With its stiffer profile and full-length sole, the Tenaya Iati is made for mastering technical footwork but what really sets it apart is how unbelievably comfortable it is.
Indoor - 7.5/10
Outdoor - 9/10
Sensitivity - 7/10
Comfort - 10/10
Durability - 9/10
Value For Money - 9/10
- Very Comfortable
- Good all-around performance
- Unique closure
- Baggy heel
- Minimal toe rand
Prepare to be blown away by a level of comfort you rarely find in leading other performance shoes. After using the Iati for the last 6 months, I have been thoughtfully impressed with this shoe. It packs a heavy punch without the heavy price tag.
Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 03:05 am
Tenaya is a shoe manufacturer that has been gaining some serious traction across Europe and the US over the last few years. It’s hard to argue with a shoe that can be found on some of climbing’s biggest crushers including Chris Sharma and Alex Megos. Who can forget Megos’ crazy ascent of Sharma’s futuristic project Perfecto Mundo (5.15c) in a pair of the Tenaya Iati?
After hearing only good things about this rarely-sighted shoe, I decided to purchase a pair. I got my Tenaya Iatis in November 2019, so have had a while to thoroughly put them through their paces. During this time I’ve used them for sport, trad, and bouldering on a variety of rock types.
In short, I have found them to be an excellent performer, however, this is hardly uncommon in today’s market. The thing that really sets them apart is the excellent comfort they provide for such a high standard of performance.
Don’t get me wrong, if you size for performance I still wouldn’t want to be padding up easy multi-pitches like the Idwal Slabs in them, but I also do not need to tear them off after every single bolder problem. Out of the box they are fairly downturned, although not to the extent of the Solutions or Hiangle, with a notable flick at the toes, which helps pull pockets and stick smaller edges.
The Iati can be seen as the slightly stiffer, more asymmetric sibling of the Oasi. They both share an ingenious velcro closure system (more on that later) and relative comfort. The main difference is that the Oasi uses a semi-split outsole and a softer midsole, resulting in a softer overall shoe. Although the Iati’s perform well across the climbing disciplines, their stiffness definitely lends them to sport climbing foremost.
The toe box on the Iati is superbly crafted. My toes fit precisely, crimped up into the ends with no dead space. This allows a tremendous amount of power to be exerted through the big toe whilst also allowing great precision, pinpointing the best place on the foothold to stand.
When I first tried indoor bouldering, I could easily and confidently stand on hold which felt tenuous with my previous 5.10 Gambits. The power and precision were also very much appreciated on the tiny edges of slate sport climbing, providing the confidence I could stand on something tiny.
Though do not expect the same performance as a specialized edging weapon like the 5.10 Blanco. The Iati’s have a medium stiffness sole, which is great for edging, but less ideal for smearing. The pretty sticky XS Grip rubber helps compensate for this resulting in a good (but not great) smearing experience.
In comparison to other performance rock shoes the toe rand is pretty underwhelming, meaning you do have to place your foot accurately and deliberately to the toe hook.
However, I would take this trade-off for the improvement in comfort. The soft, lined leather upper conforms nicely to the shape of my toes, massively reducing pressure spots I’ve found when trying on other performance models. The Iati also has a nicely sized rand running all the way around the shoe which makes foot jamming in cracks feel secure, with the stiffness supporting your foot well.
The crimped-up nature of the toes does not lend itself well to crack climbing, more so for the smaller-sized cracks but this is the case for any ‘performance’ shoe.
The design of the heel is pretty simple for a performance shoe. A thin rubber line continues from the sole up the back of the heel, which gives you the majority of friction on heel hooks. The yellow rubber cup around the helps keep the heel rigid, while also providing some additional friction to the outward-facing side of the shoe.
In honesty, I have found the heel a little baggy, especially around the sides, but this may be due to my narrow heels.
By shortening the length of the rear strap closure, the heel can be cinched down a bit more to help take up some of the slack. The sensitivity of the heel feels pretty decent, but the slight bagginess does not help, so if you have average or wider heels this may be better.
However, once I have placed the heel I do find that it stays put, allowing me to crank down on it nicely, despite not having any special features like an inlay of stickier rubber.
I am a big fan of the Vibram XS grip rubber on the Iati. It is superbly grippy, much more than Vibram XS edge which I use on some of my re-soled shoes. I would also argue that it gives the legendary Stealth C4 a run for its money.
At the same time, it is not as soft as XS grip 2, meaning you get a nice compromise between grip and not rolling off small edges. In fact, I feel like the softness actually molds to small holes somewhat so they feel more secure. I feel the only disadvantage over a stiffer rubber-like XS edge is the durability. However, this is not to say the durability is bad.
The 3.5mm thickness of the sole strikes a nice balance between durability and sensitivity. In short, I would not change anything about the rubber on the Iati.
Comfort and Fit
This is where the Iati really shines! The soft supple, lined leather upper, with a padded, stretchy tongue provides a sock-like fit. This removes pressure spots and also means the break-in time is very short, actually providing great comfort right out of the box.
Although I have quite narrow feet I found the Iati did a great job of adapting to this, but some of my friends with a more normal foot width also have the Iati, and it also fits them well. I think this diversity of fit is due to the extremely adjustable closure system.
Instead of being a simple straight-across Velcro strap, it has two straps that zig-zag their way across the shoe finishing at a Velcro tab. Both of the straps can be adjusted individually. This means that the volume and fit of the shoe can be accurately and precisely controlled, across almost all of the shoe, whereas a traditional strap provides very limited adjustment.
Once I had my fit dialed in, it was very quick and easy to take the shoe on and off, getting the same great fit every time.
In essence, you get almost the same level of control as laces but with the ease of Velcro. I have also had no issues with the durability of the closure system, and in fact of the shoe as a whole. The break-in time was also very quick for the Iati’s, a few bouldering sessions in and they seemed completely molded to my feet.
As they are made out of lined leather and Microfiber, they should stretch roughly half a size. I downsized a full two sizes for my pair, from 9.5 to 7.5 (UK), half a size smaller and I found I couldn’t weight my foot. This is quite a large downsize, but the comfort of the Iatis allows it, without crippling my feet.
After using the shoe for over half a year, I am happy to report I have been thoughtfully impressed with the Iati. They provide as much comfort as you can ask for in a performance shoe and don’t have any big gaps in performance.
Although sport climbing is definitely where they excel most, they are also great all-rounders. Therefore I would suggest the Iati to high-end sport climbers and intermediate climbers alike. Especially those who indulge in lots of types of climbing like me and who either don’t want to or can’t afford to get something super specialized for each discipline.
Online they can be found easily for roughly $160, this is very fair and comparable to other similar shoes such as the Scarpa Instinct. I hope you have enjoyed this Tenaya Lati review. Happy climbing!