Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a more experienced climber, shoes can make or break your climb. They help keep you safe and can enhance how you climb, but like many other pieces of climbing gear, there are tons of shoes on the market; and because there are so many types of climbs and everyone has different feet it can be very difficult to narrow down your options. But don’t worry, in this article we’ll tell you exactly what to look for when buying new climbing shoes and listed some of the best rock climbing shoes currently on the market.
Comparison Table of the Best Climbing Shoes
Below is a list of the best shoes for rock climbing. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
|La Sportiva Miura VS||Aggressive||Leather|
|Scarpa Instinct VS||Moderate||Synthetic|
|La Sportiva TC Pro||Flat||Leather|
|Five Ten Anasazi Lace||Moderate||Synthetic|
|La Sportiva Genius||Aggressive||Leather/Synthetic|
|La Sportiva Otaki||Moderate||Leather/Synthetic|
What to Look for in Good Climbing Shoes
Think about the types of climbs you’re planning on doing as you read this list to find out what’s most important to help you choose the perfect climbing shoes for you.
1. Types of Climbing Shoes
It’s important to consider the type of climbing you’ll be doing as well as the terrain when choosing your shoe, as there are a variety of options for every situation.
For the best sport climbing, your shoes will need to have a stiff midsole, quality edging platform, a tight heel cup, and ideally a lace closure. A stiff shoe with a moderate downturn will make it easier to scale vertical climbs.
Typically the best performers are flat non-aggressive or all-around shoes. Since you’ll likely be doing a lot of jamming in cracks, the ideal shoe is going to have a relaxed fit, laces, and a stiff midsole while giving you solid ankle protection. It will have little to no toe / heel rubber or downturn. However, if you tend to do more difficult or steep routes, then you might prefer more downturn.
These shoes are not designed to be comfortable. Rather, they’re designed to help you climb well on steep terrain and make sure you can stick to tiny incuts, heel hook, and toe hook. These shoes will have a hybrid closure, a solid amount of toe rubber, rubber-covered rounded heel cups, and an aggressive downturn. They’ll also have high sensitivity to help with feeling the rocks.
Downturn: Flat, Moderate, or Aggressive
This is one of the most important features you’ll have to consider before deciding what are the best rock climbing shoes for you. Downturn determines the amount of curve in the sole of a shoe and will be categorized as aggressive, moderate, or flat. Flat shoes are the answer if you’re climbing on terrain that’s vertical or less than vertical. Because of the curve in aggressive shoes, your feet won’t be able to rest in their natural position, however you will have an advantage when perching or pulling on small edges.
Closure: Velcro, Laces, or Slipper
Closures are deal breakers for some, but not for everyone. It’s mainly about what you’re most comfortable with. The three types of closures are Velcro, lace, and slipper, but some of the newer models will combine different closures to help with comfort and security.
These are super easy to take on and off, so they’re typically preferred by those who need to get in and out of their shoes often. Sport climbing, bouldering, and indoor climbing are the places you’ll most often see these closures. On the down side, Velcro can fail and / or come apart while climbing and it may hinder you while toe hooking.
If you’ll be doing repetitive jamming, be sure to go with a lace closure. These are typically used by climbers who put their shoes on and keep them on for a while. They allow a great fit to your individual foot.
If you’re all about comfort and convenience, then this is the closure for you. While these shoes are great in cracks and on friction slabs, they do stretch over time and there’s no way to fix them once that becomes a problem.
Upper: Leather vs. Synthetic
Uppers rest on the sides and top of your feet and are made from either leather or a synthetic substitute. Synthetic uppers will maintain their original dimensions even after the shoe is well broken in. Leather uppers will stretch over time, adjust to your feet, and become more comfortable.
Fit and Sizing
There are several different ways a climbing shoe may fit you. When trying on shoes the first question many will ask is how tight should climbing shoes be? The answer is that they should fit pretty snugly, but not be unbearable. More experienced climbers may be willing to be uncomfortable in their shoes if it allows them to perform better when climbing. If you’re new to climbing then consider checking out some good rock climbing shoes for beginners, because you don’t want the initial discomfort to turn you off to the sport. Also keep in mind that some shoes will stretch and others won’t.
Soft vs. Stiff
Stiffness is a big deal but also one that depends on your preference. Typically beginner climbers prefer shoes that are more stiff because they offer better foot support. If you’re someone with stronger feet then you may want a softer shoe because it’ll be more sensitive and flexible.
Men’s vs. Women’s
You really shouldn’t be too concerned about whether your shoe is classified as men’s or women’s. Some men wear women’s climbing shoes and vice versa. Typically men’s shoes are wider and women’s are more narrow, but today many shoes are unisex. So, rather than looking for the best women’s rock climbing shoes it’s all about figuring out what’s going to work best on your feet regardless of who it is marketed towards.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Climbing
There are countless differences between climbing indoors and outdoors, but in regards to shoes where you climb changes what your priorities ought to be. For indoor climbers new to the sport or training for the outdoors, the focus should be on a cost effective shoe that’s comfortable. Outdoors is where you need the more pricey, high performance, and durable shoe.
Best Climbing Shoes Reviews
Now that you know what you should be looking for, here are the best of the best when it comes to climbing shoes on the market today:
La Sportiva Miura VS
It’s hard to argue against the La Sportiva Miura VS being the best climbing shoes on the market. This high-performance shoe has a hook-and-loop closure system as well as an aggressive cambered shape which allows you to comfortably master small edges and tiny pockets. To increase performance and flexibility while resisting stretch, the shoe is equipped with a slip-lasted construction with leather uppers and wicking Dentex synthetic linings. These shoes can be resoled when needed, and a pair only weighs one pound three ounces. So, if you need an aggressive climbing shoe, definitely go with the La Sportiva Miura VS.View on Amazon View on REI
Scarpa Instinct VS
For those in need of power and sensitivity, the Scarpa Instinct VS are the best bouldering shoes you can buy. Also great for sport climbers, the shoes have Lorica® synthetic leather uppers which prevent stretch and grippy soles to help when hooking on small features. They have an aggressive downturn which is made for steep to overhung rock and they even have an innovative system which allows for maximum power in the big toe without the excess pain you get from so many other shoes. The fit of this shoe can be easily customized and the two-part soles give you amazing maneuverability on the trickier routes. Weighing in at only 16.5 ounces, these are a fan favorite in the bouldering community.View on Amazon View on REI
Allowing you to perform like an expert on any type of climb without sacrificing performance, the Butora Endeavor are the best climbing shoes for beginner climbers. Giving you precision and power throughout your climbs, the shoe has a natural fit to it and the triple fork webbing allows it to fit specifically to your feet. The split leather footbeds also increase performance and comfort. The interior contains an organically grown hemp lining which was designed to help control odor and stretch. No matter what your climbing style, this shoe is a great all-around performer.View on Amazon View on REI
La Sportiva TC Pro
Created in collaboration with accomplished climber Tommy Caldwell, the La Sportiva TC Pro is designed for edging and crack climbing. These are good shoes for rock climbing because even when your feet are jammed in a crack your feet and ankles will be protected by the shoes foam padding. They also have cuffs to guard your ankles against scrapes. These shoes enable your toes to lay flat and the ventilated tongues and perforations help to increase airflow. If you have any big wall free climbs on your list, then get yourself a pair of La Sportiva TC Pro shoes.View on Amazon View on REI
Five Ten Anasazi Lace
When it comes to the best shoes for rock climbing, the Five Ten Anasazi Lace shoes always make the list because they are consistent all-around performance shoes. They are reliable and great for any type of climbs, but especially for crack climbing and edging. The shoe is stiff and supportive, and the C4 rubber enables you to handle technical terrain like a pro. They have a high heel tension, so you can comfortably wear them all day. It’s easy to adjust these shoes to fit you perfectly thanks to the lace closures. Also, the lined polyester uppers are designed not to stretch. If you want to be able to tackle difficult climbs with excellent precision, the Five Ten Anasazi Lace shoes should be at the top of your list.View on Amazon View on REI
NEO Fuse sticky rubber is the covering for these shoes which have been called the best rock climbing shoes for bouldering. The Butora Acro is a super comfy and aggressive shoe which is equipped with ABS injected midsoles to help maintain the downturn. The sticky rubber toe patch is excellent at increasing sensitivity and grip when you’re toe hooking. To make sure you have all the power you need, you can rely on the high-tension heel rand. If you’ve been struggling to find shoes that fit you well, consider the Butora Acro shoe which has an adjustable triple fork closure to help you get the perfect fit while still easily being able to get the shoe on and off. To give you more confidence in your feet when you climb, get yourself some Butora Acro climbing shoes.View on Amazon View on Backcountry
The redesign on the Evolv Shaman has secured its spot among the best rock climbing shoes on the market. The shoe has an improved fit, an inset front strap for improved medial side toe scumming, and added rubber for toe hooking. It has a downturn shape with a roomy box toe along with toe rands which have different levels of thickness to increase the durability. The hook-and-loop straps let your feet meet the shoe arch, which allows for the improved fit. The synthetic suede uppers are quick-drying and help to resist stretch. Regardless of your thoughts on the previous model, the redesigned Evolv Shaman climbing shoes are easy to love.View on Amazon View on REI
La Sportiva Genius
These top of the line shoes are the best indoor rock climbing shoes and also the perfect shoes to smear in. Regardless of where the rocks are, these shoes will help you get as high as you want to go. Weighing only 15.52 ounces, the innovative design offers unmatched edging performance thanks to the No-Edge™ technology. Plus, the P3® technology gives amazing power to the soles. The uppers are made from microfiber / suede leather, and the lace-up closure means the shoes fit well on all types of feet. Even one climb in these shoes will show you why the La Sportiva Genius climbing shoes have raving reviews.View on Amazon View on REI
If your climbs often involve you having to change movements or have you frequently standing on shallow pockets or micro edges, it’s time for you to buy the Tenaya Masai shoes. These shoes are adored by experienced climbers because of their perfect blend of sensitivity and stiffness. You’ll have great toe power for edging while still maintaining the feel of the rock and sensitivity. These are great all-around shoes, especially if you frequently sport or trad climb. Even though the Tenaya Masai’s aren’t cheap climbing shoes, they’re more than worth the investment.View on Amazon View on Backcountry
La Sportiva Otaki
The La Sportiva Otaki climbing shoes feature a P3® patented technology which is all about helping you perform on technical climbs involving tiny holds and overhangs. The hook-and-loop straps make getting the shoes on and off pretty simple while the aggressive downturned shape and sticky soles let you attack tricky routes like a pro. To help prevent stretching, the uppers have a synthetic lining. These shoes even have a patented S-Heel™ construction to give optimal heel cup fit and ideal heel hooking maneuverability. For a shoe that does it all and has little to no break-in time, the La Sportiva Otaki climbing shoes might be the ones for you.View on Amazon View on REI
Hopefully this list has helped you narrow down what’s most important to you in your new climbing shoes. And regardless of whether you’re a gym climber or prefer bouldering, you’re bound to find a shoe on this list that you’ll grow to love.