If you’ve ever worn the wrong pair of shoes for a climb, you definitely know how much of a difference the right pair of shoes makes. Which is why I would definitely understand why you would want to have the best climbing shoe of today.
For Aggressive Wide Fit
Rated by: SchierShoes.com
La Sportiva TC Pro
For Neutral All-Around Performance
Rated by: SchierShoes.com
Scarpa Instinct VS
For High-End Aggressive
Rated by: SchierShoes.com
But before proceeding to learn which are the best climbing shoes of today, let’s start first by touching a few things about climbing shoes.
Table of Contents
Generally, climbing shoes are essential to any climbers. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced climber, climbing shoes must be your best friend in climbing.
Yes, your hands and grip play an important role in your climbing activities. But, having the right climbing shoes and feet stance is as important.
Keep in mind that climbers climb different types of rock. And this is done is so many different ways. Which is why climbing shoes have different specializations and types. As it happens, they are designed for different rock climbing niche.
This includes bouldering, crack climbing, sport, overhangs, traditional, and big walls. And all of these climbing variations has its own unique demands. This is why it is very important for every climber to choose the most appropriate climbing shoe for his chosen climbing activity.
Accordingly, having the right pair of climbing shoes will help you achieve a few things:
Generally, a climber can climb anything just by having the right set of skills, knowledge, and, of course, a good and fitting pair of climbing shoe. And although these are required, there are some people who climb without the use of rock climbing shoes.
In fact, there are people who just climb out of the blue even without having a pair of rock climbing shoes. Although this is very doable, it can still be very risky, dangerous, and inefficient.
And if you really want an effective climb, you must find yourself the right pair for your climbing activities. Accordingly, here are the benefits of having the right climbing shoes:
As mentioned, you can climb even without the use of rock climbing shoes. But, do not expect that your climb will be effective and safe. Certainly, you will face a lot of hurdles and challenges.
Climbing is already challenging on its own. And much more if you are not wearing the right pair of shoe for climbing! Not only that your ankle and feet will suffer, but even your overall safety is also put at risk.
On the other hand, utilizing a climbing shoe on your climbing activities can largely and securely help you succeed. These shoes are designed to protect your feet, ankle, and legs as you climb.
And even if you face challenges along the way, you can surely overcome them with the right technique and climbing shoes.
In relation to protection, stability is another benefit that you can get from having and wearing a climbing shoe.
Essentially, your feet and legs will get very tired during your climbing activities. And much more if you are not wearing the right type of shoes. This is inevitable, especially if the routes are challenging, long, and multi-pitched.
Now, climbing shoes can significantly provide you with supplementary stability. This will allow you to climb further because it helps your feet to function better without getting tired for a very long time. Keep in mind that climbing shoes are essentially designed for climbing. Hence, they will really help you in enhancing your climbing skills.
Some climbing shoes have a proprioceptive feedback feature. Usually, the top-rated types are the ones that possess this feature.
When your chosen climbing shoe has this, you can be more attentive to your feet’s position and foot angle. In short, it provides more sensitivity that can largely help you in your climbing sessions.
And this is much more beneficial when your ankles and feet are already tired. So, even if you are already overwrought, you can still have the right sensitivity that you need as you climb.
When you are climbing a mountain or routes with much higher elevation, you will surely experience a much colder surrounding temperature rating.
Naturally, our bodies are designed to give warmth and comfort all throughout the parts and the limbs. However, there is still a risk of losing the warmth if the veins and arteries are exposed to cold temperature. This is why you would still feel cold during the winter even if you are wearing your best winter clothes.
As for your climbing activities, the right climbing shoes can definitely provide you with the warmth that you need. In fact, it adds more insulation to your blood. And when this happens, you will feel more comfortable as you climb.
It is important for you to note that climbing in cold temperatures can hinder climbers from climbing effectively and efficiently. And the challenge is even more doubled, especially if you are climbing on routes with uneven grounds and rocks.
From these benefits, I can no longer emphasize the importance of having a great pair of shoes for climbing. But, these are just some of the top things that a good climbing shoe will be able to help you achieve.
Climbing shoes are designed to snug fit for high performance. This is why you would need not to wear a pair of socks when wearing these shoes. Also, the sticky rubber of the sole allows the shoes to have a great traction. And having an aggressive treading and traction allows climbers to stand on rough and imperfect grounds and even rocks.
But aside from the sticky sole, what makes a pair of climbing shoes really appropriate for climbing? How are they different from an ordinary pair of rubber shoes?
Here’s the anatomy of climbing shoes. This will help you understand further how to choose the right pair of climbing shoes for you.
The overall fit of a climbing shoe is largely affected by the upper. This is because the upper is the one that holds the whole structure of the shoe together.
The materials that are normally used it the upper are either leather or textile. But other manufacturers of today usually have mixtures of materials in the upper to enhance the overall strength and durability.
The rand is the one that covers the tip of the climbing shoe. It wraps the tip all the way to the underneath of the shoe. So, you would see it in between the sole and the upper.
Normally, the material used in the rand is a thin form of rubber. And as you wear and use the shoe, eventually the rand will become thinner. But even so, manufacturers of today keep on innovating rubber materials to provide the rand with much longer and better functionality.
The cup or sole concavity of a climbing shoe is not actually present on all climbing shoes. More often than not, they are only present in most aggressive downturned climbing shoe types.
This is very helpful when you are on an overhanging terrain. The reason behind is that the concave shape of the cup can help hook into pockets.
However, having a cup on your climbing shoe may reduce the contact area. And this might not be helpful during smearing due to the friction.
The sole of a climbing shoe has a range of rubber thickness between 3 and 6 mm. And depending on your level of climbing skills, the thickness will play an important role. Nevertheless, the sole is the one that provides the climbers with traction and treading.
Without having a great sole, climbers would not be able to climb effectively and efficiently. So, in other words, you can say that the sole plays a vital role in every climbing shoe.
Apparently, the soles may tend to wear in the long run. And once it wears off, the edge becomes rounded that may provide you with less friction and contact. So, it is important for you to check this every now and then.
The arch is a built-in feature of climbing shoes. The more aggressive they are, the more they are designed for professionals and experienced climbers. And normally, climbing shoes that have aggressive arches belong in the aggressive last spectrum.
In short, the arch contributes to how aggressive the climbing shoes are.
Climbing has become one of the most popular outdoor activities of many people. Depending on the reason for the climb, climbers get to enjoy such activities whether it may be done in the indoors or outdoors.
And due to its ultimate popularity, the demand for climbing shoes is also increasing in recent times. And as this increase has become more apparent these days, it is only fitting that one would find it very challenging to find the best pairs of climbing shoes as face .
In fact, there are more than 30 manufacturers of climbing shoes. And in each manufacturer, there over tens or dozens of climbing shoe variation. Not to mention, the numbers of products for each type of climbing shoe.
So, you would surely find it very difficult to choose the best among the rest. But even so, this guide may help you find the most appropriate shoe for you.
More than just giving you an overview of the best climbing shoe guide, I’d like to share a couple of other things. The key to finding the right climbing shoe for you is not just knowing which shoes to choose from. Also, it’s about knowing how to pick the right shoe.
Well, it’s very much easy to look for a list of climbing shoes. In fact, you can come across hundreds of them. But, do you know how to look for the best among the rest?
Here is a lowdown on what you need to look out for when choosing a climbing shoe:
There is so much discrepancy when it comes to sizing. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen a shoe that was a perfect fit for everyone. As it happens, feet come in all shapes and sizes. And no shoe can accommodate all that.
With that being said, I recommend you to try fitting a shoe in person as much as possible. And this is just suitable just before you make a purchase. Many sporting stores will have displays of various climbing shoes you can try on.
This is, perhaps, the single easiest way to get an idea on how something will pan out for you. So, go ahead and fit a few pairs even if you aren’t buying just yet.
And through this way, you don’t need to rely on advice for sizing up, down, or buying true to your size. Plus, you get to save yourself from all the hassles of having to return or exchange items.
Just a quick note to remember, climbing shoes come in either men’s or women’s versions. And there are discrepancies between the two when it comes to the size and volume. Although men’s climbing shoes are, more often than not, unisex as well, they offer much larger size and bigger volume.
As for a women-specific version of climbing shoes, they are usually much smaller since the toe box, volume, and heel are narrower than men’s.
While size may be the most important factor to consider before purchasing your climbing shoe, the type or last shape is also an essential thing to regard. In fact, the shape of your chosen climbing shoe plays a huge role in the overall performance and quality of the shoe.
And there are generally three climbing shoe sizes: Flat Last, Slightly Downturned, and Aggressive Downturned.
Flat last climbing shoes are also known as neutral types. They are apparently the most common type of climbing shoes. As the name states, the overall build and shape of these shoes are flat.
And the main thing that makes them popular is that they are very comfortable. Also, they are relatively great for slotting into cracks as you climb. However, they are much less sensitive than the other types.
Accordingly, users may face climbing challenge when they climb or do a few overhanging activities in the journey. Moreover, flat last climbing shoes are not designed for a much more advanced climbing route.
Slightly downturned climbing shoes or the moderate types are perfect for challenging routes. This is because they have much thinner soles and stickier rubber that can provide better traction and grip.
Usually, people who are training their climbing skills to become professionals utilize these types of climbing shoes. They provide enough power and strength than the neutral types.
If you are an advanced climber, certainly, you all know about Aggressive Downturned climbing shoes. In actuality, these shoes provide much more strength and power than the moderate types.
As the name states, these climbing shoes have an ultimate downturned toe positioning. And due to its asymmetric shape, this type of climbing shoes are perfect for climbers who prefer for a single-pitch sport climbs.
But while they are powerful and strong, they are not very comfortable unlike the flat lasts and moderate ones. Also, these climbing shoes are much more prone to wear than the neutral types.
The materials that are used on climbing shoes is another important thing to pay attention to. These all make a difference in terms of how the climbing shoe will fit, perform, and last in your possession.
Leather is one of the most common materials around because it can be soft and durable, at the same time. However, do know that with moisture present, most leather will also tend to stretch - sooner or later.
The uppers of a pair of climbing shoes are made from a good leather material. And usually, there are three types of leather: unlined leather, lined leather and synthetic.
Although these three main types are generally great for the uppers, each type has its own pros and cons. Unlined leather might be the most breathable of all, however, it has the highest tendency of stretching out.
On the other hand, synthetic upper does not stretch at all but it is the least breathable. Plus, the smell can be really unpleasant.
Textile can also be sometimes used. These can be in the form of synthetic materials or some other hardy fabric. Textile may be less prone to stretching and may have other special features depending on the type.
So, they are seen as one of the most durable materials. These may be more prone to tearing through though.
More often than not, a good part of a climbing shoe will be made up of rubber. Whether it’s the sole, heels or toe rand, these may all have some sort of rubber on them.
The thickness of the rubber, as well as the type, will all determine how well a shoe will stick to surfaces and perform on specific techniques.
However, one of the most challenging things that you will face when considering the types of rubber is the number of types. This is because there are over 3 types of rubber today - Vibram, Stealth, and Trax rubber.
And in each type, there are more than 3 variations depending on the thickness and feature of the rubber.
If you are choosing a climbing shoe that features Vibram rubber outsoles, you may want to check if it is an XS Edge Rubber. This is the firmest and sturdiest Vibram rubber. Hence, durability and treading can be really ensured.
As for Stealth rubber, there are actually numerous varieties for this rubber. But, the 4 most common variations are Mystique, Onyx, C4, and Hr Stealth Rubbers. And Stealth C4 is the most popular variation among experienced climbers.
And when you are looking for a Trax Rubber outsole, you can choose from a few varieties but then, there are only two kinds of shoes on the market today. These are Trax XT and Eco-Trax.
Apparently, both are designed to provide great traction and friction to different rocks. But, Eco-Trax is a much more eco-friendly rubber as it minimizes the impacts on the ecosystem.
For beginners, the thickness of the sticky rubber may come as a vague factor. But as it happens, the overall thickness dramatically affects the quality of your climb.
Typically, the thickness would range from <3 mm all the way to >5.5mm being the thinnest and thickest respectively.
Climbing shoes that have much thinner rubbers are way more sensitive than the thicker rubbers. And since they are soft and thin, naturally, users would get a better feel and sense on the ground and rock as they climb.
Accordingly, these climbing shoes are very ideal for short climbing routes and activities. But, if you climb regularly, having thinner rubber climbing shoes may not be as durable as you think it is. This is because they wear out more quickly.
Conversely, climbing shoes that have thicker rubber material last longer. Also, they are much more comfortable since they are not that very sensitive in sensing the ground and rock on your route. In addition, you get to wear them much longer.
If it’s your first time to purchase a pair of climbing shoes, the most ideal rubber thickness for you are the ones that are in between 4.5 and 5.5 mm. This is because they will help you build your feet’s strength. Moreover, thinner rubber would only make your feet sore which would then hinder you to train your climbing skills.
Believe it or not, how you secure your shoes make a big difference too.
This kind of closure system is also more commonly known as strap or velcro closure.
Apparently, it offers quick and easy access. It takes a lot of effort out of changing shoes or resting your feet. And it also offers a good amount of security, though they may wear out quicker and loosen with overuse.
This closure is the more traditional approach to securing shoes.
As with all other types of shoes that have these, it offers the opportunity to adjust the tightness or looseness of a shoe. On the downside, it does take a lot more time and effort to put on and to take off shoes with this kind of closure system.
Nevertheless, this closure is the most versatile of all.
Slippers are also known as Slip-On climbing shoes. And they have neither straps or laces. Instead, they are outfitted with a stretchy material for closure.
As the name implies, these simply slipped on and off are quite convenient. It should be noted though that most slip-ons will not have the usual stiff sole or midsole. But even so, they are perfect for training sessions.
And if this is your first time or you are new in the hobby, you might want to get yourself a pair of climbing shoes that have this kind of closure.
From these factors alone, it is undoubted that it may take you some time to pick the best. So, I’ve put together a guide to the best climbing shoe products of today. And this is to help you get a foothold (pun intended) on the top picks from the market.
Climbing shoes can provide three asymmetries. Keep in mind that the asymmetry plays a vital role in the performance and comfortability of the shoe.
High asymmetry climbing shoes are ideal for better edging and precision. This means that these shoes can provide more power in the big toes. However, they can be very uncomfortable to use.
On the other hand, low asymmetry climbing shoes are very comfortable to use. This is why many beginners would choose to have this type. But while they are very comfortable, they cannot provide much power in the big toes. And this means that it cannot provide you with enough performance that you will need in climbing.
But even so, there are climbing shoes that can provide you with a balanced ratio of performance and comfortability. And these shoes have medium asymmetries.
As for the midsoles, they play an important role in the flexibility of the climbing shoes. And if you are looking for a very flexible one, you may want to get yourself a climbing shoe that has no midsole.
This is very ideal for bouldering and technical climbing. However, they don’t provide much support.
But for climbing shoes that have a full midsole, they are very rigid and they can fully provide you with enough support. Also, they are very ideal for edging, face, sport, and multi-pitch climbs.
Nevertheless, there are also climbing shoes that are applicable for all-around climbing sessions. These shoes have ¾ midsole. It actually supports both edging and technical climbing.
Butora offers a great option for climbers with wide feet without breaking the bank. This mid-priced shoe is comfortable for an aggressive shoe. You can feel the right amount of snugness around your foot, yet it isn’t painful to wear given the extra room.
The sole, toe rand, and heel rand are all made with the company’s proprietary rubber. The material is not too tough and still gives you some amount of sensitivity. Smearing with these shoes on was quite good, considering that it is an aggressive shoe. Also, the power to toes is a real plus.
“Overall the quality is great! Lots of rubber on the toe and heel cup. Looks cool and can be pretty comfortable. Really great for small edges and smears.”
Having a hard time finding a great climbing shoe for your wide feet? Try this one from Butora!
Finding the right shoe to use when you are starting out can be a little bit tricky. The La Sportiva Men’s Tarantulace Performance Rock Climbing shoe is good entry level choice.
The price of this pair is rated under $175. For starters, it is priced very competitively. If you aren’t ready to invest in something pricier, this is a good place to start.
This shoe brand is known to make rock climbing shoes on the narrower side. However, the Tarantulace does offer a bit more of room in the toe area. The extra room up front is great for a more comfortable fit that beginners may look for. The harness laces are great for adjusting the fit and make it secure too.
Overall, this pair of shoe is great when you are practicing your smear, hook, and edge skills as you climb.
“Fit has been fantastic. No pain points, no tight spots, I can wear these for hours without taking them off and not feel any discomfort”
A pair of lace-up La Sportiva climbing shoes? Check the TarantuLace edition from La Sportiva!
Being one of the oldest and first brands to come up with climbing shoes, Scarpa definitely knows their business. Scarpa Instinct is moderately aggressive shoe and is ideal for intermediate climbers.
As for the sole, you get a different type of rubber for the front and another for the back. Each is specifically made to help you with the techniques need to perform.
Then there’s the midsole, which does help with precision. However, it is quite tough.
But overall, the build and quality of Scarpa Instinct are really good. For those that are committed to the sport and looking to invest in shoes, this can do the job.
“As far as quality it's awesome, grips well. And goes on and off nicely. I am coming from laced ones, and is very surprised how well they contour the foot without needing to adjust laces all the time.”
Want an easy-on and off climbing shoe? The Scarpa Men’s Instinct VS pair might be the one for you!
This neutral shoe is good for a number of different surfaces. The flat toe design which really allows you to get your feet in there gives you a whole lot of confidence.
And although it is flat, the toe portion is angled which makes it possible to get a slight curve on your toes if you size down a bit. The padding is really useful and does add to the comfort of the shoe.
It will go a long way for bouldering and sport climbing especially if you want something that performs well all around. However, do take note that it may not perform as well on aggressive climbs.
“Heck, it's pretty comfortable for a climbing shoe after you break it in. Durability is also spot-on... the leather on this is ridiculously thick and should easily hold up to a great deal of intense climbing.”
A pair of flat last La Sportiva? Get the La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro Climbing Shoe now!
This pair lets you get on your toes really well, even if that stiffness means not much flexibility on the toe box. Stiffness also makes it possible to stand hard in small footholds without tiring your feet out.
Along with the good support, it still provides a good amount of sensitivity to help you feel what you are standing on.
This pair has great quality because you can see that it keeps its shape even after a being used for lots of edging. The bottoms can be re-soled, which is always a good way to get more life out of your shoes without buying a new pair.
“Overall a fantastic shoe. If your after a shoe that edges and does most other things very well then this is a great option.”
Looking for a pair that fits well to your feet? You should try the Scarpa Boostic now!
This is another good shoe from La Sportiva. Sportiva Miura iss a classic that is reliable if you are looking for an aggressive climbing shoe. It has a no-frills design with its all leather upper sole. It has a different take on laces and I do like that you can get everything to fit right with just one pull.
Performance wise, Sportiva Miura is a technical shoe can be used indoors, outdoors and for many different types of climbing like crack climbing and many more. Perhaps one of the things that really wins points with me is the moisture wicking liner. Having a foot that isn’t completely moist after a climb is always a great thing.
“I had a pair of these years ago when I was climbing more regularly, and used them for years. They have great edging power, and the fit is very tight in all the right places”
A pair of climbing shoe that can keep your feet dry? You must have this La Sportiva Miura today!
As you choose your best climbing shoes all the way to purchasing and using them, there are certain points that only experts would know. And in this guide, we have also included these tips and hacks that would help you get the most out of your climbing shoes.
One of the most important things that you need to remember when finding for the right fit is to try them in the afternoon. Apparently, the feet swell throughout the day. And the size of your feet in the afternoon is much more accurate and suitable when you are finding for a great climbing shoe.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that you must try the climbing shoes in the store where you are most likely buying the shoes. And if it is possible, choose a store that has a climbing gym or an indoor climbing wall.
This will help you try the shoes on a much more accurate application which will then provide you with a more real-like experience. Hence, it will be much easier for you to know if it will best work on you.
Other tips when getting the right fit includes:
More often than not, the best tip that you can get from others when choosing the best climbing shoe is that you must get the right fit for you. Although this aspect is largely dependent, of course, on your feet’s size, knowing the right fit for you can be really tricky.
Even so, here are some points that you may take with you as you choose for your climbing shoe. And these things will help you learn if the shoe provides the adequate fit for you:
Once you purchase your best climbing shoe, the next best thing for you to know is how to maintain it. Therefore, maintenance and cleaning are also important factors in obtaining the best pairs for you.
Keep in mind that this is the best ways for you to maintain the overall functionality and performance of the shoe. Without having them cleaned or maintained, you will surely face a lot of additional costs for replacements and repairs.
So, here are some tips for you to take good care of your shoes and get the best out of them:
If you choose a pair of climbing shoes that is not appropriate for your size, you will experience poor performance from the shoe. Also, they tend to tear and wear off much sooner.
Dragging your climbing shoes on surfaces will only cause for the rubber to get thinner and more apparent to breakage. Although this is not highly inevitable, by having a clean footwork as you climb, you can be very careful in dragging your shoes.
If in case that you are not an experienced climber or you are still training your skills, try to opt for much thicker rubbers for the sole.
You must treat your climbing shoes as investments. Besides, these shoes are not entirely cheap at all. Hence, you must be careful as well as you wear them. Be mindful on how you wear them and refrain from wearing them with having your toes as the only part immersed inside.
This will actually crush the cup, form, and arch of the climbing shoe.
You must refrain from wearing the shoes when you are not climbing. External factors that are not usually present in climbing areas would dramatically wear and grind the rubber of your climbing shoes.
When you are bringing your climbing shoes with you, always secure them inside the shoe bag. This will keep the shoe safe from any element. Also, this will refrain from having the shoe exposed to direct sunlight.
Shoes always tend to smell at the end of the day, especially if you don’t maintain or clean them. And in the case of climbing shoes, this is very apparent since you don’t get to wear socks as you use climbing shoes. Plus, there are certain materials that are present in a climbing shoe that are largely responsible for the unpleasant smell.
So, if you want to avoid the unwanted odor, try to apply these hacks:
All of the climbing shoes in this list are all great and suitable to be called as best. But, there’s only one that stands out the most. And this is the La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro.
Although this pair of climbing shoes is a neutral type, it can still offer quality performance for both beginners and advanced climbers.
Most of the time, the type of climbing shoes is one of the biggest concerns of every climber when they are choosing for their best climbing shoes. And for advanced climbers, having a flat last can be a downside. This is because, traditionally, they are designed for beginners only.
But for the La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro, they have innovated a flat last that can accommodate all levels of skills. And personally, this is a great advantage for the pair.
Secondly, this pair is very comfortable to use which is very beneficial for beginners. And thirdly, climbers can utilize the La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro in a wide variety of surfaces. So, it is only suitable that this pair is considered to be the most versatile and all-inclusive pair of climbing shoes today.
And for that, this is why the La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro is the best climbing shoe in our opinion.
While the best can be easily pinpointed for a quick list like this, having tens and hundreds of pairs to choose from can be much more challenging. And although I’ve justified why I chose the La Sportiva as my best pick, it may not be the most appropriate pair for you.
So, putting your best foot forward in terms of finding the right climbing shoe for you is what it really takes. Coming by a shoe that will fit you well and provide you with all the support that you need is not an easy task.
The most important thing is knowing what type of shoe you need. Consider your ability level as well as your needs before delving into anything. Most definitely, the right shoe will literally take you to greater heights.
More than just knowing what you need I also definitely recommend taking the time out to try your prospective shoes in person. If you can’t do this, then at least make sure you buy from a reliable seller with a good return or exchange policy.
So, in the end, choosing the best for you and your climbing activities will largely depend on your preferences.