Edging - 9/10
Smearing - 8/10
Steep Terrain - 8.5/10
Comfort - 9/10
Sensitivity - 8/10
Value For Money - 8.5/10
- Amazing confidence on terrible footholds
- Comfortable performance fit
- Awesome heel cup
- Reasonable price
- 100% Vegan-friendly
- Sizing can be tricky
- Limited control over fit
Best For: Feeling solid on bad footholds, especially on vertical and moderate overhangs
The Mastia offers an impressive range of versatility on steep boulders, sport lines, and even those pesky slabs – but that’s hardly anything unusual these days – I literally have a cupboard full of shoes that can do the same thing.
What’s interesting about the Mastia is that it has a secret superpower; it can inspire confidence on those sh*t scary foot placements. You know the ones; the impossibly tiny crystals, shallow pockets, thin cracks, slippy friction slabs – those terrifying holds that fill the pit of your stomach with panic and make you question why the hell you didn’t choose a hobby like golf instead.
It’s not hard to see why Tenaya’s top dogs like Chris Sharma, Jimmy Webb, and Drew Ruana, regularly go to work with a pair of Mastias. The shoe that eats techie terrain and terrible footholds for breakfast.
We price check from over 12 of our most trusted retailers and share the lowest price for every shoe we recommend on this page. If you click a link, we may also make a little commission (at no extra cost to you, obviously).
Tenaya Mastia Review
Tenaya is the not-so-new kid on the block. These Spanish shoemaking aficionados have been building a reputation for quietly creating some of the most comfortable performance shoes money can buy. It was the Oasi model that put Tenaya on many people’s radar, but after its release in 2019, the Mastia has gone on to become one of the most popular models in the Tenaya line.
Even before I got my hands on them, I was expecting big things from the Mastia. In 2019, ahead of the shoe’s release, Sharma mentioned in an interview with Epic TV that “I imagine this will become my go-to shoe for almost everything”.
So, does it live up to the hype? After two months of testing, here’s my unfiltered Tenaya Mastia review.
I’ve just finished testing a bunch of performance shoes. In the last few months alone I’ve tested the Evolv Shaman, Scapra Instinct VSR, and Five Ten Hiangle. All these shoes are brilliant in their own right, but like the majority of modern bouldering and sport shoes, they all share very similar characteristics. A split sole with a soft forefoot, a blunt toe box, and a beefy heel cup with a huge toe patch to match.
At first glance, the Mastia follows this tried and tested recipe, but look closer, and you’re going to notice some subtle differences that make the Mastia feel – and perform – very different.
So, what’s so unique about the Mastia? Here are a few of the noteworthy headlines:
– The shoe is only moderately downturned, yet extremely asymmetric.
– This asymmetric shape is paired up with a nice pointed toebox (although not as pointed as the Oasi or Indalo) which makes it precise for honing in on those smaller features.
– The sole is also stiffer than many bouldering and sport shoes, which offers an incredible amount of support on small edges.
– This isn’t at the expense of the forefoot flexibility, thanks to a soft split sole under your foot arch, the shoe adapts well to different angles, ideal for conforming to both slabby and overhung terrain.
I’ve been testing the Mastia alongside another popular Tenaya shoe, the Masai, a model that was built as an edging-specialist shoe. Having spent a considerable amount of time in the Masai, I was expecting to be slightly disappointed at how the Mastia stuck to tricky edges. How wrong I was. I find the Mastia feels almost as solid on tiny features as the Mastia does. It’s pretty rare to find a bouldering shoe that takes to small features so well.
When I first slipped into Mastia, I instantly noticed how asymmetric the shoe was. It felt strange for a moderate shoe to be so asymmetric, but once I started up some techie vertical sport routes, it all started to make sense. Honing in on small edges and features made me feel like a surgeon executing millimeter precision. The toe box feels so precise it confidently sticks to even the smallest of features.
Shoes with a stiffer profile usually excel at edging, but then fall short when it comes to friction moves. It’s a tall order to find the perfect balance of both smearing and edging, but the Mastia does a damn good job.
While I do think it takes better on edges than smears, the spit sole under the arch of your foot is noticeably more flexible than many other leading performance shoes, which allows the forefoot to adapt to varying angles, both above and below vertical. Of course, the 3.5mm of Virbam XS Grip offers plenty of friction to confidently press and smear until your heart’s content.
The Mastia is very good when it comes to the steep stuff, but does it eat up overhangs like the most downturned monstrosities about there? Not quite. In my opinion, the Mastia isn’t on the same pocket-pulling level as the La Sportiva Solution or Five Ten Hiangle, but for a moderate shoe with a semi-stiff forefoot, it does a damn good job.
It doesn’t have the claw-like shape of the Solution, or the ridiculously concave sole of the Evolv Shaman, so, understandably, it doesn’t quite grab pockets. But the Mastia is still more than capable of throwing down on a spicy boulder. Overhangs aren’t all about pocket-pulling, and when it comes to honing in on those little crystals, the Mastia’s powerful toe box flexes its muscles.
And who can forget about that heel? It’s the first 3D molded heel cup we have seen on a Tenaya shoe (now also used on the Indalo) and it’s frickin’ awesome. In many ways, it reminds me a lot of the La Sportiva Skwama heel. It’s a hard mold rubber, which is strengthened by a “Friction Lock” which stops the heel from crumpling while cranking on a powerful heel hook.
This is all securely held in place thanks to the huge slingshot rand that extends high up your Achilles and under the arch of your foot. The toe patch is also plenty big – and sticky- enough for hooking and scumming until your heart’s content, but still soft enough that it doesn’t put undue strain on your toe knuckles.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; Mastia is a hugely versatile shoe, both in and out of the gym. But is there better gym shoes out there? Probably.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Mastia isn’t good for indoor climbing – because it absolutely is – I’m merely suggesting it feels like a shoe better suited to crushing hard on real rock than sticking to gym volumes. Softer Tenaya shoes, like the Oasi and Mundaka, adapt better to gym volumes, so are going to work better on highly friction-dependant moves.
But there’s a lot more to gym climbing than smearing on fancy volumes. The Mastia will crush techie boulders, spicy cave problems, and tricky lead routes without breaking a sweat. And even when it does start to get hot and sticky, the breathability that the mesh tongue provides helps keep the Mastia breathable and easy to slip on and off in between burns.
Tenaya has a bit of a reputation for difficult sizing, as I found out while ordering the Mastia. I wear a street shoe size of UK 9 (43 EU) and had to downsize to a 7.5 UK (41.5 EU) for the Mastia. I initially dropped one size and bought a pair of 8 UK, but instantly realized this was too big so dropped down to the 7.5 UK.
Could I have gone another half-size down? Almost definitely. My feet are nowhere near as crammed in as they usually are in a performance shoe. But here’s the weird thing: The extra comfort had no negative impact on performance. No rolling edges or heel slips in sight.
Honestly, it’s kind of blown my mind how comfortable the Mastia are. But this is exactly what Tenaya is renowned for. This comfortable performance fit likely comes down to a combination of clever design choices including the stiffer sole (for extra toe support without the toe-crushing tension), the low-volume toe box (that encourages your forefoot to lie in a natural position), and the huge slingshot rand that gently secures your foot within the shoe.
Tenaya is a brand renowned for making narrow shoes, but for the Mastia, they created a brand new last shape that has made it the widest shoe in their line-up. It still isn’t overly wide, and I would put it somewhere in the normal-wide category. The heel isn’t overly wide either
While I found the fit of the Mastia was perfect for my foot, but if you aren’t so lucky, then there’s very little control over how the shoe fits. The Mastia is a velcro/slipper hybrid, although the elasticated touge sits far down the forefoot, ensuring not to hinder the dynamic response of the shoe. The single strap velcro also doesn’t allow you to fine-tune the fit that you get with the Draxtor “hoop and loop closure” found on the Oasi or Indalo.
As a whole, I’ve been pretty impressed with the durability of the Mastia. Over the last two months, I’ve done my best to trash them on a wide range of boulders and sport routes in the gym, as well as on granite and limestone. So far, they’ve held up very well with almost no signs of unexpected wear and tear.
The minor issue I’ve noticed is that the interior lining of the heel cup has started to peel from the uppers. While I haven’t noticed any impact on performance, it’s an unusual fault I haven’t experienced with any other shoe before.
We’ve had our say, and now it’s time for you to have yours. If you have a history with this shoe, then please leave a review! The climbing community needs your wisdom.