Although Finding 4000' is primarily a hiking blog, we respect and enjoy all outdoor activities. Although I am not a climber I know there is a lot of good climbing to be done in the Whites. So, when a friend pitched a blog about climbing gear I said: "Why not?"
La Sportiva Finales Review
by: Chris Wu
Choosing your first pair of climbing shoes is a tough decision. While there are just a few major brands, it seems like there are an endless number of models waiting for the chance to put your feet into the bone grinding discomfort that climbers live for.
You could be a hero and go with an aggressive pair for maximum performance, but if your looking for a balance of performance and comfort, the La Sportiva Finales are the way to go
(*disclaimer: this review is for the men's Finales. I have no experience with the women's and can't offer any personal opinion).
There's no getting around it, climbing shoes aren't going to feel great. If you're new to the sport, the rule of thumb is that your shoes should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable. When sizing the Finales, it's important to remember that the uppers are unlined leather, so they're going to stretch a fair amount. I've heard people say they can stretch up to half a size after just a couple weeks of use. I bought my street shoe size, thinking that the next half-size down was bordering on the "painful" category. After a few weeks I observed only minimal stretch. But, after a few months of use, I noticed quite a bit of extra room in the toe – great for comfort, but sometimes the extra material can make it difficult to get good toe purchase on small crimps.
The shoes took a bit of breaking in: my friend and I both found that the heels were quite stiff, and I ended up wearing socks during the break-in period to reduce discomfort. It definitely got better with time, although the heels will never be as flexible as those on the Mythos, another great La Sportiva beginner lace-up.
In general, the Finales are quite comfortable. The lace-up closure offers a much more secure and adjustable fit than Velcro or slip-ons, and it's a great feature for long days at the crag or gym when you want to loosen your shoes up to make room for some swelling.
In the gym, I found almost nothing wrong with them, which is one of the reasons why they're great for beginners who do most of their climbing at the gym anyway. On real rock, it's easier to see their shortcomings – the edges aren't super sharp, so they can't grip small crimps as well as a more aggressive model might, but the Vibram soles are sticky enough for decent purchase most of the time, and the shoes can be resoled if need be (although they're durable as heck).
For the comfort and price, the Finales are a solid shoe with all around great performance. And even if you've been climbing for years, don't let all this "beginner" talk dissuade you! I've met plenty of experienced climbers who chose these shoes because of their comfort on long, multi-pitch routes.
By: Christopher Wu