The La Sportiva Otaki climbing shoes are the velcro version of the La Sportiva Kataki climbing shoes. Unlike the Katakis, you shouldn’t have to size down from your average La Sportiva size with the Otakis. I worried about that when I first contemplated purchasing a pair of Otakis. When I tried them on at a climbing gym two hours away (yes, they actually had a pair of men’s size 38.5 EU Otakis!), they felt good, like they would break in nicely and be a snug, but not painful all-around shoe that was aggressive enough to boulder in and comfortable enough to be worn all day at the crag while sport climbing longer routes and/or multi-pitch routes. I decided to buy the pair I’d already tried on a week later (yes, I drove two hours to buy shoes, but climbing in them at that gym to start breaking them in was a lot of fun!). It took about four hour-long sessions after that initial three-hour session at the climbing gym that I bought them at to get them broken in fairly well. Not bad. It wasn’t a painful break-in period like it was with my La Sportiva Solutions, either. The break-in period was more of just getting the toebox fit just right on the outsides of the shoes where my pinky toes come in contact with them. It took some getting-used-to in the respect that they have a partial midsole, too, as compared to a completely separate forefoot and heel, as the Solutions have. The Otaki is a shoe that you want your big toes a little bit scrunched in, but not a lot, when you first try them on. When they break in, your big toes will be just slightly bent and the rest of your toes will all be in contact with the ends of the shoes, making them comfortable to edge in, while still giving enough power through the big toes to be a force to be reckoned with on the rock. This is in contrast to the Solutions, where you want your big toes crunched up tight in the toes of the shoes for the aggressive downturn and purposes of that particular model of shoe. Don’t get me wrong – the Otakis have a somewhat aggressive downturn, but not so much as to make them unbearable for the climber of any ability level to wear. As I said before, the break-in time and process with these shoes is best done while climbing in them and doesn’t require extra pain medication to accomplish!!! They smear well once broken in, despite their somewhat downturned soles. They do have the P3 system at work in them to keep the downturn throughout the life of the shoes. I enjoy the S-heel that is built into the Otaki shoes. It’s excellent for heel hooks and stability of the heel in general. This innovation makes the heels more snug and a bit deeper, so if you have low-volume heels, make sure that you try a pair of these on and climb in them before you buy them, if possible. They take some time to get used to, but nothing else compares once you do! The velcro straps make getting the Otakis on and off at the crag very quick and easy, and they still adjust to the individual foot well due to the placement of the velcro on the shoes. Overall, I would say the “upgrade to the Katana” Otaki climbing shoes are a good choice for all-around climbing, especially for the advancing beginner and the intermediate climber. If you like comfort and performance, try a pair of La Sportiva Otakis!