Best Climbing Shoes Reviewed & Tested for Performance

If you’re someone who is continuously up for the adventure that life brings and hiking or climbing is a large inclusive part, then you’re in need of the right shoes for the task. An ordinary pair of sneakers won’t be equipped properly for climbing. They may have some of the needed features, but when climbing you should make sure you are completely equipped for what’s to come. You want shoes that will give you the endurance, flexibility, and comfort that is needed for strenuous climbs.

Mother Nature is nurturing and organic, but that doesn’t mean it’s soft and playable. You’re bound to run into hard rocky surfaces where a firm grip is necessary. Climbing is a very precarious activity. It is so easy to slip and fall when your shoes aren’t equipped for the terrain. This could present a lot of risks and accidents for wearers of normal shoes. You need to be assured that you have the right climbing shoes for the circumstances; so, you can reduce the chances of accidents.

Last Updated: June 4, 2018
By Tony Skye:

The Recent update reflects the best of 2018’s best climbing shoes of all types, shapes, sizes, colors, with new information as to how to choose the best climbing shoes and our criteria for evaluation. Also, included are some of the most frequently asked questions about the best climbing shoes.

Featured Recommendations

La Sportiva Tarantulace
  • La Sportiva Tarantulace
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Multi-functional
  • Asymmetrical
  • Price: See Here
Evolv Cruzer Approach
  • Evolv Cruzer Approach
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Canvas Upper
  • Price: See Here
Mad Rock Mad Monkey
  • Mad Rock Mad Monkey
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 1.8-mm R2 Rand
  • Synflex Upper
  • Price: See Here

Look no further, because here we have a list of the best climbing shoes that we believe will help you on your climbing excursions. At the moment, you might think that you have the right shoes for climbing, but after reading this entire list, you’ll begin to realize that you just might be missing the more essential parts of climbing shoes.

 

15 Best Climbing Shoes

 

1. La Sportiva Tarantulace

La Sportiva Tarantulace is perfectly equipped for all of your climbing adventures. The shoes are equipped with a fast lacing system that makes tying laces a thing of the past. The shoe, also, includes an asymmetrical layout which is different than the some of the others on the list, as this helps make the shoes a bit more comfortable. Along with this, the shoes have a grip heel for latching onto surfaces in addition to a rubber outsole. The shoes are meant to be extremely adaptable and a comfortable, snug wear for your feet.
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Multi-functional Features
The company promises that the shoes can be used in all circumstances when climbing, including overhanging sports routes, bouldering, gym climbing, or technical rock faces. In other words, no matter the type of climbing, the shoes continually come into the clutch.

Unlined Advanced Features
The Tarantulace keeps the duality, comfort, and adaptability of any unlined climbing shoe while including other technical features. This added bonus makes the shoes completely more breathable for the wearer.

Cost and Value
Because they, also, include a large amount of multi-functional features and an added unlined advanced feature system, these shoes are worth the purchase price. Even better, they are budget-friendly.
Pros
  • Unlined
  • Asymmetrical
  • Comfortable
  • Duality
Cons
  • Run small
  • Slightly tight

2. Evolv Cruzer Approach

These approach shoes are perfect for leisurely climbing or descending quickly in comfort down sketchy terrains. With a heel pull tab at the ready, you can quickly clip them onto a harness or backpack when more serious climbing shoes are needed for the job. When the climb or descent becomes less hazardous, however, relieve your feet with great traction, a canvas upper, rubber outsole, and a memory foam insole (moisture-wicking). Furthermore, this pair of approach climbing shoes is barefoot-friendly.
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Canvas Upper
The canvas upper serves to allow your feet a break, in terms of comfortability and breathability. The material is lightweight and promotes minimal foot fatigue.

Folding Heel
A folding heel allows you to turn these shoes into slippers. Lounge around the campfire after your big climb, and enjoy the moment. After all, you deserve to treat yourself to the comforts of what lies both ahead and behind you.

Cost and Value
This pair of shoes is midrange of cost association. Having a design which centers on minimalism and lightweight appeal, these shoes are worth every penny spent. Moreover, they are ready for leisurely climbs and quick descents.
Pros
  • Canvas Upper
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Moisture-wicking Insole
  • Folding Heel
  • Heel Pull Tab
Cons
  • Size runs small

3. La Sportiva Tarantula

La Sportive Tarantula is an excellent choice for beginning climbers, as they are adjustable and made to work with a varying range of feet. The shoes are built to last and are made with endurance in mind. What makes them so likable is their easy and very simple design. Furthermore, with a 1.8-millimeter LaspoFlex midsole, a 5-millimeter FriXion® RS outsole, and leather upper, you are certain to have a good experience while gaining the much-needed experience you need for more advanced climbs.
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Adjustable, Closure System
The shoe's adjustable closure system easily adapts to a multitude of feet sizes, making the shoes more desirable. This makes it easy for wearers when gearing up for climbing, as they are easy to slip on and off, as necessary.

Unlined Leather Upper
This makes the shoe more breathable and reduces wet feet, due to sweat. It, also, allows for the shoes to perform well in the circumstances when needed but it, also, has more volume on the inside which helps for the beginning climber.

Cost and Value
Compared to the prices on the list, the shoes are budget-friendly for climbing shoes; and because they allow beginners a better feel of climbing, this is an added bonus. Furthermore, they are easily adaptable and adjustable in the way these shoes are made. As such, this pair of best shoes for climbing is perfect for those who are just starting out.
Pros
  • Adjustable, Closure System
  • For Beginners
  • FriXion® Rubber Outsole
  • Asymmetrical
  • All-around Climbing
Cons
  • Size runs small

4. La Sportiva Oxygym

4. La Sportiva Oxygym
Perfect for gym climbing or all-around general climbing, these shoes from La Sportiva are washable, have a moisture-wicking AirTex inner, 3-layer WashTex fabric upper, a 5-millimeter FriXion® RS outsole, contain a 1.8-millimeter LaspoFlex midsole, and have an EVA heel insert to help handle shock absorption. In other words, these shoes are ready for the climb.
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Hook-and-Loop Closure System
These best climbing shoes have a hook-and-loop closure system. This allows you to personalize the fit and better secure your foot in the shoes. In addition to security, you will gain added comfort, as a result.

5-mm FriXion® RS Outsole
To gain grip in your climb La Sportiva implements a 5-mm FriXion® RS outsole. This means you will have better footing while, simultaneously, gain the advantage of minimalization.

Cost and Value
Ranging in cost association of midrange, this pair of climbing shoes is an ideal choice for both beginners and advanced climbers. Whether you are searching for your first pair of climbing shoes or are looking to add to your footwear collection, these shoes will not disappoint. As such, they are a great choice for overall general climbing.
Pros
  • 3-layer WashTex Fabric Upper
  • Moisture-wicking AirTex Inner
  • Hook-and-Loop Closure System
  • Washable
  • 5-mm FriXion® RS Outsole
Cons
  • Size runs small

5. Scarpa Instinct VS

5. Scarpa Instinct VS
If you are heading to the gym for a climbing session or making your way to a nice boulder slab, this pair of best climbing shoes will help you to gain the grip you need, even on the smaller surface areas. Made with Vibram® XS Edge and vibram® XS Grip 2 technology, these shoes are sure to help you gain the upper hand when versing the climb ahead.
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Mid-length Midsole
This midsole design gives you the right amount of flexibility while, also, allowing your foot the security it needs to maintain secure footing. This, in turn, will help you to retain a minimal shoe environment while, simultaneously, holding on to the supportive function only found in a great climbing shoe.

Textile Upper
This upper allows breathability and gives you a lightweight shoe in the process. Furthermore, it is easier to clean than a fabric made of canvas or the like. Moreover, if you are looking for a performance-quality shoe, then this is a great choice, as the upper provides flexibility and stability at the same time.

Cost and Value
For a high-quality performance climbing shoe, this one fits the bill, as it is midrange in cost association. This is great for adding to your footwear collection or as a first-timer shoe. As such, these climbing shoes make the list.
Pros
  • Textile Upper
  • Bi-tension Active Randing
  • Vibram® XS Edge Technology
  • Vibram® XS Grip 2 Technology
  • Mid-length Outsole
Cons
  • Sizing Runs Large
  • Stretches Easily

6. Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym

6. Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym
Five Ten’s Anasazi Moccasym shoe is an excellent choice for climbing. They are made completely out of leather except for the rubber outsole which is ideal for a stronger grip. The shoes are resoleable which make it easier to keep them for longer amounts of time. The shoes, as an added factor, are extremely comfortable and include a slingshot heel.
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Rubber Outsole
The shoes have an incredible rubber outsole that has an extremely strong grip on all surfaces. The rubber is made out of Stealth C4 rubber, which the company itself, Five Ten, is known for. These stealth rubber outsoles have been making a mark for more than thirty years.

Triple Pull Tabs
Whether you need quick on-and-off or a place to connect to your harness and/or backpack, these shoes come equipped with triple pull tabs. Convenience and general overall ease is only a pull away.

Cost and Value
Compared to the prices on this list, the price for this shoe is budget-friendly, and with the world-renown rubber the company is known for, you can be rest assured while wearing these shoes your grip and friction will be extreme. Along with this, the side seam makes for easy comfort, and the triple pull tabs allow for easy on and off. In other words, they are worth every penny spent.
Pros
  • Stealth C4 Rubber Outsole
  • Side-exit Heel Seam
  • Resoleable
  • Split-grain Leather Upper
  • Slingshot Heel
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

7. Evolv Defy

7. Evolv Defy
The Evolve Defy has a synthetic upper, is asymmetrical, has nylon in the inner, and they include a VTR rand. Also, the midsole is half-length and has a 1-millimeter sensitivity factor. With all of these features in place, you are better equipped to handle an all-around climbing expedition.
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Asymmetrical feature
What makes these shoes special is the added asymmetrical feature they have. The added feature helps you with a better fit; providing both comfortability and stability. This, in turn, allows you to gain a better foothold when it matters most.

Anti-bacterial Mesh
Treated with an anti-bacterial mesh material, these climbing shoes will help to promote better overall foot health. Bacterium will struggle to survive when your feet sweat; thereby, lowering or even eliminating foot odor, altogether.

Cost and Value
The shoes, out of many on this list, are on the inexpensive side (midrange) and come equipped with major benefits such as a perforated Synthratek upper, nylon lining, MX-P midsole, VTR rand, and 4.2 millimeters of TRAX® high-friction rubber. As such, these climbing shoes are worth the asking price.
Pros
  • Asymmetrical Profile
  • Perforated Synthratek Upper
  • Nylon Lining
  • MX-P Midsole
  • VTR Rand
Cons
  • Size runs small

8. La Sportiva Solution

8. La Sportiva Solution
La Sportiva Solution climbing shoe has an interesting design and this, most definitely, doesn't discount its importance. These shoes incorporate a practical style with a fast lacing system. They, also, include a special patented system of locking. In addition, they're made of synthetic material and, also, have a 3-D heel cup included.
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Patented Lock Harness
The patented lock harness system, for secure heel hooking, ensures much more efficiency for wearing the shoes when climbing. This allows a better fit and, also, allows you to feel a bit safer in your footwear.

Marbled Rands
This means that each pair has unique marbling and is meant for high performance. Furthermore, they are built for the specific situation at hand and will give you the right amount of both stability and flexibility when it comes to climbing.

Cost and Value
Compared to the shoes on the list, the shoes aren't too expensive but come with added effects that make up for their midrange pricing. With elements such as the patented lock harness, molded 3-D heel cup, P3 Permanent Power Platform, marbled rands, and a synthetic upper, you are certain to be ready for the climb.
Pros
  • Patented Lock Harness
  • 3-D Heel Cup
  • Fast Lacing
  • P3 Permanent Power Platform
  • Fast Closure System
Cons
  • Size runs small

9. La Sportiva Katana

9. La Sportiva Katana
The iconic Katana climbing performance shoe is one of La Sportiva’s best-selling designs, and it’s for a good reason. This piece of equipment is suitable and adjustable for any type of climbing performance; giving you the right tools to get the most out of yourself in each discipline. The incorporation of high-end climbing technologies, such as the P3 Permanent Power Platform, takes this shoe to its limit; as well as, yours.
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P3 Permanent Power Platform
There’s no climbing without a solid platform for your shoe, and that’s exactly what the P3 Permanent Power Platform takes care of. Designed to provide users with maximum stability and balance, this technology turns any shoe into a veritable edging machine. The slimmest edges and steepest inclines are no obstacle when the P3 Permanent Power Platform put you in absolute control of your balance, weight distribution, and mobility.

Adaptability
The Katana is the first climbing shoe that features a tubular construction, with the lining placed between the leather upper build and the rubber rand. This combination provides you the structured performance of a shoe with lining while featuring the comfort, sensitiveness, and breathability of an unlined shoe. In combination with the innovative Vibram XS Edge compound, this slightly asymmetric climbing machine will perform its best on any climbing scenario you may encounter.

Cost and Value
The cost associated with this pair of climbing shoes is on the upper end of the high range. With that being stated, they are equipped well, in regard to overall comfortability, flexibility, performance, and stability. As such, they are worth the purchase price.
Pros
  • Enhanced Lacing System
  • Durable
  • All-around Climbing
  • Sensitive and Grippy
Cons
  • Size runs large

10. La Sportiva Miura

10. La Sportiva Miura
Whether it is bouldering, in-the-gym climbing, technical face climbing, or overhangs, these shoes are ready for the job-at-hand. Fitted with speed laces, an aggressive down-turned toe, a 1.1-millimeter Laspoflex midsole, 4-mm Vibram XSV outsole, an 8-panel directional Dentex lining, and a leather and textile upper, this pair of climbing shoes is perfect for adding to your footwear collection.
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Aggressive Down-turned Toe
Ready for edging, the design is perfect for those who spend a lot of time bouldering, technical face climbing, or in the gym. The down-turned toe gives you the right amount of grip while allowing your center of gravity to feel a bit more comfortable.

4-mm Vibram XSV Outsole
Grip with minimalism is the design of this outsole. It gives decent protection while promoting the feel of the surface at the same time. In essence, this helps your overall balance and performance.

Cost and Value
Midrange is the cost association of this pair of performance climbing shoes. With the quality makeup of the materials, design, and overall features, these shoes are not only ready for the climb but are awaiting you to add them to your footwear wardrobe.
Pros
  • Leather/Textile Upper
  • 1.1-mm Laspoflex Midsole
  • 4-mm Vibram XSV Outsole
  • 8-panel Directional Dentex Lining
  • Aggressive Down-turned Toe
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

11. Mad Rock Mad Monkey

11. Mad Rock Mad Monkey
These shoes are perfect for your little one who wants to take part in climbing. The shoes are made of SupaSuede leather and come in a cute child-like design. The outsole of the shoes is made of rubber which ensures children will have an added grip for when they're rock climbing. The shoes, also, have a flexible grip to help ensure better footing and a dual hook-and-loop closure system which will work with the feet of various children.
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Dual Hook-and-Loop Closure Straps
The hook-and-loop closure system allows your child to maintain a better fit. This not only customizes the fit to individual needs but, also, ensures more stability and security; thereby, helping to keep your child a bit safer while on that climb.

Midsole
With a 1-millimeter compressed polyester midsole, your child will have a flexible but stable feel for the climb. With a near-to-barefoot feel, your child will retain better overall control during his or her footwork.

Cost and Value
The price of this particular shoe is much cheaper than the rest on this list, but then again, it is a children's shoe. The shoe comes with a nice feel and is easy to slip on, as well. And with the decent amount of technology at the helm, this shoe is a great choice for adding to a climber’s footwear collection.
Pros
  • 3.8-mm Mad Rubber Outsole
  • Dual Hook and Loop Closure 
  • Compressed Polyester Midsole
  • Synflex Upper
  • 1.8-mm R2 Rand
Cons
  • Minimal color variety

12. La Sportiva TC Pro

12. La Sportiva TC Pro
This is a climbing shoe great for gym climbing or light boulder and wall work. Ideal for crack and face climbing, these shoes from La Sportiva are ready for the job of enjoying the glorious moment of conquering. Made with 80% leather and 20% Vibram® rubber rands, these shoes will allow you to stand on a dime with the ability to tuck inside of those smaller nooks and crannies.
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Side Perforations & Ventilated Tongue
This shoe's design is made to help promote a breathable environment while, also, allowing you protection from the pains of rough surfaces such as rock. In essence, these shoes help to provide better overall foot health, in the form of breathability.

LaspoFlex Midsole
1.1-millimeter in thickness, this midsole gives the right amount of both stability and flexibility. You will be able to 'feel' your footing, and still, retain the sturdiness of a midsole having a design to bring comfort.

Cost and Value
Comparable to other items on this list, these climbing shoes are midrange in cost association. Moreover, they are built well for beginners and advanced climbers alike. As such, this pair of best climbing shoes from La Sportiva is worth the purchase price.
Pros
  • Leather/ Vibram® Rubber Upper
  • Vibram® XS Edge Outsole
  • 1.1mm LaspoFlex Midsole
  • Breathable, Side Perforations
  • Ventilated Tongue
Cons
  • Size runs small
  • Size runs narrow

13. Five Ten Dragon

13. Five Ten Dragon
Five Ten is regarded as the brand of the brave, and they’re one of the leaders when it comes to climbing performance footwear. Their high-friction designs come from downhill mountain biking to rock climbing, kayaking, and wingsuit flying. If there’s someone who knows how to make equipment for the most dangerous and demanding sports, it’s Five Ten. Their Dragon climbing release follows an aggressive and asymmetrically curving design ideal for bouldering and climbing.
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Stealth HF Outsole
The Dragon is equipped with just the right outsole for climbing – one that can endure friction, edging, and prolonged climbing. Underfoot protection is not something you have to worry about with this technology, as it is designed to remain stable and supportive during the moments where you need them the most. Its unique level of grip will help you hold onto anything you can possibly use as a point of support.

Cowdura Upper
Breathability, durability, and comfort are three of the main aspects delivered by the Five Ten Dragon. The upper build of this shoe follows a vegan approach while providing you with the features and resistance level of genuine leather. Aside from being highly comfortable, the upper build is resistant to scratches and abrasion, and tough enough to endure the obstacles encountered when hiking.

Cost and Value
This nice pair of climbing shoes is, also, cost-efficient in that that they are midrange with cost association. With their plethora of technologies at the helm, these shoes are certain to aid you in climbing at your best. Furthermore, they are built ready for the climb ahead.
Pros
  • Cowdura Upper
  • Vegan Construction
  • Dual easy-on heel pulls
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Dual Hook-and-Loop Straps
Cons
  • Sizing runs small

14. Scarpa Helix

14. Scarpa Helix
Great for first-timer climbers, these shoes have the classic feel of flat-lasted construction but inherit a technologically advanced heel cup. This, in essence, helps you to understand the 'feel' of the different types of obstacles while climbing while, also, giving you the added support and stability within the heel cup. Furthermore, to-the-toe lacing helps to gain a better fit, a Vibram XS Edge outsole helps with traction, and the leather upper gives you a bit more durability.
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Flat-lasted Construction
Both first-timers and 'old school' climbers will love the feel of the flat-lasted construction in this pair of best climbing shoes. Great for general climbing, these shoes are ready. Are you?

Passive Randing
A classic grip on the heel and toes helps to ensure a better foothold, while either learning a proper technique or for the sheer enjoyment of the classic feel.

Cost and Value
Budget-friendly in cost association, this pair of climbing shoes is worth the purchase price; especially, if you are a first-timer or a lover of the classic feel. As such, these shoes are a great addition to your footwear wardrobe.
Pros
  • Vibram XS Edge Outsole
  • Leather Upper
  • Flat-lasted Construction
  • To-the-toe Lacing
  • Passive Randing
Cons
  • Size runs small
  • Stretches over time

15. La Sportiva Genius

15. La Sportiva Genius
The Genius model is one of the most recent and successful products by La Sportiva, featuring a unisex approach that fits almost any user despite their gender, age, height, and anatomy. Its award-winning performance comes from a combination of highly-resistant materials and their intuitive appliance, high-end climbing technology, and an overall lightweight build in general. The Genius doesn’t fall short of its name, defending its reputation for multiple purposes, including indoor gyms.
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Multi-purpose Performance
La Sportiva’s Genius is one of the best climbing shoes when it comes to multi-purpose designs. Whether you’re going climbing, bouldering, or complex rock faces with overhangs, the Genius will offer the right features to optimize your performance on each occasion individually. The materials are suitable for nearly all kinds of environments, enduring abrasion, scratches, and hits without notable damage.

Easy Lacing Approach
Personalizing your fit has never been easier before. The Genius is quick and easy to lace, allowing users to set their lacing by just pulling on a string. The string will perfectly regulate the inner volume of the shoe, wrapping your foot snuggly and creating an optimal level of support. The closure is extremely easy to access and adjust, even at points during the performance where you may need to adjust your fit.

Cost and Value
With a price associated with the low-to-mid range, these pair of climbing shoes are worth every penny you will spend on them. Built for action and ready for the climb, they are a great addition to any climber’s footwear arsenal.
Pros
  • No-edge Technology
  • Easy-lace and Adjustment
  • Vibram XS Grip2 Outsole
  • Unlined, Suede Leather Upper
Cons
  • Size runs small

If you’re looking for just the right climbing shoes then this list should have met those demands. By now you should have realized that your average sneakers just aren’t equipped to bring to the table what a normal climbing shoe can bring. When climbing, a shoe with great soles is needed to get a firm grip on the rocks; and many normal shoes, just don’t have the soles for this. Many other climbing shoes have the added asymmetrical fit or the box toes for a better and easier, simpler climb, which won’t have your foot snagging against rocks, and will make your climb all the more efficient.

Normal sneakers with the average shape don’t have this added factor, either. Either way, whether you’re just beginning to take part in climbing or you’re a well-versed expert, this list has a bit of both sprinkled in. Even parents who are looking for an exciting way for their children to participate in this activity can find something here. Hopefully, with all the options given, you found something to help strengthen your drive in climbing.

Criteria for Evaluating the Best Climbing Shoes

Best-Climbing-Shoes-man and woman climbers

When it comes to climbing, it’s important that you’re equipped with proper gear. Having the right climbing shoes is imperative. If you’re not equipped with the right climbing shoes, then you might not be able to climb the full extent of your ability. When it comes to climbing shoes, they range in the type of shoes and the added features they have. When finding a climbing shoe, you have to be specific about what you’re looking for. For example, aggressive climbing shoes will work completely different for certain types of climbers. They work well for ones who use a more rocky terrain than ones who use a flatter terrain because of the shoes’ build. So, when looking for you climbing shoe, you have to make sure you put the most important factor in finding a shoe, first. This factor being the features you’re looking for in your climbing shoe that will have to do with how you want to climb and where.

Weight

Sports performance, in general, calls for lightweight equipment; in the modern era, manufacturers are in a consistent race to achieve the lightest design possible. Even casual shoes are optimized for weight, and it’s all because of a simple reason: a lighter shoe requires less effort to move. That’s it.

Even shoes meant to be thick and heavy are optimized for weight – not necessarily to make them light, but to make them not as heavy. This is because when it comes to sports performance, you want your shoes to weigh just what’s necessary, in order to execute the practice properly and not an ounce more or an ounce less.

“Not an ounce less, I thought we wanted to go as light as possible,” you may ask? This is partially true. You should go as lightweight as functionally possible. Just like the excess of weight becomes an obstacle to performance, the lack of it becomes so, as well. The problem isn’t really the lack of weight itself, but rather what it takes to achieve the lack of weight.

A shoe that is too minimalist will lack structure and support. Think of a climbing shoe made entirely from mesh; it certainly would be nearly weightless, but nowhere near functionally acceptable. Achieving minimalism shouldn’t be about the shoe’s total weight, but rather the weight of its components in relation to the objective they’re meant for.

For example, winter boots are meant to be thick and heavy to a certain extent, but this doesn’t imply that they must weigh a ton. They still can, and should, be optimized to deliver the adequate protection at the least amount of weight possible.

Decreasing the weight of a shoe not only allows you to move it with less effort but, also, more accurately. Regarding the effort it takes to move your feet, a lot of users underestimate the weight of their shoes. The amount of reduced effort may be insignificant if we’re talking about one step; but, when we’re talking about multiple hours of hiking and climbing, all those steps add up to a considerable reduction in muscular fatigue.

Climbing shoes, specifically, should be lightweight for these two reasons. You want to use the least amount of energy as possible on each motion, and you want to be able to perform them freely and accurately. A lightweight shoe is much easier to maneuver with and this is of critical importance in climbing practices where accuracy, mobility, and stability are paramount.

Best-Climbing-Shoes-closure system

Flexibility

In some of our guides, we’ve previously discussed the importance of flexibility in a performance shoe. The ability to flex our feet is the very base of nearly any motion that involves our legs. There’s a very limited amount of movements that can be performed without flexing the foot, and they’re often highly uncomfortable. This is because our feet are simply anatomically designed to flex.

Any shoe that lacks flexibility contradicts the human anatomy, and thus, it disrupts any sort of performance; more specifically, those related to aerobics or sports. But flexibility is one of the most delicate aspects of climbing shoes, in comparison to other traditional performance footwear, like running shoes. Normally, the flexibility of a shoe is designed to assist the human walking gait in which the arch is the highest point of flexion.

Climbing shoes require a whole other perspective when it comes to the flexibility of the frame. As opposed to most other performance shoes, climbing shoes may count with a stiffer midsole; although this varies depending on the specific practice you perform. But this doesn’t mean it should be only flexible or only stiff; that is, stiffness and flexibility are not necessarily opposite features, and they can work together as one.

Despite the outsole being hard for stability and protection purposes, it should still feature a certain grade of flexibility. The upper build should, also, be involved in this feature, because in climbing feet are meant to ‘wrap’ the points of support. A flexible climbing shoe will allow you to place your foot slightly around objects rather than just sitting completely flat upon them.

The best climbing shoes are those that allow your feet to flex freely. Keep in mind that flexing your feet isn’t the same as flexing the shoe; your feet are capable of flexing and moving to a certain extent without affecting the state of the outsole. The upper build becomes a critical point of flexibility for this task; as well as, the frame of the shoe because they will allow you to perform the unnatural twisting and turning motions required for certain obstacles.

It’s important to not get an utterly-flexible climbing shoe; rigidness is a must, in order to maintain support at an optimal point. An excess of flexibility and softness will, ultimately, result in the lack of structure and support.

Protection Best Climbing Shoes

Protection

Climbing is an activity that will harm your feet if you’re not properly prepared for it. The right materials are required, in order to prevent your feet from being exposed to superior amounts of stress. Although certain parts of our feet suffer more than others while climbing, it’s important to look for all-around protection.

It may look like a tough material is all it requires to prevent your feet from being hurt, but in reality, it takes more than just protective materials. In most cases, you don’t get to perform gentle motions in which your feet are softly placed on the climbing rocks. Climbing involves forceful movements that, upon impact with the rocks, generate a lot of shock and stress on feet.

While the materials will physically protect the surface of your feet, some residual shock will always get to them. This is why it’s important to look for climbing shoes that offer a sufficient amount of shock-absorption or some form of a stress-relieving method. The best climbing shoes feature an absorptive outsole material or individual technologies like gel absorption systems, in addition to a heel cup. Even the midsole will act as both stability and comfortability when considering shock-absorption.

Outsole :
The outsole is possibly the most important element of a climbing shoe. Obviously, an outsole alone doesn’t determine the quality of a climbing shoe, but you won’t get anywhere without a good outsole. This element is what, ultimately, determines whether you stay on the climb or not.

It’s paramount that your climbing shoes feature a high-end outsole. At the same time, multiple sub-factors determine the quality of an outsole. For starters, and most importantly, one of these sub-factors is the grip. A good grip will have a considerable impact on your climbing performance; that is, the better it is, the easier and more securely you’ll be able to grasp objects.

The materials that compose the outsole have a clear impact on its gripping qualities. Normally, rubber is the most widely used compound for this task. Its abrasion-resistant qualities make it ideal for the rough sport, and rubber is not a material that slips off things when in its natural state. However, we’re not necessarily talking about traditional rubber.

Synthetization plays a huge role in performance shoe materials. Through synthesizing chemists are able to combine and modify the properties of some materials; removing, adding, combining, and/or altering the qualities required for a specific practice. For instance, vulcanized rubber has a slightly stickier surface than traditional surface rubber, which proves to be extremely handy; especially, at the moment of gripping uneven rocks when climbing.

A quality outsole will be able to grip to a wider variety of objects, and much more efficiently. It, also, allows users to grip elements that aren’t necessarily in their natural state (e.g. a moisturized surface). This, of course, depends on how moisturized or affected the surface is. As a side note and a very important one at that: never assume you’ll be able to grip the rock before going for it.

Another paramount aspect of a climbing shoe outsole is the stability. The outsole, aside from providing protection to feet, must be able to act as a firm platform. Without this feature, you won’t be able to make an efficient use of your own impulse. A solid base is necessary to take confident and powerful steps.

An outsole that wiggles, as you place tension on them, gives you no security or certainty. You won’t use your true potential if you don’t rely on your outsole; no one feels comfortable climbing with an outsole that feels weak. On the other hand, when you’re standing on a solid and reliable shoe, you’re able to give the most power without any concerns.

Pillar Best Climbing Shoes

Comfort

Comfort is, possibly, the most underrated performance feature of sports footwear. Unlike many people might believe, comfort isn’t just something you can ignore. It’s possible to force yourself into uncomfortable shoes when we’re talking about casual shoes (although you shouldn’t), but this is by no means the same when talking about performance footwear; more specifically, climbing shoes.

An uncomfortable shoe isn’t suitable for performance and it’s as simple as that. The facts are that, in order to perform at your best, your feet must be in a comfortable state. Realistically speaking, you won’t be able to climb for long if the footwear discomforts you in any way. You can’t expect an optimal performance if you’re thinking of how uncomfortable your shoes are while you perform.

In some cases, beginning users aren’t able to determine what it is that makes rock climbing shoes comfortable. While there are certain comfortability standards for every element of the shoe, personal preference always has an impact on what is more comfortable for you individually.

  • The first factor that has an impact on comfort is the sizing. At first sight, it’s a bit obvious; nobody is going to get a pair of shoes that don’t match their sizing. However, some people can’t accurately tell how suitable each sizing is for them. This is, in part, because climbing shoes are meant to fit differently than traditional performance footwear. The adequate sizing is one in which your big toe barely touches the tip of the inner shoe. If it doesn’t touch the shoe, it’s too big. Likewise, if all of your toes are compressed against the tip, it’s too small. Keep in mind that climbing shoes will always fit tightly in comparison to other shoes, but not an annoying type of tightness; but rather, a supportive one.
  • Breathability, also, has a direct impact on the comfortability of a shoe. A consistent flow of air through the shoe is necessary to prevent excessive sweating, the development of bad-smelling bacteria, fungi, and the sub-consequences involved with each of these things. Additionally, the sensation of overheating feet makes it very hard to perform any activity.
  • The lining material is another factor you must check before purchasing any climbing shoes. The best climbing footwear will have a cushioned and soft lining that comforts your foot throughout the performance. Any sort of discomfort generated by the physical contact will prevent you from giving your best, as you’ll instinctively restrain your motions to avoid hurting your feet. And the more tired you become, the more your mind will stray toward the discomfort.
  • Cushioning within a shoe plays a role in both comfortability and functionality. Cushioning is a key point to shock absorption and prevention of hurt feet when climbing. The only things standing between our feet and the external materials of a performance shoe is the insole, the lining, and the cushioning. If we were to take the cushioning away from the inner of a shoe, your feet would experience a massive part of the impact shock generated on each step. While the external materials may hinder the initial impact, the shock will work its way up the shoe and into your feet.
    • The cushioning should be composed of a material that delivers comfort and has performance qualities at the same time. Materials that include shock-absorbing qualities work as excellent cushioning for climbing shoes, such as foams and similar soft compounds.
    • These kinds of shoes call for a minimalist approach in all senses and aspects, and this involves cushioning. As much as climbers would love to, it’s not practical to have a thick layer of cushioning foam under their feet while performing; thus, the minimalism of the materials represents as much importance as the cushioning itself.
    • Compounds like the ones used in gel cushioning systems take the lead for this kind of shoe. The gel features excellent absorbing qualities and provides a soft sensation when compressed; but more importantly, only a thin layer of gel is necessary to equip a climbing shoe with the necessary amount of cushioning and shock absorption at the same time.
    • The best climbing shoes are those that cushion you throughout the whole practice; not only reducing muscular fatigue during the process but, also, relieving post-performance stress that remains on heels, toes, and the arch.

Breathability Best Climbing shoes

Breathability

It’s important for climbing shoes to incorporate a feature of breathability. Without breathability, shoes will be hot and uncomfortable for the user’s feet. This will produce lots of sweat, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than having sweaty feet when trying to climb. Breathability in a shoe ensures that feet will be able to get fresh air.

Excessive sweating comes with a list of consequences at the same time, which will become obstacles during your performance. Initially, the sweat can be a cause for your feet to slip within the shoe. There isn’t too much space within a climbing shoe for the foot to slip around, but slight discordances in your feet movement are enough to affect your balance and performance in a sport, like climbing.

Additionally, overheated feet are just uncomfortable. As explained in the comfort section, you’re not able to focus and give 100% during the performance if there’s something disrupting the activity, like overheated feet. The annoyance of the heat concentration within your shoe becomes a psychological factor that has a considerable negative impact on your abilities; not to mention, overheated feet can simply start to be physically painful, as well.

The lack of breathability, also, has post-performance effects, such as the accumulation of bacteria on the inner of the shoe. This bacterium contributes to the development of bad smells that stick to the insole and the inner materials of the shoe. It’s, also, a common cause for athlete’s foot and other fungi.

The best climbing shoes are those that feature an acceptable level of breathability. The air must be able to flow freely through the shoe, preventing any heat from accumulating in a prolonged fashion. Furthermore, the constant flow of fresh air becomes a comforting factor for the users; not only reducing the sweat stimulation but, also, preventing skin irritation caused by heat.

Best-Climbing-Shoes-proper gear

Surface & Terrain

The terrain determines the type of shoe a climber will wear. The type of terrain depends on the person. Some prefer an easier, flatter type of terrain, which can be approached with the simplest type of climbing shoes. Others prefer trickier types of terrains, which would require a different type of climbing shoe (e.g. ‘aggressive’ climbing shoe). The differences between the average climbing shoe and the aggressive shoe have to do with how the shoes are equipped for the rough landscape.

Despite having the same principles, different climbing variations call for specialized equipment. This is to optimize the functions of the shoe in relation to the specific practice they’re meant for. These changes can represent a deeper arch inclination, the addition of small sole spikes, or even a completely different design. Depending on which sport you’ll perform, there are specific features you should be looking for.

It’s important to remember that the design is not the only thing that varies with each practice. Depending on the specific sport you’re looking to perform, you may, also, want to adjust to different sizing, in order to achieve an optimal fit. Shoes aimed at maximum performance, generally, tend to be the tightest and most aggressively shaped. These may result in an uncomfortable experience for new users, at first.

  • Bouldering –
    For bouldering and recreational climbing, you should be seeking a downturned climbing shoe. The steeper the climb, the more downturn should be present in your climbing shoe. La Sportiva Genius is a great example of this feature. This type of shoe design allows users to drive much more power through the toes in a controlled and stable manner.
  • Traditional & Crack climbing –
    If you’re looking to perform traditional climbing, the best way to go is sticking to a pair of flat shoes. Traditional and crack climbing have no set standards regarding the height and duration of a climb or the technique used. This original version of climbing is meant to be performed as each user individually finds it the most comfortable.Normally, crack climbing calls for shoes that fit into the cracks of the surface you’re climbing. The outsole should be stiff and flat; whereas, the upper build should wrap the upper foot in a manner that it doesn’t add much bulk. The toes should be the slimmest part; yet, they should have protection, too; the toe tip is the element that first penetrates into the cracks.Stiff outsoles enhance your ability to overcome edge, and support points that are slim or very uneven. They’re the ones that offer the most support and protection, as well; ultimately, reducing fatigue and allowing you to perform for longer while remaining more comfortable.
  • Gym Climbing –
    This is where most beginners normally start at. Gym climbing (or indoor climbing) is, unquestionably, the best way to grasp the concept of climbing and the proper form in a totally safe manner. Until you decide to opt for a specific climbing sport, you should stick to a pair of shoes that cover the demands of climbing all around.

Beginners should look for something that adapts to any terrain and surface. Although you won’t get the best performance on all terrains, general climbing shoes allow you to access much more practices and help you to become familiarized with more aspects of the sport. Specific shoes, crack climbing shoes, for example, are much better at their purpose than ‘universal’ climbing shoes, but they’re only limited to crack climbing.

We recommend that starting users and gym climbers opt for a less costly climbing shoe. Equipment gets to be quite expensive at the professional level, and improper use will result in your equipment degrading considerably quicker. Because of this, we advise you to become familiar with generic climbing shoes before opting for a high-end upgrade.

Indoor Best Climbing Shoes

Design

  • Support –
    Support is one of the elemental features in climbing shoes, as it’s what holds our feet in a stable position to optimize mobility and the accuracy of each movement. This feature is present in every single performance shoe, except it’s applied differently on each sport based on its needs and goals.When talking or reading about support, it’s important to keep in mind the different parts of our feet that can be supported. All-around support is called feet support, which is in the running shoe example we just explained. Feet support aims at improved stability, in general. On the other hand, there’s support targeted to specific areas, such as arch support.
  • Arch Support –
    There’s a concerning amount of users that are not familiar with the purpose of arch support, and it’s understandable. Arch support is not something all users need, nor something all users can get in the same shoe. There’s a huge variety of arch heights that go from flat feet to higher arches. Because of this, it’s impossible to design a shoe that will comfort the arches of all users individually.Users with high arches, experience greater tension on the arch when performing, even in the simplest of activities, like walking. Because their arches are so high, there are fewer contact points between their feet and the shoe. This results in the user having to balance their weight on either the tip of their foot or their heels, in order to avoid stressing their arch. In this case, arch support would allow their arch to be in a resting state rather than being under constant stress.
  • Closure – 
    The closure makes a significant contribution to the support of feet. Whether it’s lacing or straps, they provide the upper foot with a locked-in fit that will prevent it to swing sideways. In the case of some laced shoes, the strings pull the materials of the shoe together, wrapping the foot and providing the maximum support needed.Adjustable laces and hooks are an advantage when it comes to putting on the shoe, or taking it off. The best climbing shoes are those that barely require any effort to put on and adjust and, also, make it fairly simple to remove and reequip the shoes between climbs.
  • Sensitivity –
    A climbing shoe should never obstruct your ability to sense the surface you’re climbing. Shoes are an intermediary between our feet and the rocks; they are not meant to be a replacement for our feet. Instead, climbing shoes and feet should work together to obtain the most out of your performance.The best climbing shoes are those which, while protecting our feet, feature certain grade of sensitivity that allows you to analyze through contact the surface or rock you’re grasping. A shoe that impedes your senses isn’t any good, as it won’t allow you to determine the specific shape of the object that you’ll use as support.

Climbing is not a sport in which you can afford false movements, as you have to be absolutely certain that you can rely on the next rock you’re using. If you can’t properly determine the shape of the rock or sense its edges, you can’t take an optimal step. On the other hand, your shoe will allow you to feel the exact shape of the rock and, thus, you will know which position will be the most stable for you.

This is, in part, why old-school climbing was performed barefoot; sensitivity plays a massive role in the quality of any climbing performance. However, having both feet exposed to the harsh climbing environment was a huge drawback to barefoot performance. Because of this, climbers started looking for materials that, while offering protection, allowed them to have complete control over their senses.

Hippie Best Climbing Shoes

Types of Climbing Shoes For The Various Terrains

Depending on where you decide to climb adding the perfect pair of shoes can be imperative to your overall adventure. You certainly don’t want to wear super thing minimalist shoes if you are going to be climbing in the Rockies while it is cold out. Likewise, you won’t want to be wearing boots in ninety-degree weather. Let’s take a look at the different aspects of shoes meant for different climbing situations.

Aggressive Climbing Shoes

  • These shoes are even more downturned then the rest
  • They have even thinner soles and can be even stickier on the soles
  • The soles will wear faster since they’re stickier
  • The downturned angle will don’t fit into cracks the same way that neutral can
  • It’s less comfortable than moderate shoes and neutral shoes

Moderate Climbing Shoes

  • Many have a stickier sole than neutral
  • The sole of the shoe is much thinner
  • Less comfortable than neutral, but more than aggressive
  • Downturned shaped make climbs more powerful
  • The stickier the soles are and the thinner they are, make them wear much quicker.

Neutral Climbing Shoes

  • Have medium-to-stiff midsole
  • Flat profile perfect for sliding into cracks
  • Have thicker soles that are less sensitive
  • The comfortable fit isn’t meant for tougher terrains

Wall Best Climbing Shoes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.What makes a good climbing shoe?
A. When it comes to climbing shoes, the best brands that are proven as the best when it comes to climbing are LA Sportiva and Fiveten. These brands are known thoroughly by climbing aficionados. They’re known to be the best when it comes to mainstream climbing shoes. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of brands out there that are hidden gems when it comes to climbing shoes. So, although LA Sportiva and Fiveten are known for being great brands for climbing shoes, don’t forget to keep an open mind for other brands that might be just as good.

Q. Will rock climbing shoes stretch?
A. First off, climbing shoes should have a snug fit when bought. So, the shoes should fit your feet nicely with little space. The front of your feet where your toes are, however, shouldn’t be bunched up so that it’s too tight against the front of your shoes. But if your climbing shoes are on the smaller side, there are multiple ways you can ‘break-in’ them or stretch them out a bit. Options for stretching your shoes include the freezer method, where you can place bags of ice into your climbing shoes to expand them. Another option is blow drying them in which you stuff objects like socks into your shoes; so, they’re stretched out, then use a hot blow dryer to loosen the shoes. These are but a few of the methods in which there are multiples of. So, if your shoes do happen to be a bit tight, don’t panic.

Q. What exactly are aggressive climbing shoes?
A. Aggressive climbing shoes are climbing shoes that are created with an extreme downturned profile. This added feature allows for the user to have more power in their climb. Because of the angle, the tips of the shoes are turned, and this works out nicely. The way the shoes are made with a love bump beneath the foot and a knuckle box over the foot make for much more power than the average climbing shoe. Now, if you spend your time climbing simpler terrains that don’t include difficult terrain that sticks out and requires a downturned grip, then the ‘aggressive’ climbing shoes aren’t the right pick for you.

Q. Do you wear rock climbing shoes with socks?
A. Going barefoot with your climbing shoes gives you an added factor of friction and grip that you could lose if you decided to wear socks when climbing. Of course, no one would stop you if you decided to climb with socks, and if you’re using public climbing shoes in a general place, then this may be the way to go. You should just know that without socks you have a much better grip on the inside of your shoes which makes for better control when climbing. But, also, along with wearing socks, you hold the risk of having stinky shoes, because the technology the shoes use wasn’t made for feet with socks.

Q. How do you keep climbing shoes clean?
A. You can keep climbing shoes clean by wiping the insoles and the lining of the shoes with a damp cloth; then, later on, leaving the shoes to dry. You can clean small blemishes with a little bit of alcohol and just a little bit of water. When spot cleaning, make sure you don’t use too much water because you can break down the leather of the shoes easier this way. Whenever you notice any unpleasant smells in your shoes, you can, also, use foot powder.

Q. What climbing shoes do the pros wear?
A. Straight from the mouth of expert “Life or Death” climber, Alex Honnold, is the words, “I wear the La Sportiva brand. They are one of the best shoemakers for climbing.” There you have it, LA Sportiva’s again the top of the list, even when it comes to the most experienced climbers who spend their lives climbing enormous rock formations.

Q. What type of climbing shoe should I buy?
A. Now, this is something you have to decide on your own. When looking for the right climbing shoes for yourself, you have to understand where and what you want to climb; and when climbing these specific things, what features will you need. If you can find these factors, then finding the right shoe for you shouldn’t be a difficult choice at all. Just make sure the shoe you’re looking for has all the factors that will be needed in your field of climbing, and finding the perfect pair of climbing shoes for you shouldn’t be that difficult of a task.


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