Climbing shoes are supposed to hurt right? When we first slipped the La Sportiva Katana Lace on, we were convinced they were sized wrong. They were way too comfortable to climb anywhere other than out of bed. After a few laps we were reluctant to tell anyone else about them, afraid we'd lose the advantage of our new secret weapon.
Disguised in an outer that looks like Charlie Brown's sweater, this is the most versatile shoe we tested. Lacking the bells-and-whistles features that lure climbers to the La Sportiva Solution
, Miura VS, TC Pro, and Evolv Shaman
, the Katana quietly cruised up everything we tested it on.
Lyra on Airy Interlude in the La Sportiva Katana Lace, Needles, CA.
After combining the scores from the individual metrics, the Katana Lace (highlighted in blue) ended up being one of the highest-scoring of all products tested, as seen in the chart below.
The Katana has the same P3 midsole, and Vibram XS EDGE rubber that makes the TC Pro such an incredible edging machine. With the addition of a slightly down-turned toe and a semi-asymmetric fit, La Sportiva has created a monster in the Katana Lace. A very quiet, unassuming monster. This shoe flies under the radar, and comes up crushing.
It edges as well as the TC Pro, but with its additional features, performs well on a much wider range of rock types and features. The design also enables it to tackle much steeper sport terrain than the TC Pro, and other solid all-around shoes such as the Five Ten Anasazi VCS
The down turned toe of the Katana lace gives it an advantage over the TC Pro in thinner cracks. Overall these shoes perform very similarly.
Lyra testing of the Katana Lace on the Mammoth Boulders, California
The following statement might be considered something close to heresy: The Katana Lace climbs cracks just as well as the La Sportiva TC Pro
. Why? In terms of construction, it is a very similar shoe, lacking only the thin ankle padding of the TC Pro, and it has a slightly more aggressive shape. The more aggressive design actually helps while trad climbing, allowing you to jam even in very small cracks where the TC Pro is known to have trouble. The TC Pro works better in wider cracks, but we found ourselves reaching for this shoe just as often when heading out on an all day-muti-pitch climb.
When flatter shoes start slipping off edges and out of pockets, the Katana Lace will keep you holding on. The tech fit and medium asymmetry are just enough to really increase its holding power on overhanging terrain. On vertical to less-than-vertical pocketed climbs, the Katana floats.
It falls short when compared to very specialized shoes, like the more down-turned La Sportiva Miura VS
or La Sportiva Futura
, on very hard or overhanging climbs where you'd want a function specific shoe anyway.
Lindsay in the Katana Lace in Index, WA.
This shoe is surprisingly sensitive, particularly when compared to similar shoes like the TC Pro. While you can anticipate a longer wear in period, it doesn't feel as rigid as the Miura out of the box. It will provide plenty of support for your feet without depriving you of sensation on the rock.
By all standards, the Katana Lace is comfortable. Being protected from the rock while climbing is paramount. It will keep your toes from getting beaten up in cracks while jamming, and has enough rigidity that you don't feel like you are on your metatarsals while standing flat. This shoe won't win awards based purely on comfort, but it's not a bunny slipper. It's a performance shoe that manages to keep your comfort at a maximum on the really big days.
Take the Katana Lace where ever you'd like, it does it all. It climbs limestone edges with the same ease as granite cracks, and welded tuff pockets and nubs like a champ. This is easily the best all-around climbing shoe we have ever used. For very high-end sport climbing, maybe check out a new concept in climbing in the La Sportiva Futura.
In the race to create the perfect all-rounde shoe, La Sportiva has created a clear frontrunner with the Katana Lace. The incredible versatility of this shoe means you won't have to fill your trunk or closet with a bunch of shoes you rarely use. With this money you will save on shoes, you can go to exotic climbing locations around the world and dazzle the locals with your incredible technique on their rock, all in the same shoe. This shoe will be easy and affordable to find a resole for. We think the rather high front-end price is worth it in the long run.
Edges and the Katana Lace in Smith Rocks, OR.
This shoe is stiff enough to prevent your foot from fatiguing on the big days, and takes to cracks better than many specialized shoes. From Smith Rock to the Alabama Hills, the Katana can handle any sport route you throw it on. If you're looking for super high-end sport climbing shoes, it may fall a little short for you. For everything else, this shoe will easily do the job, which is why it wins our Top Pick Award for an all-around shoe.
The shoe takes a while to wear in, and does stretch a little with use. We sized ours a full size down, and have been happy with their fit after the wear-in period.
La Sportiva Katana
- Velcro version (be warned, the original Katana is a different shoe altogether than the Katana Lace)
- Cost- $150 ($20 less than the lace version)
- Weight- 7.87 oz (.84 oz lighter than the lace version)
- Adjustable velcro closure for a close fit