It’s a great time to be a rock climber. There are so many different options of climbing shoes to choose from. In fact, there are so many that it’s hard to know which ones are the best climbing shoes that you should buy.
The best advice we can give you for your climbing shoe purchase, is to try the shoes on in person before you buy them online. That way you can see how the shoe feels on your foot and make sure it isn’t painful. Then figure out if you want to look at bouldering shoes, a shoe for your sport routes, or if you need climbing shoes for long and big days up on El Capitan.
Best Rock Climbing Shoes
- Best Overall Climbing Rope: La Sportiva Katana Lace
- Best Affordable Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Finale
- Best Bouldering Shoe: Scarpa Instinct VS
- Best Sport Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Miura VS
- Best Trad Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva TC Pro
- Best Crack Climbing Shoes: Five Ten NIAD Moccasym
- Best Competition Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Solution Comp
- Best Climbing Shoe for Wide Feet: Evolv Shaman
- Best Velcro Climbing Shoe: Five Ten NIAD VCS
- Best Slip On Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Cobra Eco
- Most Comfortable Rock Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Mythos Eco
- Best Beginner Climbing Shoes: La Sportiva Tarantulace
- Best Climbing Shoe for Kids: La Sportiva Stickit
Best Overall Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Katana Lace
- La Sportiva P3 technology merges comfort and performance
- The tongue and heel are extremely comfortable
- Out of the box the shoe has a slight downturn
- Great for edging, steep sport climbing, and small cracks
- Sizing felt larger compared to other La Sportiva shoes
- Expensive, one of the most expensive in the climbing shoe world
The best overall rock climbing shoe we determined from our evaluations is the La Sportiva Katana Lace.
There’s a lot to love about the Katana, especially after La Sportiva released a new design with updates for 2023. For starters, the shoe has a slight downturn when you take it out of the box, but it feels incredibly comfortable on the tongue and heel. I love how the shoe feels tight around my heel and ankle, but without any painful pressure. La Sportiva did an excellent job nailing this feature.
Depending on how you size, this shoe could be an all arounder, long multi-pitch trad shoe, or a shoe for bouldering and steep sport routes. That’s a ton of versatility that most shoes can’t match.
But there are some downsides to this shoe. And for starters the price tag is going to cause some sticker shock. This shoe is not cheap, but you get what you pay for and it is a well made shoe. However, if you want something more affordable, the La Sportiva Finale is a great option.
Second, this shoe is not going to fit all foot types. I have a narrow foot and high arch and this shoe felt great. But wider feet are going to feel some pain in the toe box. With the redesign, La Sportiva did make the toe box narrower. It will feel tight for some people.
But despite those downsides, the La Sportiva Katana Lace is our favorite overall climbing shoes. It’s great for nearly every style of climbing and depending on the sizing it can really be the only shoe you need in your quiver.
Best Affordable Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Finale
- Great price for a lot of value
- Made from 40% recycled materials
- Long lasting and durable thanks to 5mm of rubber
- Not great for overhanging bouldering and sport climbing
- The sole is insensitive due to the thick durable rubber
The best affordable climbing shoes we’ve used is the La Sportiva Finale. In the La Sportiva Line.
I view the Finale as their second tier just above the Tarantulace. The Finale is more expensive than the Tarantulace, but you are getting a lot more value out of the shoe. The Finale is a great overall shoe that you can use bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing. This is a great shoe for beginner and intermediate climbers.
It’s definitely a shoe that will evolve with you in your climbing career. La Sportiva also changed their manufacturing process so that 40% of the shoe’s overall weight comes from ecologically components. I took my La Sportiva Finale from bouldering and top roping in the gym, to multi pitch trad climbing.
Depending on how you size the shoe it can serve you well in a wide variety of styles of climbing. If you size up a few sizes, it’s a very comfortable climbing shoe that you can easily wear on multi pitch trad climbs. If you downsize just a bit tighter so it’s a snug fit, it’s a great shoe that you can use for sport climbing and bouldering.
But this shoe does fall flat in steep terrain. The thick rubber is great for edging. But the shoe’s neutral profile doesn’t do you any favor when you’re trying to stay tight on overhangs and roofs. No shoe is perfect and this is definitely one of the major downsides of the Finale. But if you can overlook these downsides, the Finale is a great option for a budget climbing shoe that won’t break the bank.
Best Bouldering Shoe: Scarpa Instinct VS
- Vibram XS Edge rubber is sticky and durable
- One of the more comfortable of the aggressive shoes
- Incredible for standing on volumes
- Long break in period
- Larger big toes will feel some discomfort
Our favorite bouldering shoe is the Scarpa Instinct VS. It is a fantastic shoe for steep terrain and the velcro straps make it a perfect option for long bouldering sessions.
The shoes sole is made of Vibram XS Edge rubber and there are 3.5mm of it. That’s a great amount to maintain durability, sensitivity and stickiness. These shoes still grip very well when you’re smearing on volumes but they’re still sensitive enough for roof problems, overhangs, and other steep terrain.
The Instinct also comes with a rubber toe cap which helps tremendously for toe hooking. I hate trying to toe hook on a toe cap that only has a leather lining and no rubber. Toe hooks in the Instinct feel great and it never felt like I was destroying the shoe on grippy volumes. Heel hooks are also great in the Instinct thanks to the 2mm of heel rubber.
The shoe does have a higher volume toe box. This is just a fancy way to say that there the toe part of the shoes takes up a large amount of vertical distance. This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. It may fit your foot a lot better, but the shoe will have a hard time fitting into cracks. Thankfully, crack bouldering hasn’t taken the world by storm…yet!
The Scarpa Instinct VS is a great shoe for bouldering, the heel is fantastic for heel hooking and we love the velcro closure system. Scarpa does have another shoe, the Instinct VSR, which is worth looking into if you’re a fan of the Instinct VS.
Best Sport Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Miura VS
- Velcro closure for easy on and off
- Incredible edge power
- Great fit for narrow feet
- Uncomfortable when downsized for performance
- Not ideal for wider feet
The La Sportiva Miura VS is our favorite climbing shoe for sport climbing because they are great for edging, have enough stiffness for steep terrain, and have a velcro closure system for easy on and off.
When it comes to the best sport climbing shoes, we wanted to downsize the shoe just a bit to make it more snug. We don’t like having our feet in pain, but we are willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort for performance since we’ll be taking the shoe off in between redpoint attempts. This factored into us really liking the velcro closure on the La Sportiva miura VS.
This shoe does take some time to figure out the sizing. While trying these on, we actually noticed some discrepancies between what was labeled on the shoebox and the actual size of the shoe. Most climbing shoes will show the European, UK, and USA size on the tongue. Compare those to what you see on the box and how it actually feels to prevent any mishaps. With that said, try the shoe one one full size below your street shoe size and see how that feels.
One downside to the La Sportiva Miura VS is that your big toe might develop the “miura bump”. Depending on your foot shape, your big toe may not have any wiggle room in the toe box. This will cause your big toe knuckle to press very hard against the rand and can cause a bump to form. Some of our friends said that they would have sore toes day after climbing. This hasn’t happened to us in our experience, but worth noting that climbing shoes are going to fit everyone differently.
Best Trad Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva TC Pro
- High top provides ankle protection and stability
- Extra protection laces to protect rubbing when crack climbing
- Fantastic for edging
- The TC Pro is lackluster for bouldering and steep sport climbing
- Expensive and many users have reported delamination and other issues on the new 2022 model
Despite some reportings of the some recent production issues with the revamped 2022 model, we still think that the La Sportiva TC Pro is the best trad climbing shoe on the market.
That’s not exactly the first thing you want to hear in a climbing shoe review, but we wanted to be fully transparent about some of the issues we’ve seen when talking to fellow climbers and what we’ve read online. Trad shoes nowadays seems to come in the same format. They are stiff, with a high top ankle for extra protection and support. The TC Pro really perfected this look and function thanks to being able to consult with pro big wall climber Tommy Caldwell.
This design makes it an awesome shoe if you’re climbing a ton of pitches in one single day. Your foot is going to be exhausted if you do that in soft shoes, so the stiff design of the TC Pro makes perfect sense for those objectives. We also love that La Sportiva added extra protection over the laces to make the shoe more durable while crack climbing.
Despite this shoe being common for 5.13 and 5.14 routes on El Capitan, it’s not the best pick for hard bouldering or sport climbing on steep terrain. We’ve also seen a ton of reports, but have yet to see firsthand, that the shoes rand delaminating from the leather upper. Meaning that the glue or adhesive that keeps the rand attached to the shoe started to peel. Discouraging to see that happen to some users
But overall, this is an awesome shoe to have for your big wall objectives. The new look of the redesign also includes a new design of El Capitan, the Dawn Wall, and Freerider. This is actually in place of where the old La Sportiva logo was.
Best Crack Climbing Shoe: Five Ten NIAD Moccasym
- Extremely comfortable
- Stealth C4 rubber
- Extended toe rubber
- Sizing runs small
- Toe box doesn’t fit all feet
The Five Ten NIAD Moccasym is a revamp of the old Anasazi Moccasym made by Five Ten. Since Adidas acquired Five Ten, they have made a few updates to this shoe.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the toe rubber on the shoe now extends up to the tongue. This actually does make the shoe fit tighter but it will add extra protection while you’re crack climbing. Another note on sizing. The new version of this shoe does not match the old sizing of the Moccasym at all. You may have to size up a half or even full size in the new version of this shoe.
We love the NIAD Moccasym for crack climbing because when fit properly, your foot will lie completely flat in the shoe and there are no laces or velcro straps to get in the way while you’re crack climbing.
These shoes are a bit stiffer for the old version which ruins some of the sensitivity we liked in the previous version of the Moccasym. We loved slab climbing, as well as crack climbing, in the old ones because of how soft the shoe was. The upside of this is now the shoe edges a lot better.
Best Competition Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Solutions Comp
- Fantastic for overhanging routes
- 4mm of sticky Vibram XS Grip rubber
- Sensitive and soft shoes when you need to feel small holds, but still supportive when you stand on them
- Not a good fit for wide feet
- Upper end of the price range for climbing shoes
If you watch any climbing competition, World Cup, or even The Olympics, you’re going to see climbers in the La Sportiva Solutions Comp.
This shoe is a revamp of the classic Solutions, but with an added twist for comp climbing. This shoe is going to be fantastic for indoor climbing. Competition climbing nowadays involves steep overhanging problems and slab climbing at the same time. They’re soft enough so that you can feel the nuances of dual textured holds while the downturn and the La Sportiva P3 midsole gives you power to stay tight on overhangs.
What we didn’t like about this shoe is that it’s very expensive for a single focused shoe. You could use it outdoor climbing, but if you’re focused on competition climbing I wouldn’t want to put wear and tear on my comp shoes. There have also been some complaints of the durability on the velcro strap of this shoe. The strap has snapped for some climbers we knew and the eyelet that holds the strap has shown significant wear. If you sweat a lot, expect the dye of the shoe to leak on to your feet!
Best Climbing Shoe for Wide Feet: Evolv Shaman
- Lace and velcro options are available
- Comfortable thanks to the Evolv “love bump”
- One of the better priced of the aggressive shoes
- The knuckle box puts your toes in the power position for sending
- Soft rubber
- Hard to detect smaller holds due to the 4.2mm of TRAX rubber
The Evolv Shaman was developed in conjunction with Chris Sharma and it’s the best climbing shoe on the market for wide feet.
The shoe underwent a revamp in 2022 and we love that Evolv now offers the Shaman as a lace and velcro shoe. One complaint about the old version of this shoe is that with only a few velcro straps, I could never get the exact fit that I wanted. But the laceup version of this shoe now alleviates that pain. I love being able to get the exact tight fit by adjusting each individual lace.
Evolv has a great synergy going with their “knuckle box” and “love bump”. The shoe is comfortable thanks to the Evolv “love bump”, which fills the dead space beneath your toes. That bump helps push your toes towards the surface while the “knuckle box” is creating a downturn to help give you. more power. It’s surprisingly comfortable.
As with any redesign, there are somethings that people hate. The sizing seems a bit different than the old shoe and the price point unfortunately increased. The Shaman is also designed for steep terrain and bouldering. So techy face climbing or slab isn’t the ideal terrain for this shoe.
Best Velcro Climbing Shoe: Five Ten NIAD VCS
- Great all around climbing shoes
- Performs very well on slabs
- Sizing fit much smaller than expected
- Different feel than the old Anasazi version
The Five Ten NIAD VCS is an excellent velcro climbing shoe. It’s been a staple in the Five Ten lineup for years. I love seeing that kind of longevity because it means the shoe is a versatile climbing shoe that isn’t a one trick pony. And thanks to the longevity and consistency, the shoe gets refined every year and is better and better. I also think this shoe is a great shoe for intermediate climbers. It’s reasonably priced and is versatile for every style of climbing. It won’t excel in any specific area, but that means it’s useful for all of them.
The shoe is built with the Five Ten Stealth rubber. This stuff has a cult following thanks to how sticky it is. The shoe also performs very well on slab climbings. It felt like that due to the combo of the Five Ten Stealth rubber and the design of the toe box, the shoe has a great bend to get the entire ball of your foot sticking to the slab.
What we don’t like about the new design, is that the sizing is extremely finicky. I was expecting my foot to slide in the same 12.5 as the old version, but the new one did not feel as good. We recommend you try these on in person before you buy. But if you can’t do that, you should measure the exact length of your foot and buy that size.
Best Slip on Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Cobra Eco
- Made of recycled materials
- Quick to put on and take off
- Great for speed climbing
- Odd pairing of hard rubber and soft shoe
- Tough to get sizing right on first try due to stretch
The La Sportiva Cobra Eco is a classic in the La Sportiva line up that is also one of the best shoes for speed climbing.
Just like the Mythos, the Cobra underwent a revamp that made the production and materials for the shoe more sustainable and environmentally friendly. La Sportiva is incorporating a lot more recycled materials into their design. We will be the first to admit that this can be concerning to the durability of the shoe. On the Mythos the laces felt extremely fragile. But we didn’t notice any durability concerns on the Cobra.
One thing we thought was odd about the shoe was the pairing of the rubber with the soft shoe. The rubber on this shoe is the Eco Frixion which feels like a hard rubber. Overall, this shoe is soft and sensitive so you can feel all the nuances of the nubs you’re standing in. It felt like some of the features we expect with a soft shoe we’re lost with this new rubber. If you send it in for a resole, consider going with a softer rubber like the Vibram XS Grip.
One thing to keep in mind before you buy this shoe is that there will be a lot of stretch in the shoe. I always have a tricky time knowing how much to downsize when there’s stretch involved with the shoe. We found a few other climbers talking about how much to downsize and the general consensus was nearly 2-3 full European sizes.
Most Comfortable Rock Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Mythos Eco
- Extremely comfortable
- The shoe molds to your foot once broken in
- The heel of the shoe has a low profile and can feel different compared to other shoes
- Not designed for bouldering
- Laces aren’t durable
The La Sportiva Mythos is one of the most comfortable climbing shoes on the market today. There’s a reason why Sportiva has kept this shoe in their lineup for years and years. It’s the perfect shoe for climbers who want a comfortable, all day at the crag climbing shoes. If you’re doing a lot of trad climbing and crack climbing, then this is a shoe you need to consider.
This shoe was designed for comfort, so it might not be your first choice for bouldering or sport climbing. On steep overhangs and roofs, the Mythos does not perform well in giving your feet extra power and helping you pull into the wall. And there are some durability questions with the leather upper lining and laces. Toe hooking and tight crack climbing in these shoes did show noticeable wear. I would keep a spare pair of laces on hand just in case.
But these shoes are incredibly comfortable and you could wear these all day without even noticing.
Read More: La Sportiva Mythos Eco Review
Best Beginner Climbing Shoes: La Sportiva Tarantulace
- Stiff sole helps compensate for any lack of foot strength
- Affordable and you won’t feel too bad about beating these up
- Also available as a velcro version
- Shoe rubber is not Vibram but an in house product
- Durability issues and concerns because the shoe is not made at the factory in Italy
Our favorite shoe for beginner climbers is the La Sportiva Tarantulace because you get the benefits of stiff shoes without breaking the bank.
For beginner climbers, we recommend getting climbing shoes that don’t cost a lot of money because these beginner shoes are probably going to get destroyed. Footwork is crucial in climbing. And as a beginner, you will be still developing your technique. That means you’ll be dragging your feet up and down the climbing wall which quickly puts a lot of wear and tear on the shoes.
My first pair of beginner climbing shoes were the Tarantulaces and by the time I was done with them, my toes would pop through giant holes in the front of the shoe. But just because these are great beginner climbing shoes, doesn’t mean they’re only for beginners. They are comfortable and inexpensive which makes them a great candidate for gym climbing because you won’t feel too guilty about beating them up.
These shoes will perform well probably up to the 5.11 or V4 bouldering grade. When you find yourself having trouble edging or toe hooking, then it’s a good idea to look into a new pair of high performance climbing shoes.
Some of the other best beginner climbing shoes are the Scarpa Origin, Evolv Defy/ Elektra, or the Red Chili Circuit, but due to durability and price factors we prefer the La Sportiva Tarantulace.
Best Climbing Shoe for Kids: La Sportiva Stickit
- Easy closure for small kid hands
- Highly adjustable sizing to accommodate growing feet
- Laces can tear quick
Kids grow through everything extremely quickly which is why we love the La Sportiva Stickit as a climbing shoe for kids. The biggest feature we’re looking for here is that the shoe can adjust as kids grow. And La Sportiva thought of that by adding a lace system behind the heel that can accommodate a growing foot. Second, it has a fun and easy to grasp velcro strap that is easy for kids to grab.
What we didn’t like about this shoe is that the laces can tear quickly. Even after just a few sessions we saw some laces tear. Maybe this was from an over zealous child that put too much strain on them.
Best Climbing Shoes: Honorable Mentions
Unparallel Up Lace
- Comfort for all day climbing
- Stiff sole gives your feet extra support
- All vegan materials
- Poor customer service reported from customers at Unparallel
- Laces are extremely long
The Unparallel Up Lace is a great shoe that is modeled after the Five Ten Anasazi Pink. The shoe is stiff and Unparallel has added an extra piece of rubber on top of the toe box. One of my biggest complaints with climbing shoes is how thrashed they look after crack climbing. The extra rubber is huge boost for the shoes durability.
Read More: Unparallel Up Lace Review
Scarpa Vapor V
- Versatile all arounder climbing shoe
- Slight downturn but still comfortable
- Rubber wore out fast from gym climbing
- Velcro straps can get annoying in cracks
The Scarpa Vapor V is another great all around climbing shoe that can be used for all styles of gym climbing and outdoor climbing depending on how you size it. Out of the box it has a slight downturn for performance, but nothing so crazy that you need to take it off after every climb. One thing we didn’t like about this shoe was the amount of rubber on the sole. The outsole only has 3.5mm of rubber and it felt like the shoes were ready for a resole much more quickly than other shoes. Keep another pair of shoes on deck if this is going to be your primary gym shoe.
Unparallel Up Mocc
- Sensitive and soft climbing shoe
- Easy to slip on and off
- Unparallel customer support is hit or miss
- Have to pay to ship returns back to Unparallel
- Not great for edging
The Unparallel Up Mocc is the slip on, neutral profile moccasin style shoe that is offered from a relatively new brand called Unparallel. This shoe has a great fit and the heel is designed very well. Since there is no closure system, the fit of the heel can be concerning because you don’t want anything too loose or too tight. But the heel design is perfect on these shoes.
La Sportiva Miura Lace
- Excellent all around climbing shoe
- Extremely fast to lace up thanks to its closure system
- Slightly cheaper than alternative models
- Painful break in period, top of toes blistered while breaking them in
- Parts of rubber sole on toe box chipped off the rand
I’m a huge fan of the La Sportiva Miura Lace, it’s been one of the best climbing shoes I’ve own and was a close contender for the best overall climbing shoe. I’ve used this shoe for slippery thin cracks, gym climbing, and sport climbing on steep terrain. It’s been an excellent option for all of these disciplines. Despite noticing some of the rubber chipping off of the toe box, I’d still recommend this shoe because it has been that fantastic.
How to Buy Rock Climbing Shoes
The best piece of advice we can give when buying rock climbing shoes is to try them on in person before you buy.
The ideal situation is to go to a shoe demo at your local climbing gym. There will be brand representatives there that can talk you through the specific features and design of each shoe and help you find one that fits your needs. High performance climbing shoes are expensive and will feel different depending on the brand and your foot shape. You can save yourself a big headache by just trying them on and seeing how they feel.
The other shoe factors we like to look for are:
- Fit. How does the climbing shoe feel on your foot. Is the length too tight? How does the width feel. If the shoe is painful when you’re just trying it on, it’s going to feel a lot worse when you’re actually climbing. If the shoe feels too big, you can wear socks with climbing shoes to help take up some space
- Performance. What are your climbing objectives? If you’re buying a shoe for sport climbing on steep terrain or bouldering, than you may want an aggressive shoe that you’ll take off after each burn. But if you want a comfortable shoe for multi pitch climbing, than you’ll want to take a look at a shoe with a neutral profile.
- Closure System. There are three different ways a shoe can close, laces, velcro, or slip on. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Lace up shoes allow you to adjust the tightness of the shoe for the entire length, while velcro and slip on shoes are easy to put on and take off.
- Rubber. The rubber on climbing shoes creates friction that helps us stand and stick to the holds. But each climbing shoe will come with a different rubber thickness on the sole. If you want to feel each individual nub on a hold, look for a shoe with a smaller rubber sole.
- Style. This isn’t the most important factor, but it still counts for something. Do you like how the shoe looks? Does it have your favorite color? If you hate the look of the shoe, but love how it feels, will you still wear it?
Men’s and Women’s Versions
The main difference between men’s and women’s climbing shoes is the color scheme and that the women’s version is generally narrower and have a different heel shape.
If you’re having trouble finding a shoe that fits well in the men’s version, check out the women’s versions. Climbing shoe manufacturers design the women’s shoe with a narrower foot and heel shape in mind. So if you have narrow feet, it’s worth trying on a women’s design.
Stiff vs. Soft
Another important aspect of climbing shoes is the difference between stiff shoes and soft shoes. Stiff climbing shoes are more supportive and less flexible while soft climbing shoes are more flexible and are more sensitive (meaning you can feel the rocks you’re standing on.)
I use a relatively stiff shoe only when I’m climbing long trad routes or my foot is feeling fatigued. The extra support from stiff climbing shoes goes a long way to keep your feet feeling fresh after a long day of climbing. Softer shoes help you have precise footwork since you can feel exactly what you’re standing on. And since they’re more flexible you can get more of your shoe rubber on a hold.
Stiff Climbing Shoes
- More supportive
- Less flexible
- Great for beginner climbers and for climbers on long routes because the shoe provides assistance to muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your feet
Soft Climbing Shoes
- More flexible
- Less support, but help you build strength in your feet
- Great if you’re working on a problem with tiny holds that you need to feel and confidently stand on
Shoe Profile: Aggressive vs. Flat
There’s a big difference between aggressive climbing shoes and flat or neutral climbing shoes.
Every climbing shoe follows a different profile. When you look at it from the side, it may look like a regular sneaker or it might look like a crescent moon. What you’re looking at is the profile of the shoe.
An aggressive shoe will have a downturn. That means that the shoe will have a camber from the heel to the toe. These aggressive shoes can feel great if you have a high arch, but may feel a bit uncomfortable if you have a flat foot. An aggressive shoe is helpful for steep climbing but can be very uncomfortable to wear for long periods of times. We highly recommend trying on a shoe in person before buying one.
What Are the Best Climbing Shoes?
The best climbing shoes is a subjective question since it all depends on your objectives and the shape of your foot.
The best piece of advice we can give is to try a climbing shoe on before you buy, then check online for the best price. It’s impossible to know exactly how the shoe is going to fit by reading reviews. Unless you physically have the shoe on your foot you’re not going to know.
Once you’ve tried on a shoe, then think about what style of climbing you’ll be doing. The main climbing styles are: bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing. There’s more nuance within each of those discipline, but you’ll generally find shoes that are catering to these genres. And of course you can use your sport climbing shoes for trad climbing or as your main pair of bouldering shoes. It’s up to you if you want one pair for everything you do or if you want special kicks for every objective you have.
Are Climbing Shoes Expensive?
The cheapest pair of climbing shoes will be around $60 – $70, while the most expensive pairs will run around $200.
But the best climbing shoes aren’t automatically the most expensive pair. You need to think about what style of climbing you want to do and then buy the climbing shoe that best fits your need.
If all you do is steep sport climbing, then you should look into aggressive shoes that will help you stay close into the wall. But if you’re psyched on trad climbing long moderate routes, then you should look at a pair of shoes with a neutral profile and that are comfortable. Also keep in mind the closure system used on shoes. A shoe with velcro straps will be easy to take on and off but the fit won’t be as customizable as lace up closure.
Are Velcro Shoes Better than Laces
I personally prefer a lace up shoe to velcro straps, but there are pros and cons to each closure system.
The debate of velcro vs lace up climbing shoes is a matter of personal preference. There is no right answer. It comes down to the shape of your foot and your personal preferences.
If you have a narrow foot, laces may be better for you because you’ll be able to adjust each eyelet and get your shoe to fit snugly on your foot. Laces can also easily be replaced if they get thrashed while you’re crack climbing. But the downside is that many shoes make the laces very long and you’re left with big loops. Laces also take more time to put on and take off.
Shoes with a velcro closure system are easy to put on and take off. At most the shoe will have three velcro straps and that’s all you need before you’re ready to send. The downside is that the straps can get caught up and be a distraction when you’re crack climbing. And if you’re having trouble adjusting a wider shoe to your foot, you can only tighten it as far as the strap will go.
Do I Need Rock Climbing Shoes?
For your first trip to the climbing gym, you can get away with no climbing shoes. But if you want to continue rock climbing, then you should invest in a pair of climbing shoes.
Rock climbing shoes have been engineered to help you climb rocks. They look so funny thanks to years and years of iterations. One of the greatest features of climbing shoes is that their soles are entirely made of rubber. The rubber on our shoes sticks to the wall and helps us stand on the smallest edges and nubs.
If you’re going climbing outdoors, then I highly recommend renting or borrowing a pair of climbing shoes. Our sneakers and running shoes don’t have the same amount of grip. They are also bulky and clum
What Does Resoling Climbing Shoes Mean?
The outsole of a climbing shoe is made of sticky rubber that can degrades over time. Rather than throwing out the shoe once the rubber has deteriorated, you can remove the outsole and replace it with a new piece of rubber.
This process is known as resoling. And it’s a great way to get extra life out of your climbing shoes. Usually, you can get two or three resoles out of the same pair of climbing shoes. Resoling is great because you save money and you get extra life out of your favorite pair of climbing shoes.
There are some downsides to resoling though. If your shoe fits perfectly brand new out of the box, then resoling can change the fit a little bit. I had a pair of very comfortable shoes that were great for trad climbing and crack climbing. I never felt any pain from them and they were great for long routes. After I got them resoled, they fit just a bit differently and my heel didn’t fit the same.
I still got more use out of them, but I was a bit disappointed that the fit changed. Ultimately, I converted them to a pair of gym climbing shoes since I didn’t mind if they got beaten up.
What is a Low Volume Climbing Shoe
The volume of the shoe is a measurement that describes the vertical space taken up by the shoe. This is different than the length which measures the distance from heel to toe and the width which measures the distance between your pink and big toe side.
Frequently Asked Questions
It all depends on the style of climbing, but the La Sportiva Katana Lace is a great all around shoe for indoor and outdoor climbing.
For indoor climbing, you should wear climbing shoes in a size that is near your street shoe size. If you don’t have any, then all gyms will have rental shoes that you can wear.
Climbing shoes need to be a snug fit on your foot so you have more precision while rock climbing. This snug fit is what makes it easier to climb up rock walls.
Adam Ondra wears shoes from La Sportiva, he’ll wear TC Pros, Solutions, and the Miura lace.
Jordan Cannon is a fan of the stiff Scarpa Maestro and the Scarpa Boostic.
Sasha Digulian is sponsored by Five Ten and Adidas, she wears the Five Ten Hiangle climbing shoes.
Alex Honnold is sponsored by La Sportiva and wears the TC Pros and Solutions for most of his climbing.
Yes you should rent indoor climbing shoes for your first trip to the gym, these shoes are designed for rock climbing and they will help you stand on the holds.
Aggressive climbing shoes are great for bouldering and sport climbing. They help you stay close to the wall on steep climbing.
Flat rock climbing shoes, also known as shoes with a neutral profile, are great for beginner and intermediate climbers, crack climbing, or for your trad shoes.
We looked at the following review criteria when reviewing rock climbing shoes:
We wanted to find the climbing shoes that would perform the best in a wide variety of terrain. You can read more about our review criteria.