With a comfortable design and with beginner-friendly performance, it’s not hard to see why the Tarantulace is one of the most popular beginner climbing shoes of all time.
Indoor - 6/10
Outdoor - 7/10
Sensitivity - 4/10
Comfort - 10/10
Durability - 9/10
Value For Money - 8/10
- Super comfortable
- Great at edging
- Excellent, secure fit
- Limited performance
The La Sportiva Tarantulace, and its velcro counterpart, the Taranula are budget beginner shoes designed to help new climbers find their feet in the vertical world.
While there’s no mistaking that this shoe isn’t built for high-end performance, its comfortable fit, stiff full-length sole, and budget-friendly price have allowed legions of beginners to master the basic techniques to hone their climbing skills.
Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 02:33 am
The La Sportiva Tarantulace is an affordable shoe designed for new climbers but it will also appeal to climbers with a smaller budget who seek versatility. The shoe is not exactly what you would call performance-oriented, or specialized for a specific type of climbing, for that matter. What the Tarantulace does offer, however, is a great fit that will suit an array of foot shapes, and offer entry-level performance in the gym, on the boulders, and at your local crag.
The shoe is designed to be a general and comfortable workhorse and is advertised as an “aggressive” beginner’s shoe. Over the last 2 years, I have used my Tarantulace at the sport climbing and bouldering gym, as well as many outdoor crags. Outdoors, I usually do face climbing, crack climbing, or slab and these shoes have never felt out of place. They don’t exactly take naturally to outdoor bouldering, but that is because this shoe isn’t designed to deal with the technical demands of this style of climbing including heel hooks or overhangs.
I own other pairs of climbing shoes, but my Tarantulace is always in my bag and still sees action after 2 years. Sure, they are starting to see wear, but only because I don’t take as good care of them as I should. Treat them right, and these shoes will be in your collection for a very long time, long after you have left the beginner walls behind.
The toe box is large, rounded, and more comfortable than most shoes. That is usually the least comfortable part of climbing shoes and why I choose to take most of my shoes off in between climbs.
With the Tarantulace, the toe box is so comfortable I sometimes wear them when I go out on the town. Well, that’s not true. I am however able to wear them on a full gym session without having to take them off, which is rare for climbing shoes. And when I finally do take them off, my toes don’t feel like they were crushed in a metal door.
The drawback is always the same: comfort comes at the expense of performance in technical terrain and holds. The Tarantulace is not made for toe hooks and pockets. They perform better when smearing, on slabs for example, or in cracks due to the leather built.
In a nutshell, these shoes will allow you to climb everything, but don’t expect miracles on technical moves.
The tensioned heel rand minimizes movement in the heel and gives your foot a secure and snug fit. On the outside of the heel, the shoe has a generous amount of rubber, providing a good level of grip.
Like all beginner climbing shoes that prioritize comfort and versatility, the Tarantulace sacrifices a bit on performance. Heel hooks are certainly possible and you can crush that problem that requires a hook at the crux in these shoes. Although, you will find that a more aggressive performance shoe will deliver a far superior heel hook. The Tarantulace will provide better results on a vertical or slab climb. While I have used them on overhangs at bouldering gyms and have done heel hooks outdoors, I prefer using other shoes for more technical outdoor routes nowadays.
La Sportiva has fitted the Tarantulace with 5mm of their FriXion® RS rubber, found on many of their cheaper shoes. The thicker more durable rubber decreases sensitivity but makes the shoe stiffer, which is great for beginners. Because of this, the Tarantulace makes light work of edging, a vital skill for beginners to master.
The FriXion RS rubber offers a decent level of friction on rock and plastic as highlighted in our rubber comparison which makes the shoe great for smearing.
You can climb with confidence with the Tarantulace. If you slip, it’s unlikely to be the rubber’s fault. It’s either because the surface or hold should not have been trusted or…because you put your foot in the wrong place!
The rubber performs well both indoors and outdoors. I have used the shoes in both and have no complaints. The rubber feels very durable when climbing efficiently. I have noticed some newer climbers complain they have holes at the toe, but it was because they drag their feet on the gym wall often while climbing. Being mindful of maintaining proper footwork will definitely extend the life of your shoes.
Comfort and Fit
The Tarantulace is known for being comfortable, which is part of the reason these are the most-bought climbing shoes in the world. The laces keep your foot secure and can be used to get rid of any dead space.
They are good for all types of climbing and can be worn all day for a session at the crag. This is an ideal shoe for new climbers who don’t want to invest in expensive and aggressive shoes right away. Even though I am not a new climber, I still wear them after two years and will usually not take them off during a gym session.
La Sportiva is typically sized bigger than most other brands. Their sizing tends to be consistent, however, so previous or current pairs of La Sportiva are a good indicator. Like all leather shoes, they will stretch once broken in, so choosing the right size initially is important. I wasn’t careful with sizing when I bought them and the shoe is now a little too big. I still use them, but with socks, which diminishes sensitivity with the toe.
Because of the leather uppers, the shoes are very breathable and absorbed less odor than their synthetic counterpart. I confess mine are no longer odorless and I wouldn’t lend them to anyone. This only became an issue after years of heavy use in warm temperatures.
La Sportiva also makes the Tarantula, the same model but with Velcro instead of lace.
The Tarantulace may very well be one of the best entry-level climbing shoes on the market. They are comfortable and will not break the bank. This is exactly what a newcomer should be looking for in a shoe.
While the Tarantulace will not be the last shoe you buy, they will help you get into the sport and discover which type of climbing you prefer. They will serve you well until you move on to something better adapted to your style, level, and budget.
If you take care of your Tarantulace, they will last you a long time. They are made of real leather and can take some abuse. I used them heavily over the years and they are still in climbing condition. I now typically limit their usage to gym climbing, but only because I own other pairs of shoes.
I would definitely recommend the Tarantulace to new climbers. I would also recommend them to more experienced climbers looking for an all-terrain second pair of shoes or for climbers on a budget. Their versatility, durability, comfort, and affordability are a winning combination. The next step up by La Sportiva would be the Finale.
We hope you have enjoyed our La Sportiva Tarantulace review. If you can’t wait to get your hands on these bad boys, you can find them on REI here. Or if you don’t think these are the ones for you, make sure to check out more of our shoe reviews. Happy climbing!