By Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones
Sleek, comfy, understated and designed with the sole focus of sending some of the world’s hardest routes, the Tenaya Iati has already earned its place amongst the rock shoe elite.
Boasting a host of athletes at the top of their game, it's clear that the dynamic and innovative Tenaya are well and truly on the rise. Having become synonymous with the awe-inspiring feats of Alex Megos, it’s easy to forget they also boast the likes of 2018 bouldering world champion, Miho Nonaka, along with the super prolific Ramon Julian. Combine these with the recent introduction of climbing legend, Chris Sharma, and the future looks bright for Tenaya.
Winner of Climbing Magazine's Editor’s Choice Award 2016 and having recently aided in the first ascent of Perfecto Mundo (9b+), the Tenaya Iati is a shoe that certainly comes with a crushing pedigree, but what truly sets them apart from the competition?
The Iati is the most eclectic shoe in Tenaya’s line-up and has been developed to bring a level of comfort and class to the harsh world of high-end performance climbing shoes. Combining elements from a few previous models, Tenaya have created a refined shoe that performs impressively on both routes and boulders, whether indoors and out. The Iati is one of the most downturned models of the Tenaya line and is complimented with high asymmetry for placing precise power through the toes on steeper routes. I found this to be exquisitely enhanced by Tenaya’s unique SXR Dynamics which intelligently orientates power towards the active big toe whilst maintaining the toe rand’s uniformity so that it doesn’t bulge out elsewhere and in the process waste precision and power. The ability to stand on the smallest screw-on holds or rock numbin has certainly been a major positive for me in my recent gritstone slab ascents, another area in which the Iati is surprisingly competent with its semi rigid midsole. This is complimented by the Vibram XS Grip rubber compound which provided excellent traction and reasonable durability. The combined climbing sensation of the Iati was one of precision and sensitivity, the 3.5mm rubber seemed to be the ideal middle ground between thicker edging shoes and thinner, softer rubbered shoes, providing a sensitive feel whilst being supportive in the process. Be warned, a 3.5mm rubber depth will not last forever. Although my shoes are still in extremely good shape after two months and 4-5 sessions a week, these shoes aren’t a work horse shoe, they’re a thoroughbred stallion of a shoe and should be savoured like a fine malt – save them for your special projects or your luxury, try hard sessions to get the ultimate satisfaction from them!
For me, the defining feature of the Iati’s is without a doubt the fit. Yes, the features of this shoe are mightily impressive, but what really stood out for me was the obvious and incredible levels of commitment Tenaya have shown in making this shoe so amazingly comfortable. It is worth noting, before I start enthusing over the more intricate details, I have a narrow/low volume foot which the Iati seems to fit perfectly. This isn’t to say someone with a mid-volume/width foot should avoid this shoe, however if you have feet that are very wide then it may be worth looking elsewhere. The break-in time was surprisingly short, within 2 or 3 sessions - a testament to the clever blend of leather and synthetic materials used. The Tenaya patented Draxtor closure system is the best I have come across and allows you to maximise the perfect fit with length adjustable straps. These culminate in the choice of a single circular buckle or two interdependent straps, a neat addition with the intention of catering for lots of different foot shapes and offering loads of micro adjustment.
The Iati provides sophisticated, all-round climbing performance, best suited to the most physical single-pitch disciplines, both inside and out. It's also THE most comfortable shoe I have ever used. The Megos stamp of approval says it all and they’ve definitely got mine too!