The La Sportiva Katana Lace (MSRP $165) is a slightly asymmetrical, low-volume, slightly downturned, all-purpose climbing shoe. This sleek, sharp weapon for your foot excels on sport climbs and boulders, but can be used for trad as well. I love Sportiva’s proprietary P3 rand—it retains the shoe’s shape over its life. The slight asymmetry and downturned toe of this narrow lace-up adds a ton of performance without compromising comfort. I also love the lower-volume heel, and just how breathable and comfortable the shoe is. Compared to many shoes on the market, the Katana—as with most shoes in La Sportiva’s line—just feels well made.
Where the Katana Lace-up falls short is that it has too little arch support, there’s a long break-in period, and overall, I would love to have more sensitivity for technical climbing.
I tested the Katana Lace on limestone and sandstone of all angles and slipperiness, and was pleased with its versatility as well as the Vibram XS Edge rubber’s stickiness. The asymmetric Katana Lace is slightly down-turned, which gave the sensation of a performance shoe but managed to retain the comfort of a flatter shoe without those performance features. La Sportiva’s proprietary randing system, the P3 (Permanent Power Platform), tensions the rubber and maintains this shape through the lifespan of the shoe. The shoe is just plain comfortable, employing some nice padded cushioning atop the foot. I could easily wear these shoes all day.
This is one of the lowest volume shoes I’ve tested, too. For those of you with narrow feet, this may be your new favorite kick.
The Katana Lace edges well enough on routes up to 5.12, but the shoe isn’t quite sensitive enough to use when edges get really small or steep. That sensitivity factor came into play on smears, too. Good enough, but I think a slightly softer shoe would help me out on feeling those smears.
Without much rubber atop the foot, the Katana Lace struggles to keep up with other models in the toe-hooking category. Its heel-hooking capabilities also fell short due to how the shoe fit my wider, higher-volume heel.
Though this shoe is billed as a sport-climbing and bouldering shoe, I found success even on cracks, particularly of the finger to hand-sized variety.
The padded tongue atop the foot keeps laces from digging into your foot. The breathes well, and kept my foot feeling comfortable during all-day climbs.
A retail price of $165 starts to feel expensive for a shoe that may be high-quality and overall pretty great, but lacks any features that give it an outstanding “wow” factor. But if the shoe fits …