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Hands-on Gear Review

La Sportiva Katana Lace Review

La Sportiva Katana Lace
Top Pick Award
Price:   $185 List | $127.56 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Versatile, Durable, Comfortable
Cons:  Expensive, Can be hard to find
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The slightly down turned toe and subtle asymmetry of the Katana Lace will allow climbers to hook into pockets and hold edges in absolute comfort. This shoe keeps your foot in a relatively flat position, which is great for cracks and comfort. The heel is snug, and combined with the P3 rand it feels like the weight of your entire body is being focused very precisely through the toe. In the world of rubber snobbery, Vibram's XS Edge soles hold their own, and pretty much anything else they touch. The Katana Lace is a workhorse, not a show horse. Aside from its Peanuts inspired upper and hardcore name, nothing about the Katana stands out as truly spectacular. You have to assess the shoe as a package to see its real value. Perhaps nothing about the Katana really stands out, but nothing about it disappoints.

Katana Velcro
This climbing shoe is also available in the original Katana Velcro. But buyer be aware that the designs of the Lace-up and Velcro shoes are different! The classic Katana Velcro combines Dentex and Pacific lining, as well as a completely different composition of the midsole. This review suggests trying both versions of the Katana on before making a purchase.


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:
Thomas Greene
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
September 18, 2014

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Climbing shoes are supposed to hurt right? When we first slipped the La Sportiva Katana Lace on, we were convinced they were sized wrong. They were way too comfortable to climb anywhere other than out of bed. After a few laps we were reluctant to tell anyone else about them, afraid we'd lose the advantage of our new secret weapon.

Disguised in an outer that looks like Charlie Brown's sweater, this is the most versatile shoe we tested. Lacking the bells-and-whistles features that lure climbers to the La Sportiva Solution, Miura VS, TC Pro, and Evolv Shaman, the Katana quietly cruised up everything we tested it on.

Lyra on Airy Interlude in the La Sportiva Katana Lace  Needles  CA.
Lyra on Airy Interlude in the La Sportiva Katana Lace, Needles, CA.

Performance Comparison


After combining the scores from the individual metrics, the Katana Lace (highlighted in blue) ended up being one of the highest-scoring of all products tested, as seen in the chart below.


Edging


The Katana has the same P3 midsole, and Vibram XS EDGE rubber that makes the TC Pro such an incredible edging machine. With the addition of a slightly down-turned toe and a semi-asymmetric fit, La Sportiva has created a monster in the Katana Lace. A very quiet, unassuming monster. This shoe flies under the radar, and comes up crushing.


It edges as well as the TC Pro, but with its additional features, performs well on a much wider range of rock types and features. The design also enables it to tackle much steeper sport terrain than the TC Pro, and other solid all-around shoes such as the Five Ten Anasazi VCS.

The down turned toe of the Katana lace gives it an advantage over the TC Pro in thinner cracks. Overall these shoes perform very similarly.
The down turned toe of the Katana lace gives it an advantage over the TC Pro in thinner cracks. Overall these shoes perform very similarly.

Crack Climbing



Lyra testing of the Katana Lace on the Mammoth Boulders  California
Lyra testing of the Katana Lace on the Mammoth Boulders, California

The following statement might be considered something close to heresy: The Katana Lace climbs cracks just as well as the La Sportiva TC Pro. Why? In terms of construction, it is a very similar shoe, lacking only the thin ankle padding of the TC Pro, and it has a slightly more aggressive shape. The more aggressive design actually helps while trad climbing, allowing you to jam even in very small cracks where the TC Pro is known to have trouble. The TC Pro works better in wider cracks, but we found ourselves reaching for this shoe just as often when heading out on an all day-muti-pitch climb.


Pockets


When flatter shoes start slipping off edges and out of pockets, the Katana Lace will keep you holding on. The tech fit and medium asymmetry are just enough to really increase its holding power on overhanging terrain. On vertical to less-than-vertical pocketed climbs, the Katana floats.


It falls short when compared to very specialized shoes, like the more down-turned La Sportiva Miura VS or La Sportiva Futura, on very hard or overhanging climbs where you'd want a function specific shoe anyway.
Lindsay in the Katana Lace in Index  WA.
Lindsay in the Katana Lace in Index, WA.

Sensitivity


This shoe is surprisingly sensitive, particularly when compared to similar shoes like the TC Pro. While you can anticipate a longer wear in period, it doesn't feel as rigid as the Miura out of the box. It will provide plenty of support for your feet without depriving you of sensation on the rock.


Comfort


By all standards, the Katana Lace is comfortable. Being protected from the rock while climbing is paramount. It will keep your toes from getting beaten up in cracks while jamming, and has enough rigidity that you don't feel like you are on your metatarsals while standing flat. This shoe won't win awards based purely on comfort, but it's not a bunny slipper. It's a performance shoe that manages to keep your comfort at a maximum on the really big days.


Best Applications


Take the Katana Lace where ever you'd like, it does it all. It climbs limestone edges with the same ease as granite cracks, and welded tuff pockets and nubs like a champ. This is easily the best all-around climbing shoe we have ever used. For very high-end sport climbing, maybe check out a new concept in climbing in the La Sportiva Futura.

Value


In the race to create the perfect all-rounde shoe, La Sportiva has created a clear frontrunner with the Katana Lace. The incredible versatility of this shoe means you won't have to fill your trunk or closet with a bunch of shoes you rarely use. With this money you will save on shoes, you can go to exotic climbing locations around the world and dazzle the locals with your incredible technique on their rock, all in the same shoe. This shoe will be easy and affordable to find a resole for. We think the rather high front-end price is worth it in the long run.
Edges and the Katana Lace in Smith Rocks  OR.
Edges and the Katana Lace in Smith Rocks, OR.

Conclusion


This shoe is stiff enough to prevent your foot from fatiguing on the big days, and takes to cracks better than many specialized shoes. From Smith Rock to the Alabama Hills, the Katana can handle any sport route you throw it on. If you're looking for super high-end sport climbing shoes, it may fall a little short for you. For everything else, this shoe will easily do the job, which is why it wins our Top Pick Award for an all-around shoe.

The shoe takes a while to wear in, and does stretch a little with use. We sized ours a full size down, and have been happy with their fit after the wear-in period.

Other Versions


La Sportiva Katana
La Sportiva Katana
  • Velcro version (be warned, the original Katana is a different shoe altogether than the Katana Lace)
  • Cost- $150 ($20 less than the lace version)
  • Weight- 7.87 oz (.84 oz lighter than the lace version)
  • Adjustable velcro closure for a close fit
  • Single-piece tongue
Thomas Greene

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 10, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 4 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (5)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jun 10, 2016 - 09:56pm
Rankin · Climber · Greensboro, North Carolina
Fantastic shoes. My foot measures as 8.5 US, and I have a pair of 38.5 for super tech fit (read: break in required), and 39.5 for comfort. Even the small tech fit size is comfortable for cragging. This is a superb all-around shoe, incredibly well made, and based on my experience you can size to your needs.

As an aside, why so few reviews of Scarpa shoes? Do they not give them up for reviews? Thx!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 26, 2015 - 04:56pm
I've had an older pair of la sportivas for 3 years, and I finally decided to switch since they were pretty much falling apart.

Man. I have never worn a more comfortable shoe. I really wasn't expecting that, given the more aggressive toe. I've got short, wide feet with high arches and these babies fit super snug, with consistent pressure around my whole foot. I can boulder for 2 hours at the gym without having to take them off.

They're fantastic for pretty much everything that's thrown at them, in the gym or outdoors. I haven't tried any crack climbing yet, but I can hold tiny edges, steep smears, and anything in between with ease. The toe's got a nice point without making it uncomfortable for someone with chubby hobbit feet like myself.

The only downside is the price, but I like these more than the Miura, Solution, or Mythos. Regardless, I would definitely consider buying another pair of these once they wear out.

If you're looking to move past 5.9s and get a bit more aggressive without jamming your feet into a pair of bananas, these are the shoes you should buy.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 11, 2014 - 04:25pm
Jesus · Climber · Sydney
Excellent edging, love the padded tongue, great comfort and the lacing system is great.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 7, 2014 - 01:56pm
alias · Climber · Royal Oak
Awesome, fit so well that I don't even lace 'em.

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