Best Climbing Shoes
Imagine being 700-feet up in the air, after passing five pitches and looking down at the ground below. For some people, this may sound invigorating and intriguing, while others may feel inclined to run the other way. Whether you are a beginner who is hitting the rock climbing gym for the first time or a seasoned professional who loves nothing more than a challenging sport climb or bouldering, there is one thing that is for sure —you need the proper footwear to enjoy climbing to its full extent. Depending on the type of rocks you will be tackling, each pair of climbing shoes can offer you can something different. If you are more of a friction climber, you will need a shoe with a lot of flexibility and toe grips. If you plan on climbing indoors, it would be best to check out the recreation area first and see what wall options are available. A versatile shoe, such as the Five Ten Anasazi, would be ideal for multiple walls.
Now, if you love climbing shoes as much as we do, you know that it takes some time, some good old fashioned trying shoes on, to figure out what the best option is for you and your climbing specifics. If the task of choosing between hundreds of options seems a touch daunting, not to worry. We at GearWeAre have you covered. Simply follow along with our list of Top 10 Best Climbing Shoes to figure out what shoes will best suit your needs.
10 Best Climbing Shoes
Very versatile Added flexibility and grip strength Not always true to size Care may be a bit more problematic due to natural materials
This shoe is mildly aggressive and is well suited for a wide range of different climbing styles where extreme footholds and crevices are few and far between.
One of the drawbacks of this particular shoe is that it isn’t always true to fit. It usually runs a bit larger or smaller about half the time, so be sure to try on the pair and get a good fit prior to use.
The Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoe is made with all natural materials including a suede upper and a rubber sole and rand for maximum control and flexibility. Because of the natural materials, the shoes will stretch over time, so that certainly should be taken into consideration when buying.
These shoes fall easily in the middle of the road when it comes to usefulness in a number of situations, and can easily act as a jack of all trades for climbing shoes.
Ease of Care
Because of the suede uppers, more care is needed when maintaining these shoes, but the added flexibility and overall strength of grip more than makeup for it.
The Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoe is a great overall choice for climbing. Whether you enjoy bouldering, sport or free solo climbing, this shoe can help you out.
Added flexibility and grip strength
Not always true to size
Care may be a bit more problematic due to natural materials
Great range of motion and stability Perfect for the more challenging pitches Mix of synthetic and natural materials may complicate care
Butora Acro Wide Fit
As indicated above, the Butora Acro Wide Fit Climbing Shoe does have a bit more of an aggressive shape to the shoe. This allows for a firmer grip on the rock, no matter the angle. While it’s not suited for every type of climbing, if you see yourself doing a more traditional style or bouldering, this is definitely the shoe you want to use.
While climbing shoes are supposed to be a snug fit, these Butora Acro Wide Fit have been known to run a little bit small, even for climbing shoes, so it’s worth trying them on before you buy if you can. However, the combination of synthetic and natural materials allow for a greater amount of flexibility than synthetic material alone.
Where this particular climbing shoe shines is in the mix of both synthetic and natural materials used in its creation. By combining both natural leather and synthetic materials for the upper portion and a strong, firm yet flexible rubber sole, this shoe can provide both great stability and a great range of motion.
While not as truly versatile as some of the other choices on this list, this choice in a climbing shoe can still be used in a number of climbing situations, especially ones that are truly a challenging to the experienced climber.
Ease of Care
While the natural leather portions of the shoe do require a bit more extra conditioning and care while being used, for the most part, this shoe has a very basic maintenance. Taking simple preventative measures and cleaning the shoes on a regular basis should be more than enough.
While this shoe is suited for more challenging climbs that test your abilities, it’s still a strong contender for an overall great climbing shoe. The combination of synthetic and natural materials provide both for flexibility and stability like few others.
Great range of motion and stability
Perfect for the more challenging pitches
Mix of synthetic and natural materials may complicate care
Great for many different types of styles Easy to care for Rubber sole and aggressive nature give you a firm grip Synthetic material may be irritating to some feet
Five Ten Anasazi
While this climbing shoe certainly has a slightly aggressive nature and a slight downturn of the toe area, it’s not as extreme as some of the others on the list. This makes it a good choice for those who are just starting out, or who like a little variety in their climbing adventures.
While climbing shoes are expected to be a bit snug and well fitting, these shoes are often truer to fit and more comfortable than most. Plus the synthetic material allows for minimal stretching, which helps the shoe to keep its overall shape and size over a longer period of time.
These climbing shoes are made with materials designed to last through many different climbing adventures. The sole is made of thick rubber material and provides a stiff midsole that allows for greater grip strength and security. Plus the stealth C4 rubber outsole and rand provide for longer lasting grip. Finally, the lined Cordura upper allows for a great amount of comfort and flexibility where you need it most.
Because of its medium aggressive nature, this pair of climbing shoes will feel at home in traditional, free solo climbing, mountaineering or bouldering.
Ease of Care
Because of the materials used in the creation of these shoes, taking care of them is a true breeze. Simply take a damp cloth to the shoes after you climb, allow them to air dry and store them in a protective bag. That’s all you need to do.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the Five Ten Anasazi Climbing shoe is a fantastic way to climb. They fit well, provide comfort and a wide range of motion, and they’re suited for many different types of climbing.
Great for many different types of styles
Easy to care for
Rubber sole and aggressive nature give you a firm grip
Synthetic material may be irritating to some feet
Made with advanced, quality materials Highly responsive Fast lacing system Award-winning Can run a bit small Not suited for more technical climbing
La Sportiva Unisex Genius
The La Sportiva Genius is moderately aggressive. They offer climbers features that can't be beaten, such as a no-edge technology that ensures optimal edge work. The heel cup isn't as pronounced as it is on other climbing shoes, making it more difficult to successfully toe or heel hook. These shoes are best suited for steep climbing.
These shoes offer a secure fit through the easy-to-adjust lacing and tight heel. The secure heel and lacing are a complimentary pairing to the down-turned toe. Majority of reviewers rave about the slipper-like fit and love that they don't even have to lace or unlace them. Some suggest lacing tighter for heel hooks.
The Genius shoe is made from a mixture of suede leather and microfiber. They are unlined with a slip lasted construction. The midsole features Lasoplex with P3 and the sole features 3mm of Vibram XS grip.
These shoes are highly responsive due to the no-seam technology that they are made with. The lack of seams means that your feet have more surface coverage and can be more responsive, quicker. They are very soft and sensitive which, in turn, can make it uncomfortable to hold your balance on a small edge for a long period of time.
Ease of Care
These shoes are very durable, making them easy to care for. The microfiber is simple to clean with a toothbrush and mild soap. The only downfall we see here is how easily suede can stain. The suede will remain strong, but may not look as beautiful over time.
These shoes are made for the experienced climber, so if you are looking for something that is high quality and made to last, these will be a fantastic option.
Made with advanced, quality materials
Fast lacing system
Can run a bit small
Not suited for more technical climbing
Great for technical and crack climbing Very easy to care for Comfortable to wear May be more specialized than what is needed
La Sportiva TC Pro
This shoe is one of the more aggressive styled pairs on our list but by no means the most extreme. The downturned angle is perfect for climbing indoor walls and for fitting your toes into thinner crevices and cracks for a more challenging climb.
This pair of climbing shoes with its strategic padding and well fitting soles and upper portions offers one of the best fitting climbing shoes that we’ve seen in a while. You might be tempted to wear these away from the wall, or even as slippers.
These shoes are made with synthetic materials, so they not only stay relatively true to fit, they often last longer with a very minimal amount of care. If you climb on a regular basis, especially indoors, these are a great choice for their longevity.
While these shoes can certainly be used in a few different climbing styles, where they truly excel is in indoor climbing or crack climbing, where precision footholds are truly necessary.
Ease of Care
The synthetic materials allow for relatively easy care of the shoes. Often just a quick wipe down at the end of the day and allowing them to air dry is all you need.
If you’re wanting to do a lot more technical climbing or try your hand at the local indoor wall at the gym, the La Sportiva TC Pro Shoe should definitely be at the top of your list.
Great for technical and crack climbing
Very easy to care for
Comfortable to wear
May be more specialized than what is needed
Great range of motion Moderately aggressive – perfect for more technical climbs Comfortable May run a bit small overall
Scarpa Vapor V
This shoe has a moderately aggressive shape that is great for more technical or challenging climbs. In addition, the unique b-tension active randing system provides superior gripping strength and flexibility.
This shoe is one of the truest to fit on the market today and the split sole allows for a great deal of comfort and flexibility that is hard to match in a more traditional solid-state sole. While it isn’t for everyone, it certainly provides a great deal of comfort for those who choose to use it.
This shoe is made of synthetic materials, which means that it holds its shape and size longer than shoes created with more natural materials. While the added features increase the overall flexibility, there is a bit of added stiffness, especially when first being used.
This particular shoe is designed for more challenging and technical climbing styles such as bouldering or sport climbing, but can still be easily used for easier events if the climber so chooses.
Ease of Care
The synthetic material makes for relatively easy care overall, but care should be taken to make sure the rand and tread remain as dirt free as possible.
The Scarpa Vapor V Climbing Shoe provides a great shoe for technical climbing that is designed for maximum flexibility and range of motion.
Great range of motion
Moderately aggressive – perfect for more technical climbs
May run a bit small overall
Superior grip, edge and smearing power Easy to put on and take off Fairly comfortable Can run a bit small Leather material requires extra care
La Sportiva Miura VS
This shoe is moderately aggressive, and the slingshot rand design allows for a fantastic amount of edging power and overall grip strength. Chances are if you can find a thin edge, or a place to smear, this shoe can help you hold onto the wall tight.
The overall fit of these shoes is fairly well, and the easy to operate hook and eye closure makes adjusting them on the fly pretty easily. They are also true to size about ¾ of the time but, like most climbing shoes, can run a bit small as well.
These climbing shoes are made from natural leather, which allows for superior range of motion. In addition, the rubber outsole is designed to be extra sticky to make sure that smearing against the rock face isn’t a problem. And for handling the likelihood of too much stretch due to the leather material, the manufacturer has added a Dentex lining to reduce the amount of overall stretch.
While this shoe is a great choice for more challenging climbs where toe holds and crevices aren’t that plentiful, it may be a bit much for a beginner to use on an indoor wall.
Ease of Care
The leather material does mean a bit more effort needs to be taken when caring for these shoes, but overall caring for them is fairly straightforward.
The La Sportiva Miura VS climbing shoes are a fantastic choice if you’re facing a climb that has few edges and require a great deal of technical know-how and core strength to conquer. While they may be a bit much for beginners to use, for the seasoned climbing vet, they are certainly a viable option.
Superior grip, edge and smearing power
Easy to put on and take off
Can run a bit small
Leather material requires extra care
Very versatile Easy to put on and take off Moderately aggressive Perfect for more technical climbing Can be difficult to clean due to lacing May be too aggressive for beginners
La Sportiva Katana Lace Up
This shoe has a fairly moderate aggressive profile and is good for more challenging or technical types of climbing such as bouldering or sport climbing.
These shoes are not only easy to get on and off with their tubular design, but also fit very close to street shoe size. They can, however, run a little bit large from time to time, so be sure to try the shoe on before making a purchase when possible.
The synthetic material offers great retention of overall shoe shape and size, and the rubberized sole provides great edge strength and grip strength when you need it most.
The sticky edge and material offer a wide array of ways to grip the climbing surface, giving you a great variety of climbing types that you can perform. From smearing to edging, and grabbing the toe-holds with relative ease, this shoe is extremely versatile.
Ease of Care
The synthetic material makes for fairly easy care, although the lacing system can attract dirt and grime quite easily because of its complex nature. Care definitely should be taken in cleaning, and should be done on a regular basis.
While this shoe can be a bit more advanced than what a typical beginner’s shoe should be, it does offer a great intermediate level that helps to bridge the gap between novice and expert climber.
Easy to put on and take off
Perfect for more technical climbing
Can be difficult to clean due to lacing
May be too aggressive for beginners
Great for edging and smearing Lacing system helps to keep shoe in place Mixture of natural and synthetic materials provide great durability and flexibility Comfortable to wear Not as versatile as we would like
La Sportiva Mythos
These particular shoes are mildly aggressive, which allows for superior edging and smearing, and the ability to practice two-foot techniques that are often used in face climbing or crack climbing. While we would have liked to see a bit more toe strength overall, the overall rounded shape does provide for a more comfortable climb.
These shoes provide one of the most comfortable fits on this list. The rounded edges soften the often harsh lines of a climbing shoe without sacrificing performance. Plus, they are known to be true to size about 85% of the time.
The shoe is made from a mixture of synthetic and leather material and features a patented lacing system that locks the shoe in place to prevent undue sliding.
This shoe is not as versatile as some of the others on this list, but it is a great choice for those situations where edging or smearing is more dominant.
Ease of Care
Overall the care of this shoe is fairly straightforward, although the leather portions should be conditioned on a regular basis to maintain the flexibility overall.
If your climbing style mainly consists of face or crack climbing, having a shoe that can help you edge and smear well is essential. While the La Sportiva Mythos climbing shoe is a tad specialized for our tastes, it’s still a viable option.
Great for edging and smearing
Lacing system helps to keep shoe in place
Mixture of natural and synthetic materials provide great durability and flexibility
Comfortable to wear
Not as versatile as we would like
Great for more advanced climbs Aggressive nature allows for more stable toe holds and edging Not designed for beginners Can be a hassle to clean
This shoe is very aggressive in shape. This makes them ideal for the most technical face climbs including overhangs and more advanced solo climbing. This is definitely not a shoe for a beginner to use, but for a more experienced climber, they can be a great investment.
These shoes do run a bit small, even for climbing shoes, and the combination of synthetic and suede material takes longer to break in than most other climbing shoes. However, once it is broken in, the lace-up system allows for a more customized fit.
The shoes are made from a combination of suede and synthetic upper portion, and a natural rubber sole that provides for superior flexibility and grip strength overall.
While these shoes are a great choice for more advanced pitches and climbs, they’re probably more suited for experienced climbers rather than beginners. Due to the very aggressive nature, it might be more of a waste on the introductory climbing wall.
Ease of Care
While the suede material does mean that cleaning may be a bit more involved than a simple wipe down after the climb, the overall profile of the shoe makes it fairly easy to remove dirt and grime.
While not suited for novice climbers, the Scarpa Instinct Climbing shoe is a great choice for more advanced climbers once the shoes are broken in.
Great for more advanced climbs
Aggressive nature allows for more stable toe holds and edging
Not designed for beginners
Can be a hassle to clean
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
What is the Aggressiveness?
If you were to look at some shoes for climbing on this list, you would notice that quite a few of them have an “aggressive” downturn at the toe area. This gives the shoe an almost hooked appearance. While it may look strange, it does have a purpose. A more aggressive shoe makes it easier to hook onto certain footholds and can give your core muscles a rest for a time. The more aggressive shoes, like the Butora Acro Wide fit, are often used in situations like overhangs, or more challenging angles when climbing, or the more extreme pitches out there.
The Overall Fit is Important
In order to be an effective connection to the rock climbing surface, your climbing shoes need to fit properly. They should be tight and snug, but not uncomfortably so. The term “fit likes a glove” comes to mind most of the time. However, most quality shoes for climbing have a hardened sole to protect your sensitive feet, so finding one that truly fits you well can be a challenge. Thankfully, the climbing shoes on this list are often very true to fit and come in a wide array of sizes. So finding the right pair may be easier than you think.
The type of material used in making the best shoes often plays an important role in their performance. First, all shoes will stretch over time, but ones made with natural materials like suede or leather often stretch more. Since you want a snug fit over time, that is certainly something to consider. However, synthetic materials, although they often stay truer to size longer, may be irritating to some people and offer little ability for your feet to breathe properly.
Some of the best climbing shoes available are extremely specialized in their design. They are made specifically for bouldering, or sports climbing. Others, like the Five Ten Anazasi Lace Up Climbing Shoe, are a bit more generalized and can be used in multiple climbing arenas. If you’re starting out in climbing and exploring your options, you’ll want something that is a bit more versatile. After all, there are so many different types of climbing techniques to explore. Why let your shoes limit what you can do?
Ease of Care
The last thing you want as a climber is to have to deal with equipment that is a hassle to care for. The shoes you choose are really no exception to that. So it pays to look for shoes that are not only easy on your feet and help your climbing but also are fairly easy to care for. This is where shoes made with natural materials may fall a little short, since they often require regular conditioning and cleaning. Synthetic shoes, however, are often good to go after a simple wipe down with a damp cloth and allowing them to air dry. In either case, however, the shoes presented here are some of the easiest to care for overall.
More to think about when purchasing your next pair of Climbing Shoes
What type of rock climbing will you be doing?
Generally speaking, you want to make sure that you have the proper equipment needed for the type of climbing that you enjoy. The climbing shoes that you chose to wear is no exception to this rule. If you enjoy traditional or sports climbing, which often has more extreme footholds or challenging footwork, a more aggressive climbing shoe may be a better option. However, if you enjoy bouldering, or more of where you’re climbing over a variety of surfaces and levels, a less aggressive, and more versatile shoe is probably the way to go.
How difficult do you expect your climb to be?
It’s important to remember that different climbs, or pitches as they’re sometimes called do have different degrees of difficulty. While skill and physical endurance certainly play a part, having the right type of shoe does as well. Generally speaking, the more technically difficult the climb, the more aggressive the shoe you want. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, so be sure to speak with your climbing instructor or partner about what they recommend. Then, try a few pairs of shoes out, and see what works for you.
What is the overall size and shape of your feet?
Because of their snug fit, it’s critical that you consider not only the size of your feet but their overall shape as well. Regardless of how aggressive your shoes are, you still need to have enough movement in your toes and the top of your foot to make sure that you can get a firm grip on the crevice or foothold. Also, it’s important that the ankle area or the back of the foot be firmly planted in the shoe and not be able to move around too much. If your feet move around too much, you’ll lose the control and precision that a well fitting shoe will offer you.
Thankfully, most of these shoes will fit the average person’s foot quite well, and there are certainly climbing shoes designed for wider or more narrow feet as well. The best thing to do is try out a few pairs and see which ones suit you best.
Q: How should I care for my climbing shoes?
Taking care of your climbing shoes is relatively easy, and it really starts with preventative measures. Start by only using your climbing shoes for climbing. After all, that’s what they were designed for. You also want to make sure you have a great fitting shoe since one that doesn’t fit right will often wear out faster. Also, consider wearing socks with your shoes, especially if you’re prone to smelly feet. This helps to reduce the amount of moisture and mildew that the shoes come in contact with.
Once you’re done climbing, take off the shoes and wipe them with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or grime that they have accumulated during the climb. And trust us, there will be dirt and grime. If you find that your shoes are really dirty in some places, you can do a spot cleaning with a little bit of warm water and alcohol.
It’s also important to keep the soles and the rand, or the strip of rubber material that wraps around the foot clean and in good repair. After all, it’s this area that allows you to grip the rock face so firmly. But don’t use a sharp instrument like a knife to clean out the treads. You can puncture the sole easily that way. Instead, just use a damp cloth the wipe everything down and shake off the excess debris.
And finally, keep the shoes when you’re not using them in a bag to protect them from UV light and sunlight, which can prematurely break down the rubber soles and shoe materials.
Q: What’s the best way of finding the right size of climbing shoes?
The short answer, and probably the glibbest one, is to simply say try them on. While it is true that finding the right fit for your needs does require a little trial and error while shopping, there are a few things to look for when you’re trying on a new pair of climbing shoes. First, make sure that there isn’t any excess room between your toes and the shoe itself, and that your toe knuckles are bunched up. Your toes should lay flat or be comfortably curved, and you should be able to scrunch them up if needed. Also, make sure that the shoe is long enough so that it fits snugly and comfortably on your heel. And finally, when you’re trying on the shoe, rotate your ankle a few times. This helps you check for slippage and areas where the shoe isn’t fitting correctly.
Q: How often should I replace my climbing shoes?
There really is no hard and fast rule about when you need to replace your shoes, but there are a few guidelines. First, before and after each climb, check your shoes for wear around the rand, the sole, and the lacing for starters. If you find any areas that are starting to tear, break apart, or lose tread, replacement or repair in the near future may be necessary. Second, consider how often you go climbing. In most cases, quality shoes will last you about a month if climbed nonstop.
When you replace your shoes is often a personal decision, and most of the time the shoes themselves can easily be repaired or resoled by a qualified professional. How often you will need a resole depends on how often you use the shoes. You must keep a close eye on the sole of your shoe because once the sole wears away, you will begin to put more stress on the rand. Most climbers can get away with a half resole almost every time. A half resole only costs about thirty dollars.
Q: Why are some climbing shoes shaped so strange?
That strange shape, or looking like the shoe is perpetually pointing its toe in a downturned fashion is done on purpose, and not just to make the climber look goofy. Instead, the overall shape of the shoe or its aggressiveness as it’s sometimes called is designed to aid the climber to grip the rock face or climbing surface more securely. One way to think about it is your regular sneakers are like a pair of mittens, while climbing shoes are a pair of nice driving gloves. Sure, both would work in a pinch, but if you’re doing finite work or in a situation where you needed more dexterity, wouldn’t you want the glove?
The downturned toe area of a more aggressive shoe allows the muscles and tendons in your feet to line up more easily and gain strength from your leg, hip and torso muscles while you’re climbing. If your body is working in line and in sync with itself, it makes the climb a lot easier.
Climbing can be a fun and challenging adventure that is filled with endless variation. Having the best climbing shoes for your needs and climbing style can make the whole process much more rewarding. Just be sure to keep in mind the terrain you will be dealing with, in order to find the best fit for you. A good pair of specialized climbing shoes are a great investment that you will enjoy for years and that could even save your life.