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Hands-on Gear Review

La Sportiva Katana Review

La Sportiva Katana
Price:   $150 List | $99.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Quick on and off, comfortable, soft
Cons:  Expensive for its level of performance and abilities
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Katana is a solid gym, sport climbing and bouldering shoe. It stands out for its unique Velcro closure that has circles you can't miss. It also has a unique single-piece tongue that wraps around the entire top of your foot whereas most have a split tongue that joins in the middle. These are pretty comfy for a Velcro shoe. They are medium stiffness so they are okay for standing on edges but not an edging machine like the La Sportiva Miura VS. I found that even when I got them a little big, they were not comfortable on lower angle granite routes. They are comfy for a performance shoe but are not to be confused with an all-day comfort shoe like the La Sportiva TC Pro. The TC Pro gives much more support on edging and just standing around all day. On the Katana the rubber is very sticky and soft. Overall, it is a solid performer and ideal for sport climbing, cragging and gym climbing. That said, since they are not that cheap at $150, I would probably lean toward either the La Sportiva Solution if I wanted high performance or the La Sportiva Mantis or Mad Rock Flash if I wanted to save cash or was just starting to climb. Chris McNamara


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rock Climbing Shoes

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Style Upper Lining
86
$195
Editors' Choice Award
lace Suede Leather/MIcro fiber none
86
$185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather/Lorica Pacific (forefoot and back)
86
$185
velcro Leather/Synthetic Leather Unlined
80
$185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather Sentex/PU Foam
76
$165
lace Leather dentex
76
$175
velcro Cowdura⢠Synthetic synthetic
76
$165
velcro leather synthetic
74
$180
velcro Leather/Lorica HF
74
$130
velcro Non-stretch Synthratek synthetic upper microfiber leather cotton
74
$175
velcro Leather synthetic
74
$160
velcro synthetic Unlined
72
$145
lace Leather none
72
$175
lace Synthetic (Cowdura) none
72
$83
Best Buy Award
velcro Leather / Synflex none
70
$125
slipper leather none
70
$175
velcro MicroFiber (Synthetic)
66
$139
Lace 1.8mm Suede/Micro Suede none
66
$90
velcro Leather/ Synthetic Leather synthetic (tongue and arch only)
66
$180
velcro Suede/Micro Suede none
62
$150
velcro Leather synthetic
58
$89
velcro Elastic Synthratek synthetic upper nylon

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
June 8, 2010

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Performance Comparison



Likes


The Katana is very comfortable and easy to get on and off. The big Velcro circles give you some options of how to tighten down the shoe. The large tongue wraps around the top of the foot and means there is not seam up top. This is a very soft shoe so you really feel the holds on overhanging routes.

Dislikes


We found this shoe was halfway between being a great all around shoe and a performance shoe. It does not have great support so was not ideal for standing around on long lower angle leads or multi-pitch climbs like most all around shoes. At the same time, it does not have the edging performance of most high end shoes like the Miura VS. It uses the less stick Vibram XS Edge rubber (it seems a sensitive shoe like this should come with the Vibram XS Grip) which is stickier.

Value


This shoe is priced like a high performance shoe. We would rather spend a little more money and get something like the Solution or Miura. Or, go the other direction and get a shoe that performs as well for a lot less money.

Other Versions


La Sportiva Katana - Women's
  • Cost - $150
  • Women's version of this shoe
  • Lower volume, lower cut ankle

La Sportiva Katana Lace
La Sportiva Katana Lace
  • Cost - $170
  • Editors' Choice Award Winner!
  • Lace up version of the Katana
  • Laces allow for greater adjustability
Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 28, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.7)

67% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 25%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 25%  (1)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Dec 20, 2011 - 11:18am
About a year ago I purchased my first pair of Anasazis. At the time I had been climbing for a few years, but had been languishing in the 5.10 grade for as long as I could remember. With my new Anasazis, which were really my first performance, high-end shoe, my grade almost immediately shot up to 11, which totally psyched me up. All year I've been hitting the gym and local crags going for the hardest routes of my life and having huge success. So when It came time to resole my Anasazis I really wanted to have a comparable second pair to keep me climbing hard while they were being serviced.

Enter the La Sportiva Katanas.

I could have just purchased another pair of Anasazis to allow me to swtich back and forth between resoles. But, to be honest with you, there was one element to the Anasazis that really stunk…the smell. I mean these shoes get rank fast people! You can brush them out, toss em' in the freezer, spray 'em with Lysol. Nothing helps. So I went to my local climbing shop to find a "leather anasazi." I had leather shoes before and they'd never smelled like my Anasazis, so my thinking went that if I could find a shoe with the same kind of shape as the Anasazi, but with leather construction then I'd have the best of both worlds. After trying on several different pairs, I knew the Katanas were the shoe for me.

Why the Katana?

Besides the above mentioned stank solution, the Katanas have many of the same attributes as the Anasazis: flat last, sensitive yet firm rubber, a great pointed toe for pockets, and a suction-like heal. But it turns out that the Katanas have exceeded my expectations. The last is actually a little more asymmetrical than the last of the Anasazis. (The same last as the well reviewed Sportiva TC Pros.) As a result, I have found that, for the same length as the Anasazis, the toes on the outside of my foot are a little more curled, pushing my big toe right up against the inside edge of my shoe. For those of you who find the Anasazi a little wide, try the Katanas. Something else I've noticed is that La Sportiva must have inserted some type of insole under the toes, because small indentation have appeared there which give my toes just a little more to grip on. If you run your hand inside the toe box after a few uses you'll feel these ridges with your fingers.

The Katanas aren't perfect though. I have been more hesitant to smear, perhaps due to the slightly more aggressive toe curl. And although the heal cups suction to my foot when I pull them on, they feel a little less secure when hooking than the Anasazis.

So has the switch been good?

For Sure! I'm seeing routes in a whole new way, and finally moving in a new space where I can start to consider jumping on a 12 in the near future. Perhaps because of the more narrow fit and grippy insole, edges that would have seemed scary in my old Anasazis now feel like rests in my Katanas. I've had them for a month and used them about a dozen times, both in the gym and on sandstone. Bottom line: if you want a leather shoe with the edging potential of the Anasazi but with a narrower toe box, Look no further than the La Sportiva Katanas.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 28, 2015 - 04:52pm
Many of the new La Sportiva velcro products are defective. The velcro tears or its clasp breaks off. Watch out, La Sportiva customer service refuses to honor their warranty for defective products.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 13, 2012 - 12:33pm
kingofthering · Climber · Vienna
If this shoe doesn´t edge well, you bought´em too big.
Size them extreme tight and they are edging monsters but more sensitive than the miura VS and the solution but the katana is not a toekiller like the solution.
Other than the reviewer i would say they are better in pockets than miuras. because of the flatter toe design you can get more of your toe into small slots and have more to stand on.
They might not look like grade-killers but they are, if you size them tight.
If not, you get a big soft shoe that will result in tired feet.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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