(5 out of 5)
With our current pair of climbing gym shoes on their way out, we were on the hunt for a shoe that offered some level of performance for around $100 (shelling out a bunch of cash to beat up shoes in a gym isn’t really our thing). There are plenty of beginner shoes on the market these days that fit the bill, but most offer rather uninspiring designs that don’t offer much in added performance beyond rental shoes. The Tenaya Tanta became a likely target after some initial research.
The Tenaya brand has a nice lineup of high quality/high performance shoes you see more and more of around the gym. They recently added the Tanta to their lineup as a more approachable beginner shoe that offers relative performance and comfort so we figured we’d give them a shot.
Like any new shoe, there was a break in period along with some time adjusting to the feel of a new shoe. It took a little bit of time, but once broken in, the Tanta has been a great gym shoe for more than toeing into holds.
$109 | Where to Buy
The Tenaya Tanta is a great all-around beginner shoe for the gym. It has a slight downturn with a soft midsole and rubber in all the right places to let you practice all different types of footwork with confidence. It’s also a great option for seasoned climbers looking to beat up on an affordable shoe that still offers solid performance.
The design of the shoe is rather simple and lends itself to all day comfort. It has a simple cotton-lined footbed, two-pull straps for easy on-and-off, a nice padded two-pieced tongue, and a soft midsole that doesn’t cram your foot.
This is a nice way of saying they have some added features that make climbing more enjoyable than some other beginner shoes on the market.
- They sport a slight asymmetrical and downturned profile to transfer power onto your toes, which is nice given how soft the shoe is.
- Rubber has been added to the top of the toebox to aid in toe hooking, which we have grown to like more and more over time.
- The synthetic upper helps secure a snug fit that doesn’t stretch over time, keeping your feet from sloshing around in the shoe.
- The design lends itself to climbing well across many different styles: edging, smearing, and toeing in.
We’ve worn the Tanta 3x a week for the better part of a year and they are holding up great.
Two large velcro straps and a two-peice tongue makes it easy to get the shoe open and strapped down. The velcro has held up well over time and the tongue has nice padding to it against your foot to help dial in the fit. Tenaya touts the tonque, velcro, and softness of the shoe as being adaptable to different widths of feet.
The Not So Good
It took a significant amount of time to get used to the Tanta after climbing in other gym shoes that were more stiff. The Tanta felt really soft the first few times we climbed in them, but it was something that we quickly adapted to. The rubber of the shoe was also very slick out of the gate. While not uncommon with new climbing shoes, the slickness and the softness made the shoe feel rather unreliable until they were broken in over a few weeks time, at which point they have been great ever since.
If you are a power heel-hooking crank machine, these are not the shoes for you. You can definitely heel hook with these shoes but don’t expect a lot of padding or rubber to support strong moves off your heel.
Finding the right size for the Tanta depends on what type of fit you are looking for. We opted to adhere to Tenaya’s recommendation for an “aggressive” fit and size down a whole size from our street shoe. To us this sizing feels ideal to get the right type of performance from the shoe. You will likely have to take the shoes off a few times while you break them in but we rarely take them off now during each session.
Note that we are used to having our feet scrunched a bit in shoes so this fit wasn’t too big of a deal. The softness of the midsole also help ease the tightness a beginner might experience with this sizing. Lastly, the sythentic upper doesn’t stretch so they have retained their performance fit.
For reference, we sized a full size down with the La Sportiva Katana Lace, a full size down for the Five Ten Moccasym and wore a normal street shoe size with the Black Diamond Session.
Tenaya recommends to size down a half-size for a “balanced” fit and not to size down at all for a “comfort” fit (not recommended).
The Final Verdict
The Tenaya Tanta is a hard to beat beginner shoe. There are lots of options on the market from all the big players in the industry but the Tanta offers up more than most at the $100 price range in terms of fit, performance, and comfort. They remind us of an upgrade to the Mad Rock Flash, which we really liked as a gym shoe but was discontinued. If you’re looking for a beginner shoe or a solid gym shoe you can thrash without spending upwards of $200, give these a shot!
Update: More than 7-months later the Tanta is still holding up well after three 1-hour gym sessions per week. The rubber shoes natural wear and tear but is overall in great shape. The shoe has held to it’s original sizing without stretching out and the velcro still clasps shut snuggly. The Tenaya Tanta is a great purchase for a performance beginner shoe or someone looking strictly for a cheaper gym shoe to beat up.
$109 | Where to Buy