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La Sportiva Skwama Review

Skwama

The king of soft shoes, precision and power have harmonized to form the Skwama. Designed to crush anything you can throw at them, the Skwama is a serious contender for the best performance shoe on the market.

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Summary

Overall
8.7
(8 reviews)
  • Edging - 8/10
    8/10
  • Smearing - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 9/10
    9/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sensitivity - 9/10
    9/10
  • Value For Money - 9/10
    9/10

Pros

  • Incredibly versatile 
  • Sensitive
  • Soft, yet still precise 

Cons

  • Difficult to resole 

Best For: A diverse range of bouldering and sport climbing, especially for friction moves on angled walls

Summary: The Skwama lives up to the La Sportiva name and delivers that solid performance the brand is known for. These super soft shoes are sticky and are perfect for running laps of the gym or getting gripped on short leads outdoors.

As with any soft shoe, don’t expect to be standing on those micro flakes on a 20-pitcher, you need something a lot stiffer than this, but for everything else, the Skwama will rarely disappoint.

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La Sportiva Skwama Review

Ah, the La Sportiva Skwama. Potentially the best high-end all-around shoe on the market. The combination of that sleek design and the abundance of innovation make this a real contender as one of the heavy hitters in the climbing shoe world. The softer cousin of the super-stiff Otaki and Kataki, the Skwamas will rarely let you down. Being one of the most versatile shoes that La Sportiva manufacture, this shoe excels anywhere from technical slabs to steep overhanging routes.

Testing La Sportiva Skwama

I guarantee you will not be able to go to a climbing gym and not see a pair of these. And that’s because they have built a solid reputation as one of the most comfortable performance shoes you can buy. Whether you’re attempting your 7a project or you’re just bouldering with friends, these are the perfect all-around soft climbing shoe.

I was given my first pair by a friend who sold them to me second-hand. Since then, I have gone through three pairs and never looked back. In this La Sportiva Skwama review, I will walk you through some of the features of the shoes I love and why it has become one of the most reliable shoes in my collection.

Toe Box

One of the great features of the Skwama is the toe box. The ‘Power Downturn’ last, combined with the tensioning system in the heel, focuses your power on a central point in the toe. You can really feel this during those all-important moves, allowing you to maximize your precision down to the tiniest numbs on the rock.

La Sportiva Skwama toe

Surprisingly, the Skwama also handles smearing very well. It’s very common for aggressive shoes to sacrifice their smearing ability because of their harsh downturned profile. The split sole and soft rubber of the Skwama temporarily flattens whilst smearing, giving your foot the opportunity to maximize grip against the flat wall.

The toe rand is another really cool feature of the Skwama and my favorite on any shoe I have reviewed. I’m certainly not afraid to go for those satisfyingly awesome toe hooks with my Skwamas on. The front of the shoe is covered in a long rubber patch and dotted with raised rubber areas to resemble a snakeskin. This doesn’t only help for a super grippy when toe hook, but also makes the shoe brilliant for crack climbing too.

Heel

The S-Heel technology in the heel cup (essentially a stiff piece of rubber on the side of the heel) is a game changer for a soft shoe like this. The logic behind it is that it helps keep the shape of the heel cup rigidity and stops the heel from collapsing when performing technical heel hooks. This design has been so successful that La Sportiva has incorporated the same design in some of its other shoes, like the Otaki.

La Sportiva Skwama Heel

In addition, the heel is noticeably stiffer than the rest of the shoe, the heel is built into the tensioning system of the Skwama. Despite being such a soft shoe, I have found that after the rest of the shoe has been broken in, the heel keeps its original shape. It also has that snakeskin texture similar to the heel rand which adds that little bit of extra friction.

 Rubber

It’s no surprise that the Skwamas use the highly popular XS Grip 2, a Vibram compound designed for competition climbing. The XS Grip 2 rubber is extremely grippy both at the gym as well as on granite and limestone walls. It only uses 3mm of rubber on the sole (similar to the Futura’s) which gives this shoe its soft and sensitive qualities.

Skwama Sole

When new, the sharp edge on the front of the shoe provides an excellent amount of precision. Naturally, like any climbing shoe, this wears down over time. From my own experience, I have found that due to the softness of the shoe, the lifespan is significantly less than its stiffer counterpart, the Otaki. And annoyingly, the Skwama doesn’t take to resoling, unlike many other shoes. It can still be resoled, however not to the same level of perfection as some other La Sportiva shoes.

Comfort and Fit

There’s a common view for the Skwama I have heard from a few climbers now. You buy these shoes and they need breaking in. Once broken in, they are an absolute beast. However, before you know it, there is no more edge left and they are past their peak, destined to be used as warm-up shoes and never to send hard again. But in that short period of time that the Skwama is at its peak, I believe they are a masterclass in shoe engineering. Changing the game of soft-style climbing shoes will deliver on its promise of comfort and high performance.

Fit-wise, it is widely accepted that you will have to downsize significantly. I go down 3 ½ from my street size with these. Although this seems a lot, to unlock the true potential of this shoe you need to fill out every millimeter of space. When buying these shoes, do not expect to be standing around in them as if they are comfortable to approach shoes. Whilst not agonizingly painful, they certainly won’t fit like a cozy pair of slippers.

On the plus side, La Sportiva’s P3 tension system helps the shoe keeps its aggressive shape throughout its life, which is no easy feat in the world of high-end climbing shoes. This tension also juxtaposes the softness of the rest of the shoe. As the shoe is a mixture of synthetic and leather, it will stretch slightly. La Sportiva claim by up to ½ a size, however, I would say slightly more.

Whilst having an asymmetric toe, it doesn’t have the most aggressively curved toebox out there, meaning people with wider feet will more easily be able to squeeze into these over some other shoes.

They feature a single Velcro strap across the front of the shoe, as well as a slip-on style elasticated upper. This means they act as a slip-on shoe with further restraint on your foot, giving the shoe the optimal fit for your foot.

The Verdict

The king of soft shoes. Precision and power have harmonized to form the Skwama. If I were repointing, I would wear these. If I were bouldering, I would wear these. If I were just fooling around, showing off with my toe and heel hooks, I would wear these. This all-around shoe provides a base to work on whatever the rock may throw at you. Going on a sport climbing holiday to Kalymnos and unsure of what you will be facing? I would bring a pair of these.

If you have discovered climbing, worn through your first pair of flat shoes, and improved to a point where you need something more technical, these are a great introduction to the world of high-performance shoes. If you are a seasoned climber in search of something to meet all your needs, these are also the shoe for you.

I hope you have enjoyed my La Sportiva Skwama review. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Happy climbing!

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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.

7 thoughts on “La Sportiva Skwama”

    • 7.5/10
      Edging - 7.5/10
    • 9/10
      Smearing - 9/10
    • 8/10
      Steep Terrain - 8/10
    • 8/10
      Comfort - 8/10
    • 8.5/10
      Sensitivity - 8.5/10
    • 8.5/10
      Value For Money - 8.5/10

    I really love these shoes! They are especially great for routs that need a little more sensitivity, or smearing, and can handle most things I throw at them. Though if I’m going for a difficult send that features really small edges or is very overhung I’ve found that I usually switch to something a little stiffer.
    I shoes I usually wear size 13 sneakers (I wear my sneakers with a pretty close fit) and sized to a 46 in these for a moderately tight fit. They have broken in pretty well for me after a little over half a dozen sessions, and now have a nice feel. If I could only buy one shoe, personally this wouldn’t be it, but I’m super happy to have it in my quiver.

    • 8/10
      Edging - 8/10
    • 8/10
      Smearing - 8/10
    • 7.5/10
      Steep Terrain - 7.5/10
    • 8.5/10
      Comfort - 8.5/10
    • 7.5/10
      Sensitivity - 7.5/10
    • 9/10
      Value For Money - 9/10

    Very good shoes in my opinion. I wear a size 44 and I took them in 40.5 in EU size to fit well so don’t hesitate to order small. They fit well on the feet. They are very versatile, the heel is particular (quite big so crushes a lot) but I like it, it allows you to load without pain.

    • 9/10
      Edging - 9/10
    • 8.5/10
      Smearing - 8.5/10
    • 9.5/10
      Steep Terrain - 9.5/10
    • 9/10
      Comfort - 9/10
    • 9/10
      Sensitivity - 9/10
    • 9.5/10
      Value For Money - 9.5/10

    The best climbing shoes i have ever had!! I really really like these shoes super shoes for overhang! Really comfortable shoes from the first climb untill the last climb! Will buy loads of times more!

    • 8.5/10
      Edging - 8.5/10
    • 9/10
      Smearing - 9/10
    • 9.5/10
      Steep Terrain - 9.5/10
    • 9/10
      Comfort - 9/10
    • 9.8/10
      Sensitivity - 9.8/10
    • 8.8/10
      Value For Money - 8.8/10

    Incredible shoes for the money
    Super versatile, good on Edging Power and smearing.
    Baggy heel
    Not very durable

    • 7.5/10
      Edging - 7.5/10
    • 9/10
      Smearing - 9/10
    • 8/10
      Steep Terrain - 8/10
    • 9.5/10
      Comfort - 9.5/10
    • 8/10
      Sensitivity - 8/10
    • 10/10
      Value For Money - 10/10

    The Skwama is a game-changer for climbers seeking an unparalleled combination of superb performance, a snug fit, and versatility across different terrains. Having taken these shoes for a spin in the climbing gym and on soft stones like limestone and sandstone, I’m genuinely impressed with their ability to enhance my climbing experience.
    The Skwama’s ability to conform to the nuances of different rock types, coupled with its superb grip, makes it a reliable companion for outdoor climbing adventures. The shoes effortlessly transition from the gym to outdoor crags, offering a consistent and reliable performance on a variety of surfaces.
    Having a wider toe box and an average heel, I found that downsizing by 2-2.5 sizes from my street shoe size resulted in a snug and precise fit, accentuating the incredible performance of these climbing shoes.

  1. Phineas Howe
    • 7.5/10
      Edging - 7.5/10
    • 9/10
      Smearing - 9/10
    • 8.5/10
      Steep Terrain - 8.5/10
    • 9/10
      Comfort - 9/10
    • 9/10
      Sensitivity - 9/10
    • 9/10
      Value For Money - 9/10

    Amazing multipurpose shoe. I’ve used Skwamas mainly indoors, where it excels at any boulder problem I need it for, and is comfortable enough(after being broken in) to keep on for a longer roped route, or a few hours of a competition.

    The toe rubber is amazing for toe hooking and heel hooking, as well as tiny toe chips. These shoes have treated me well on my most aggressive overhangs and my sketchiest slab climbs.

    As far as sizing, I recommend getting a smaller size than you think, because the Skwamas will S T R E T C H. I wear a USM 10.5 in regular shoes, and my Skwamas are 43s. They work really well, but in hindsight I should have bought either half or one size smaller, as the break-in period increases the size by a bit.

    • 7.5/10
      Edging - 7.5/10
    • 8/10
      Smearing - 8/10
    • 8.5/10
      Steep Terrain - 8.5/10
    • 6.5/10
      Comfort - 6.5/10
    • 8.5/10
      Sensitivity - 8.5/10
    • 10/10
      Value For Money - 10/10

    The break in period is a bit rough, but after that they are great. I only use one pair of shoes for everything and these are the ones I choose.

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