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La Sportiva Kataki Review (2024): Versatile Downturned Shoes?

La Sportiva Kataki review
The La Sportiva Kataki is a versatile and sturdy climbing shoe with plenty of support for edging.

Bottom Line

8.6Expert Score
Versatile Vertical Mastery For Every Climber
The La Sportiva Kataki boasts a thoughtful design that strikes a perfect balance between sensitivity and support. Its moderate downturn and asymmetrical shape offer precision on small edges and pockets while maintaining comfort on longer single-pitch routes.

The Vibram XS Edge rubber outsole provides outstanding grip and durability, instilling confidence in every foothold, while the snug S-Heel cup allows for near unparalleled heel-hooking capability.

It performs exceptionally well on a variety of terrain, from steep overhangs to technical slabs. Whether I’m bouldering, sport climbing, or tackling trad climbing routes, the Kataki adapts effortlessly and enhances my performance in each scenario.

While priced comparably with other high-performance climbing shoes, between its durable all-leather upper and ¾ sole that makes it easier to resole, an investment on this shoe will go far.
Comfort
7.5
Performance
9.5
Durability
9
Value for Money
8.5
PROS
  • Extremely versatile
  • Lower volume toe box for steep climbing on pockets and crack climbing
  • S-Heel cup optimized for heel hooking
  • An ideal balance of sensitivity and stiffness
  • Solid edging power
  • Comfortable shoe but still aggressive
CONS
  • Too stiff and downturned for all-day wear
  • May fit narrow on wide feet
  • Higher cost

Introduction

La Sportiva Kataki reviews

The La Sportiva Kataki is a high-performance climbing shoe designed for technical precision and versatility.

Its design combines features that make it suitable for a range of climbing styles. This includes sport climbing, bouldering, and more intricate routes across diverse terrains, making it one of La Sportiva’s most versatile climbing shoes for the intermediate and advanced climber.

Comfort

La Sportiva Kataki unboxing

The Kataki is widely regarded is very comfortable compared to many shoes of its performance caliber. The shoe’s snug fit pairs with a well-padded interior and thoughtful construction. This helps reduce discomfort and hotspots even during prolonged wear.

However, its moderately aggressive downturn shape and narrow foot fit have been known to lead to foot fatigue. Therefore, we don’t typically recommend it for long multi-pitch or big wall climbing.

Materials

suede leather and microfiber upper La Sportiva Kataki

The upper of the La Sportiva Kataki has a construction primarily using a combination of suede leather and microfiber, providing a balance of durability and breathability. The microfiber lining enhances comfort and moisture-wicking properties, keeping feet drier.

The P3 midsole uses resilient material that maintains the shoe’s downturned shape and offers ample support on small edges and pockets.

While it may not be the lightest climbing shoe available, its weight is comparable to other climbing shoes of its class. Also, the durable materials and performance-oriented features justify it.

Men’s vs. Women’s Version

La Sportiva Kataki Men's vs. Women's Version

The notable differences between the men’s and women’s versions of the La Sportiva Kataki primarily relate to fit and sizing. The women’s version typically features a lower volume and narrower fit to accommodate the shape of a woman’s foot more effectively.

Fit, Foot Shape, and Sizing

The La Sportiva Kataki generally fits true to size, though individual preferences may vary. Climbers seeking a more precise, performance-oriented fit may consider sizing down by about half a size from their regular street shoe size. However, the high arches are designed to push the climber’s toes into the ends and keep them there. So sizing down isn’t as necessary as it is in some high-performance climbing shoes.

Because of its leather upper, the Kataki may stretch over time. Thus, initial snugness is recommended, especially through the break in period. However, it’s something you can expect for any semi-aggressive performance climbing shoe.

The shoe has a moderate volume, making it suitable for a wide range of foot shapes. However, climbers with particularly narrow or low-volume feet might find a more secure fit in the women’s version of the shoe.

La Sportiva Kataki vs. Otaki

La Sportiva shoes for climbing

Despite similar names, the Kataki is a more popular choice for those seeking versatility, excelling on a variety of terrain and climbing styles. It has a reputation for all-around performance, comfort, and sensitivity, making it a favorite among climbers looking for a shoe that can handle different challenges.

The Otaki, on the other hand, is more specialized for technical edging and precision, thanks to its more aggressive downturn. While the Otaki excels in specific scenarios, the Kataki has broader capabilities. This makes it a go-to shoe for climbers seeking a more versatile option than most other Sportiva shoes. Right on par with the Katana Lace.

Performance

pair of La Sportiva Kataki climbing shoes on a white table

Edging: 10/10

Between the shoe’s Vibram XS Edge rubber outsole and moderate downturn, the La Sportiva Kataki offers exceptional edging performance, stability, and control. The hard rubber structure is also designed to maintain its sharp edge across extended wear even on rough rock types.

Rubber choice aside, these shoes are thoughtfully designed to deliver optimal performance on edges.

The Kataki features La Sportiva’s patented P3 (Permanent Power Platform) technology, which hold the downturn last in a stable rigid position. Overall, the shoe design provides extra support to the big toe, and its high arches keep the climber’s ties pushed snugly into the box for maximum edging capability.

La Sportiva Kataki rubber outsole

Smearing: 7/10

Climbers find the Kataki to be surprisingly capable in smearing situations. Despite its moderate downturn, the shoe’s sticky Edge rubber outsole provides sufficient friction and grip on slabby surfaces.

Hooking: 9.5/10

The Kataki receives top marks for its toe and heel hooking capabilities. The rubber toe patch enhances the shoe’s ability to lock onto holds and protrusions. This makes it an excellent shoe for challenging overhangs and boulder problems.

Climbers who aren’t fans of the overly large heel of the La Sportiva Solution and are looking for a shoe with the perfect heel cup fit will appreciate S-Heel. This narrow and bulbous enough cup allows you to nestle precisely even on smaller ledges. Yet, it fits snugly, keeping heel slippage to an absolute even when cranking on hard and high heel hooks.

La Sportiva Kataki heel

Jamming: 7/10

Though not designed as a trad shoe, the Kataki’s comfort, moderate stiffness, and smaller toe profile means it performs surprisingly well at crack climbing and jamming in cracks of small sizes especially.

Climbing Scenarios

Best Use

The Kataki is an exceptional choice for outdoor sport climbing, bouldering, and gym climbing alike, where the shoe’s sensitivity allows for nuanced and dynamic movements.

It excels most prominently on technical terrain that demands a combination of precision, edging, and sensitivity. Its moderate downturn and toe patch design enable climbers to effectively engage with holds and maintain purchase on holds on just past vertical routes that might otherwise prove challenging.

La Sportiva Kataki climbing shoe

The climbing shoe truly shines on routes featuring intricate footwork and tiny edges, but that’s not to sell short its hooking and jamming abilities that make it a powerhouse on steep, pocketed terrain. Limestone climbers especially will delight in how they perform on small, polished pockets.

Other Uses

While not specifically designed for crack climbing, its lower volume toe box is praised by crack climbers as being much more suited to thin finger cracks than even the likes of La Sportiva’s Crack King, the TC Pro.

Durability, Resoling, Sustainability, and Animal Welfare

Kataki La Sportiva

Constructed with high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship, the La Sportiva Kataki is designed to withstand the rigors of climbing on rugged, diverse terrain. Its patented P3 technology maintains its downturned shape over time, ensuring long-lasting performance.

Designed with a ¾ sole, the shoe can easily be resoled, either through La Sportiva’s resole service or independent resolers.

Regarding the shoe’s sustainability, The non-vegan Kataki does not contain any recycled materials, nor is there any information available regarding the sustainability of its leather upper, such as whether it’s vegetable-tanned or tanned using traditional high-impact chrome methods.

It’s manufactured in one of the brand’s six factories across Italy (60%), China (28%), and Vietnam (12%), though details regarding ethical and safety protocols in these factories are not publicly available.

Conclusion

La Sportiva Kataki P3 midsole

The La Sportiva Kataki transcends as a versatile and sturdy climbing ally, merging precision with comfort with its harmonious balance between sensitivity and support. Its Edge rubber navigates edges flawlessly, while its adaptable and durable design suits a long lifetime of wear across varied terrains.

While few will be strapping up these shoes for a big wall attempt, climbers setting their sights on the steep limestone walls of Wild Iris or the Virgin River Gorge will find the Kataki a steadfast partner in vertical pursuits.

Facts

Technical Specs

Weight9 oz/255 g
FitPerformance
DownturnAggressive
ShapeMedium asymmetry
VolumeMedium
StiffnessBalanced
Sole thickness4 mm
ClosureLaces
ResoleableYes
VeganNo

Use

ActivitiesIndoor, Outdoor, Bouldering, Sport
Experience levelIntermediate

Technologies

OutsoleVibram XS Edge rubber
Midsole0.8mm LoSpoFlex full length midsole + P3 System
UpperSuede leather combined with microfibre
LastSlip-lasted
LiningFront and back Pacific

Where to Buy It?

We buy most of our stuff from REI.com. Their service is great, and it’s a co-op, so they treat their employees well and answer to their members, not shareholders.

Backcountry is also a decent option with a great selection and availability.

Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!

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