This story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of our print edition.
Following Tenaya’s motto that high performance doesn’t have to mean low comfort, the Tarifa is a medium-stiff shoe that has top-notch performance on every angle and type of terrain. “It’s stiff and supportive where you need it—heel cup and forefoot, but completely flexible in one key spot—the arch/middle of the foot,” one tester said of this narrow-lasted shoe. “That means I can edge on a razor crimp as well as I can smear on a low-angle section as well as I can dig in deep on tiny nubs on a roof. Its versatility is unrivaled.” The Tarifa really shined on a 5.12 sport route in Boulder Canyon that required a perfect balance of stiffness and flexibility. A fitted interior sock makes the shoe feel snug from the get-go, and with slight padding in the sock, you can crank down the laces as much as you want when fine-tuning fit for hard bouldering. Vibram XS Grip rubber extends all the way around the shoe and up on the sides, including an extra-large patch on the toe for hooks and bicycles. It was extremely sticky on all rock types, from craggy limestone to polished granite, and it showed no signs of wear or lessened stickiness after three months of heavy use. The right size can be a challenge to find because the shoe is so comfortable that you can literally go down multiple sizes (one tester was a full 2.5 sizes down from her other performance kicks) and it will still feel good on your foot.
Bouldering, sport, hard trad, single-pitch, or multi-pitch—the Tarifa can do it all. If you’re looking for top performance in an easy-to-wear package, look no further than this all-around ass-kicking pick.
Review: Our Top 11 Rock Climbing Shoes