Word on the approach path is that the Velcro version of the Miura is now available in SA. Now, one is not meant to disrupt a good story with fact, or visa versa, but then I have never been good with rules. True, the Miura VS has landed in SA, but is it really just a Miura with Velcro? Moreover, is it better? These are the questions that bother climbing nerds in the wee hours (or so I hear).
Disclaimer: I have only had these shoes a few weeks, so this is primarily initial impressions. After a good innings I’ll be able to comment on aspects like durability, maintenance of performance and fragrance retention. Secondly, a climbing shoe that does not fit properly is about as useful as burqa at a nudist beach. By extension, this review would be entirely inappropriate if the shoes did not suit my hooves. Fortunately they do, so we can proceed.
Since I started my adult life as a scientist, I have aimed to be analytical but not dry. If you want to read rave ramblings about how these are the best shoes since leather and rubber were first put into bondage, there are plenty strew across forums on the Interweb.
Miura vs. Miura VS… man that’s rather confusing. Let’s try again.
How does the Miura VS compare to the standard Miura?
Slingshot last, Powerhinge design, degree of asymmetry, split rubber on side of the shoe, rubber compound (XSedge), and colour scheme. The later may be useful when trying the blend in when climbing near bees.
3 strap Velcro closure, elasticated and gusseted tongue, unlined sole, full-foot mid sole, different upper lining. Similar overall shape, but slightly more downturned. Most influential is the P3 platform (http://www.lasportiva.com/fileadmin/user_upload/tecnologie/EN/p3.html).
What of this is relevant?
Well, the idea is that the rand and sole design is such that when you weight your foot, the back part of the shoe flexes and your toes stay put where they are. To me, it feels like the overall rubber design helps the shoe to “suck” onto your foot. This aids in reducing dead space and the shoe feels secure. Good features to retain. Well done design team. No surprises, the aggressive shape is good for steep terrain. The P3 platform helps keep a performance shape, but does slightly reduce the sensitivity and together with full-length midsole give a stiffer feel. The tongue feels nice and comfy, but isn’t gonna make you crank 9a.
Now, regarding the lining, the spec sheet says: “to control stretch”. After reading oodles of feedback online, it seems that the correct translation of this is that “they will mold to your foot and probably stretch a bit, but should not stretch as much as the standard Miura”. So far I can say that they have indeed molded to my foot, but as of yet I would not say they have stretched in size per se. Consequently they feel tight but have fewer hot spots or discomfort than I would have expected, so I am pleased. The unlined sole is meant to give more sensitivity, but in light of the P3 platform underfoot I think this claim is negligible.
Proof in the pudding:
After covertly wearing them under my desk at work, and subsequent breaking in, I put them to the test on projects on TM and Tafelberg.
Firstly, the 3 way Velcro closure does give a good fit, mainly because the middle strap is pulled in the opposite direction to the other two. Secondly, almost every other review I have seen praises the edging ability of the Miura VS, and indeed I would agree. Furthermore I felt pretty secure on small bumps and nubbins – of which there are plenty on one of the projects I tried them on. Small pockets and divots are also handled well. Heel hooks felt solid: the way the shoe ‘sucks’ onto my foot prevents that feeling of your heel sliding in the shoe.
A subtle thing I particularly like is that there is some contouring under the big toes area (i.e where your big toe knuckle is, the rubber bends up ever so slightly). This contributes to the snug feeling of the shoe and also gives you just that bit extra of purchase when standing on arêtes (or similar shaped holds).
After long periods my toes did get sore, but this goes with the territory for down cambered shoes. I found if I changed the position of my foot (compared to less aggressive shoes), I could still smear well, but this does not seem to be their strong point and I would not take them for long slab routes. I have not tested them on vertical cracks, but other reviews indicate that this also not their forte.
If you put laces on a Miura VS you would not end up with a Miura. It should be viewed as a separate design and the size you need may differ between them. For me, it seems that the extra features in the Miura VS give better performance in some areas, but the standard Miura retains the lead in others. It feels like it is best suited to technical and reasonably steep terrain where precise footwork is required and being able to stand on tiny things is requisite. In this department, I feel it performs slightly better than my standard Miuras, and I have been very impressed with what you can actually stand on.
Basically this is a precision shoe, but the trade-off is that it is less of an all-rounder. I would choose them for climbing near or at my limit, but not for extended periods/multi-pitch routes.
As a precision shoe, it seems to be exceptional so far. Time will tell how it holds up. To be continued…
Specs and a good comparison:
- Richard is sponsored by La Sportiva (South Africa)
- The Miura VS are available from Mountain Mail Order