La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0 Review: An Aggressive Shoe for Steep Climbing

The La Sportiva Testarossa was one of the first aggressive rock shoes. With the 2.0 version, it gets a complete makeover.

La Sportiva introduced the Testarossa in 2003. Over the years, it has become a highly desired weapon for premier sport climbers. The shoe garnered the status of a high-performance classic, and La Sportiva wisely left it unchanged — until now.

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La Sportiva seemingly gambled by releasing the Testarossa 2.0 in April. For our review, we’ve been gym bouldering and sport climbing in it for 3 weeks.

La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0 Specs

  • Upper: Leather and lorica synthetic leather
  • Lining: Synthetic liner in toe and heel, unlined elsewhere
  • Midsole: P3 with 3D Hytrel anatomical insert under the toes
  • Sole: 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip2
  • Construction: Slip-lasted
  • Verified weight: 1 lb. 4 oz. per pair, unisex size 42
  • MSRP: $199

La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0 Review: Fit

The most noticeable change is the Testarossa 2.0’s heel design, which addresses the two main complaints regarding the original design. The moderately stiff heel cup fit my narrow heel without bagginess, and La Sportiva covered it completely with rubber.

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The upper had a decidedly tight fit at first. But the natural leather components (shown above in red) stretched quickly to accommodate the various protuberances of my foot. And the extensive lacing allowed adjusting the volume and width along the length of the shoe.

The shoe felt much more comfortable by the end of my second bouldering session. Taking it off after each bouldering problem turned into taking the shoes off every 20 minutes. I wear a size 10 men’s running shoe, and the size 42 Testarossa 2.0 felt appropriately tight for a high-performance shoe after the initial break-in period.

The Testarossa 2.0 had an aggressive and generous downturn and asymmetry out of the box. But much of the downturn in the arch dissipated by the end of the first training session; the downturn at the toes remained. The shoe still felt like it had a high-performance shape and fit on the foot. A concavity in the sole behind the toes was obvious and drew the sole up to the foot when curling the toes.

The arch didn’t seem as high as other current high-end sport climbing or bouldering shoes. But the abundant lacing holes allowed proper adjustment of fit in this area with a little patience. Although not as quick and convenient as Velcro straps, the extensive lacing options allowed me to dial in the proper fit for my classic “duck foot” (narrow heel, wide but thin forefoot). My fifth metatarsal did overhang the lateral edge of the sole. It wasn’t uncomfortable.

But the Testarossa 2.0 didn’t feel overly pointy, nor did it curl or confine my toes any more than other high-end sport climbing or bouldering shoes.

I didn’t notice any irritation caused by the partially lined interior. But I did notice the general hand of the shoe soften while continuing to mold to my foot over the 3 weeks, improving overall feel and comfort against the skin. The rear of the shoe comes up fairly high, and the top edge of the shoe initially caused some irritation in the Achilles area, but it quickly softened and was soon unnoticeable.

Testarossa 2.0 Climbing Shoe on Route

The Testarossa 2.0 excelled on steep terrain; the concavity in the sole underneath the forefoot helped the toes remain in a pulling posture while aiding the sensitivity and feel by eliminating gaps underneath the forefoot and toes. The fairly aggressive asymmetry was just right for me, coercing my foot into a powerful position without painful contortions.

The rand tension felt perfect, as the toes had appropriate pressure against the front of the shoe and the arch felt under tension without discomfort.

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The shoes also performed admirably on vertical, edgy crimpfests, but only for a pitch at a time due to the aggressive fit and slip-lasted construction. The Testarossa 2.0 shines once the angle leans back from dead vertical.

The Testarossa 2.0 isn’t a super-soft shoe, which seems to be the trend as of late for the higher-end offerings. I would categorize this as a medium-soft shoe. The Pebax insert and 3.5mm-thick Vibram XS Grip2 outsole lend much more support and edging ability than a super-soft shoe, but the tradeoff is sensitivity. The shoes are sensitive, but not “sock” sensitive like many of the current high-end sport climbing and bouldering shoes.

On pocketed routes and boulders with sharp but small edges, the La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0 worked remarkably well. The pointy toe, forefoot concavity, and rand tension produced excellent pulling ability for all but the smallest pockets. The moderate edge stiffness made pressuring small but distinct edges incredibly effective.

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As the edges and nubbins become less distinct, the lack of sensitivity compared to super-soft shoes became noticeable. I felt the Testarossa 2.0 struck a great balance between stiffness and sensitivity and is a great choice for steep climbing when the exact route characteristics aren’t known.

The rubber coverage and structure in the heel allowed hooking without rolling. The relatively stiff, thick heel cup also provided protection when the features were sharp. Rubber for toe-hooking only covers the big toe, which isn’t as extensive as some bouldering-specific shoes. There are much better toe-hooking shoes if that’s of primary concern.

The lacing of on the Testarossa 2.0 takes more time to adjust, but it creates fit that is unmatched by strap systems. I was able to adjust the upper tension to my exact preferences. Straps have closed most of my recent sport climbing or bouldering test shoes. And the Testarossa 2.0 made me realize that, for important redpoint efforts, I would prefer an extensive lacing system.

The Vibram XS Grip2 half-sole delivered the expected grip and makes re-soling easier. I find the edging hold to be equal to Stealth C4, but I give a very slight nod to C4 for smearing on glossier holds.

La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0: Conclusions

The La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0 is a great sport climbing and bouldering shoe for terrain requiring edging, pocket stabbing, and pulling the hips in. And the updated heel rectifies the main weakness of the original.

The natural leather in the upper conforms to the foot and improves the comfort and fit over time. And, although not as convenient as straps, the lacing system allows the perfect fit for important sends. The mix of stiffness and sensitivity makes the Testarossa 2.0 a good choice when heading to intermediate-to-difficult areas where the exact nature of the climbing is unknown.

The La Sportiva Testarossa 2.0 is a worthy successor that will please fans of the original model.