding boulder problems and challenging sport climbs.

The Futura isn’t as downturned as the Solution or Genius, which helps it adapt better to slabby friction moves. These are also a lower-volume shoe, which means that narrow-footed climbers will enjoy the fit of these babies. 

Bust out the Futura when tackling those hard projects in your life and I guarantee they won’t be projects for much longer!

La Sportiva Skwama

The La Sportiva Skwama is up there as one of the best all-around shoes currently available. These are a common sight everywhere from the feet of pro sport climbers to weekend warriors working their projects at Joshua Tree.

How are they so versatile? For starters, they use a soft construction, although still retain the ability to stick to the smallest of edges. Making a shoe that has this balance between flexibility, but able to stay rigid when the ages are weight is no easy task. The P3 platform definitely has a part to play in this.

A common problem with soft climbing shoes is that the heel will crumple once weighted. LS got around this by introducing some new technology to the Skwama called the ‘S Heel’, a rigid block of rubber that supports the heel when throwing down a monster hook.

The Skwama can handle overhanging routes, but they also excel in technical face and slabs.  They are surprisingly comfortable for a high-end performance shoe and will serve you well for extended days at the crag. 

What’s the right P3 climbing shoe for you?

Rand technology has come a long way since the first slingshot heel band used in Five Ten’s Moccasyms back in 1991. Now, each climbing shoe manufacturer has developed their own rand technology, and the race for the perfect shoe is on. If you want to learn about other rands that shoemakers are using, be sure to check out this article

Fortunately for us climbers, we can just sit back and enjoy the ride, while the geniuses that design our shoes get increasingly better at helping us scamper up walls that only 40 years ago might have been a distant dream. 

It’s all fun times ahead, so happy climbing, and see you on the walls!

Written By

Sam Laird

A lifelong climber and shoe geek. His first shoe was the OG Scarpa Helix, although his shoe collection has grown to unhealthy levels in the last 20 years. When he’s not getting shut down on V2 gym slabs, Sam is backpacking around the world in pursuit of his next big adventure.

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