Review: Tenaya Masai climbing shoes

What do you need in a climbing shoe? Well this might depend on what you are climbing; rock type, short or long routes, how warm is it, etc. Probably the holy grail is a one shoe you can use everywhere...

The other day I counted up how many pairs of rock shoes I own and I realised despite having at least four pairs, in the last year most of them haven't come out of their storage crate. This has made me think about why this is. Well, I first had a pair of Tenayas back in 2005/6, I remember them fondly as a pair that fitted my all round climbing style. In the intervening years, I have mainly worn 5:10 Anazazi's, not for everyone but for me they have suited both my foot shape and my climbing.

In December 2016 I got the opportunity to try a pair of the new Tenaya Masai and this is what I have found out.

2017-11-30 12.20.27.jpg


I am not a fan of shoes that are too toe down, preferring a flatter sole which holds an edge and rolls onto a smear. The rubber compositiom is just as important here as the shape and the Vibram XS grip seems to be soft enough to bite in but not too soft to have become overly worn despite some heavy use. 

2017-11-30 14.21.00.jpg


A tough choice when it comes to shoes is laces or velcro? Personally despite owning a few pairs of velcro shoes, I've always preferred laces for the adjustability you get. 

I've always been a fan of soft uppers with laces, these are perfect. They even comes supplied as standard with two different coloured laces.


The heel is an oft make or break feature of shoes, it needs to cup your heel, be supportive but not pull into your achilles.

These shoes definitely have that balance right.

Strapiombante on the grit

Strapiombante on the grit

Chapelle de la Gliere, Chamonix

Chapelle de la Gliere, Chamonix

The test...

I've worn them on all the different sorts of climbing I've done this year; this includes long multi pitch routes in Snowdonia, Scotland and the Alps, on lots of limestone sport, and short grit routes. Usually I prefer to use an old shoe indoors but they work so well I use them regardless. 


They have coped with every environment with the same two constants; precision and comfort. I know what I'll be replacing them with, another pair of the same!

Simon Verspeak