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Tenaya Tarifa Review

By Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones

Versatility is the name of the game and the Tarifa ticks every box. Boasting supreme comfort and adaptable performance, the Tenaya Tarifa is a shoe for any occasion. Whether it be a route on an overhanging crag in Tenaya’s homeland Spain, or a session at your local gym, the Tarifa can handle it with consummate ease.

With athlete Felipe Camargo clipping the chains on a recent third ascent of El Bon Combat (9b) and having just signed one of the best boulderers in the game, Jimmy Webb, Tenaya are fast becoming one of most prominent rock shoe companies in the industry. Tenaya consistently produce shoes that look fantastic and feel even better whilst exhibiting robust climbing power across every discipline.

The Shoe for a Busy Schedule

Coming in at the middle of Tenaya range, the Tarifa is a perfect hybridisation of a softer, downturned bouldering shoe and a stiffer lace up, edging machine. Possessing all of the attributes required to compliment the busy schedules of a 21st century climber, the Tarifa goes toe-to-toe with the likes of the La Sportiva Miura and the Scarpa Instinct in the niche ‘do it all’ rock shoe category. This shoe just seems to ooze class, both in the way it looks and in the sensitive, assured climbing style that its construction promotes.

Tenaya have masterfully crafted the Tarifa to provide a comfortable but intuitive feel right across the shoe with the softer midsole distributing tension evenly without ever over-compensating and removing from the sensation of your foot’s contact with the rock. The real power comes from a stiffer, downturned toe box and the heel which really help to exhibit power on to the smallest edges and most marginal of heel placements. Built in conjunction with the Oasi, the Tarifa features Tenaya’s latest ‘RB Range X’ and ‘SXR Dynamic’ technologies. These elements play a pivotal role in efficiently distributing the power through the foremost part of the shoe and enabling a greater sensitivity through all parts of the rubber on a multitude of different rock types. It doesn’t take long to become clear how well suited this shoe is to its homeland geology. Excelling on small, sharp limestone edges and generating a ton of friction on more marginal blemishes, this shoe devours technical faces where precise footwork and confident edging power is imperative. The Tarifa, to my initial surprise, flourishes on gritstone and indoor, volume-heavy boulder problems - the softer midsole making it easy to get optimal smearing contact. The Vibram XS Grip rubber compliments both of these styles perfectly with superb friction, decent edging support and the durability for a season climbing outside.

The fit, as usual with Tenaya shoes, is on the narrow/low volume side which is perfect for my foot profile. This, however, does not exclude the wider footed climber as the Tenaya shoes are built with a blended construction of leather and synthetic materials. Leather is strategically placed in the areas where stretch is needed to accommodate different shapes and sizes of foot. This enables the shoe to mould to your foot shape and give every climber a particularly comfortable and personal climbing experience. The Lycra, sock-fit lining on the inside of the shoe is a quintessential factor in the Tarifa feeling so snug, it’s soft to the skin and keeps the foot tightly secured inside. A neat feature is the perforation of the tongue and the side of the shoe which stops your feet from overheating and, more importantly, stops the shoes from smelling like roadkill. The innovative fast-lacing system is unlike a lot of the time tested, lace-up classics on the market, only being laced half way down the shoe to accommodate for a decent toe patch. The ability to get the shoe on and off quickly is especially handy when severely downsized from my regular shoe size of 8.5 down to a 6. Whilst being an extreme method for optimising performance, this downsize helped the Tarifa maintain their downturned shape to keep them cranking on overhanging routes and the most technical of rock faces. A smaller downsize is recommended if all day comfort, or a more relaxed fit, is your bag.

Summary

Sleek, precise and incredibly functional, the Tarifa is a shoe best suited to a climber who likes to dabble in every element of the rock-climbing scene. Excelling most on technical or overhanging faces with small holds, the Tarifa is comfortable and versatile enough to be your work horse as well as your sending weapon. Whilst not being as dedicated to a particular iteration of the climbing game as some shoes out there, the Tarifa more than makes up for this in its ability to do everything well. This adaptable ability to perform well on any gradient and rock type has rocketed the Tarifa to the top of my climbing shoe arsenal.

Purchase the Tenaya Tarifa