Tenaya Masai Climbing Shoe – Climbing Gear Review

Tenaya Masai Rock Shoe

‘…the difference being these fit me and the Anasazi Verde don’t.’

Tenaya Masai - great for heelhooking

Performance ****

Quality *****

Value for Money *****

When the Tenaya Masai Climbing Shoe arrived for me to try, they couldn’t have come at a better time.  A long awaited trip to Kalymnos was finally here and I had heard the Masai’s were an ultra sticky, comfortable unisex climbing shoe.

I had decided to try the shoe in a 4 ½, (I normally take a 4).  I’m one of team tight shoe; I take comfort in knowing my feet can’t move around in my shoe at all, but then have to pull them off every ½ hour with a sigh of relief.  This is also a reason I always go for Velcro’s or slippers, easy on, easy off.

The Tenaya Masai climbing shoes are a slim fit lace up with a low volume heel, most women should be getting excited right about now, I know I was.  Most shoes I try on are too wide or high in the mid section, with an uncomfortably high heel which rubs constantly.  These aren’t; with a straight design and shape, if your foot fits it fits, there’s no waiting till you get on the wall for the shoes to fit, they merely mould themselves further onto your foot.

The Masai’s have been likened to the 5.10 Anasazi Verde in design, and I can definitely see the similarity; the difference being these fit me and the Anasazi Verde don’t.

So let’s talk a little about the stats; well the Masai’s are made with micro fibre and not leather, with TXT treated cotton lining, so a good start for all vegan climbers out there.  The out sole is made from Vibram XS Grip 4mm; translation: ‘über sticky’.   And the sizing is pretty spot-on for your regular shoe size, depending on your penchant for foot pain if you prefer the smaller sizes.  Sizes range from 3-13 UK including half sizes.

Well when the Tenaya Masai’s arrived I was still a bit worried about my sizing choice, a 4 ½ is a pretty big decision for me and I was really hoping I’d done the right thing.  I put them on with a little dismay and lo! I found that they fitted perfectly; and by this, I meant they didn’t hurt!  My toes where at the end but they weren’t scrunched up in the usual foetus position; I could wander around in them as if they were my trainers.  Well my first thought was, okay then, I have some cold weather shoes, socks will get in there just fine.   But then I started climbing in them, just at the indoor wall that I work in, and I started to change my mind.  These shoes didn’t need to be tight or arched, they just did their job.  They stayed tight to my foot and stuck to the wall, like glue I might add.

So happy again I packed them up for my trip to Kalymnos; happy because I realised feet expand in the heat and all my other shoes are more for pixies than humans.

Ultra sticky Vibram XS soles for tricky smears.

Kalymnos is full of hundreds of beautiful sports climbing routes made from limestone. The temperature was mid twenties and the only worry I had was that the shoes are so sticky they would come off my foot before they came off the routes!

They smeared perfectly when needed and the toe was precise and stable.  I’m a fan of using my heel, if there’s a heel hook I’ll use it, and if the heel slips I quickly lose confidence in the shoe.  The Tenaya Masai’s stayed closed around my heels with help from a wide band of rubber that surrounds the heel, and feels like it pulls the rest of the foot in closer.

I wore the shoes all day in comfort and found them easy to pull on and off.  I have pretty slim feet and found myself tightening the laces to the max to make them fit, so if your feet are any slim you may have to try on several pairs to get just the right fit.

Tenaya Masai - all day comfort on long routes.

I’ve worn the shoes now for about 2 months and am finding myself wearing them more and more.  They are my comfortable shoe, the shoe I wear on long routes and don’t want to worry about heels slipping and toes hurting.  Thanks to the materials used, they haven’t stretched and I don’t expect them too.  I was worried that the soles would wear quickly, and they did pick up the characteristics of the limestone when I was away; but their holding firm with no other signs of wear.

I’ve tried the shoe for bouldering and maybe in a smaller size I would be happier with them.  Saying this, they do the job.  For smearing they are great, and I’ve already raved about the heel.  The edging is pretty good on slabs, and I feel confident putting my full weight on my feet in some pretty slim conditions; but deep down, I still like my bouldering shoes to look like a scythe and 9 out of 10 times feel like one too!  But that’s just personal preference, and I’m sure my feet don’t agree with me.

Tenaya made these shoes for long technical routes and that’s what they’re good at.  If all you do is boulder and want hyper performance, there’s a whole host of painful shoes out there for you.  The Tenaya Masai’s do exactly what they say on the tin, no messing.

So do I like the shoe? Yes; in fact I love them for routes.  Confidence in your shoes is a big thing, how much a shoe can really help you is questionable, but when it really comes down to it,  climbing isn’t just a physical sport, its mentally strenuous as well, and to have one less thing to worry about is a bit of a bonus.

And let’s be honest here, if the shoes are good enough for the Pou brothers, they’re definitely good enough for me.


Katie Mundy in action.

About Katie –  Katie Mundy is 28; she lives, works and climbs out of that beautiful hidden gem: Northumberland. She earns her living as a freelance Climbing Instructor and makes a mean espresso at her brother’s coffee house on Holy Island.  She’s been climbing since she was 18; and after moving to Switzerland caught the sports climbing bug and has been addicted ever since.  She spent a further few years climbing, snowboarding and having a fine old time throughout The Alps.  Her hidden talents include: writing her first children’s book about Holy Island, which is where she grew up.


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