La Sportiva Katana ReviewSeptember 1, 2015
- Dominates tiny footholds
- Toe box retains shape
- A true all-arounder
- Very narrow fit
- Clunky on overhangs
A go-to shoe for everything but severe overhangs and roofs, the Katana is a comfortable performer on a variety of terrain. Testers felt as confident on the tiny edges of Eldorado Canyon as on Indian Creek cracks and granite faces in Boulder Canyon. The flat, slightly asymmetric last is comfy even when cinched down for a hard redpoint.
The Katana is designed for long, narrow feet and for climbing anything with micro footholds. Especially when new, these kicks are ace on edges. The low-volume heel isn’t the best for hooking (at least not for high-volume heels) because the back of the heel cup is too stiff to mold to the rock. A thin, synthetic lining makes it exceptionally comfortable for a shoe that can handle the smallest holds. The tongue is thin and has a cushy lining that feels great on the foot. They don’t really “break in” as much as stretch in very slight, subtle ways to make them even more comfy than they are out of the box. Once the edges wear down testers used them as an easy-on, easy-off bouldering or multi-pitch shoe.
The Katana’s sharp, precise toe and moderate stiffness allowed testers to stand confidently on holds so small they didn’t initially want to trust them.
The Katana is a comfortable, flat-lasted shoe with XS Edge rubber for smearing. As the shoe wears and becomes slightly softer, smearing actually improves.
Its ability to dominate tiny holds comes more from the Katana’s stiffness, design, and rubber, than by virtue of it being a sensitive shoe. It does well but doesn’t excel.
Testers were surprised at how well these climbed cracks. Especially thin cracks, and especially if users size them so their toes are flat in the shoe. The narrow toe profile stuffs in off-fingers cracks better than most shoes ever will.
The 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber adds to the Katana’s performance on micro holds. It’s durable and super sticky.
Just one dollar away from the least expensive shoe in this review, the Katana is an exceptional value.