La Sportiva’s Most Popular Climbing Shoe
As the most popular beginner shoe of the last decade, the La Sportiva Tarantulace has seen the beginning of many climbers’ careers. It is the best selling climbing shoe in the United States and marries all of the crucial elements we have come to expect from our climbing shoes. In many ways, the Tarantulace is the benchmark the rest of the world lives up to.
The Latest Model
Since its inception, the Tarantulace has gone through numerous iterations. A light green cross-strapping variation was this editor’s first climbing shoe, and it’s easy to see why. The original cross strapping system was easy to use, while the leather stretched and became more comfortable with time. Furthermore, the leather didn’t smell nearly as bad as synthetic climbing shoes. Add in the fact the La Sportiva made the shoe, and for many beginners, the choice becomes obvious.
In the time that followed, La Sportiva released numerous other variations culminating in this latest iteration. To begin, there are four total new Tarantulas: men’s and women’s velcro; men’s and women’s Tarantulace. Today we will talk about the lace up models.
The latest lace up models retain the fit and feel of the originals, but the shoe has been enhanced. For example, the tensioning system is built along a new last that more closely resembles the Miura Lace, a performance big wall shoe. This increased tension aids with power through the toe and the heel, without over-crushing the toes. This latest model also has tubular laces that compress for comfortable fit and a padded tongue to maintain comfort for longer.
What hasn’t changed?
Fortunately, the shoe is still made out of leather. This means that the blister phase a brand new climber will experience when they begin climbing will necessarily be shorter than with a synthetic. The leather breaks in after a few sessions and becomes soft to touch.
The fast lacing system has also continued into this shoe making it an easy solution to indoor bouldering.
When purchasing this shoe, recognize that it will stretch up to a size and a half. If you want to save money and climb in these for as long as you can, then go smaller. It may feel like a lot for your first pair of shoes, but the will break in eventually. If you want a more comfortable fit, then you can always increase their size, and use the laces to tighten progressively as the shoe stretches.
This element makes the lace up system particular beneficial as a tight fit can be found even on a looser fit. No matter what size you get, you will probably end up downsizing your first pair of performance shoes after anyway. As you are probably newer to climbing if you are purchasing these, it may be worth compromising with a size that feels comfortable and snug.
The heel is powerful. the rewrap of the rubber on the midfoot has increased the tension on the heel allowing even advanced climbers to get a lout of the 2022 Tarantulace. From small gibs to larger sloping holds, the Tarantulace digs in and pulls with its heel, making it one of the better performing heel hooking shoes at the bottom end of the price range.
Naturally the shoe has weakness with toe-hooking, but on the large jugs of easier climbs, these shoes will manage well. On small feet, the shoe excels, and utilizes its 5 mm of Frixion rubber to stand on many bad holds. It has a limit as the stiffness of the shoe comes from its size and 1.8 mm LaspoFlex midsole, along with this rubber outsole, and does not rely heavily on support built out of the shoes tension. With that said, the smaller these get, the better they get on small edges.
The rubber is relatively sticky, and exceedingly durable, making it a great solution for the beginner shoe problem. It can sustain any number of resoles and resists delamination on the toe. The laces pull the toe and heel closer to the foot making it perform better, longer than its velcro strap cousin.
The main reason to purchase this shoe comes from the fact that it exists at the intersection of affordability, performance and durability. A beginner shoe should be accessible in price and should be able to last indefinitely.
The Tarantulace fits this description, and goes further in its capacity to be resoled. It is an exceptional beginner shoe, worthy of its popularity and can be bought here for $89 USD or here for $119