(last edited Feb, 5th 2020)
This is an in-depth review of the new Tenaya Mastia climbing shoe.
Tenaya, Tenaya, Tenaya. Tenaya seems to be the ”new” brand that everyone is talking about at the moment. And honestly, what’s not to talk about? Tenaya has been able to produce top-of-the-notch climbing shoes for quite some time now.
When saying that Tenaya is a ”new” brand, it’s really not true. They have been around since 1997, more than 20 years.
In my opinion, the first BIG shoe Tenaya produced, was the Oasi. Alex Megos did the first-ever 9A onsight (which is pretty darn hard if you’re not familiar with climbing grades) with the Oasi. After the Oasi, they have produced other high-end shoes like the Tarifa, Mundaka, and Iati. And now, the Mastia.
With big names in the industry like Alex Megos, Jimmy Webb and now, Chris Sharma joining the Tenaya team, the buzz around the brand is certainly there.
The Tenaya Mastia
Tenaya has three different lines of climbing shoes: Step Up, Balance Pro and Aerial Plus. Mastia is the newest model in the aggressive Aerial Plus line.
I watched an interview with Chris Sharma done by Epic Tv, talking about the new Mastia. Sharma said that Mastia is a step forward and natural evolution of the previous models. He also implied that Mastia will be his go-to shoe in the future. Big words.
When scrolling through Tenaya’s website, a lot of new cool-sounding technologies are mentioned. SXR Dynamics, RBRX technologies and Friction Lock, just to name a few. Let’s find out what they really mean.
When pulling on the Tenaya Mastia for the first time, the comfort of the shoe out of the box is what I noticed first. In fact, they were so comfortable that I had second thoughts about the size I had chosen. I went with the same size as with the Oasi. The Mastia felt so comfortable, that I might have gone a half size smaller if trying them on before buying them. Luckily, I had ordered them online because the Mastia had not yet arrived to my home country (paid for them already), and did not have the chance to fiddle with the sizing.
After climbing with the shoe for the first time, I felt that the shoes where the right size. Half a size smaller would have been too small and it would have sacrificed the comfort Tenaya is now known for.
Tenaya shocked the climbing industry with the Oasi, as it was a aggressive, high-end performance shoe that was quite comfortable too. Usually the best performing aggressive shoes are uncomfortable, some even painful to climb with. Different deal with the Oasi. And now the Mastia.
The Mastia has Performance written all over it. With it’s highly asymmetrical and aggressively down-turned design, small footholds feel like standing on big ledges. The design drives the big toe towards the front of the shoe, giving awesome power on small footholds.
While the front of the shoe is of medium stiffness, the midsole is soft and really responsive. Tenaya states on their website that the midsole is a Double midsole GI 1.8 y TST 150. I have no clue what that means, but it feels quite nice and sensitive, even with the stiffer front.
I noticed the responsiveness best when climbing slabs with the Mastia. Even if the front is stiffer, the soft midsole really gives good feedback to what’s happening under the shoe. ”Feeling” with the feet helps in applying the perfect amount of pressure to the footholds and not popping off of them suddenly.
The Mastia is slightly wider than the previous models in the Aerial Plus line and will probably fit a wider range of feet.
Essentially, the Mastia is constructed like most modern aggressive climbing shoes are these days: almost fully rubberized heel, high friction rubber on top of the toes and in-step, one velcro strap and soft midsole. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary, the Mastia seems like a shoe, where all the little things add up. Every little detail seems to be carefully designed and built.
The velcro strap is nice and sturdy, being soft at the same time. It will not dig into your foot, even when closed tightly. Some may have doubts on how only one velcro can keep the shoe in place, but I have not had any worries. As a matter of fact, the Mastia stays on so reliably, that I haven’t even thought about it until now, when writing this review.
The tongue (the upper part of the shoe) has a sort of a ”sock” for added comfort and support. The sock feels nice, but one can debate on it’s size.
For me, there is a little too much fabric and I find myself pulling on the sock before closing the velcro strap. Otherwise, the sock gets rolled up inside and causes pressure points if the velcro is fastened tightly. This is the only refinable thing I could think of. Not a big deal, though. Certainly not a deal-breaker.
The Mastia uses Vibram’s Xs Grip rubber that is sticky enough to handle anything you throw at it. Personally, I prefer the Xs Grip while climbing inside and Vibram’s Xs Edge when climbing outside. The Xs Grip is soft and sticky and performs well in the gym. The Xs Edge is a bit firmer and edges really well, as the name suggests. It can also takes a bit more abuse. The choice of rubber for the Mastia is a good compromise. It works well when climbing at the crag or at the gym.
The Mastia’s heel is Excellent! Best heel Tenaya has made. Period.
The newly designed heel is slightly wider, all rubberized and goes highe up on the Achilles, just like with the Oasi. Some like a heel that goes higher up, some don’t. I’m personally a big fan. For me it helps the heel to stay put on the hardest and most powerful heel hooks, even without sizing the shoes un-necessarily tight.
I have a medium volume heel and the Mastia fits it nicely. There are some minor empty spots due to the fact that this is not a custom shoe designed specifically to fit my heel, but when heel hooking with proper technique, the heel of the Mastia performs great and feels bomber. No slipping and sliding due to bagginess. Great improvement, even though I did like the heel of the Oasi as well.
The heel of the Mastia somehow adopts to the hold you are hooking. It almost feels like the volume of the heel changes when hooking. I guess this is what Tenaya calls the ”Friction Lock” I mentioned earlier.
Tenaya Mastia sizing
The Mastia has similar sizing as the rest of the Aerial Plus line does. I use the Mastia and Oasi in a size EU 38/ US 6. For comparison, I use a Five Ten Aleon size EU 40, Scarpa Booster S and Instinct in EU 39, La Sportiva Solution in EU 38,5 and my street shoe size is about EU 41.
Take in consideration that the Mastia is the widest shoe in the Aerial Plus line. To get the same feel of ”tightness” as, for example, the Oasi, some might want to size down half a size. If going down half a size, I recommend trying them on before buying them.
Tenaya says, that the Mastia doesn’t stretch and the size will be the same throughout the whole lifespan of the shoe. But I have to say that ALL shoes stretch. And the Mastia does too. I experienced the Mastia stretching a half-size (from EU 38 to 38,5).
Like I said before, this is a performance shoe. The Mastia excels on small footholds in vertical and overhanging terrain. Probably not best when climbing roofs or really, REALLY overhanging routes. For those climbs, a super soft shoe would be better.
But try stepping on footholds the size of coin glued to a wall, and you will be amazed!
I like the combination of the supportive front part of the shoe and the soft midsole. It makes for a great all-round performer. Smearing, tiny edges, pockets, seems like the Mastia can do it all.
”Feeling” what you are stepping on is important. Tenaya seems to have found the right mix in the supportive yet soft -equation.
I would say that the Mastia is a great shoe indoors, but even better suited to the outdoors. Top of the line gym shoes are typically softer all around.
Mastia vs. Oasi
So, which shoe should you buy? This is a matter of preference, but here’s how I see it:
The Mastia and the Oasi are both great shoes. The Mastia is a bit wider, with a slightly wider heel. Personally, I think the heel of the Mastia is much better and more sensitive. The Oasi has a ”spine” in the center with rubber that tends to peel off from the top after extensive use. Also, the heel if the Mastia is covered with sticky rubber on all sides.
The Mastia has better toe hooking abilities due to the generous amount of rubber on top of the toes.
The supportive properties are about the same since they both use the same rubber in the same thickness, 3,5mm. But for some reason, the Oasi feels a bit softer than the Mastia. In my opinion, the Mastia has slightly better edging power than the Oasi.
The Mastia’s simple velcro strap is easier to use than Oasi’s double-strap system. Both do their job equally good.
For my foot, the Mastia is more comfortable than the Oasi, most likely due to the wider last. Both shoes perform almost the same, though. Almost. I think the Mastia is a bit more precise with the pointier toe box.
All in all, I prefer the Mastia over the Oasi.
After climbing with the Tenaya Mastia for a while now, I really think it will become a big hit. The performance is there, the comfort is there and the quality is there. Overall, the Mastia feels sturdy and has the feel of a high-quality shoe. It feels like the Mastia continues where the Oasi left off.
The price of the shoe is a bit high (around 190$ or 140€) but I think it is worth it and you won’t be disappointed. If I buy one pair of climbing shoes a year, it doesn’t make a difference to me if the shoe costs 150 dollars or 190 dollars. I’d be happy paying a few bucks more for a high-quality shoe.
The Mastia is a great shoe and I am truly impressed. I recommend them for advanced climbers or climbers who want to up their game. The Mastia is not the best shoe for beginners due to the soft midsole and aggressive design.
The Tenaya Mastia performs best when outside on overhanging to vertical terrain. It performs on small micro-edges or big smears.
Since Tenaya recently made a low-volume version of the Oasi, maybe they will be introducing a low-volume version of the Mastia as well? I think it would be a nice addition to the line and appreciated by climbers with smaller feet.
Tenaya did a great job with the Mastia. Try it out if you have a chance and please let me know what you think. Keep climbing!
- Upper: Microfibre
- Closure System: Velcro
- Tongue: Highly breathable
- Lining: Without lining
- Insole: 2D multi-layer Stretchtex
- Midsole: Double midsole GI 1.8 y TST 150
- Sole: Vibram XS Grip 3.5 mm
(edited Feb, 5th 2020)
After climibng with the Mastia for three months in the gym, the fabric inside the heel of the shoe ripped from the seam. Not a big issue, but quite annoying as it easily rolls up inside the shoe when pulling them on. Climbing with the ripped fabric rolled up inside the shoe, it creates an uncomfortable pressure point in the heel. Not a big issue, but an annoying one.
This is probably a result for repeatedly taking the shoe off and pulling them on again during a gym session. But still, that’s what you do with almost every shoe anyways. To Tenaya: Get this sorted out and you have a real winner on your hands! Nevertheless, great shoe.