I’m a narrow-footed, middle-sized white boy rapidly approaching 50. I know I’m never going to climb 5.15 or win a gold medal in anything but hot-sauce-making contests, so when it comes to rock climbing I keep a small quiver of well-fitting, comfortable shoes that perform for the styles I like best: bouldering, sport, trad and multi-pitch. La Sportiva’s new model, the Jeckyl VS, happens to fill the bill for all these disciplines.
I’m an inveterate lover of Sportiva’s all-time best-selling model the Mythos and no doubt dig the Jeckyl VS because it approximates the Mythos fit in a Velcro design. The symmetrical toe and all-leather construction provide a glove-like match for my foot. (I’m a size 44 or 11 in street shoes but downsized to a 42 in the Jeckyl.) As noted, my foot is narrow, but I suspect the unlined leather upper will stretch to accommodate most feet—even notoriously fat and hairy American-climber feet.
Performance-wise, the Jeckyl starts out as relatively stiff, but the midsole breaks down and the shoe winds up being soft and pliable.Performance-wise, the Jeckyl starts out as relatively stiff, but the midsole breaks down and the shoe winds up being soft and pliable. I like a soft shoe since it allows you to bend the sole and latch holds on steeper routes without having to endure a radical downturn, a feature that invariably turns my toenails black and causes my gallbladder to produce painful green stones. Sportiva markets the Jeckyl as a gym shoe, probably because it’s comfy and has the easy on/off Velcro closure. I think these shoes shine on multi-pitch routes for the same reason. Pull them off at belays and clip them in—the single pull tab is generous enough for carabiners and sausage fingers. (Weirdly, my feet are narrow, but my fingers are like kielbasa.)
I haven’t tried the Jeckyls on anything harder than 5.13, but I doubt the shoe is as precise as some of Sportiva’s high-end fleet like the Testarosa or Solution. For a middle-sized white boy like me, however, these shoes are as much horse as I need.