To start things off, a bit of a disclaimer: I have only ever used the Skwama indoors, but all the same, I’ve put them through the ringer (as you can probably see in the photo). Please comment below with your experience on how they perform outdoors!
In a nutshell, the La Sportiva Skwama is a high-performance slipper that perform surprisingly well as an all-around shoe considering their aggressive form factor. I was also very pleased with the level of comfort they provided. I found that, once they were broken in, I could leave them on for multiple climbs, even while I was belaying. I used them consistently for sport climbing and bouldering, and was never upset with their performance.
The shoes are very sensitive. The split-sole construction helps quite a bit in being more precise with your foot placement (it is easier to feel what you are standing on), and the shoes actually “mold” a little more to the foothold. The fact that they are so sensitive makes edging very reliable, and even helped with the smearing experience, which is often lacking in aggressive shoes.
La Sportiva baked quite a lot of technology into the Skwamas. In addition to the innovative split-sole construction, these shoes also feature La Sportiva’s S-Heel and P3 Band.
The S-Heel is designed to essentially prevent the heel cup of the climbing shoe from rotating when under pressure, while the P3 Band helps the shoes maintain its downturned shape over time. In my experience, the heel on the Skwamas was nothing to get super excited about, and even felt ever so slightly loose in some situations, however this happened rarely. The P3 Band on the other hand works very well, as my shoes still maintain their aggressive shape despite all the abuse they have endured.
Aside from the fancy-sounding features, there are a couple more aspects that should be appreciated. I really enjoyed having the giant rubber toe patch for those tough, overhung boulder problems, and the single-strap tightening system made putting them on and taking them off a breeze.
There are a couple problems I encountered while using these shoes. First off, the predominantly natural-leather upper allows for considerable stretching, and thus if you are considering purchasing them I would advise making sure they are nice and tight to avoid them becoming uncomfortably big.
Next, while the split-sole design increases sensitivity, I did have a few instances where the edge of the cut-out (the gap in the rubber on the sole) got caught on sharp footholds. This definitely has not occurred often enough to ruin my opinion of the shoes, but it certainly is not something I am used to happening while climbing.
Lastly (and this is more of a pet peeve than a real problem), they become pretty rank. I guess this can be expected from a natural-leather shoe that has been used consistently for 5 months, but still they smell worse than any other shoe I own.
Given their great all-around performance, the technology they feature, and their comfort (not to mention their compelling price point) it’s clear why the La Sportiva Skwamas are so popular. Despite the few issues I had with them, they have definitely become a staple of my ever-growing collection of climbing shoes.
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