The Tenaya Iati is an affordable high-performance shoe prized by elite sport climbers.
With its breathable leather upper and XS Grip rubber, the Iati sticks to all different types of terrain with ease. The Iati molds seamlessly to a wide range of foot profiles using an innovative velcro closure system rather than laces. This also keeps this climbing shoe incredibly comfortable and protects common pressure points in the midsole. In the Iati, you can stand on the narrowest edges with barely any pain.
Comfort isn’t the only area where the Iatis excel, though. Their stiffness and stickiness make them an excellent choice for sport climbing and more technical routes. However, the shoes are high enough quality and versatile enough to make a great all-rounder for advanced climbers.
Combine all of these features with a very reasonable price tag, and you’ve got yourself an excellent climbing shoe that is well worth the money. Are you looking for an incredibly comfortable slipper that offers decent to superior performance in all climbing styles? Then we would definitely recommend that you consider the Tenaya Iati.
- Premium comfort makes this a nicer-feeling climbing shoe than most
- Innovative closure system helps shoe fit a wide range of foot profiles
- Short break-in time
- Decent versatility
- Vibram XS Grip is not the most durable rubber
- Adjustable straps and closure system can take a while to dial in
The Tenaya Iati is a downturned, asymmetrical, and modestly aggressive climbing shoe that focuses on providing outstanding comfort. Using a leather and microfiber upper and XS Grip rubber, the Iati boasts decent performance across the board and good durability.
Where the shoe shines is while edging and in sport climbing. The soft upper, sticky rubber and stiff midsole make the shoe an excellent choice for more technical routes. However, its performance is somewhat less impressive when smearing and hooking.
The sock-like fit and superb support that the Iati provides means that the shoe boasts top-notch comfort, even for longer sessions. This is likely due mainly to the leather upper that the Iati features. The upper is soft, flexible, and conforms perfectly to the shape of your foot. Achieving such a snug fit helps the Iati provide extra comfort and reduce pressure on common pressure spots on the sole in particular.
Despite the softness of the upper, the Iati also uses a nicely-sized rand to distribute a nice amount of tension evenly throughout the shoe. This keeps the Iati amazingly comfortable on tiny edges and in foot jams, which tend to put considerable pressure on the toes and feet.
Climbers with narrower, low-volume feet, in particular, will find they can easily get an excellent fit with the Iati. The toe box on the Iati is one of the most comfortable we’ve tried in a pair of climbing shoes. It keeps your big toe in perfect position, which helps you generate power and tension throughout the shoe with minimum effort.
However, that’s not to say that climbers with wider feet can’t get some great use out of the Iati. The shoe utilizes a fairly ingenious closure system, which uses two straps rather than one. Both straps can be adjusted individually, giving you a personalized fit. It can be a bit time-consuming at first, but once you’ve found your fit, the Iati is very easy to slip on and off.
Thanks to its medium-stiff midsole and precision toe box, the Iati truly excels when edging. Even the tiniest holds feel comfortable and reasonably secure in these shoes. The heel cup is also stable enough that it doesn’t collapse when you put all your weight onto smaller edges.
The performance that the Iati offers when smearing varies considerably depending on the type of problem and rock. On the one hand, the Iati boasts decent sensitivity thanks to its soft upper and downturn. On the other hand, the midsole is also reasonably stiff. This makes it less competitive for more technical smearing in particular, especially compared to other shoes that are softer.
Having said this, the Tenaya boasts incredibly sticky Vibram XS grip rubber. This helps you gain some extra traction and feel secure when smearing, even if the flexibility is less than ideal. So, while the Iati would perhaps not be our first choice for smear-heavy problems, it does get the job done.
The Iati’s medium-stiff midsole and downturned profile make it hold up reasonably well to heel hooks. However, it does lack some features that other, more specialized shoes offer that would take its performance to the next level. For example, rubber inlays at the heel are relatively common among more high-performance models. This can give you some extra grip to gain purchase on sketchier holds and pull off heel hooks with greater confidence.
While the Iati offers decent performance for toe hooking, it’s clear that it isn’t the shoe’s specialty as such. The toe rand does leave a little to be desired, for example. The toe rand tends to be far more substantial on shoes designed for precision hooking than on the Iati. This means that you need to be pretty precise with where you place your foot when toe hooking; this climbing shoe won’t pick up the slack for you.
If you’re a big fan of jamming, you will likely enjoy the Iatis. The shoe’s rand is substantial enough that standing in cracks feels reasonably secure and stable. Another feature that helps with this is the stiffness of the midsole, which offers extra support.
Application to Different Climbing Styles
We would argue that the Iati is perhaps best suited to sport climbing. Its aggressive profile and stiffness make it an excellent choice for more technical routes. The stickiness of the rubber is also a big help with glassy volumes and plastic holds. However, the shoe is also soft enough to provide decent sensitivity and feedback.
The gym is another area where the Iati excels. Its stickiness is a real help on artificial volumes and holds, and the shoe holds up better if you use it exclusively indoors.
On the whole, the Iati is pretty well-suited to bouldering. The stiffness of the midsole makes edging and standing on tiny holds feel almost effortless and secure.
However, we think it’s worth mentioning that steep bouldering is less of a strength of the Iati. Its design means that the shoe isn’t exactly elite regarding heel and toe hooking. Also, we found outdoor bouldering to wear the rubber out on the Iati fairly quickly.
Trad and Crack Climbing
The Iati offers decent support for longer routes, but its aggressive profile means foot pump may be an issue for multi-pitch trad climbs. Also, the shoe provides such a snug fit that it is detrimental for crack climbs. With smaller cracks, you’ll likely find that the shoe crimps your feet. The upper is also a little too soft to offer the kind of support you want out of a dedicated crack climbing shoe.
The Tenaya Iati is a fantastic piece of gear for the money, especially if comfort is your priority. It’s soft enough to mold perfectly to your feet and sturdy enough to offer good support, especially when edging and in pockets.
It’s worth acknowledging that the Iati does leave a little to be desired in terms of durability and is not the most specialized shoe on the market. Beginners may struggle to get the most out of the Iati thanks to its aggressive, asymmetrical profile.
On the other hand, if you’re a more experienced climber looking for a shoe that is incredibly comfortable and versatile? We’d struggle not to recommend the Iati. The shoe offers good performance across the board, comes at a competitive price point, and offers a tailored fit. What’s not to like?
|Weight||12 oz/290 g|
|Closure||Velcro, patented Draxtor system|
|Insole||2D multi-layer Stretchtex|
|Ousole||Vibram XS Grip 3.5mm|
|Midsole||Double midsole GI 1.8 & TST 150|
|Upper||Microfibre & Leather|
Reference: Tenaya official website
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.
Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!
Emily has been climbing on and off for years and is an avid follower of the sport. She has mostly focussed on sport climbing and bouldering, both in gyms and in the great outdoors in Australia, the UK, and the Faroe Islands. At present, Emily is mostly focussed on improving her climbing technique and bouldering at her local gym in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.