There’s no doubt that La Sportiva is one of the most trusted brands of climbing shoes out there, and for good reason–their shoes consistently perform well, are incredibly reliable, and they tend to look pretty darn good on top of all that. The La Sportiva Katana Lace, while may be slightly less known than the Muira or Solution, is no exception. I bought these shoes after trying them on at an outdoor store in West Virginia–my Five Ten Anasazis were succumbing to a giant hole in the right toe, and I had no time to get them resoled before my next climbing trip a few days later. I wanted a good introductory aggressive shoe, and the Katana Lace did not disappoint!
Fit: After trying on multiple pairs of very aggressive shoes, I was pleasantly surprised that these didn’t have the foot-crushing, tear-inducing feel that the others did. Coming from the Anasazis, which I could wear all day without complaint, putting on a pair of aggressive shoes was a smack-in-the-face type reminder that my hobby of choice was going to mean some sacrifice in the comfort department. But the Katana’s weren’t nearly so cringeworthy–after wedging my foot into a 38.5 (a street size 7.5, and a half size smaller than my previous shoes), I stood up and walked over to the test wall without much issue. They were tight for sure, but in a good way–the shoes felt like they molded to my foot, and the laces allowed me to tighten them from the toes up, which made them feel way more secure than any other climbing shoe I’d had. After about a week of wearing them at the gym and the crag, they started to break in enough that I wasn’t whimpering in pain every time I tried to walk in them.
Form: The Charlie Brown-sweater look of these shoes is interesting, but it’s grown on me! I personally find velcro shoes to look and feel a little clunky on my foot, so I love the sleekness of the lace on these shoes. There’s also a fun little symbol on the heel of the shoe, which just adds a little something else to the aesthetics.
Function: Maybe this comes with the territory of diving into the world of aggressive climbing shoes, but I’ve never felt more confident in my footwork since getting these shoes! I’ve used these shoes at the gym and at the crag, and they’re a great shoe for either environment you find yourself in. My precision with my foot placement has gotten better, as I’m confident that they’ll stick on even the smallest edge, and they smear just as well. The downturned toe is a huge boost in doing roofs and overhung routes, something I’ve never been very strong in, but I find I can keep my feet planted on holds a little better now. The small amount of rubber on the toe means they’re not the best for extreme toe hooks, but they do a good enough job when you need them to.
Overall, these shoes aren’t specialized for any one sort of climbing, and may not necessarily be the game-changing shoe for sending that project you’ve been working on all season. There are definitely other shoes that are more specialized and more aggressive that would give you a performance advantage over the Katanas. But for me, just venturing into some harder grades and more focused on improving strength and technique than projecting anything V-hard, these shoes are just about perfect.
Finances: The Katana Lace is definitely not a cheap shoe, running at about $170, and they can also be fairly difficult to find. If you can snag them for 20% off through Backcountry or Steep and Cheap, the price drops to $130, which is a steal for how perfect (I think) they are.
Crush Status: I’ve got some serious love for these shoes! They’re (fairly) comfortable for a climbing shoe, they look cool, and they perform so well that I’ve actually noticed an improvement in both my climbing and my confidence. They won’t be the last shoes I buy, and I’m sure that I’ll eventually end up with an even more aggressive shoe (mentally preparing for the pain now), but I’m very content having these be my current performance shoes with an eventual, well-deserved place in my climbing shoe arsenal.