June 7, 2021

La Sportiva Tarantulace Review

by Bernice

For recreational and beginner climbers, you might not need a high-performance climbing shoe that has more to offer than you can handle. Also, professional climbing shoes are quite pricey. Instead, the La Sportiva Tarantulace might be the shoe you require. These shoes are very affordable and will meet your beginner climbing needs. 

Fitted with the FriXion RS rubber compound, this shoe is extremely durable thanks to the rubber thickness of 5mm, which is about 1mm more than the standard climbing shoes. On the other hand, this shoe does come with a few downsides to its construction and features.

For example, it does not provide the same performance or fit as professional climbing shoes. Also, if you're frequently pocket or crack climbing, you might want to look for a better pair of climbing shoes. Nevertheless, the Tarantulace does perform incredibly considering its price tag, which is why it is among the best climbing shoes for beginners. 

La Sportiva has multiple affordable shoes, and one of them is the Tarantula which features Velcro straps. Our testers established that the lace-up system performed better at securing their feet in the climbing shoe. On the other hand, the Velcro model is still good enough for bouldering or anyone who wants a quick, easy closing mechanism. To find out more, here is the La Sportiva Tarantulace climbing shoe review.

What we like:

  • Inexpensive;
  • Comfortable thanks to the flat midsole;
  • Decent performance in various terrain. 

What we don't like:

  • The fit is not that good;
  • Insensitive.

La Sportiva Tarantulace Feature Highlights

The ultimate all-around model for beginners and training sessions. Quick and practical lacing system. Regular fit ideal for all types of feet. Optimal regulation of internalboot volume.

La Sportiva Tarantulace Toe

Feature Toe Box

The Tarantulace's toe box is relatively spacious and comfier than most climbing shoes. Typically, climbing shoes are supposed to have a tight fit, but this toe box allowed our testers' toes to move around. The most uncomfortable part of climbing is mostly the toe box, which is why most climbers prefer to remove their shoes between climbs. 

However, with this climbing shoe, the toe box is extremely comfy, so much so, we wore them when taking short walks. What's more, you can wear them for full gym climbing periods without needing to remove them. And when you get the chance to take them off, your toes don't feel tired at all. 

As with most beginner climbing shoes, the Tarantulace prioritizes comfort over performance in technical routes and holds. This climbing shoe is not designed for pockets or toe hooks. Their performance is better at smearing or cracks, thanks to the leather upper. 

The low-profile toe lets you better penetrate inside thin cracks. In addition, it is built to allow your foot to remain flat, preventing your toes from squeezing together. This just means that this climbing shoe makes jamming your feet in thin cracks easy and not painful compared to more downturned shoes. 

Also, the lace-up closure is superb since there are zero pressure points as with Velcro strap buckles. However, the Tarantulace does not have that much precision or padding as a crack climbing-specific shoe. In addition, the bottom laces are vulnerable; thus, they will wear fast if you prefer crack climbing on rough rocks. Overall, this climbing shoe will allow you to maneuver most terrain but do not expect much when on technical routes.

La Sportiva Tarantulace Heel

Feature Heel

The heel rand of the Tarantulace is tensioned, therefore reducing movement within the heel and offering a secure and comfortable fit. In addition, this footwear has plenty of rubber on the outer part of the heel, giving you a decent amount of grip. 

Similar to all beginner climbing shoes, this climbing shoe is comfortable; thus, it is not high-performance. When it comes to climbing shoes, comfort mostly means less performance. However, heel hooking with this climbing shoe is indeed doable, and it feels comfortable and effortless. 

Although, if you have ever tried more aggressive shoes, you will realize that they offer a much better heel hook. But, hey, these shoes are for beginners, so they'll get the job done just right. The Tarantulace is more suited for slab or vertical climbing. Even though we tested them on overhangs and tried to heel hook with them, we found it best to use high-performance shoes for more technical routes. 

La Sportiva Tarantulace Rubber

Feature Rubber

The La Sportiva Tarantulace sports 5mm of the FriXion RS compound present in most of their budget climbing shoes. This thicker rubber is more durable but less sensitive. Nevertheless, it makes this climbing shoe more rigid, which is perfect for beginners. Furthermore, this shoe makes light edging effortless due to the stiffness, which is an essential skill for novices to learn. 

This rubber compound provides a good amount of friction on plastic surfaces and rocks, which is why this climbing shoe excels at smearing. With the Tarantulace, you can climb with poise; this rubber will offer you enough support when climbing, so don't worry about slipping. 

The FriXion RS rubber performs impressively both indoors and outdoors. We tested them in both places and have no issues. It feels rather robust when climbing. Some climbers have said that this shoe has holes in the toe area, though this is because of dragging your feet on the terrain, especially when climbing. As with any footwear, taking care of them will extend their life. 

While this climbing shoe's midsole is not extremely rigid, our testers found it to be insensitive. This is because the Tarantulace features a thick rubber, 5mm. Most climbing shoes feature 4mm rubber, which in comparison to the Tarantulace means an additional 1mm of rubber.

This is about 20% more material between your foot and the rock than with the standard climbing shoes. Meanwhile, high-performance shoes sport even 3mm or less rubber. Nonetheless, this additional rubber offers durability, which might be an upside for a budget shoe for novices.

Feature Comfort and Fit

This climbing shoe is mainly made using unlined leather. Even though there is a bit of synthetic material featured on the lacing mechanism, it does not hinder the black and orange leather from stretching and forming to the shape of your foot. 

This flexibility significantly enhances the comfort this shoe has to offer than synthetic or hemp-lined climbing shoes. On the other hand, this shoe's ability to stretch makes it a bit challenging to size. 

One of our testers wears 44.5 standard shoe size but was comfortable wearing the Tarantulace at size 43. At first, he found this shoe uncomfortable, but after breaking in, which took several adventures, the leather stretched to a full size. Furthermore, the unaggressive construction boosts comfort. The flat sole keeps your foot in a flat placement. 

Novices specifically will love this flat sole design until their feet are strong enough to be squeezed inside high-performance climbing shoes. However, this impressive beginner climbing shoe comes with its downside; the somewhat soft midsole makes the climber tired when standing on little holds for a long time. 

The Ultimate All-Around Model for Beginners and Training Sessions

The La Sportiva Tarantulace is an entry-level climbing shoe that's slightly more aggressive than regular beginner shoes. Aside from the usual rigid sole and flat profile, the La Sportiva Tarantulace features a last with a low asymmetry for better performance generally and also enhanced technical precision. New climbers may find this a little unusual at first, but once their feet adjust, this shoe will let them progress much faster than a non-asymmetric beginner shoe would.

The Verdict

Regardless of all the progressive advancements in the climbing shoe market, at times, all you need is a simple budget shoe, and the La Sportiva Tarantulace is just that. It costs less than half of high-performance climbing shoes, and it is a high-quality climbing shoe with tacky integrated rubber, which makes crack climbing feel like a walk in the park. 

Even though there are better-performing shoes, the benefits of high-performance shoes will not be worth all the additional cash. Besides, this inexpensive shoe is versatile, comfortable, and offers above-average performance in multiple terrains. 

As mentioned, this shoe is suitable for beginners, and while it may not offer a lot for professional and intermediate climbers, its features are more than enough for novices. However, it might need checking in the fitting department. Whereas the thickness might mean less sensitivity, beginner climbers need a decent performing and durable shoe. Hopefully, our review of the La Sportiva Tarantulace has been helpful.

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About the author 


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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