Climbing Big Wall to Board – NEW La Sportiva Katana Lace Review

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At $210, the Katana Lace is La Sportiva’s most expensive climbing shoe. Even similar models such as the Genius and Testarossa fail to come close to the staggering asking price of this lace. Is it worth it?

In short, yes, but you will need the right reasons. The Katana is not just a low angle slab beater. It doesn’t just exist for the big wall climber, rather it aims for absolute precision.

Board performance

It might seem like an unfair test for a classic, but at its price, there can be no weakness. Fortunately, the Katana Lace is one of the best climbing shoes on the market. It will seem surprising to soft shoe users, but the snug design provides no dead space while providing precision and control.

On the Kilter Board, it relies on the tiny, low-friction foot chips, allowing a stable base from which the athlete can push their power. On the MoonBoard, it edges hard, maintaining grip through the shoe structure alone. The stiffness of the shoe naturally limits the sensitivity on the wall, but in exchange the climber receives power.

By pressing the tension derived from the P3 band and the aggressive forefoot hook, the climber can push all of their weight into a very small space. This detail is achieved by a toe seam adjustment that further channels the shoe’s power through its toe.

The Katana uses Vibram XS Edge rubber, a harder rubber designed to stand on penny-sized foot chips. While many sport climbing shoes can use small feet, the Katana can stand on these holds in a 45 degree overhang.

The asymmetrical curve of the shoe adds tension and power to the forefoot. That said, it’s not a theory. The Theory, on the other hand, offers a soft, malleable platform that allows the toes to more actively pull into a hold. The Katana cannot do this. It will flex a little with your toes, but it asks the user to press the toe into the foothold. Clinging to rubber is not the shoe’s specialty.

Crack and sports

For climbers who want to use this shoe for its intended purpose, the Katana is better than it was before. Crack climbers will note that the shoe’s tuck increases its performance in smaller cracks. In fact, in tight cracks the shoe is better than ever. The Katana sinks its hooked beak into the fine vertical slits of the hard cracks.

Its strong bouldering performance places a point at the toe of the shoe that allows the climber to be confident in their movement. The shoe responds consistently to pressure, making even the trickiest foot sequences a little less nerve-wracking.

For sport and trad climbing, the Katana Lace outperforms the Miura and Testarossa. The Testarossa only overtakes the Katana on very steep sporty climbs.

The XS-Edge supports the climber throughout their ascent, allowing control over small ridges and crystals. On the Squamish slab, the ancient Katana dominated. This shoe does the same. It should be noted that the break-in period will be a bit longer than with the old model, so give it a chance to mellow out on your crystal heavy project.

Technical characteristics

From a comfort standpoint, the shoe’s speed-lacing design is hard to beat. The Testarossa is a little complicated to get in and out of, but the new Katana Lace turns on and off in a flash. These laces sit on a breathable tongue on the forefoot. This reduces pressure on the foot as the laces tighten to give a secure fit. You can also thread your laces through two eyelets at the top of the tongue for added heel tension and security.

Throughout testing, there wasn’t a single heel hook that needed more tension than the speed lacing loops. In that vein, the heel cup itself provides a superior gripping solution to bouldering issues and sport lanes. This shoe not only cambers nicely because of the heel, but it goes well behind the thin hooks and holds them easily. If you need to improve your heel hook, this shoe provides a great platform to learn from, as it does most of the work for you. This is perhaps the best heel in the La Sportiva range. Only theory approaches a similar level of control.

Naturally, it’s not the best toe hook shoe in the world. That said, the softer upper allows some control over ridge hooks. This little knuckle bump in the front of the shoe creates space for the foot to hide behind. Although the shoe is stiff, it is also flexible enough to hold on to. At the same time, if your project calls for a friction toe hook, a shoe with gripping rubber will suit you better.

Finally, it is durable and does not delaminate. Part of that comes down to footwork, but if you buy this shoe, you can resole it, and it will retain its structure with that resoling. He is robust. The construction makes it a premium climbing shoe, which excels in most types of climbing.

female model

The women’s model is another option and fits the same as the men’s. The biggest difference between toe shoes is the relative softness of the shoe. The women’s design features a split sole design for added flexibility and control on steeper terrain. In many ways this is an entirely different shoe, all with the same fit as the Yellow Katana Lace.

Weakness

It is a shoe without weakness. While it’s fair to criticize this shoe for the things it wasn’t designed for, toe hooking for example, this is the kind of product that meets the user’s will. It climbs well on slabs and it climbs well on slopes. It costs a lot of money, but it will do what you say. If you’re climbing a rope, it’ll be hard to find anything better than this shoe.

Buy it here for $210 (USD).

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