Gear Review: Tenaya Tarifa

Time for another gear review! Of course it has to be about climbing shoes because I just looooove them. This time round I’ll write about my newest acquisition: The Tenaya Tarifa!

I bought these lovely shoes about four months ago and I continue to be impressed with their performance on a wide range of terrain.

The first time any Tenaya shoe got my attention was when I bought a pair of Oasis while climbing in Céüse, France. I was immediately impressed with their sensitivity and their impeccable performance on the endless limestone routes of Céüse. However, our affair only lasted for a few days, as some asshole stole these from my rope-bag which was stashed under a rock at the cliff to make the gruesome approach more tolerable.

Fast forward to 2016: My second pair of Tenaya shoes was the Tenaya Ra and they sure didn’t disappoint. Apart from their performance on rock, I am baffled by the amount of comfort all Tenaya shoes seem to provide out of the box.

In this regard, the Tarifa is no different from other Tenaya shoes that I have owned. The soft leather-like microfiber upper and the lycra cotton-lined inner make for a very pleasant experience when wearing these shoes. For me, no break-in period was required and they performed great from the get-go without causing any pain or discomfort for my feet.

The Tarifa is moderately down-turned and features a rather stiff mid-sole which makes it a great climbing shoe for a climber of my height and weight (I weigh about 80 kg). I use them predominately on vertical to slightly overhanging limestone climbing but have also ventured on conglomerate and granite in these and was definitely not disappointed.

They are very technical shoes providing the perfect balance between precision, sensitivity and stiffness. They make it easy to stand on small edges and little nubbins while still performing well on smears and non-positive footholds.

The heel is a perfect fit and I had a confident and secure feeling on any heelhooks encountered. Toe-hooking works equally well, with some grippy rubber on the toe-box providing the perfect amount of friction.

The design is simple yet elegant and the manufacturing quality is excellent. No excess glue or loose threads and nothing to complain about.

The 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip sole has proven to be very durable and I can only see minimal wear after 4 months of climbing outside (I use different shoes for indoor climbing and reserve my good pairs for real rock only). They didn’t really stretch but I feel that they have lost a minimal amount of stiffness. However, thus far I haven’t owned a climbing shoe which didn’t lose some stiffness after prolonged use.

Sizing always depends on the individual but my guideline would be to size these similar to your La Sportivas. I wear a 46 or 47 in street shoes, a 43 in Solutions and a 44 (UK 9.5) for the Tarifa. However, this is a pretty comfortable fit, I also own the Tenaya Iati in a UK 9 (about 43), so just try them on in your local climbing store or order multiple pairs if you have to.

If I had to name one area where the Tarifa might not be the perfect choice, it is severely overhanging routes or roof climbing. Here, a softer, more down-turned shoe would probably allow you to pull more on the footholds and to take more weight off your hands. Still, I rarely encounter this type of routes in my grade range. Most people seem to reach for the high-performance shoes they see their climbing idols wearing, although they climb on very different terrain. The Tarifa is perfect on face climbs to slightly overhanging routes but it will still perform great on steeper climbing. There might just be better options.


To sum it up in one sentence:

The Tenaya Tarifa is a very comfortable, precise and slightly stiffer climbing shoe which performs very well on limestone routes requiring delicate footwork.



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