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La Sportiva Katana Lace Review (2022): Is It Worth the Price?

Published on: 12/09/2021
Updated on: 02/17/2022

The La Sportiva Katana Lace is an incredibly versatile shoe perfect for climbers of all levels.

Bottom Line

9.4Expert Score
Very good high-end performance yet versatile shoes with optimal sensitivity
The La Sportiva Katana Lace is the lace-up version of the famous La Sportiva’s Katana. This very popular climbing shoe excels by combining comfort and performance to tackle any route.

The Katana features a moderately asymmetrical and aggressive downturned shape and 4 mm Vibram XS Edge sticky rubber for optimal grip on smaller holds. When it comes to comfort, the pacific lining and suede upper are great to protect from unnecessary pain. Also, it helps to minimize stretch to keep your foot snug and supported.

Another highlight is the slip-lasted construction that allows for increased sensitivity and less stiffness than other La Sportiva shoes. It’s an important point for climbers looking for optimal performance on edges.

Suitable for all types of routes, this climbing shoe is ideal for sport or lead climbing, bouldering, and even overhangs. While it offers good flexibility, there’s no doubt that it’s stiff enough for cracks and gripping foot chips on any gym rock wall with ease.

Overall, the Katana Lace is a great versatile high-performance shoe that works for any type of climbing. Watch out for the low-volume tight fit if you have wide feet (it’s a shoe that is mainly suitable for narrow feet). Other than that, it’s a solid option for any committed climber.

Check out our full La Sportiva Katana Lace review below for a detailed analysis of this shoe’s features and which climbers will benefit the most from them.
Comfort
9.5
Performance
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for Money
9
PROS
  • Durable sticky Vibram rubber outsole
  • Great overall comfort with the padded tongue, cushioned P3 midsole, and leather upper
  • The enhanced toe sensitivity is excellent for edging by allowing you to feel confident even on the smallest edges
  • A shoe built for precision: it can grip any small footholds on climbs
  • Versatile model
CONS
  • The narrow fit may not be suitable for climbers with wider feet
  • The thick rubber in the heel limits the heel sensitivity, making it harder to feel the hold
  • Rather expensive

Introduction

La Sportiva Katana Lace review

One of the essential pieces of gear you will purchase as a climber is climbing shoes. Finding the right pair of shoes is critical in helping you become a great climber. A good shoe will not only fit your feet well, but it will also directly affect your climbing technique and even your endurance.

La Sportiva Katana is a moderate to aggressive shoe with a downturned, or cambered, toe. This shape is ideal for heel and toe hooking on overhanging routes. Weighing just under 9 ounces, prepare for the best high-performance rock climbing shoe built for all types of terrain. La Sportiva generally creates its shoes for performance, but the Katana Lace also has a comfort-focused design besides performance. The La Sportiva Katana Lace outperforms other shoes with the same comfort adaptations for edging and toe and heel hooking precision.

Although the price may be a bit higher than you’re expecting to pay for a pair of shoes, we think it’s worthwhile. Let’s see why.

Men’s vs. Women’s Versions

Katana Lace men women

In a confusing twist, it seems that the Katana Lace is unisex. There’s a women’s version but it has laces. We’ll compare the two shoes in this section to clarify the differences.

First off, the sole of the men’s shoe has a 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber built for edging, while the women’s comes with a 4 mm XS Grip2 rubber for maximum grip.

The women’s model has a slightly further downturned toe and has a velcro closure instead of lace. There’s also a men’s version with velcro if preferred. This women’s La Sportiva shoe is supportive, comfortable, and fit for a narrow foot and low-profile heel.

The lace version is suitable for anyone if you so desire. If that option appeals to you, you need to adjust for sizing appropriately to find the right fit. In all reality, you can’t go wrong with either version.

La Sportiva Katana Lace vs. Velcro

La Sportiva Katana Lace

You can purchase the La Sportiva Katana with either lace or velcro straps. While many may prefer the velcro’s efficiency, the lace allows more room and flexibility, making it easier to take the shoes on and off. The suede upper may stretch with wear. Having laces can will enable you to keep a longer-lasting snug fit.

Laces are both sustainably versatile and durable. They can work well for keeping a proper fit when climbing cracks, rough edges, and other highly technical routes. If your feet swell during use, you can loosen the lacing system to fit your comfort needs as they change. The La Sportiva Katana lace-ups will always be ideal for use on any small holds, cracks, and pockets. You can never go wrong with a good lace shoe.

La Sportiva Katana velcro

Velcro strap closures are ideal for easy on and off action. Some people choose them simply for that reason. Velcro is convenient and durable and is best for climbing and bouldering gyms. The only concern with velcro is that it may lose its ability to secure your foot consistently overtime properly. This can happen because of either debris in the fibers or simple wear and tear. Some people may also prefer to use velcro as their go-to shoe for outdoor climbs. In this case, the difference all comes down to personal preference.

Consider the type of shoe that you feel works best for you as a climber, whether slip-on, velcro, or lace-up. Each will have its pros and cons. What matters is that you are happy with your shoes.

Comfort and Fit

La Sportiva Katana laces upper

The Katana Lace model is ideal for both comfort and fit. However, keep in mind that this shoe has a narrow fit that may not suit everyone. Luckily, it’s available in European half sizes, making it easier to find the sweet spot. We recommend that you order one half or a full size below your street shoe size and no more to cater to this variable. If you want to buy this shoe to gain extra edging abilities, you may look for a tighter fit. Ideally, since the Katana is a performance shoe, you may have to experiment with a few sizes to determine what works best for you.

Remember that it’s normal for your feet to hurt after a climb, but they shouldn’t be tight to the point of excessive pain or bruising. Take time to check out various reviews before buying or try them in-store to see if the stiffness, sensitivity, and shape work for you. You can always purchase more than one size and return what doesn’t work to ensure you have the shoe you want. New shoes need time to be broken in, and it’s all a part of the process.

Many climbing shoes have a synthetic upper. As opposed to leather, synthetic materials don’t stretch much. Thankfully, the leather and synthetic combination of the La Sportiva Katana Lace softens and stretches with use, molding to the foot. The leather and rubber in these shoes keep your toes protected yet maintain sensitivity so that you can feel where you place your foot on the rock. The padded tongue is an additional boost to comfort levels in this La Sportiva shoe.

Performance

La Sportiva Katana Lace (view of the heel cup) testing on thinner cracks

Edging

The Katana Lace may be the best edging shoe out there. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is built explicitly for edging. This ideal bouldering shoe retains its shape after years of moderate to intense use. The slightly asymmetrical toe box places the power in your toes, allowing for comfortable weight distribution. With this shoe, there is no need to compromise performance for comfort.

Smearing

With its 4 mm sole, this shoe is ideal for smearing on slab routes with its sticky Vibram rubber. The La Sportiva Katana allows for greater sensitivity and a more natural feel on the rock. You’ll feel confident placing your foot just about anywhere.

Heel Hooking

If you often struggle with keeping your heel properly in your shoe or executing secure heel hooks, this may be the perfect shoe for you. The rubber heel, along with the incredibly snug fit of this La Sportiva shoe, allows for more overall stability and makes heel hooking a cinch.

Toe Hooking

This shoe is ideal for face climbing, but it can be great for bouldering and overhang routes. Although this shoe isn’t highly aggressive, you’ll feel comfortable placing your toes in pockets and cracks. The sticky rubber makes it easy and durable enough to hit those tough toe hooks even though the toe rubber isn’t as thick as other La Sportiva models.

Use

La Sportiva Katana Laces Vibram rubber outsole for toe hook

Crack Climbing

The narrow toe box of the Katana works well for crack climbing. The durability of the rubber, slightly aggressive arch, and slim toe box make it easy to fit into cracks without causing damage to you or your shoes. In this category, La Sportiva Katana Lace sits at the top of the chart.

Steep Terrain

La Sportiva Katana’s medium asymmetry design will easily keep you balanced on steep terrain and overhangs. These shoes keep your toes secure inside narrow pockets and on slick rock. A more aggressive model may outperform this shoe, but the Katana Lace still provides incredible grip and stability.

outdoor climber on overhang with thin cracks

Trad Climbing

Like crack climbing, climbing shoes have to support you on the challenging terrain that comes with trad. The Vibram rubber will ensure your stability no matter what obstacles you face. You’ll feel comfortable relying on your Katanas to support your every move on your trad ascent..

Sport Climbing and Bouldering

The Katana is ideal for sport climbing. These climbing shoes will hold your feet relatively flat, even with their downturn toe box. The Vibram sticky rubber can hold onto pretty much any terrain and is optimal for balance, smearing, and heel or toe hooks in any sport climb or bouldering project. You won’t be disappointed with your choice of these shoes.

Conclusion

La Sportiva shoes Katana

This moderately aggressive shoe is a gamechanger for all climbers alike. It’s a stiff shoe, but its comfortable high-performance configuration makes it one of the most popular choices in the La Sportiva collection. Also, its durability and enhanced sensitivity make it an excellent choice if you’re looking for a dependable high-end shoe that you can grow into as you sharpen your skills.

Technical Specs

Weight8.8 oz/250 g in size EU 39
TypePerformance, All-round
ShapeAsymmetrical
DownturnModerately Aggressive
FitNarrow
Sole thickness3.5-4 mm
StiffnessBalanced
ClosureLaces (also available with velcro)
VeganNo
ResoleableYes

Use

ActivitiesBouldering, Sport, Trad, Crack, Face, Overhang, All-round
LevelAny

Technologies

OutsoleVibram XS Edge
MidsoleLaSpoFlex (1.1 mm), P3 System (Permanent Power Platform) (Miura VS)
UpperSuede leather and microfiber with front and back Pacific lining

Reference:

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