Having seen a lot of people climbing in Tenaya shoes, but never having tried any myself, I was intrigued: this seems seem to be on of those brands with a dedicated following. An extremely soft rock shoe, the Mundaka is designed to give a close, glove-like fit. Though it features a two-part sole to retain some relative rigidity in the forefoot, this shoe is still so soft that it prompts the question 'how soft is too soft...?'
Having worn the Mundaka for route climbing and bouldering I can safely say that they're brilliant for bouldering but not so much for routes: they provide very little support and are a bit like climbing in a pair of extremely sticky carpet slippers. We do live in a world of specialised climbing footwear so that's totally fair enough: the Mundaka are bouldering shoes.
The Mundaka are extremely flexible in the midlesole but they do have some rigidity in the forefoot (and by this I mean relative rigidity - they're in no way stiff). This works really well as it means that your toes don't deform on to the hold, giving you a stable base through which to transfer the tension generated by the extremely flexible midsole. This works well for bouldering, where you need to exert maximum power through your feet for a short time, with the downside being that the shoe provides very little support.
The combination of flexible midsole and more rigid forefoot also allows a range of holds to be used. You would expect a soft shoe to be good at smearing but the Mundaka also handles edging well, although don't expect to be tiptoeing on edges for an extended period of time without some discomfort, or generating as much purchase on a small edge as stiff shoe would. When it comes to smearing and indoor volumes the Mundaka excels due to its ability to deform and provide power and purchase on any angle of flat hold. This makes it a great choice for indoor bouldering but also for grit bouldering: the combination of smearing finesse and edging capability is ideal for the brown stuff. The deformation of the sole does mean that you need strong feet though!
There is also plenty of rubber on the rand, and a large patch on the top of the forefoot, which improves toe hooking ability. This patch is quite interesting as it is perforated. This has two functions as far as I can tell: firstly it means the patch forms to the shape of your foot, ensuring it's not uncomfortable or restrictive. Secondly it provides some small ridges to catch on rough areas of the hold you're toe hooking. In practice it works well and doesn't make the forefoot on the shoe tight which does happen with some shoes which feature a big solid toe patch.
The Mundaka features 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip rubber which is the softer of the Vibram rubbers and is very sticky. They are very sensitive - you can really feel the holds underneath your toes!
The Mundaka is described as one of "the widest-fitting climbing shoes in the Tenaya's toe-down range". It does have a rather unusual profile, as when looking at the shoe from above it's widest around the midfoot and then tapers towards the toes. In practice, whilst it may fit some wider feet well I'm not sure it would necessarily suit a more square-toed foot. If you have narrower feet it's not necessarily an issue though, as the Draxtor closure system (one of the most distinctive features of Tenaya shoes) enables you to tighten the shoe well.
I'm not completely sold on the Draxtor closure system. This essentially consists of two straps, one which adjusts the fit of the forefoot and the other the midfoot. Each is independently tighten-able, so you can put a different amount of tension on each strap when you close both of them at once using a single velcro panel. I can see what Tenaya are trying to do here: you can customise how tight you want each area of your shoe and you don't have to make alternations to those adjustments each time. However in practice there are a lot of straps flying around and it's actually pretty simple to tighten your shoes with two standard velcros straps even though they don't 'remember' exactly how tight you want them. In addition, the straps are quite flimsy and I can imagine them breaking fairly easily. That said, whilst a bit fiddly, the Draxtor closure system does enable a good close fit.
The Mundaka do fit very precisely and, despite not having wide feet (or perhaps because of it) they fit me well. They have a plush tongue under the closure system which fits snugly and feels very comfortable. It's made from TXT lined cotton which sounds like it would get sweaty although I haven't noticed this being an issue. Overall the Mundaka is a very comfortable shoe to wear, both due to the softness of its lining but also because the shoe is so flexible - your feet aren't cramped into an unnatural shape and the shoe bends as you walk between climbs. The heel also fits excellently, molding to your foot without any discomfort; it's great for heel hooking.
Overall the Mundaka are a very soft pair of shoes which excel at smearing both indoors and out whilst still performing well - up to a point - on edges. They are too unsupportive to be used for climbing routes but they're great for bouldering. If you're looking for something to get the most out of indoor volumes or to give you as much contact as possible on a smear they are a great choice.
The perfect combination of form and flexibility enabling ultimate precision. The Mundaka features a close, glove-like fit, providing maximum responsiveness in all types of climbing situations. Aggressive yet balanced, the Mundaka is the widest-fitting climbing shoes in the Tenaya's toe-down range and is superbly capable on overhanging routes and boulder problems, while losing no efficiency on lower-angle smearing.
- Sizes: 1-13 (UK) with half sizes
- Uppers: Microfibre
- Closure System: Velcro (patented Draxtor system)
- Tongue: Five-layer, highly breathable
- Lining: TXT treated cotton
- Insole: 2D multi-layer Stretchtex
- Midsole: Double midsole GI 1.8 y TST 150
- Sole: Vibram XS Grip 3.5 mm
- Weight: 340 g
For more info see tenaya.net