The heels in these shoes feels somewhat thin compared to other shoes, but it also performs slightly better than the heels in many similar shoes.
I have pretty narrow heels, and often they will slip out of shoes. But the Tatanka seems to have a slightly narrower heel that worked much better for my feet. That said, people with wider feet might have more difficulty with these shoes.
As far as heel performance goes, there is one important thing to note. The heels in the Tatanka never felt fully tight to me. It felt as if the shoe should rise higher on my ankles.
However, the heels perform incredibly well, regardless of the slight funny feeling. This design keeps the extra rubber to a minimum, which may help performance by increasing heel sensitivity. Shoes like the Katana have a thick rubber band running down the heel, which decreases heel sensitivity and performance.
The Tatanka has Vibram XS Grip 4mm rubber, which is the same rubber La Sportiva uses for many of their shoes. I found this made me trust the Tatanka more quickly, since I was accustomed to how the rubber felt and performed.
However, Tenaya uses this rubber slightly differently than La Sportiva, especially in the toe edges. As mentioned before, the Tatanka fills a very specific niche when it comes to edge softness/flexibility and sole thickness.
Overall, I really liked the XS Grip rubber and trusted it on many different types of holds and rock.
I really love that Tenaya uses microfiber on these shoes. It makes them easy to size since they hardly stretch, and it makes them very comfortable.
The shoes feel thin and soft when you put them on, not stiff and difficult to pull over your feet. Although this is a minor detail, I really appreciate it every time I put the shoes on.
The Tatanka excels outdoors, though they performed remarkably well on plastic.
Indoors, I found the Tatanka didn’t perform as well on glassy, extremely slopey holds—although something tells me the hold manufacturers wanted that to be the case.
Outdoors, the Tatanka performed best on technical, tiny features. They did especially well on Shelf Road’s slick limestone, easily toeing into pockets and sticking to miniscule nubs.
When it comes to smearing on stiff granite, etc. the Tatanka performs well because they are extremely sensitive. However they didn’t do quite as well as the stiffer TC Pro in similar situations.
Tenaya is devoted to detail in their shoes. The design of the toe box and sole, and the delicate middle ground between paper-thin and stiff trad shoes, makes these slippers excellent performers. I feel most inclined to climb in this pair of aggressive climbing shoes because of that combination of comfort and high performance.
I will say that it takes a little bit of time to get used to their unique design and fit. But it takes almost no time at all to get used to their feel, unlike, say, the Evolv Geshidos, which required some time for trust-building. The Tatankas just stick to almost everything.
Overall, the Tenaya Tatanka is an incredible all-around shoe that performs at an elite level without the typical pain of aggressive shoes.
And if you love vertical, overhanging, delicate, or technical climbs that require precise footwork, this could be your shoe of choice.