With the new year comes new shoes and new reviews, and because I have been rockin’ the Sportiva Geniuses for the past few months, I figured my gear review debut would start there.
For the past few years, I have noticed that new-fangled no-edge design that was slowly creeping its way into La Sportiva’s line-up, I would see some people climbing in the Speedsters or Futuras, ask them a few questions about how they were liking the new technology, and then continue my flailing on that week’s new sets. Honestly, I had kinda just dismissed the no-edge — why would someone want a rounded toe on their shoe, instead of that nice crisp edge we have gotten so used to with most shoes? To me, having “no edge” was basically the equivalent of buying someone’s old pair of shoes that were so beat that the toe rubber was worn to a nice, rounded sheen … AKA not a great shoe purchase. So, I gave no-edge shoes a continuous pass, until Sportiva decided to put that technology on a shoe designed around the same last as the Testarossa — which being one of my all-time favorite shoes — I decided it was finally time. TIME TO LIVE LIFE ON THE EDGE … or like, without it. You know what I’m saying.
First, to get this out of the way, I love how this shoe fits. The downturn hugs tight to my arch, and makes that satisfying “fwump” sound when you pull the shoe on and it immediately conforms to your foot. This is honestly is one of the best-fitting shoes I have ever had. But unfortunately you don’t all have feet shaped like mine, so no matter how many good things I say about fit, you still need to try the Geniuses on. Pro tip: We sell them at our Grapevine location for $190 if you wanna give ‘em a shot.
Besides fitting like a dream, what these shoes really did was change my mind about the no-edge. It made me realize that most people who have said anything negative about no-edge have spent little to no time actually climbing in no-edge, myself formerly included in that group. The whole idea around no-edge is to reduce the amount of material between you and the rock, with much less rubber than a traditional shoe design.
While these images might be slightly exaggerated, I think they give a pretty general explanation of the idea behind no-edge.
In general, the no-edge toe box fits the contours of your toes way better right out of the box than more traditional shoe designs.. Another perk is that you will have more contact with the rock through the whole range of foot placements/ movements, as demonstrated in this image. With a more traditionally-designed shoe, you maintain the same amount, if not less rubber on the rock through the range of movement in your feet (heel down, flat, and heel up), essentially only using the rubber under the toe. With no-edge, you are better able to exert forward pressure as you begin to lift your heel, allowing you to have more rubber in contact with the rock. When climbing in the gym I could tell the difference in my footwork, but where I became a real believer in the no-edge propaganda was when I bouldered outside on the greasiest limestone Texas has to offer. Suddenly precise smears on little dishes felt way more secure than I ever thought they could, and I was able to consistently keep my feet on the wall, while predicting when everyone else — with their more basic climbing shoes — would come skating off.
In short, your toes fit better in the shoe, and the shoe fits better on the rock, which means mo’ betta for your climbing. This shoe does not excel in every aspect of climbing, but there is not a shoe out there that actually does. While I don’t think we are going to see a second ascent of the Dawn Wall from someone wearing Geniuses, but for most applications, this shoe is a truly amazing choice.
Overhanging sport routes
P3 platform means the shoe will maintain downturn throughout its life
One of the most sensitive shoes I have ever worn — not to be mistaken with being a soft shoe
Laces allow for a very custom fit
For the rare occasions you really, actually need an edge … they don’t have one
Not good for doing crack … climbing
Not strong with toe hooks