La Sportiva Kataki Review

This is what they look like new.

Before this summer, it had been several years since my last visit to City of Rocks. And even though it had been awhile, I can still vividly remember how much my feet hurt on that trip. At that time all my shoes were sized for steep sport climbing, which was totally fine for the crags around Western Colorado, but at the City, where you spend a lot of time on your feet, they were hell. Nothing like trying to finesse your way up some granite when your feet are screaming at you to get off them.

This time around I made sure to bring a comfy pair. In fact, I brought four different shoes with me, but aside from one pitch, I used the Katakis for every route I climbed over the course of a week. The final verdict: this was an incredible shoe for City of Rocks.

Let’s get something clear from the get go, this is NOT a lace-up version of the Otaki, which has been erroneously stated elsewhere. The Kataki has a much narrower fit, where the Otaki might be the best Sportiva shoe for people with wide feet. Also where the Otaki’s run big, the Katakis tend to run small compared to other Sportiva shoes.

Given the stiff nature of the shoe, they of course edge well and offer good support for that kind of climbing. I also found I could smear with confidence on the sticky granite in southern Idaho, though for climbing slippery slabs I’d want something softer (but I’m never stoked for slimy granite slabs anyway, so that’s not really going to be an issue for me). Because they are stiff, you don’t need to aggressively size them down (see below for info on fit) and I found them to be so comfortable that even after a long day of standing on my feet, my toes were no worse for wear.

Fast forward a couple weeks, and they were ideal for climbing in the Black Canyon, which typically offers a mix of crack and face climbing pitches on sometimes slippery granite. Over the course of six pitches, I never once took them off at a belay and could have easily kept them on for several more hours. The final test for this shoe was a week in Indian Creek. Again, I brought three pairs of shoes with me, but there were only two climbs I didn’t wear the Katakis for. Starting to see a pattern here? They provided the support I needed to comfortably jam all day, and the toe profile is narrow enough that they were an excellent choice for thin hands to finger sized cracks.

And this is what they look like after spending time in the City, Black Canyon and Indian Creek.

The only negative I can note about this shoe is that when I first took them out of the box, the heel really dug into my achilles area. This loosened up after a couple of sessions. but did take some time to break in and is worth noting.

For a long time the Katana Lace was my go to trad shoe (TC Pros are just too stiff, sorry Tommy). With the Kataki, I feel the Katana’s will be left behind as a distant memory. For trad climbing, this is my new shoe of choice.

Fit: For trad, 45 feels perfect, if I wanted them sized for sport climbing, I’d go with a 44 or 44.5. The stretch has been minimal, and they are lined so don’t expect much. I’m a size 12 in street shoe. For comparison, I wear a 43 in Otaki’s, 45 in most other Sportiva shoes like the Genius, Testarossa, etc. I have a very narrow foot.

Retail: $170
Sole: 4mm Vibram® XS Edge™
Upper: Suede leather/microfiber
Ideal use: trad climbing, vertical face climbing on small holds
Sizes: 33-46

More info and tech specs available on the Sportiva website.

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

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