The Otaki Women - Shoe Review
After having spent more than an hour trying on ALL the climbing shoes in the store I finally settled on the first shoe I tried, the La Sportiva Otaki Women. According to La Sportiva “Otaki in Japanese Samurai slang is the oldest single wire sword: extremely sharp and precise on small targets. A concept perfectly applicable to climbing”.
They were exactly what I was looking for: precise (which is what my footwork needed to become)
It's designed to be a performance climbing shoe, precise, supportive, and structured. It's a very good all-round shoe and thanks to its stiffness it excels outdoors. It’s a shoe that accommodates beginners but also all-time crushers like Hazel Finley, who used Otaki's to climb “Magic Line 8c+” in Yosemite. Federica Mingolla also looks like she's enjoying the Otaki's as well.
Shape: Asymmetric last. The shoe is slightly downturned and has a P3 last. After intensive abuse, downturned climbing shoes can start to lose their distinctive shape but La Sportiva’s P3 rand system prevents this from happening. Your shoe maintains its powerful profile...permanently.
Heel: Patented S-Heel™ construction provides optimal heel hooking maneuverability and the perfect heel cup fit.
Materials: The shoe is made of Italian suede leather with a breathable tongue in cotton. The upper is in microfiber with a TXT-treated cotton lining, which provides a snug fit with minimal stretch.
Closure system: 2 wide velcro straps
Foot Shape: Medium Foot
Check out LaSportiva detailed info page: https://bit.ly/3gU1g3s
Sole Material: Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber compound, built for pure friction, recommended for use where maximum grip is the primary needed.
Sole Thickness: 4mm
Size range: from UK 1-8 EU 33-43
Difference between men and women Otaki: The main difference is in the type of rubber. Men's version has Vibram XS Edge and the shoe has a wider volume.
I've been using these shoes for the past year and a half, mostly outdoors on single pitch climbs. On multi-pitches, they're still too uncomfortable but I'd wear them if I was climbing at my limit and need that tighter fit. I've worn them a couple of times while bouldering and occasionally at the gym too. It's made to be an all-round shoe but having tested it in all situations I feel that it's a great sport climbing shoe. I feel they perform at their best on slabby or vertical terrain. On overhanging terrain, I didn't trust the heel cup and wished they had a bigger toe patch.
They work as well as a bouldering shoe, being comfortable to take on and off. However, the straps are a bit too stiff and they are not sensitive enough on overhanging problems. I got them resoled a total of 3 times at official LaSportiva resolers and I feel that they still have a long life ahead.
Over time I learned that this shoe allowed me to be super precise. I soon realized the rubber sticks on everything, and because of that, I could really trust the shoe. I feel this shoe made me an overall better climber and it's the perfect shoe for edging, I learned how to use my feet better on small holds. They hold up perfectly when you have to smear and those little rubber patches in the toe box are enough to make you feel secure if your foot is in a pocket or on a side pull.
Downsizing and Fit/Comfort: My street shoe size is EU36 and I downsized by -1.5, getting a EU34.5. I'll admit they were really painful at first. Since I am quite a light climber and would mainly wear these shoes outdoors it took me a good 5 months to break them in. Eventually, the shoe molded to my foot even though there is always an air pocket on the heel (I probably just have a very narrow heel).
Shoe Shape: With the P3 tension system they definitely kept their slightly downturned shape. Unfortunately, they are cut in a way that really hurt my ankle, this eventually passed and it was probably just part of breaking in process, but I wish they could cup my ankle better by having a 5mm shorter edge.
The heel design did let me down. Even though my feet are squeezed in they still don't feel up the heel cup. Not really allowing me to trust my heel hooks and feeling as if it would slip off. It's probably just my ankle that's really small but I wish the S-Heel was a more malleable feature.
The moderate downturn allows the shoe to perform on everything from technical face climbs to steep boulders and I found it to be an edging master; they make tiny holds feel like ledges. Essentially the stiffness of the shoe gives the foot a lot of support on pockets, small holds and makes it ideal for smearing as well.
The closure system: Very quick closure system with 2 velcro straps even though I wish I could tighten them up more on the arch of the foot.
The rubber: with a sole thickness of 4mm and XS Grip 2 the sole lasted about six months. At first, the sole is definitely thick and feels bulky, but over time it wears down and feels more sensitive. A subtle feature that I enjoyed a lot was the little rubber patches on the toe box which in combination with the soft leather give full sensitivity to toe hooking.
I got them resoled a total of three times. Always at Authorized La Sportiva resolers. Each time they came back looking new. The first time I got them back and used them they felt new but already broken in.
Will I buy them again?
Definitely, maybe... I wanted to try the male version however they don't go down to my size. Bottom line; it's a shoe I trust, and will definitely consider buying them again once I'll need it. While wearing these shoes I went from climbing 6bs to 7bs and I honestly think its partially because of them. My footwork became better and I learned how to use my shoe and feet on small footholds, which truly changed how I climbed. I'm apprehensive to downgrade more than 1.5 since the first time around was really painful. However, I would like to try its variations such as the LaSportiva Kataki or the LaSportiva Skwama.
See them in ACTION!