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La Sportiva Otaki - Women's Review

Designed to excel on overhanging terrain, where precision footwork is key.
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Price:  $180 List | $180.00 at REI
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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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Sensitivity - 25% 7
  • Edging - 15% 8
  • Cracks - 15% 6
  • Pockets - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8

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. If you are looking for a technical shoe that provides comfort all day, check out the award-winning La Sportiva Kataki, which is a little softer and less aggressive overall.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Great for heel hooking, sensitive on steep terrainSensitive, 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 shape
Cons Not ideal for wide feet, hard to break inExpensiveStretch out quickly, costly, lack supportExpensive, No-Edge technology could be an acquired tasteExpensive, lacks versatility
Bottom Line Designed to excel on overhanging terrain, where precision footwork is key.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.
Rating Categories La Sportiva Otaki - Women's La Sportiva Kataki - Women's La Sportiva Skwama - Women's La Sportiva Futura - Women's Solution
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Sensitivity (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Edging (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Cracks (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
7
Pockets (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Specs La Sportiva Otaki... La Sportiva Kataki... La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Futura... Solution
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 1.00 lb 1.08 lb 1.00 lb .91 lb 1.06 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical
Upper Leather/Synthetic Suede leather microfiber Leather/Microfiber Leather/ Synthetic Leather/Lorica
Lining Pacific Pacific Unlined Unlined HF (heel and toe box only)
Sole Rubber Vibram XSGrip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2 Vibram XS Grip2

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


On problem #48 of the blue circuit  the La Sportiva Otaki's keep us on our feet.
On problem #48 of the blue circuit, the La Sportiva Otaki's keep us on our feet.

Comfort


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. The La Sportiva Futura, though equally as aggressive, is much softer; after breaking it in, it was one of the most comfortable shoes we reviewed.

The Otaki's stiff soles are unforgiving at first  making the break-in period a bit painful.
The Otaki's stiff soles are unforgiving at first, making the break-in period a bit painful.

Sensitivity


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. This was also the case with the La Sportiva Skwama, whose sensitivity increased over time.

The fresh 4mm of rubber on the toe of the Otaki detracted from their sensitivity at first.
The fresh 4mm of rubber on the toe of the Otaki detracted from their sensitivity at first.

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.

Edging


Compared to the edging mastery of the La Sportiva Kataki, the Otaki fell a bit short in this metric. The Kataki is slightly less aggressive in shape, making them a better edging shoe, while the downturned, aggressive toe on the Otaki makes it hard to step down on dime edges. We preferred the Kataki on vertical, technical climbing and slabs.

Going for an edging maneuver in the Otaki's.
Going for an edging maneuver in the Otaki's.

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. Unlike the flexible Scarpa Vapor V, the Otaki doesn't mold 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.

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.
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.

Pockets


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. Shoes with comparable performance in this realm are the La Sportiva Solution and the La Sportiva Futura.

Working our way up a pocketed slab in the La Sportiva Otaki.
Working our way up a pocketed slab in the La Sportiva Otaki.

Ease of Use


The Otaki is yet another version of the Velcro closure climbing shoe, making them comparable to the Scarpa Vapor V or the Five Ten Asym in terms of ease of use. These Velcro models are easy to slip on and off, making them a great option for bouldering or sport climbing.

Thes duel Velcro straps on the Otaki make them easy to get on and off - a perfect bouldering shoe!
Thes duel Velcro straps on the Otaki make them easy to get on and off - a perfect bouldering shoe!

Best Application


If you are looking to level up in bouldering or sport climbing, the Otaki might be just what you need to push into the next grade. These shoes are aggressive, stiff, and made to perform. For heel hooking and steep, technical climbing, the Otaki is a master. We wouldn't recommend these as a beginner shoe, mostly because of their shape and specific design.

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!).
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!).

Value


With a price tag of $180, the Otaki is spot on in terms of price in comparison to other performance shoes. The La Sportiva Solution costs the same, while the Kataki is $5 less and the Futura is $5 more. All of these models are designed for performance, and you will definitely get a shoe that delivers with these hefty price tags.

Conclusion


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