La Sportiva Cobra
These are my favorite gym climbing shoe. They are super comfortable and work great for mostly everything.
- They do tend to stretch a bit and then the heel tends to come loose
These shoes are best when you first get them, right as you're breaking them in because they are super tight. Super easy to get your feet in and out of even before breaking them in.
The only downfall is sizing is tricky, as once they break in and stretch out the heel gets loose if you don't go small enough. The rubber is thin enough where they are super responsive, yet not thin enough where you will blow through them in 2 months.
I think I've had my Cobras for about 6 months at a time before I get a hole in the toe.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $102 on sale
I used these shoes in a local climbing comp at which La Sportiva let people try using the shoes for free. I used a 36.5 which is about 2 full sizes smaller than what I usually wear. Their performance was every bit worth the pain. The whole point of a demo is to convince people to buy their shoes and it totally worked on me.
Use: Bouldering, overhang rope routes
Price Paid: Borrowed
The Cobras are my 7th pair of shoes in the last 3 years, and by far the best gym, sport shoe. I thought my foot was wide, as I have the so called "foot-gut" thing, but La Sportiva seem to fit me better than other brands even though they say it should suit narrow feet. They DO stretch quite a bit and heel hooking after this happens can pull the heel clean off your foot. The Cobras turned down toe is far less painful on toe knuckles than other shoes which is great. Painfully tight shoes detract from performance and the motivation to climb. Not for multipitch, slab or crack but otherwise sweet.
Materials: leather uppers
Use: sport, gym, bouldering rock climbs
Break-in Period: a few days use.
Price Paid: $100 US
So far I've had a pair of Boreal Stingers (bought too small — they really don't stretch too much and don't hold a stretch), 5.10 Moccasyms (great all around slipper with awesome rubber) and these La Sportiva Cobras.
Gotta love the Cobras--favorite shoe so far. I like the Moccasyms but they stretch too much and the sizing from left to right is weird. These Cobras have plenty of sticky rubber and they fit wonderfully. You can edge on tiny edges, and they smear well, they can also be worn on multipitches (2 or 3 at most) but beware of foot pain when doing that. I love them and will most likely get another pair soon (rubber almost gone) or get them resoled in some C4!! Look for them on sale and you won't regret the purchase.
Price Paid: $60
This is an excellent technical climbing shoe. Great for the gym, bouldering and vertical to overhanging sport routes. Probably not a shoe to be worn all day, or on multipitch routes. It will grab micro edges on face climbs, smears well and is decent for toe hooks. Heal hooking is ok. It has stretched some, but not much. Rubber is long lasting and construction is durable in general.
An excellent shoe that will never let go of your foot. Believe me it will never let go. My feet aren't the most narrow and apparently this shoe favors narrow feet. I have to lie down on the ground and have a friend pull AS HARD AS HE CAN to get them off. That being said, they are a great shoe and offer me a more aggresive alternative to my more comfortable Mad Rocks.
Materials: unlined leather and soft rubber
Use: five seconds at a time
Break-in Period: don't buy shoes 3 sizes smaller
Price Paid: $70
I've rented a million different lace-up shoes and was a little concerned about making my first purchase a slipper. However, this shoe will NEVER slip or cause any concern of slipping. I went two sizes down and at first had some sharp pains. As soon as I got climbing they went away and after 3 or 4 day trips they are at least a half size bigger and cause little pain if any. The camber does make it a little harder to smear but my wearing a small size might have something to do with that. Utterly perfect for edging. Watch out for needle sharp points tearing into the soft leather.
Materials: leather, soft rubber
Use: single pitch/tope rope
Break-in Period: 2 days
Price Paid: $65
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Historic Range: $35.00-$139.95
Reviewers Paid: $60.00-$102.00