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La Sportiva Otaki - Women's Review

Designed to excel on overhanging terrain, where precision footwork is key
La Sportiva Otaki - Women's
Credit: La Sportiva
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Price:  $195 List | $195.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Great for heel hooking, sensitive on steep terrain
Cons:  Not ideal for wide feet, hard to break in
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 6, 2019
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  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Sensitivity - 25% 7.0
  • Edging - 15% 8.0
  • Cracks - 15% 6.0
  • Pockets - 15% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8.0

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Otaki is a powerhouse of a shoe. If performance rock climbing is what you're after, the Otaki will deliver, as they're aggressive in shape and provide sensitivity in the heel and toe. Small footholds, pockets, and heel hooks are child's play for the Otaki, and the S-Heel creates a tight-fitting heel that is ideal for heel hooking. The downturned toe takes some breaking in, but once the Otaki is warmed up, they are incredibly sensitive, especially on steeper terrain.

All of these factors that make the Otaki a top performing shoe also mean that these shoes aren't necessarily designed for comfort. They are tight-fitting, downturned, and quite stiff. These qualities do not necessarily provide comfort, so we recommend using the Otaki for single pitch sport climbing and bouldering.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The La Sportiva Otaki might be a bit tough on those with a wider foot. If they fit properly, these shoes are an aggressively shaped, high performing, precise shoe.

Performance Comparison

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - on problem #48 of the blue circuit, the la sportiva otaki's keep us...
On problem #48 of the blue circuit, the La Sportiva Otaki's keep us on our feet.
Credit: Eric Bissell


The Otaki is designed with performance in mind. That said, they do break in over time, making them a reasonably comfortable performance shoe. We wouldn't recommend taking these on an all-day outing in Yosemite Valley, but as your send shoe at the sport crag, the Otaki is a good choice. Their downturned shape provides on the steep stuff but can be downright uncomfortable if worn on a slabby multi-pitch. It is important to consider what type of climbing you plan to do before settling on a shoe — especially one as aggressive and specific as the Otaki.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - the otaki's stiff soles are unforgiving at first, making the...
The Otaki's stiff soles are unforgiving at first, making the break-in period a bit painful.
Credit: Eric Bissell


The 4mm of Vibram XS Grip2 rubber on the stoles of the Otaki felt a little bulky and unnervingly thick at first, and it took a few days of wear to feel supple on the rock. After a few months of wear, the rubber had worn down a bit, and they felt more sensitive.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - the fresh 4mm of rubber on the toe of the otaki detracted from their...
The fresh 4mm of rubber on the toe of the Otaki detracted from their sensitivity at first.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Sensitivity in the toe box is not everything — and it is here that the Otaki brought out their secret weapon. These shoes are heel hooking geniuses. The heel cup is tight-fitting and solid enough to trust, but also sensitive enough to find the subtleties in a heel hook placement.


Compared to the edging mastery of some of the other high-performance shoes in this review, the Otaki fell a bit short in this metric. The downturned, aggressive toe on the Otaki makes it hard to step down on dime edges. We preferred a less-aggressive shoe for vertical, technical climbing and slabs.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - going for an edging maneuver in the otaki's.
Going for an edging maneuver in the Otaki's.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Crack Climbing

The Otaki is not necessarily designed for crack climbing, so it comes as no surprise that it did not shine in this metric. It's stiff and downturned, making it both hard and painful to get into cracks. Because it lacks flexibility, the Otaki doesn't mold very well into tight finger cracks. If they are sized for performance, the Otaki can be fairly painful when torqued in a hand crack; we would not recommend this shoe as a crack-climbing specific shoe.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - though certainly not an indian creek splitter, this little crack was...
Though certainly not an Indian Creek splitter, this little crack was the perfect place to test the crack climbing abilities of the La Sportiva Otaki.
Credit: Eric Bissell


The aggressive shaped toe box and stiff last make the Otaki a pocket-climbing master. These shoes are designed for steep, technical rock climbing, where toeing in on small pockets is the name of the game. This is where the Otaki really shines; on any kind of overhanging terrain, the Otaki is suddenly able to edge and stand on anything. The narrow shape of the toe fits easily into small pockets. The heel cup is such that the Otaki can heel hook on anything — another useful skill in pocketed climbing.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - working our way up a pocketed slab in the la sportiva otaki.
Working our way up a pocketed slab in the La Sportiva Otaki.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Ease of Use

The Otaki is yet another version of the Velcro closure climbing shoe. These Velcro models are easy to slip on and off, making them a great option for bouldering or sport climbing.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - thes duel velcro straps on the otaki make them easy to get on and...
Thes duel Velcro straps on the Otaki make them easy to get on and off - a perfect bouldering shoe!
Credit: Eric Bissell


The Otaki are on point in terms of price in comparison to other performance shoes. Many of the other La Sportiva models in this review have very similar price tags, give or take a few dollars. All of these models are designed for performance, and you will definitely get a shoe that delivers with these hefty price tags.

La Sportiva Otaki - Women's climbing shoes - stiff, precise, and sensitive in both heel and toe, the otaki's will...
Stiff, precise, and sensitive in both heel and toe, the Otaki's will help you level up (or at least that's what we hoped as we got humbled in the forests of Fontainebleau!).
Credit: Eric Bissell


The La Sportiva Otaki excels at overhanging climbing where heel hooking and precision footwork come into play. The Otaki breaks in to be fairly comfortable, but are designed with performance in mind rather than all-day comfort. If you can take them off in between burns, the Otaki may be the ticket to rock climbing glory.

Jane Jackson
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