Best Climbing Shoes

Climbing Shoes

Climbing shoes differ from conventional trainers in a lot of ways. You may think it’s fine to use your run-of-the-mill sneakers for rock climbing, but once you really get into the sport, you’ll see what a difference climbing shoes can make. After all, climbing can be a very demanding sport, especially since it requires you to constantly take action while slowly pulling yourself up to the top.

The main advantage that climbing shoes have over other footwear is their flexibility. Relying on them will allow you to rest your feet properly, as they adjust to how your sole is positioned. That way, climbing becomes easier and much less strenuous, provided that you also utilize the right techniques. If you’ve already started rock climbing, then you probably know firsthand just how great climbing shoes are!

Now that you understand why you need climbing shoes, the only thing left to consider is how to choose the right pair. What type of shoes should you buy? How should they function? Do you have any special factors that you need to take into consideration? You’ll need to carefully answer each of these questions to determine with absolutely certainty which climbing shoe is best for you. But rest assured that you’re not alone in this predicament—all climbers encounter this dilemma when trying to pick a pair of climbing shoes. This is especially true for first timers, since they’re more likely to be torn on which ones to purchase. As such, they tend to need guidance from experienced climbers on how to choose the right outdoor and indoor climbing shoes.

By now, you’re probably confused as to which shoes you should buy. Unfortunately, I can’t make such an important decision for you. But to help you out, I’ve compiled a short list of reviews that may aid you in your purchase.

Best Climbing Shoe Reviews

Best Budget

Evolv Men’s Royale Climbing Shoe

Price: $

Basic features for a great price

Rated by James

Best Value

La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe – Men’s

Price: $$

Very good overall quality for a reasonable price

Rated by James

Top Pick

Scarpa Men’s Instinct VS Climbing Shoe

Price: $$$

Get all the bells and whistles for an additional cost

Rated by James

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

Made of leather (with a synthetic sole), it’s stretchable enough for any climber opting to take the sport seriously. It features trademark Vibram soles for easier grip when negotiating walls and rock faces. It’s not too difficult to see the advantages of a pair of Scarpa Boostic Climbing Shoes, especially since they’re priced fairly between $74.89 to $180.

Users have noted that the shoes are great at edging, but puts some amount of pressure on one’s big toe. For those starting out, this may take some time getting used to.

PROS

  • Reasonable price
  • Excellent grip
  • Great for edging

CONS

  • Needs to be broken-in for maximum comfort
  • Heels are rather big 
  • Not suitable for beginners

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

These climbing shoes are also made of leather, so you can be sure that they’re stretchable enough for even the toughest of climbs. With their harness laces, they’re also guaranteed to stay in place, without any issues with fraying and the like. The shoes feature lined tongues to easily manage issues with moisture.

The product is priced fairly between $64 to $121.75. However, this pair is mostly geared toward indoor climbers, so those looking to scale a rock face may want to look someplace else.

PROS

  • Excellent value for money
  • Laces are guaranteed to stay in place
  • Good grip and durability

CONS

  • Not suitable for outdoors
  • Hard soles
  • Sizing may be tricky

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

These shoes feature a minimalist design and are great for indoor climbs at your local gym. They work quite well, with split leather padding that provides both maximum comfort and performance for climbers. These shoes also claim to be great for edging, with their emphasis on torsional stability.

They have a relatively reasonable price of $98.95 to $99. If you’re an experienced climber looking for shoes that are easy to break into, you probably won’t need to look further.

PROS

  • Good grip and durable soles
  • Torsion stability makes edging much easier
  • Reasonable price

CONS

  • May have trouble on plastic surfaces
  • Limited variety of designs
  • Runs about a half-size small

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

Another of Scarpa’s line of climbing shoes, this pair also features a minimalist look. They’re made of rubber, but feature a suede finish, which also makes the shoes look stylish—if that matters to you! It consists of strap fasteners, which again, makes it ideal for indoor climbing.

This pair, in my opinion, is among the best climbing shoes for beginners and is priced between $87.18 to $95. The shoes won’t turn heads among the climbing community, but they’re good enough for individuals hoping to break into the world of climbing.

PROS

  • Velcro straps for easy and secure fit
  • Great for beginners
  • Versatile use

CONS

  • Aesthetics need improvement
  • Needs to be broken-in for maximum comfort
  • Experienced climbers may find the features lacking

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

There’s nothing bad to say about a pair of Scarpa’s Instinct VS climbing shoes. They’re solidly built and can withstand abuse at the crag. They feature the same Vibram grip as the Boostic, and their heel hooking capabilities are pretty good! Aside from functionality, the Instinct also features a great aesthetics.

At around $166.57 to $175, the price comes off as a bit steep for many people, but serious climbers can definitely say it is well worth the investment! These shoes are ideal for professionals and hobbyists alike.

PROS

  • Very aggressive climbing shoe
  • Great for edging
  • Excellent durability, grip, and flexibility

CONS

  • Needs to be broken-in for maximum comfort
  • Rather pricey
  • A bit difficult to put on and take off

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

Evolv’s Royale climbing shoes features typical laces, so you can pretty much adjust the tightness as you see fit. Now, if you take the time to check the shoes out, you’ll find that the soles are made of rubber, while leather makes up most of the material, allowing for more flexibility. The toe boxes also provide optimal comfort, especially during long climbs.

These shoes are universal. You may use them indoors, on crags, boulders, and virtually any other landscape. Though a lot of climbers may recommend a more specialized pair of shoes, Evolv’s Royal climbing shoes are still a great all-around pair, especially considering their affordable price of $27.88 to $88.95.

PROS

  • Affordable price
  • Versatile use
  • Good overall quality

CONS

  • Needs to be broken-in for maximum comfort
  • Runs about a half-size small
  • Experienced climbers may find the features lacking

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

La Sportiva is a company known to create pricey gear, but maybe you’ll find that it’s all justified with a pair of Solution climbing shoes. Unlike a lot of the entries here, the material is synthetic, so it may not give as much stretch as you might expect. What makes this pair unique is the quick lacing system that most users will definitely find convenient.

At its lowest, a pair of La Sportiva’s Solution climbing shoes can cost between $134.88 to $180. The price is somewhat steep, but the best climbers are said to be wearing La Sportiva shoes. If you want to feel like a pro, go ahead and order a pair!

PROS

  • Innovative lacing system for easy and secure fit
  • Very flexible and comfortable
  • Versatile use

CONS

  • May not stretch as much as some want it to
  • Rather pricey
  • Loud design may be off-putting to some

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

As with the Solution, the Tarantulace climbing shoe also comes with the innovative quick lacing feature. Unlike the Solution however, the Tarantulace is made of leather, which makes its overall feel familiar and comfortable for most users. These shoes are ideal for all types of climbing, but do take note that they’re made for women, and won’t fit men very well.

These climbing shoes actually cost significantly less than the Solution, retailing at around $46.54 to $154.91. Women who want to join in on the world of climbing will definitely find that the product is worth a closer look!

PROS

  • Designed for beginners
  • Comfortable and secure fit
  • Versatile use

CONS

  • May stretch out after prolonged use
  • Experienced climbers may find the features lacking
  • Needs to be broken-in for maximum comfort

Quick Summary

Rated by: James

Another pair that’s made for women, La Sportiva’s Oxygym climbing shoe is a bit of a step up from the Taratulace, especially with its layer of WashTek fabric that allows for easier cleaning! It’s breathable enough for climbers who tend to spend hours scaling the crag and may also be especially useful for intense sessions of indoor climbing.

It’s also a pretty good deal at $59.88 to $187.19. The price makes them great for those who are starting out or people who just require an extra pair of climbing shoes in case the need arises. If you believe a pair of La Sportiva’s Oxygym women’s climbing shoes is for you, then go ahead, and place an order.

PROS

  • Breathable and comfortable
  • Velcro straps for easy and secure fit
  • Easy to clean

CONS

  • Low sensitivity
  • Needs to be broken-in for maximum comfort
  • Experienced climbers may find the features lacking

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Climbing Shoes Do?

If you’ve ever tried the sport before, then you won’t need me to describe just how difficult climbing a rock face can be. So, if you want to be at your very best, you’ll need the right gear to scale each surface effectively. One of the most essential pieces of equipment in any climber’s arsenal is his pair of climbing shoes. While some experienced climbers may think that going barefoot is the most effective way to scale the crag, the fact is that your feet still need to be protected. With climbing shoes, you can do just that. You’ll be able to get a solid footing on every step, while keeping your feet protected from sharp rocks and other hazards. Climbing shoes are specialized footwear designed to fit and flex with the user’s feet, making each climb much easier and significantly safer.

Do Climbing Shoes Make a Difference?

Since climbing shoes are supposed to adapt to the climber’s feet, they provide ample support during a climb. They differ in a myriad of ways from conventional sports shoes that just aren’t as flexible. At the same time, they protect a climber’s feet from sharp rocks and jagged edges.

A feature most climbing shoes have are the pointed toe boxes, which allow climbers to hold on to small pockets within rock faces. The best climbing shoes for edging have them pointed further downwards, allowing for more balance, while sacrificing a bit of comfort. So, yes—climbing shoes do make a difference!

How Do I Choose Climbing Shoes?

That depends on what type of climbing you’ll do, how the climbing shoes fit, and how stretchable they are. Additionally, you also need to consider how technical the climb is. All of these factors will affect how well a particular pair of shoes will perform on a particular type of climb. For example, you don’t want to wear overly downward-pointing shoes for most indoor climbs or easy rock faces.

The Type of Climbing You’ll Be Doing. Where do you plan on climbing? Do you want to stay in a cozy indoor gym? Or will you take to the nearest crag or rock face to show off your skills? If you’re looking to go for steeper, more technical climbs, shoes that appear more downturned should be your best bet.

If you’re just staying inside your local gym, then you can just get a pair that’s designed for beginners.

How the Shoes Fit. 
As your climbs become more technical and the grade of your climb increases, most climbers will typically go for tighter fitting shoes. This allows them to move their feet with ease, and manipulate the shoes accordingly. It’s by such method that they are able to negotiate technical routes with less difficulty.

However, if you’re just starting out, then tight shoes may be uncomfortable, so I suggest that you break into looser shoes first.

How the Shoes Stretch. Aside from the shoes’ fit, how they stretch is also an important consideration.A lot of times, climbers find difficulty adjusting their foot in the shoe they’re wearing, because there isn’t enough stretch. What you need in this regard is to test out the shoes if they’ve got the right flexibility for you.

What shoes are made of also affect how well they stretch. For example, leather shoes tend to stretch better than synthetic ones. In case you’re having trouble finding the right amount of stretch, then you just need to make sure the shoe size fits as perfectly as possible.

As you progress, your needs will change. You don’t want to stick to one pair of shoes! Trust me on this one. If you need future reference on what shoes to buy, then I’m sure you’ll find the reviews above really helpful! Just don’t sweat it for now and go for the shoes that are best for you at the moment.

How Tight Are Climbing Shoes Supposed to Be?

Early on, I talked about how climbing shoes should fit, whether they’re indoor climbing shoes or rock climbing shoes, and I stated that they should be tight enough to make your climbs more efficient as you go along your way.

To better appreciate the importance of tightness, consider that you need to press down with every part of your foot during every step. Wearing your climbing shoes are too tight will restrain you from making crucial movements during the climb, while wearing ones that are too loose will make it difficult you to get strong footholds and secure positions.

Which Climbing Shoes Are for Beginners?

You’ll find something helpful in the reviews above, if you’re looking for the best climbing shoes for beginners. I would probably recommend something that’s fastened with Velcro, since they’re easier to take off when needed. You won’t be spending a lot of time up on the rock face if you’re just starting out after all.

Conclusion

Climbing is an incredibly technical sport that requires the right gear and equipment. Even if you’re just a beginner at the sport, always remember that it’s best to look for quality in whatever footwear you’re purchasing. By that, I leave it to you which climbing shoes will work best for your needs. Climb safely!