On first glance the Miura VS seems like a Velcro version of the Miura (lace up) – a long established La Sportiva favourite. Given its loyal following (I can’t think of another model that has remained unchanged for so many years) there’s no surprise that it’s joined by a Velcro version. However, while the Miura VS might share its overall look and colour way with its namesake, don’t be mistaken – this is a very different shoe. The VS is a far more aggressive beast than the flatter lace up model, but it maintains an impressive all round versatility that makes it a great ‘go-to’ shoe.
Profile and features
The down turned and fiercely asymmetric profile sets the VS out as a technical model which is great for steep terrain. Rather than being a one trick pony, however, it serves as a surprisingly good all-rounder for technical trad, sport and bouldering. Downturned shoes are often quite soft and less good for edging, but the Miura VS somehow retains a great stable stiffness which worked well on vertical climbs. The pointed toe profile also makes it a great weapon for pockets and precise foot movements. For this reason this shoe is great both on routes and for bouldering. The closure system also contributes to this versatility - the triple Velcro strap design giving a great compromise between the security of laces and the convenience of Velcro. The only exceptions to this – where the VS didn’t perform so well – were on slabs and toe hooks. The down turn didn’t do too badly on slabs but I would prefer a flatter shoe (like the lace up, which is excellent on slabs). Likewise, the lack of rubber across the top of the toe got me reaching for a different pair of boots when toe hooking. The heel, on the other hand, fitted me nicely with no dead space. It gave a nice mix of firmness and sensitivity and came into its own on every heel hook or foot cam I tried it on.
As a bouldering shoe I sized the VS pretty tight. I am around a EU42 (UK8) but take a EU38 in Miura. La Sportiva sizing seems somewhat out of kilter with other brands but once you find the right size you can be sure each pair will feel the same (unlike some brands which vary widely). Route climbers might decide to go up a size to give the shoe a little more comfort and a less of a down turn. The build quality of La Sportiva speaks for itself, and on first acquaintance you realise this is a well made shoe. An unlined leather upper means a tight fit is recommended as the shoe will stretch around half a size. This might result in a short period of pain while breaking them in but it will also leave you with a pair of shoes that mould nicely to the shape of your foot. In my experience this gives a secure, high performance fit and a decent level of comfort rolled into one.
La Sportiva use Vibram rubber on all their footwear. This is the same stuff you will find on Scarpa shoes among others, and it is well established as one of the market leaders. Like other rubbers, Vibram comes in different compounds for different uses. Mountaineering boots, for example, tend to feature harder, more durable compounds than the softer stickier stuff found on climbing shoes. The climbing range tends to use either XS Edge or XS Grip, summarised as follows by La Sportiva:
- XS Grip — This proprietary formula surpasses all others in edging ability and smearing performance while remaining durable and even wearing.
- XS Edge — The best possible rubber formula for technical edging. This rubber compound is exceptionally resistant to deformation on razor sharp edges and it will not creep when smearing.
The ‘Edge’ rubber (as the name suggests) is harder and better for edging, while the softer ‘Grip’ tends to be better for smearing. The Miura VS uses XS Edge, while its low volume sister (Miura VS Women’s) features XS Grip. The reason for this choice isn’t explicit, but I wonder whether La Sportiva chose to use the softer rubber on the low volume model as people with low volume feet tend to be lighter. Whatever the rationale, I found XS Edge to perform well across the board, once they had softened up during the break in period (4 or 5 sessions). I used the Miura VS on a variety of rock types (grit, various types of sandstone, granite, limestone, and indoors). They excelled especially on climbs that required very precise footwork and edging capabilities. No surprises, then, that I found they were particularly good on Dartmoor granite, where you often need to laser guide a toe onto a micro crystal.
Having used both lace up and VS models, I would favour the lace up for slab climbs, but would choose the VS for everything else. As a climber who does a bit of everything I found the VS a more versatile choice, mixing the specialist features of precise power on steep angles with better all round credentials than many other down turned shoes.