La Sportiva Kataki Will Featherstone

The La Sportiva Kataki is one of the many new models that La Sportiva released in the last few years, alongside the La Sportiva Otaki and the La Sportiva Skwama. Having used the Otaki for almost a year prior, I was excited to get my foot into one of these and put them to the test.

Many Bogong staff will know that I’ve spent ungodly amounts of time raving about the La Sportiva Kataki over the last year or so, having now owned multiple pairs of them. This shoe took me by surprise in many ways, and quickly rose to be one of my favourite things to climb in. In a nutshell the Kataki immediately felt like the evolution of the La Sportiva Katana Lace, with a narrower fit and enhanced performance for harder climbing.


Pros

It's a Performance Climbing Shoe

Unsurprisingly the Vibram XS Edge sole makes toeing down on small edges or microscopic crystals a dream. The Kataki still lets you feel what’s happening beneath your toe, allowing for maximum precision and trust in your foot placement, despite having a durable 4mm of rubber.

Once broken in, the Kataki becomes supple compared to the stiffer Katana Lace. While I still felt the support on longer climbs, the midsole allowed for more flex. Because of this, the Kataki is an incredible all-rounder, sticking to heinous micro-edges and smearing on slippery slopers with ease. This is especially important if you’re someone who spends a lot of time in modern gyms, where volume crawling and smearing on massive holds is the name of the game. Needless to say, with a little bit of use these shoes quickly show their full potential.

Heel hooking in a shoe that has a La Sportiva S-Heel™ is a phenomenal experience, and in the Kataki this no exception. Compared to the bulbous, full rubber heel cup of the ludicrously popular La Sportiva Solution, the Kataki offers a far more sensitive and precise placement of the heel. Despite this added sensitivity the heel cup doesn’t deform when cranking hard. Even heel hooks that’d make you grit your teeth feel secure and reliable.

It's a Comfortable Climbing Shoe

Much like the La Sportiva Katana Lace, the microfibre tongue in the Kataki brings unrivalled comfort to the shoe, even when downsized. I’ve never been as surprised as I was when slipping on a pair of Katakis for the first time. Climbing shoes are never “comfortable”; however, the cushioned tongue and lined leather interior got me as close to it as I could have hoped. The differentiated lacing also allows for a truly custom fit, providing far more adjustment than Velcro ever could. This makes it perfect for both narrow and wide feet.

Stretch

The leather lining in the La Sportiva Kataki allows the shoe to really mould to the individual's feet. I’ve got grooves for each of my toes in my oldest pair – they truly become shaped to fit the user! A plus side of this is that I wouldn’t say the shoe “stretched” as many people traditionally expect from a leather shoe. The lining holds everything together, and the shoe is firmly tight even after a few resoles. The P3 platform ensures the Kataki holds its downturn too, ensuring you get the most performance over its entire lifespan.


Cons

Believe me when I say there’s hard to find flaws in this shoe (it really is that good). That being said, there are some bones I can pick with the shoe.

The laces

The laces of the La Sportiva Kataki provide such a custom fit that it’s hard for me to fault them. Alas, to the bouldering types they take a bit more time to get on and off. This isn’t a problem indoors; the reality is most keep their shoes on most of the time out of laziness (be honest, you don’t take those Velcro shoes off either). Outdoors, though, is a different story. If you’re going from boulder to boulder getting some mileage in, the process of lacing up and unlacing does get a bit tiresome eventually.

Master of none

A natural consequence if something is a jack-of-all-trades. For every strength of the La Sportiva Kataki, I can think of a different La Sportiva model that can do that little bit better. Indoor bouldering? A La Sportiva Futura would provide better performance on volumes, and allow for easier toe hooks thanks to its large rubber toe patch. Long trad days? The flatter, stiffer La Sportiva TC Pro provides more comfort on multipitch, or long single-pitch climbs. Steep pockets? A La Sportiva Solution is unparalleled in this category.

The important takeaway here is that the Kataki can do all of these very well with the right sizing, however is unlikely to be the top performer in any single category.


The takeaway:

The La Sportiva Kataki is phenomenal. There’s never been a time that I felt that I ever needed another shoe while rocking a pair of these. They’re versatile work horses that can keep up on steep boulders or hard sport climbing.

If you’re someone who is looking for more performance out of a pair of shoes for multi-disciplinary use, then the La Sportiva Kataki should be high on your list for things to try. Size it tight and you’ll edge on the tiniest of ripples in the rock, size it more comfortably and you’ll have a reliable performance trad shoe. To the boulderers, I know you can tie your laces as well – don’t be afraid. There’s not much this shoe can’t do!

  • Best use: Sport climbing, bouldering, single pitch trad
  • Great for: Intermediate and experienced climbers looking for all round performance
  • Styles: Overhangs, face climbing, slab

Will Featherstone,
Bogong Equipment



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