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La Sportiva Kataki - Women's Review

The Kataki wins our Editors' Choice Award for their combination of comfort, sensitivity, and edging prowess.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $175 List | $175.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Sensitive, great for edging, supportive, comfortable, versatile
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 29, 2017
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91
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Sensitivity - 25% 10
  • Edging - 15% 10
  • Cracks - 15% 7
  • Pockets - 15% 9
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The new La Sportiva Kataki is an incredible all-around shoe. These snazzy shoes excelled on smeary slab climbs to gently overhung sport pitches, to very overhanging boulder problems. The Kataki is an upgraded version of the tried and tested La Sportiva classic, the Katana, but with a shape that contours the foot and a sole that brings added sensitivity. It's an added plus that the Kataki comes in a women's specific design, similar to the La Sportiva Otaki. For a shoe that was reliable, even on the smallest of holds, the Kataki was what we kept reaching for time and time again.

This combination of comfort, support, and performance are what convinced us to give the Kataki our Editors' Choice Award this season. This award-winner combines the best qualities of all our favorite shoes into one magnificent climbing machine. From slabs to gently overhung granite dihedrals, these shoes are precision masters. Their slight downturn also makes them ace at sport climbing. We were surprised by how versatile the Kataki was, but they did perform well, even on hard trad climbs in Yosemite Valley where an aggressive shape is not always the most helpful design. We would honestly recommend these shoes to anyone!


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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $175.00 at Backcountry
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$157.25 at Amazon
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$180.00 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Sensitive, great for edging, supportive, comfortable, versatileComfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileComfortable, extremely sensitive, great for smearing and steep climbing, easy to get on and offGood for steep climbing, break in well, conforms to foot shape, comfortable, aggressive shapeGreat edging shoe, precise, versatile
Cons ExpensiveStretch out quickly, costly, lack supportExpensive, No-Edge technology could be an acquired tasteExpensive, lacks versatilitySpecific shape can cause discomfort for some, expensive
Bottom Line The Kataki wins our Editors' Choice Award for their combination of comfort, sensitivity, and edging prowess.The Skwama are impressive in many realms, combining comfort with a high performance fit.If you let them, they may revolutionize your footwork; they'll take some getting used to, but are top notch for steep climbing.The Solution gets our Top Pick for steep climbing and bouldering for their aggressive shape, precision, and comfortable design.A technical climbing powerhouse, perfect for crimpy limestone lines or long granite free climbs.
Rating Categories La Sportiva Kataki - Women's La Sportiva Skwama - Women's La Sportiva Futura - Women's Solution Miura VS
Comfort (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Sensitivity (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Edging (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
Cracks (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
Pockets (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs La Sportiva Kataki... La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Futura... Solution Miura VS
Style Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 1.08 lb 1.00 lb .91 lb 1.06 lb .94 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical High Asymmetry
Upper Suede leather microfiber Leather/Microfiber Leather/ Synthetic Leather/Lorica Leather
Lining Pacific Unlined Unlined HF (heel and toe box only) Dentex
Sole Rubber Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2

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.

Performance Comparison


Topping out in one of our favorite shoes for highballs - the super sticky Kataki.
Topping out in one of our favorite shoes for highballs - the super sticky Kataki.

Comfort


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.

The Kataki  though downturned  makes for a very sensitive  solid slab climbing shoe.
The Kataki, though downturned, makes for a very sensitive, solid slab climbing shoe.

Sensitivity


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.

Edging in the Kataki. These combine a downturned shape with the support of an excellent technical shoe impressive enough to win our Editors' Choice Award.
Edging in the Kataki. These combine a downturned shape with the support of an excellent technical shoe impressive enough to win our Editors' Choice Award.

Edging


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.

The Kataki will take you to the chains!
The Kataki will take you to the chains!

Cracks


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.

Pockets


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.
These flashy new kicks from La Sportiva are edging masters.
These flashy new kicks from La Sportiva are edging masters.

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.

The Kataki is a shoe that provides all-day comfort  while still having an aggressive shape worthy of your mega-project.
The Kataki is a shoe that provides all-day comfort, while still having an aggressive shape worthy of your mega-project.

Value


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!

Conclusion


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. For our Editors' Choice Award Winner, we took performance, versatility, sole construction, and durability into account and the Kataki was outstanding in all regards.


Jane Jackson