La Sportiva Tarantulace
The Tarantulace is the most popular beginner climbing shoe of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. Take a look at our full review now!
- Performance: 60% 60%
- Sensitivity: 55% 55%
- Comfort: 85% 85%
- Value For Money 80% 80%
- Total Score 70% 70%
Great at edging
Excellent, secure fit
We Don’t Like
Bad for crack climbing
LA SPORTIVA TARANTULACE REVIEW
The La Sportiva Tarantulace is an affordable shoe designed for new climbers. It will also appeal to climbers with a smaller budget who seek versatility. While the shoe is not very aggressive or designed for a specific type of climbing, it will fit most feet well and offer good performance in most situations, whether in a gym, on boulders, or at your local crag. The Tarantulace is widely recognised as one of the most comfortable climbing shoes on the market.
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. In all honesty, I have only used them once for 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 are always in my bag and still see 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. My brother treats them better and his 2-year old pair are still in great condition.
1) Toe Box
The toe box is larger and more comfortable than with most shoes. That is usually the least comfortable part of a climbing shoes and why I choose to take most of my shoes off inbetween 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. And when I finally do, 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 are 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 tensionised heel rand minimises movement in the heel an 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 prioritise 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 outdoors routes nowadays.
La Sportiva have kitted the Tarantulace with 5mm of their FriXion® RS rubber, found on my of their cheaper shoes. The thicker more durable rubber decreases sensitivity, but makes the shoe stiffer, which great for beginners. Beacuse 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 article 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 foot work will definitely extend the life of your shoes.
4) Comfort and Fit
The Tarantulace are known for being comfortable, which 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 are 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 odour than their synthetic counterpart. I confess mine are no longer odourless 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 shoe 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 Amazon 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!