This is a shoe that should suit both beginners and experienced climbers. It works in an all-day scenario, plus it’s ideal for bouldering and technical sport climbs, and good for multi-pitch climbs.
Easy to adjust
Supportive front rand
Good for slabs and vertical routes
Light blue microfiber shows up dirt and sweat easily
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Tenaya Ra LV: first impressions
Tenaya Ra LV women’s climbing shoes hit the sweet spot. Combining the precision and tight-fitting capability of a high-performance rock-climbing shoe with the desired flexibility and comfort of a middle-of-the-road climbing shoe, the Tenaya Ra LV is a low-volume version of the brand’s popular Ra shoe, designed for tactile climbers who like to feel the rock surfaces beneath their feet. In these shoes, all your movement will transfer onto the rock below your toes.
The fit was correct for my foot, the insole (TST multi-layer Stretchtex) and midsole (2D PLT 10) supplied good comfort and I found them versatile, practical and quick to put on and take off.
Tenaya have used synthetic, vegan-friendly materials across the entirety of these shoes, incorporating synthetic wicking fibers, rather than leather or suede.
• RRP: $140 (US) / £107 (UK) / €124.95 (EU)
• Weight (per shoe): 170g / 6oz
• Lining: TXT-treated cotton
• Outsole: Vibram XS Grip 4mm
• Upper: Microfiber
• Colors: Blue / Celeste
• Compatibility: Bouldering, outdoor and indoor climbing
Tenaya Ra LV: on the crag
In all honesty, I was initially unsure about the Tenaya Ra LV, what with it being a velcro-strapped shoe. However, my expectations were completely exceeded by the shoe’s technical performance.
As a climber who dabbles in a mixture of different rock types – limestone, sandstone, rhyolite, slate – I appreciate a versatile climbing shoe.
On climbs that had a slight overhang to them, I found I was able to trust my feet with the Tenaya Ra LV climbing shoes, especially on toe-hooks and pocket smears, thanks to the rubber reinforced toe box, which had increased abrasion resistance and offered superior toe-hooking.
With a moderate curvature (neither downward turning for a super aggressive point or completely flat and requiring a lot of calf strength) the Tenaya Ra LVs seemed ideal for when I wanted to adjust the tightness depending on the climb I was on.
For routes that felt like I was entirely on my feet – such as a technical, balancy slab route – I wanted a tighter, more precise fit, whereas on a long, vertical multi-pitch I wanted the option to be able to slacken the shoes off easily once I’d completed the pitch, yet still be able to put them back on after I had rested my feet. This was the case when I was climbing long sea-cliff routes in Costa Blanca, where the rising temperatures meant even with my feet increasing in size didn’t impede the fit of my climbing shoes.
I also wore these shoes when I went climbing on slate, sport climbing in North Wales, and found that – despite my feet feeling colder than usual – it felt okay wearing these on unfamiliar rock.
As for the sole, the Tenaya Ra LV’s uses a semi-stiff rubber compound that’s suited for both bouldering and routes. The density and stickiness of the Vibram XS grip rubber makes it versatile for all rock types, although some climbers might feel that a marginally stiffer sole (such as a Tenaya Masai) might provide a little more support on longer routes.
I’ve found with Tenaya that it’s important to size at least a size, to a size-and-a-half down in order to get a shoe that fits correctly for performance.
It’s hard to comment on whether a (low-volume) LV option is preferable to the normal ‘Ra’ style, though they are often marked as the “women’s-specific fit” because of the narrower profile.
As someone who wears a UK size six trainer, I found that the shoes cupped my heels well, while the lower volume near the front toe meant my feet felt slightly curved near the front. The midsole, 2D PLT 10, neatly hugged the arch of my foot, meaning my feet felt supported and added a bit of stiffness, whilst the main front velcro strap is linked with two smaller tabs on the inner of the foot to cinch across.
Learn more about how a rock climbing shoe should fit – busting the “no pain no gain” myth.
Materials and comfort
With a TXT-treated cotton lining to minimize smelly foot bacteria, and a TST multi-layer Stretch tex insole, my sweaty feet felt comfortable wearing these even when climbing in abnormally hot rock conditions.
Price and affordability
It’s worth adding that Tenaya Ra LV climbing shoes were one of the cheaper shoes in this test – but this shouldn’t discount their reliability and functionality as a technical shoe.
Prior to the test, I was aware of Tenaya’s slightly more aggressive shoes, the Iati and Oati, but they weren’t a climbing shoe brand that had previously been on my radar. For fit, comfort and adaptability reasons – and, of course, as a shoe that fitted my narrow feet and allowed me to trust them on several rock types – they will arguably be a go-to shoe for a mix of trad and sport climbing routes.
A former brand ambassador for Merrell and current Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Jessie Leong’s lifelong outdoor odyssey began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award walks in the Peak District. This segued into long hill hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, multi-day treks in the Lake District, scrambles in North Wales and adventures scaling alpine pinnacles. When not walking, she can be found rock climbing, wild swimming, cycling, photographing, filmmaking, writing and modelling. Jessie’s most recent claim to fame is playing a Miss World contestant in the 2020 feature film Misbehaviour.