A Slicker Slipper - La Sportiva Python

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La Sportiva’s classic Cobra slipper, introduced in 1998, has been revamped with a Velcro closure, “cross-band construction,” more heel rubber, and a rubber toe patch. The new LA SPORTIVA PYTHON ($130, sportiva.com) was designed with climbing competitions in mind, but it crushes rock as well as plastic. Its asymmetric shape and downturned toe provide aggressive bite on overhangs. Testers lauded the Python as being “extremely comfortable and sensitive,” yet the cross-band construction—a wide band of rubber that wraps the shoe diagonally from the top of the heel around the arch of the foot—ensures the Python will maintain its shape better than other sensitive slippers. A thin (3.5mm) and sticky Vibram XS Grip2 rubber sole offers superior grab on the steeps, while a slim (0.8mm) forefoot midsole enhances performance on micro-edges. The uppers are unlined suede with a single Velcro strap that improves fit and adjustability over a typical slipper. An additional patch of toe rubber atop the forefoot, along with a rubber-coated heel, make the Python one of the best “hookers” on the market. The unique closure system helps tune the fit, but size ’em tight (La Sportiva recommends one half-size smaller than its other models) for optimum performance, and allow a longer-than-usual break-in period. —Chris Weidner