Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Climbing Shoes

La Sportiva Genius

Touted by Sportiva as “the highest performance climbing shoe on the market,” the Genius incorporates the latest of Sportiva’s thinking—No-Edge technology, P3 randing and asymmetrical lacing—into one package.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All Access
Fall Sale
$1.52 / week*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Today’s Plan training platform with customized training plans
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Touted by Sportiva as “the highest performance climbing shoe on the market,” the Genius incorporates the latest of Sportiva’s thinking—No-Edge technology, P3 randing and asymmetrical lacing—into one package.

In 1999, Sportiva’s designer, Pietro Dal Pra, took a thin section of sole rubber and wrapped it up and around the front platform of a sock-soft shoe called the Mantra. Predictably, this design, which lacked an edge, had proponents and detractors, but the Mantra quickly became my favorite shoe for caves and hold-less feature climbing. The rounded-off toe smeared better than a true edge—and still does. Doubters, take note: Adam Ondra used the no-edge Sportiva slipper, the Speedster, to onsight 5.14d.

Aside from having the no-edge, here’s the skinny on the Genius: It is a super-soft slipper-like shoe that fits my narrow feet like a glove. The P3
platform, a rubber rand that wraps around the heel and under the sole, drives the toes into the end of the shoe, helps maintain the slightly downturned shape. The toe box is designed to accommodate knuckled-up toes, but I wound up sizing these shoes one up from what I usually wear in Sportiva—and they still hurt for a few sessions before the unlined leather stretched.

Dal Pra lists a host of advantages for the no- edge design, ranging from greater durability to better sensitivity. In my experience, he’s correct that
the no-edge takes longer to wear out because the point of contact with the rock is more spread out than with edged shoes. The beveled toe also smears without rolling. You may note than an edged climbing shoe eventually wears into a “no edge” sole, so what’s the big deal with the Genius? The Genius, unlike your worn shoes, is purpose built for no-edge climbing, performing at its optimal level on day one.

I also agree with Dal Pra that the no-edge climbs better in many instances. In most cases—even when toeing edges—the toe contacts the foothold as a smear, not by butting the very edge of the shoe to the hold. Imagine bouldering in a steep cave where you paw at a bucket or on a slab where you smear across a tiny wrinkle. Of course, there are times when you’ll want a traditional, edged shoe—namely for vertical climbing on sharp, small holds and thin cracks where a thinner toe profile will allow more penetration.

That said, the Genius has become my go-to for steep bouldering and all types of sport climbing with the exception of vertical edge climbing, where a traditional flat-lasted, stiff, edged shoe will ameliorate foot fatigue.

At $189.95 the Genius pushes pricing to a new level, but only by $5, and Rock and Resole can resole the Genius for $45.

Buy Now