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La Sportiva Katana Lace - Women's Review

This is a do-it-all workhorse that excels in all aspects of climbing, from difficult cracks to lower angle and techy face climbs
la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review
Credit: La Sportiva
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $219 List
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Whitney Clark ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2022
83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 20
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Sensitivity - 25% 8.0
  • Edging - 15% 9.0
  • Cracks - 15% 9.0
  • Pockets - 15% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 5% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Katana Lace is a high-end climbing shoe that wins our award for performing the best on multi-pitch outings and crack climbing projects. If sized right, this shoe is also a technical edging machine, and its narrow profile allows it to be precise while standing on small features and twisting into cracks. It features a split midsole which gives the shoe a bit more flex for smearing and comfort for all-day wear. As the Katana Lace is one of the priciest shoes we tested, it is better suited for intermediate to advanced climbers looking for a shoe to help them climb harder.
REASONS TO BUY
Great edging capabilities
Excels on thin cracks
Great for multi-pitching
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Leather uppers wear out

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $219 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Great edging capabilities, excels on thin cracks, great for multi-pitchingGreat edging shoe, precise, versatileComfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileInexpensive, comfortable, easy to get on and offInexpensive, easy to adjust, comfortable, soft leather upper
Cons Expensive, leather uppers wear outSpecific shape can cause discomfort for some, expensiveStretch out quickly, costly, lacks supportLacks stiffness, not designed for high-performance climbingNot great for smearing, rubber lacks the stickiness of more expensive models
Bottom Line This is a do-it-all workhorse that excels in all aspects of climbing, from difficult cracks to lower angle and techy face climbsA technical climbing powerhouse, perfect for crimpy limestone or long granite free climbsAn impressive shoe in many realms, combining comfort with a high-performance fitThis shoe is a reasonably priced and very comfortable option great for beginner climbersA great option for beginners, these shoes are comfortable and easy to use
Rating Categories La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Miura VS La Sportiva Skwama... Five Ten Kirigami -... La Sportiva Tarantu...
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Sensitivity (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
Edging (15%)
9.0
10.0
7.0
4.0
7.0
Cracks (15%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Pockets (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
4.0
Ease of Use (5%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Specs La Sportiva Katana... La Sportiva Miura VS La Sportiva Skwama... Five Ten Kirigami -... La Sportiva Tarantu...
Style Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro Lace
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 1.09 lb 0.94 lb 0.95 lb 0.99 lb 0.97 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical Low Asymmetry Low Asymmetry
Upper Microfiber/leather Leather Leather/Microfiber Synthetic Leather, microfiber
Lining 1.1 mm full-length LaspoFlex with P3 system Dentex Unlined Synthetic Unlined
Sole Rubber 4 mm thick VibramĀ® XS Edge rubber Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Stealth C4 Frixion RS

Our Analysis and Test Results

With high scores around the board, the women's Katana Lace is a great new addition to the La Sportiva line. It crack climbs extremely well, fits like a glove, and the new split midsole feature gives it a bit more flex for technical smearing and edging while remaining comfortable for all-day wear.

Performance Comparison


la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - the women's katana lace are great for multi-pitching where you might...
The Women's Katana Lace are great for multi-pitching where you might encounter a mixture of slab and crack climbing
Credit: Clint Helander


Comfort


A high-performing shoe doesn't have to come at the cost of sore feet. Although the La Sportiva Katana Lace has a slightly downturned shape, they are surprisingly comfortable for all-day wear. The laces make them highly adjustable depending on your specific needs, and they're easy to get on and off while hanging at the belay. The extra padded tongue cushions the top of your feet and provides a bit of protection when climbing wider cracks.


The Katana Lace is relatively stiff, which gives your foot arch support for pitch after pitch of demanding climbing. The women's version has a noticeably different fit than the men's version (which was the only version available for a long time). The women's Katana is much more narrow in both the heel and the toe box, making sizing the shoe imperative for a comfortable fit. If sized correctly, and you're willing to make a small sacrifice in comfort for high performance on techy terrain, then these are a great choice for your next multi-pitch outing.

la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - after a few wears, the katana lace fit like a glove and are...
After a few wears, the Katana Lace fit like a glove and are comfortable for long days on the rock.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Sensitivity


Stiffer shoes are generally less sensitive, meaning it's hard to feel what's underfoot. La Sportiva designed the women's Katana Lace with a split midsole, giving them more sensitivity than the previous men's version. Although they are still in the middle of the road in terms of rigidity, this design gives your foot more flexibility while standing on small holds, better smearing capabilities, and allows you to feel what you are standing on.


Although you're not going to get the same sensitivity as a super soft shoe like the La Sportiva Skwama, the Katana Lace provides the perfect balance between sensitivity and support for all-day wear. Especially after a couple of uses, the Katanas break in quite nicely and allow your toes to feel the footholds. For years, the men's Katana Lace has been a fan favorite, and the women's shoe is bound to follow suit.

la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - the women's la sportiva katana lace has a split midsole which allows...
The Women's La Sportiva Katana Lace has a split midsole which allows for great sensitivity while smearing on tiny footholds.
Credit: Will Stanhope

Edging


The 4mm Vibram XS Edge is some of the stickiest rubber around, and we feel secure on the smallest dime edge with these on our feet. Since the Katana Lace has a moderately-stiff midsole, it gives you spectacular edging power if the shoe is sized right. The Katana has a 1.1mm full-length LaspoFlex with P3 midsole allowing the weight of your body to transfer toward the toe. Its slight asymmetrical shape allows you to toe in on holds like never before. That, combined with the sticky rubber, makes the Katana a powerhouse right out of the box.


As with any climbing shoe, sizing correctly is key to getting the best performance out of the product, and the Katana is no different. The looser the shoe, the worse it will perform while edging. That said, this has the capability to be one of the best edging shoes out there.

la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - small holds, no problem. the katana lace is an edging machine.
Small holds, no problem. The Katana Lace is an edging machine.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Crack Climbing


When it comes to difficult crack climbing, the Katana Lace is our new favorite. With its more narrow and asymmetrical design, the Katana is well suited for jamming in tight corners. This slightly slimmer profile of the toe allows maximum contact between rock and rubber, which is a key component for sending thin cracks. A rounder shoe will be more comfortable while shoved deep in hand cracks, but it will not give you the same performance on your more difficult projects.


The Katana has a semi-stiff midsole, which supports the foot's arch while twisting into cracks. The shoe's leather uppers do a good job of protecting your feet from endless hand crack jamming, but they will begin to show wear over time. Other crack climbing specific shoes (like the TC Pros) are designed to take more of a beating in wider cracks but we feel their more rounded design limits their performance in slim cracks. With little ankle coverage, the Katana is not the shoe to take on your next Indian Creek offwidth tour, but is it's perfect choice for thin and technical cracks.

la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - the katanas excel in all styles of climbing, which is why they are a...
The Katanas excel in all styles of climbing, which is why they are a great choice for multi-pitch routes.
Credit: Clint Helander

Pockets


Typically, shoes that perform well when crack climbing will lag behind in this category, but that's not the case for the Katana Lace. The narrow and more pointed toe box lends itself well to climbing on pockets, and the shoe's slight downturn allows your foot to sink into small holes.


The Katana Lace performed super well in pockets. The heel on the women's version is noticeably more narrow and locks your foot in without that extra rubber we experienced on the older men's shoe. This, combined with a moderately stiff P3 midsole, brings your weight towards the forefront and allows you to toe in on pockets with relative ease.

Ease of Use


With its lace-up design, the Katana Lace is easy to get on and off while hanging at the belay, or after burns on a project at the crag. The shoe comes with two clip-in points on the heel for securely hanging on the anchor and the laces are easily adaptable based on your needs. They can be cinched down tight, or loosened for a more comfy fit while warming up.


We like lace-up shoes because of their adjustability and ability to morph into a totally different shoe based on how they are tightened down.

la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - gearing up for some granite trickery where edging on small dishes...
Gearing up for some granite trickery where edging on small dishes and holds is key.
Credit: Will Stanhope

Should You Buy the Women's Katana Lace?


The Katana Lace is an excellent option for women looking to find a female-specific shoe at the intermediate to advanced level. This shoe will give you the support you need for climbing pitch after pitch of difficult crack or face climbing and is relatively comfortable enough for all-day wear. It is versatile and performed well in almost all categories, and we especially love it for multi-pitches and crack climbing. For offwidth climbing or high-end bouldering, we might suggest something more specialized, but for a general jack-of-all-trades shoe, it's hard to find something better.

la sportiva katana lace for women climbing shoes review - the katana lace will get the job done even when encountering an...
The Katana Lace will get the job done even when encountering an occasional heel-toe.
Credit: Clint Helander

What Other Climbing Shoes Should You Consider?


It is common to have multiple different pairs of shoes depending on the type of climbing you will encounter. The La Sportiva TC Pro has always been at the top of the list for wider cracks and multi-pitch climbing, and although it doesn't have a women's specific fit, the shoe's symmetrical design fits most people's feet. Other options to consider are the La Sportiva Miura and La Sportiva Skwama, which are also great shoes for difficult crack climbing but may not be as comfortable for all-day wear.

Whitney Clark
 
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