With two velcro straps and a slight downturn, The La Sportiva Otaki is easy to write off as a design we've seen many times before. Well this time, it's better! The Otaki takes our favorite aspects from our favorite La Sportiva models and puts them all into one versatile shoe that can edge smear, and jam with equal precision. We love the Kataki for crack climbing, and we love the Skwama for its sensitivity and velcro closure. The Otaki sits somewhere in between. If you think you can get away with only one climbing shoe, this could be it.
La Sportiva Otaki Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure system
Cons: Not as comfortable in cracks as lace-up models
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These shoes have a moderate amount of asymmetry, making them good for edging and pocket climbing, but not quite as good as the narrower, pointier La Sportiva Solution. However, it's much more comfortable for climbing multiple pitches in a row. For more comfort, we'd suggest the La Sportiva Kataki or the Scarpa Vapor V.
The Otakis have a P3 last. This is a plastic edging platform that lives in the sole of the shoe and maintains the downturned shape. The Sportiva shoes with the P3 platform all have better edging performance than those without. The Otaki has a slightly more asymmetrical shape than the Kataki, making it edge slightly better, but feel less comfortable after multiple pitches. They edge better than the Anasazi VSC without having to be painfully tight.
The Otakis are no slouch when it comes to crack climbing. They are medium volume and fit in narrow cracks better than the TC Pros, Butura Altura, and the Scarpa Instinct VS. The Skwama and the Kataki don't have a Velcro buckle near the toe box, making them more comfortable for pitches of longhand cracks, but for technical single pitches that require precise edging with some crack techniques thrown in, the Otaki are perfect.
If you get a great fit with the Otaki, then don't hesitate to scale the pocketed faces of Wyoming or toe-in to the bowling ball holds of Red River Gorge sandstone. The P3 platform that makes the Otakis good edgers also allows them to grab on to shallow pockets, thought pointier shoes like the Solution or the Tarifa will make use of smaller pockets even better. Comfort is king, and if you find yourself climbing less because of foot pain, go with the shoe that fits the best.
The most sensitive shoes are also the softest. In our review, the Scarpa Drago and the Skwama both awesomely sensitive, but will leave your calves quivering after a long pitch of slab or technical edging. The Otaki doesn't have the sock-like sensitivity of the Drago and is a bit stiffer than the Skwama. It's also much more sensitive than that the Butora Altura and the TC Pro, allowing us to relax a little bit on vertical pitches, overgrip less, and feel confident in our foot placements.
These shoes will feel the most comfortable to folks with a wide, high volume foot. They are less comfy than the flatter lasted TC Pro, the Butora Altura (after a very lengthy break-in) and the softer Five Ten Quantum. If you have a narrow foot, try on a pair of Tenaya Tarifas. The Tarifa a perform as well as the Otaki on vertical to slightly overhanging rock, but our testers with wider feet couldn't get a comfortable performance fit with the Tarifa.
The Skwama, the Kataki, the Katana, and the Otaki all have a similar feel due to the with of the toe box, which is wider than Sportiva's Muira and Solution, and also wider than the Tenaya Tarifa. In terms of the downturn, the Otaki and Kataki are built on the same aggressive last as the Solution, while the Katana is built on the same flatter last as the TC Pro. This means that in theory, the stiffer Katana is more suited to long multi-pitch climbs than the Otaki. The less stiff, more aggressive Otaki has nearly the same shape as the Katana but is more sensitive and better for steep climbing.
What does this mean for you? Well, If you're looking for a quiver-of-one, you'd be barking up the right tree with the Otaki. If the majority of your climbing involves single pitch sport or trad, or gym climbing, with a little bouldering thrown in, these shoes will have you covered. The Katanas or TC pros will feel more comfortable on longer outings, and the Solutions, Skwamas, and the Scarpa Instinct VS are more appropriate for boulderers climbing on steeper rock and require additional rubber on a shoe's upper for toe-hooking, and can tolerate short periods in tight shoes.
This shoe will take a swipe at your bank account, same as the Black Diamond Focus and most other offerings from La Sportiva. But versatility definitely adds value, and the Otaki is a great all-rounder. There's plenty of climbing to be had on cracks, faces, and in the gym with Otaki.
These shoes are almost as awesome and versatile as our Editors' Choice, and you may even prefer the ease of a velcro closure over the laces of the Kataki. The current Sportiva line up offers a lot fit options with similar performance, and we hope this review will help you narrow down your choices.
— Matt Bento