La Sportiva Tarantulace

The La Sportiva Tarantulace is definitely a beginner shoe, but one that will serve you well on the first few climbs. It isn’t a well rounded shoe, though it does meet some of the basic requirements, so it is still a great addition to your climbing shoe collection. 

One shoe can’t do everything for you, but if you try out one particular shoe you will be able to get you more details on how the shoe aids your climb and also, perhaps more importantly, where it falls short. 

In Depth Guide of the La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Tarantulace

La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe Score

  • Sensitivity 6 out of 10
  • Pockets – 5 out of 10
  • Comfort – 9 out of 10
  • Cracks – 7 out of 10
  • Edging – 6 out of 10

How Well Does the La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe Actually Perform?

The Tarantulace climbing shoe has a really great fit. It’s one of the best fits for its price range, which is another huge bonus and a winning combination for climbers who are just starting out.

Even experienced climbers know fit is almost everything, and it can be really hard for a new climber to determine how to either find the climbing shoe that will fit them the best or how to properly cinch the current climbing shoes they already have. 

Luckily, it’s pretty easy with La Sportiva’s Tarantulace climbing shoe. 

Since it has that classic lace up system, it’s going to be easier for a beginner to adjust the fit of this climbing shoe than other more high quality shoes that take a little bit of an expert’s hand to get just right. 

Edging Isn’t it’s Strong Suit in La Sportiva Tarantulace

While the Tarantulace does have 5mm thickness in some areas of the shoe, that part of the rubber being made out of pretty good FriXion RS rubber, the midsole only has a 1.8 mm LaspoFlex rubber. It’s sort of a mixed bag of thickness that ends up making the Tarantulace have an equally mixed ability to stay stiff on small edges. 

Obviously rubbers that are a little bit stickier are going to have better edging skills, such as Vibram XS. However, since you can use its laces to really get a tight fit, this will help with your edging abilities because it will keep the shoe as stiff as possible while you are climbing.

This is definitely not a replacement for properly sticky rubber, but it still gives this beginners shoe a pretty good edge over some others in its caliber. 

Not Bad for Crack Climbing

Since the Tarantulace has a pretty low profile, meaning its a less bulky shoe, it can fit really well into hard to get into cracks in the side of cliffs and help you out in a tough spot when that crack in the wall would be perfect support, but your shoe just won’t fit. 

Also, the flat design of the bottom of the shoe is meant to make sure that your toes can spread out as much as possible. This is super helpful when you’re looking for a shoe that will allow you to get a lot of support from your feet as well as the shoe itself.

If your toes get really bunched up they won’t be doing much good when it’s time to put a lot of pressure on them to support you from crack to edge and back again. 

This sort of counterbalances its lack of an aggressive downturn, as that downturn shape is usually what you would use to give you support while your toes are scrunched up. Obviously the downturn does make you work a lot less for your stability, but having the use of all five toes isn’t a bad way to support you on your climb either. 

Laces Help Decrease Pressure

When you are crack climbing with velcro shoes, the tightness is going to be concentrated in one or two areas and you will slowly start to feel a good bit of discomfort at those points. But with lace closure, you will be able to spread out the tightness all across your foot which will make an overall less painful feel, especially when your foot is jammed in a crack. 

A problem with using these shoes for extensive crack climbing is that, unlike more specialized crack climbing shoes, the laces at the front of the shoe are uncovered. This means that after extended exposure to grinding against bare rock they are going to wear out a lot faster than a crack climbing specialty shoe. 

Not Great for Pockets

Since the sole of the La Sportiva Tarantulace shoe is so very flat, it’s not going to be a shoe that you can so easily jam or slide into a pocket in the rock face, especially those shallow pockets that are tough for any shoe except a specially designed one to get into. 

Also, a plus for more specially designed shoes meant for pocket use is that you can pull yourself toward the rock with the stronger, stiffer design, especially when you are climbing on an overhang. With the Tarantulace, you’re not going to be able to get enough purchase in a pocket to pull yourself like you would be able to with a different kind of climbing shoe. 

You probably won’t really run into this problem, however, since if you are buying this shoe you are probably more of a beginner and are going to be going on climbs that don’t necessarily have these more advanced routes that are lined with tough pockets. 

Sensitivity 

Surprisingly, though the midsole as mentioned before of the La Sportiva Tarantulace is only about 1.8 mm, you are not going to be able to feel all that much in this shoe. It’s probably because a good bit of the rest of the shoe actually has a rubber thickness of about 5 mm, which is almost one to one and a half mm’s thicker than your average climbing shoe. 

Obviously this indicates that there is just going to be more rubber between your foot and the rock face, so it’s going to be that much harder to feel around for more advanced footholds, and even less complex textures. 

Your durability is going to be better than some other beginner shoes because of the thickness, however, and for a beginner you definitely want a shoe that’s going to last a long time and be able to get you through a ton of climbs so that you can increase your skill exponentially.

Is the La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe Comfortable?

Leather 

Most of the shoe is leather, which has a much greater comfort than other synthetic material that makes up other climbing shoes. It does have a little bit of synthetic around some parts of the shoe, but not enough to take away from the comfort the Tarantulace has. 

Also, the leather is unlined, meaning where the leather meets the non-leather parts of the shoe, there isn’t any uncomfortable lining that sticks out and rubs up against your foot. 

Conforms Well to Your Foot

Since so much of the shoe is made of leather, it’s going to really mold itself to your foot really well. This will improve the fit again along with the lace closure because even if it stretches a little too far during the break in period, it should return to your foot size and give you better comfort and support because of that. 

No Aggressive Downturn

Not having an aggressive or even medium downturn will really help the comfort level of the shoe. It won’t do any wonders for the support obviously, but if you are a true beginner or even an intermediate climber, you will most assuredly appreciate the level of comfort the Tarantulace is going to be able to provide for you. 

If used enough, this shoe will actually help your footwork and your foot strength and will eventually allow you to be able to use more aggressively downturned shoe since your foot will have gained a whole lot more dexterity, especially if you begin taking the Tarantulace onto more difficult climbs that force footwork and strength training. 

Does theLa Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe Have Good Fit?

Has Some Trouble With Fit

Even though as said before the Tarantulace is going to have a better fit than some other climbing shoes because of its lace closure system, it still has significant problems with fit for a couple of other reasons. 

It mainly has a fit problem because of its heel. Usually the heel is your best friend as this is where a lot of the support comes from and also where a lot of fit is centered. If you have a climbing shoe that cups your feel really well, any other fit problems won’t seem so bad because most of the other factors affecting fit can be adjusted, such as the closure system and the conformity of your climbing shoe’s material. 

However if your heel cup is a little off, it is difficult to fix that. And you won’t be able to hook with your heel very well either, making these moves not as safe as would be preferable. 

Again, since this is a beginner shoe, not only would you not expect too much from it, but also the kind of climbs you will be going on probably won’t force you to do much fancy heel hooking and most of the ledges and footholds will hopefully be large enough so you don’t have to worry much about perfect fit. 

Does the La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe Have Good Value?

Start Out Small, Spend More Later

When you are first starting out, it can be pretty difficult to know how much money to throw down on climbing gear, especially when it comes to determine what caliber of shoe your money is getting you. 

Especially when first starting out, your best bet is to get an inexpensive shoe, try it out, begin to learn the features and flaws of the shoe and climbing in general, and then put money towards a shoe when you can make an informed decision. 

The Tarantulace is a pretty good one to do this with. It won’t break your bank but has some pretty decent features that you can be aware of and then see how well they perform during your climb. 

Scuff Up a Cheaper Shoe

Also, you will probably put a lot more wear and tear on your first shoe than you would on your second or third as you slowly raise your skill level. 

You are going to be more prone to roughing up the exterior, putting your shoe in places where you will tear it up faster, and generally taking less care than you will when you are a more experienced climber. 

Because of this, it’s probably a good idea to start out with a shoe like the La Sportiva Tarantulace in order to break in your skills and not break down a pricier shoe that will serve you better when your skills are up to par and you are less prone to wear your climbing shoes down. 

Pros and Cons of the La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe

Pros

  • Versatile performance
  • Comfortable 
  • Affordable 

Cons

  • Not great for steep climbs
  • Fit
  • Not very sensitive 

How does the La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe Compare?

1. Tarantulace VS Genius

It isn’t much of a contest when it comes to comparing these two shoes, but it is definitely good to know the pros and cons of a cheaper shoe versus a more expensive one. 

Edging and Sensitivity are going to be where the La Sportiva Genius blows the Tarantulace out of the water. Since it’s a much higher caliber shoe, and since it’s twice the price, you’re going to expect a whole lot more performance out of this shoe. 

2. Tarantulace VS Futura

The Tarantulace is actually a really comparable shoe to the La Sportiva Futura when you talk about crack climbing. Neither shoe is particularly amazing at this kind of climb, but both do equally well when faced with this more technical portion of rock climbing. 

What’s the Verdict on La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe?

1. A Great Beginner Shoe

This climbing shoe is going to serve your first streak of climbs really well. 

Being that it is really comfortable because of its flat sole and highly adjustable lace closure system, you will be able to climb for long periods of time, which is what you need when first starting out. 

It isn’t going to perform well on things like edging, crack climbing, or pockets, but you should be able to get your toes wet with each of the performance areas in these shoes and this will shoe you where you skill can increase along with your footwear.