La Sportiva Climbing Shoes Review – Cobra Eco
This is a review of the new La Sportiva Cobra Eco climbing shoe. I’ve been climbing on them for the last ten days in the North Cascades and have now have a solid understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
- Short break-in period - Soft synthetic leather upper quickly formed to my feet, which are pretty wide. After two sessions of climbing in them they felt super comfy and molded. I wear a size 9 street shoe and sized these at a 41, or 8 ½.
- Good all-around shoe –The soft sole/upper makes these good for smearing/slab climbing, moderate edging/crack climbing, and comfy enough for 4th class scrambling. These are all things you might do on 5.10 and below alpine climbs, which is what I used these for quite a bit. They were perfect for all day moderate climbing and my toes only started hurting a little after 13 pitches in a day.
- Super sticky/sensitive rubber – the Frixion rubber on these shoes is excellent and they really excelled at smearing and using small, pebbly footholds on slabby to just-past-vertical terrain. It’s quite soft which compromises their edging capability, but improves comfort and flexibility. Other LaSpo shoes with more rigid soles and stiffer/thicker rubber will be much better for hard edging and crack climbing, but will be much less comfortable.
- Easy on-off – Slipper design is really easy to take on and off between pitches or at belays, or between routes/problems at the gym.
- Recycled materials – These shoes are one more way to reduce your impact.
- Neutral downturn – The shoes are relatively flat, which compromises their ability to grab small footholds on overhung terrain, but once again enables them to smear, climb easy cracks/faces and scramble all day in comfort.
- Pointy toe – Maintains precision for small footholds.
- The soft, suede-like upper feels comfy on your feet all day but doesn’t give your feet very much protection for less moderate crack climbing. I found that doing full-on vertical toe and foot jams like you might on 5.10 and up crack climbing was more painful in these than it is in TC Pros or Katana Lace’s.
I really like the Cobras and they are going to be my moderate all day shoe from now on, and in the fall I will probably use them in the gym too. They sort of remind me of a slightly more aggressive, pointy version of the Moccasin. They are comfy and soft but are designed in a way that still gives them a secure feel and some precision, which makes them perfect for long, moderate climbs or all day mellow crag sessions. If you work them into your gym rotation and blow through a pair every four months, at least they’re recycled. I think they’re the raddest slipper out there and strike a perfect balance between comfort and versatility.