La Sportiva Kataki - Women's Review
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Our Analysis and Test Results
When it comes to comfort, sensitivity, and edging ability, the La Sportiva Kataki outshined nearly all of the others in our fleet. Their stiffness, support, and sticky soles made them our go-to, especially on the holdless granite slabs and slippery stemming corners of Yosemite Valley. This climbing shoe also performs well as a steeper sport climbing shoe since they are slightly downturned and have a heel that hugs the back of the foot with precision.
Initially, comfort was a bit of a concern when we took the Katakis out of the box. Their shape is aggressive and downturned, but they fit surprisingly well and were comfortable right out of the box. The time it takes for a shoe to break-in can be a make-or-break factor in whether the shoe is a keeper or not. If they are excruciatingly painful for the first ten times while wearing them, it's hard to force yourself to keep wearing them. Thankfully, this was not a problem with the Kataki. These award-winners are relatively wide in the toe box and easy to adjust, making them comfortable and fit true to size. The Kataki is also pretty comfortable initially and didn't take too long to break in.
It is this metric that the Kataki shines. Slab climbing is a great test for the sensitivity of a shoe.
Transferring weight from one-minute foothold to another requires a certain combination of stiffness for edging and a suppleness for smearing that the Kataki wields. The 4mm Vibram XSGrip2 soles make them great for standing on small edges, but they are not as stiff as many other shoes in this review. The Katakis are also are surprisingly wide in the mid-foot but have a tapered toe box that makes them ideal for precise footwork, earning them a perfect 10 out of 10 in the sensitivity metric. The toe box fits our feet very comfortably, which adds to their incredible sensitivity.
Since they are a great shoe for precise footwork, it is no surprise that the Kataki is also an incredible edging shoe. The shape of the toe box allowed our feet to get to the front of the shoe, comfortably, without crunching our toes. This allows for precise edging, especially combined with the stiffness of the shoe. The Kataki's can edge on both the inside of the toe and the front, for back-stepping and reachy footholds. The smaller (the foothold), the better in these shoes.
Crack climbing is not the Kataki's main forte, though the shoes perform fairly well for occasional jamming. The generous width of the shoe makes the Kataki a fairly comfortable crack shoe. In general, the Kataki is not our go-to choice for crack climbing, mostly because they are lace-up and a bit too downturned.
For steep climbing and precise footwork, we love the Kataki. They are narrow enough at the toe to fit well into pockets and downturned enough to toe in well to small pockets on overhanging walls. They perform almost as well as a more downturned option on steep terrain.
Ease of Use
These shoes are very easy to use for a shoe with a lace-up design. The tongue is attached on one side and free on the other, making it easy to get your foot in and out of the shoe. The lace-up design makes them easy to adjust and achieve a precise fit. They also take very little time to break in and are not painful at first, which adds to their overall ease of use, particularly for a downturned model.
Like most of La Sportiva's shoes, the Kataki are incredibly well designed and well made, but they come at a high price. These shoes are up there with the priciest shoes in this review. If you know this is the shoe for you, we would say it is worth it, but make sure to research them before making such a large investment!
The La Sportiva Kataki was our favorite shoe we tested this year. They are comfortable, yet slightly aggressive in design. The Kataki's shape is slightly downturned for precision footwork. They fit true to size and break in easily, which is an added plus. The only downside to the Kataki is the fact that they are on the more expensive side, but they are a good investment as they are well-made and durable.
— Jane Jackson