La Spotiva Otaki

FULL REVIEW OF LA SPORTIVA OTAKI

The La Sportiva Otaki outperformed most of the shoes in this category. It’s patented P3 system allows protects downturn from wear and tear for a long time. As per the P3 system, a plastic is inserted under the toe box and a little concave shape is maintained behind the big toe. This, along with the asymmetry, provides great stability to the shoe and allows effective edging. Furthermore, the famous Vibram XS Edge rubber provided the much-needed traction over edges.

Sensitivity of La Sportiva Otaki

The P3 system incorporated into La Sportiva’s Otaki is a great edging system but it impairs sensitivity. Because of the inserted plastic’s stiffness, you cannot feel the surface enough and this makes smearing somewhat difficult. The 4 mm XS Edge rubber is also very stiff and makes smearing difficult. The Otaki is better than a lot of shoes when it comes to sensitivity. However, it’s not one of its strong plus points.

Toe/Heel Hooking of La Sportiva Otaki

The La Sportiva Otaki doesn’t have good enough toe hooking. The rand is only limited to the front the the toe and not the upper part. This limits stone traction. The lower strap is also a bit lower to provide tightness at the toe. Otaki has much better heel hooking, though. Otaki features the S-Heel—a stiff rubber strut to keep the heel from rolling and deforming under high-pressure heel hooking. Overall, the heel cup is on the stiffer side which provides more stability in the rear of the shoe but limits sensitivity. The rubber doesn’t cover much of the sides of the heel, but the S-Heel strut does offer some traction on the inside surface.

Pockets

The sharp toe box of the Otaki goes into smaller pockets easily. Furthermore, the downturn is a great feature for overhanging. The downside is that the downturned midsole does not cooperate with small holds on vertical surfaces. The shoe is only compatible for surfaces requiring a stiff shoe and not a soft or sensitive one. When it comes to pocket climbing, the Otaki ranks average.

Cracks

The La Sportiva Otaki performs great in cracks owing to its well-thought features like the downturn and asymmetry. However, it’s a bit of a hassle to stick the foot fully inside a crack since the P3 system doesn’t allow the shoe to twist around its axis.

Comfort/Fit

The Otaki fit really well and the wide toe box accommodated my wide toe well. It mattered to me because I haven’t had a good fit around my toe with my previous shoes. The heel remains comfortable when you are heel hooking aggressively. Another feature which we liked were the closure straps and how much adjustability they offered. Even after break-in, the shape was maintained thanks to the cotton liner and the upper microfiber softened rapidly. The Otaki had the most impressive quality amongst the shoes tested. Our only gripe is that the tightening to straps created a few wrinkles around my ankles. This resulted in gaps. We downsized a full size from street shoe sizing, and the shoes stretched minimally.

Pros

Cons

Reviews from customers:

#1

While on the sandstone of Castle Rock and on the volcanic conglomerate of Pinnacles, The Otakis performed amazingly. If you’re an experienced climber, you’ll love the Otaki. I haven’t tested them on quartzite. However, a little foot-scuffing on the quartzite in front of my house told me that these were a great option for quartzite climbing.

You have to get any technical shoe fitted by a professional shoe fitter who knows the technicalities of such shoes.

Background

It’s very critical to have a good pair of shoes while you’re out climbing. I have had great to worst experiences with footwear through the yearsI’ve climbed difficult rock in everything from mountaineering boots to running shoes to PAs and EBs to purpose-built rock shoes and contemporary approach shoes with edging and smearing provisions.(Check out my review La Sportiva’s TX4 approach shoe). Most of that footwear is designed particularly for limited types of activities. The Otaki is no different.

Mostly, the greatest performing shoes rank worse on comfort level especially on long-duration climbs. Therefore, we usually carry a second pair which is worn while approaching the trail. We change into the technical shoes at the start of the climb and put the approach shoes in the carabiner with the gear. While climbing for long durations, we either loosen the straps or take off the shoes to ease up our strained feet.

Modern approach shoes have come a long way in the way they are designed. However, an efficient down turn and heel hooking ability is paramount to efficiency in technical climbing.

I have a certain criteria for assessing the quality of gear. I expect a technical climbing shoe to offer the following:

  1. Excellent traction on a range of terrain, including as limestone, quartzite, sanstone, and granite.
  2. Flexible while smearing
  3. Edging support
  4. Protection against sharp edges in jam cracks
  5. Not heavy to carry
  6. Easy putting on and taking off while belaying.
  7. Very durable: little wear and tear
  8. Water-resistance
  9. Breathability

To sum it up, following were the main features I liked or disliked about the Otaki:

Pros

Cons

Trailspace had arranged for a pair of La Sportiva’s new Otaki shoes in Euro size 42. (US size 9). The package came at my home a few months later. I chose the shoes, which were blue and flaming in colour.

The shoe’s design is a new addition to the La Sportiva range of technical sneakers. Right out of the box, I thought the shoes looked a lot like ballet toe shoes, which my sister often moaned about when she was younger and had to take ballet classes like every other little girl. Being technical shoes, they are light and weigh around 1 pound 5.5 oz (612 grams)

A Samurai sword on my feet???

The Otaki was my first shoe with a downturn. I was hesitant of such shoes due to the feedback I had gotten from my acquaintances that it would strain my feet.would put a burden on my feet I put on a pair of Injinji toe socks before slipping my foot into the shoes since I like to wear them with socks rather than barefoot.

The Otaki was, as expected, in great shape, and the downturn was not kind to my feet. (The soles of my Evolv and 5-10 rock shoes are pretty flat and rigid for edging.) The colour pattern of the Otaki, like that of my previous climbing shoes, did not appeal to me.

The Vibram sole

is very durable and is found in the majority of the climbing shoes I own. I haven’t worn these shoes enough to know how long they will last. I’ve climbed a variety of rock types in these areas (mostly sandstone in the Santa Cruz Mountains and volcanic conglomerate, both in hot dry weather and in cold rainy weather).

To keep the rubber’s gripping capacity, a buddy advised me to run a brush over it. I listened to his advise since he has done much more technical climbing than I have. This method improves the sole’s durability.

During testing, the Otakis were tested on sandstone and volcanic conglomerate rather than quartzite. I did, however, test them on the quartzite to evaluate their traction on that surface.

I was concerned because of the pointed toes and considerable slope in the soles.

Despite my concerns, the “last” used by La Sportiva (PD 75) is near enough to my foot for comfort (the “last” is the foot-shaped block that the maker designs and builds a boot or shoe around for each size). My worrying was a bit exaggerated since I have had no problems with La Sportiva’s shoes in terms of fitting over the years. Scarpa, an Italian brand, also fits me really well. I’m giving a disclaimer that it wouldn’t fit others necessarily just because it fits me well. Everyone has different feet.

I walked a lot in these shoes before putting them to work on actual climbing routes. As a result, I found that Otaki are great for rock but are a bit too tight for casual wear. Therefore, I carry a different pair while I’m approaching the route and I keep the Otaki only for the climb. Moreover, I loosen the straps while belaying my partner at stances.

Details of Testing

I intended to quickly climb a few routes in my locality. In California, we fortunately have a diverse set of routes in close proximity. I did several trips and started teaching climbing as well. Due to my teaching work, I didn’t get to climb much myself.

Despite such reservations, I took out time to do a bit of boulder Climbing on both sandstone and volcanic conglomerate in Castle Rock State Park and Pinnacles National Park. A lot of famous climbers were nurtured on these terrains.

Castle rock is mostly coastal sandstone. Such surfaces have dry spells along with lines that are strongly cemented. Moreover, some sections are very crumbly and slight pressure scrapes off the stone. It’s an overall joyful bouldering experience. The climbing is mainly bouldering, and it’s a lot of fun throughout much of the park. Because coastal sandstone becomes much more friable when wet, El Nio ruled out many weekends.

The San Andreas Fault Rift runs straight through Pinnacles National Park. It’s a volcanic conglomerate and has a plethora of minerals fixed in the magma. Some of these are crystals which are holds for your feet as long as they don’t become too slippery. They are also irregularly distanced. There are times when you have to reach out to farther holds. The surface between the bigger inclusions lends itself nicely to smearing, while the tiny inclusions offer lots of crimps.

I had the chance to give the Otaki a try while I was teaching climbing in 2016. It was an indoor session at the headquarters of the San Francisco Bay Area Boy Scout Council. They called it The Rock and it comprised of a real boulder. There were several routes consisting natural holds and overhangs.

Traction Testing

I tested the traction on the sandstone-like surface of The Rock. The artificial hold fixed over the Rock also proved to be great for testing purpose. I have trained Boy Scout units and helped troops in climbing basics. I have used the Otaki for more than 15 years.

Usually I don’t climb myself while teaching. However, I did show them a few techniques like smearing and edging because the class was small.

The stickiness of the rubber really helps with slab climbing. Overall, it’s an amazing performer!

The shoe is very comfortable and fits well. It doesn’t take long to break in and mold around your foot. I’d recommend this to anyone with wide feet since the other Sportivas are narrower.

The rubber’s stickiness really helps while slabbing and it’s great for sharp edges too. The stiff toes are held by the pockets and the robust heel provides great stability. It slips over sloped surface. Though it might be due to my technique.

I wear these shoes in the gym and I have taken them out too. The rubber looks good and very durable.

I have had an amazing experience with the Otaki up till now. It’s great at edging and providing traction. This should be your go-to choice if you’re looking for an aggressive climbing shoe.

Pros

Cons

THE VERDICT

The La Sportiva Otaki is an amazing climbing shoe which best works at bouldering or overhanging. The P3 system and the asymmetric shape provide the required stability on edges. They transfer power to the toe for greater downward pressure. The closure straps are offer wide adjustability as well. The shoe is a great fit for wider feet. The heel provides a snug fit for narrow heels, and the S-Heel maintains the structural integrity during aggressive heel hooking. The overall quality of the Otaki was better than that of most of the shoes tested. Therefore, it was considered a reliable performer.

The Scarpa Feroce is a high-performance all-around shoe designed for climbers with broad feet. The Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber is both sticky and durable. The Suede/Lorica upper keeps the shoe’s form and makes it feel more comfortable over time.