La Sportiva Venom, $115
- Steep rock: 5 Star
- Face climbing: 3 Star
- Long routes: 1 Star
- Upper: Leather, unlined
- Sole: 3.5mm Vibram XSV
The Venom loves bouldering and hisses with pleasure when the angle gets steep. Similar to La Sportiva’s Testarossa, the aggressive down-turned last gives big-toe focus and precision, and the sharp toe sniffs out small holds. The sole is plenty sensitive, but the addition of a thin midsole gives it a significant edge over many of its steep-rock competitors. A stretchy rubber mesh atop the forefoot accesses a host of hitherto unusable foot-scum options. This shoe runs large; anticipate wearing it several sizes smaller than your street shoes.
+ Best steep-rock shoe. Rages on gym routes, bouldering and the steepest sport climbs.
- Urghh—available in venomous black-yellow-green.