woman in sleeveless top and backpack surrounded by trees during daytime
person standing on gray stone fragment

La Sportiva Mantra Climbing Shoes Max Out On Minimalism

Image by Lucie Hanes

I don’t normally mess with slipper-style climbing shoes. The new Mantra from La Sportiva had been sitting untouched in my closet for a few weeks until I pulled them out to bring along on a few back-to-back cross-country trips. If slippers have anything going for them, it’s convenience: easy on and easy off, plus a simple design that allows them to pack down pretty flat. A little extra ease goes a long way when you’re running on a tight schedule while living out of a suitcase.

But I’m typically hesitant to rely on slippers as my only option. There’s nothing like the feeling of cranking down on a heel hook, only for the back of your shoe to pop off as soon as your fingers tickle the next hold. And as a climber who barely hits five feet tall on a good day, there’s no telling how often I’ll have to use my heel like a third hand. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to maximize every available inch.

Image by Lucie Hanes

All this to say, I went in with relatively low expectations. I’ll admit that La Sportiva rarely makes a shoe I don’t like … but I also recognize that there’s a first time for everything.

Maybe La Sportiva truly can do no wrong, though, because the Mantra blew those expectations out of the water.

Less Is More

The OG version of the Mantra, released way back in 1999, was one of the first “minimalist” climbing shoes on the market. It avoided all the bells and whistles in favor of unprecedented simplicity.

The 2022 iteration ups the ante. Modern technology makes the new Mantra simultaneously more minimal and more capable. Microsuede, a slingshot rand using one single piece of rubber, and the absence of a midsole come together for a shoe that, at just 150 grams, feels like it’s barely there.

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