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Climbing Shoes

Lowa Sparrow Women’s

The Women’s Sparrow is Lowa's first performance shoe specifically designed for women.

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Between climbing shoes and ski boots, my feet have taken a beating. So I’m a sucker for comfort. But common sentiment is that your shoes must be tight and painful to perform.

“My shoes hurt every pitch,” a friend told me sanctimoniously.

The Lowa Women’s Sparrow, the company’s first performance shoe for women, hits two key aspects just right. They are snug and comfortable right out of the box. The shoe, built on a women’s-specific last with a narrow heel and ball, wraps my foot up. With a soft arch, it smears and grabs well, and it has both sufficient rubber on the back for heel hooks and thin enough rubber underfoot to feel sensitive.

The shoe makes a really nice all-arounder for an intermediate- to-expert climber, someone doing lotsa 5.11 up into 5.12. You can do anything with it: climb in the gym, go to Rifle or the Red, go to Eldorado, or crack climb at the Creek, the City or the New. It also wears over the months with little stretching, and the anti-microbial lining (one of those things you might not notice until you need it) keeps the shoe from stinking up your show.

Three Velcro cinch closures tighten the shoe well, but the tabs are too long for my narrow feet, though they might suit someone with wider feet or a nice patrician arch. At times when I’m leading, the rope slips beneath the end of a tab and lifts it, a distraction. Additionally, while the shoe feels good on my battered toes, the top of the heel is tight and stiff, rubbing the skin over my Achilles tendon. For that reason, at first I had to switch shoes after three or four pitches. Now the backs have softened a bit, but still chafe sometimes.

The Sparrow has a fun graphic, a little flower on the bottom, which I barely noticed, but which my climbing pards keep bringing up with a smile.

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