Being a rock climber, you know that your shoes are the connection between yourself and the rock face. The best climbing shoes can make all the difference when attempting to master your ultimate goal. You can be climbing indoors, outdoors, bouldering, edging, smearing or jamming – whatever you do, your shoes are what help keep you glued to the wall, and moving steadily upwards. Climbing styles will differ, and your shoes will reflect those differences.
However, no matter if you have a neutral, moderate or aggressive climbing experience level; your shoes are the most important aspect of your climbing kit.
Table of Contents
- Best Beginner & Intermediate Climbing Shoes for Narrow or Wide Feet
- How Should Rock-climbing Shoes Feel?
- What size Rock Climbing Shoes do I Need?
- What are the Best Rock Climbing Shoes?
- Are Rock Climbing Shoes Necessary?
- Do Rock Climbing Shoes Stretch?
- The Top Climbing shoes for Beginners & Advanced Climbers in 2018
We are going to give you a rundown of what we consider the top climbing shoe on the market. This is based on reading extensive reviews from users and critics. If that wasn’t already enough, we have also considered the features that are important when selecting the right shoes. These are aspects such as types of laces, straps, linings, rubber soles, gender specific features, and more.
All of these considerations make a huge difference in the suitability of your shoes. So, without further delay, let’s have a look at what we consider the best climbing footwear of 2018:
Best Beginner & Intermediate Climbing Shoes for Narrow or Wide Feet
|Picture||Climbing Shoes||Material||Gender||Closure Style|
|La Sportiva TarantuLace||Synthetic, leather||Men's||Lace|
|La Sportiva Genius||Synthetic, leather||Unisex||Lace|
|La Sportiva TC Pro||Leather||Men's||Velcro|
|Scarpa Instinct VS||Textile||Men's||Velcro|
|Five Ten Anasazi VCS||Synthetic||Men's||Velcro|
|Five Ten Hiangle||Leather||Men's||Velcro, slip on|
|Butora Acro Wide Fit||Synthetic, leather||Men's||Velcro, slip on|
|Tenaya Tarifa||Microfiber, Cotton||Unisex||Lace|
What to Look For When Buying Climbing Shoes?
Climbing is a great way to not only get fit, but to also give you a shot of adrenaline. It is great fun for the whole family too. Yes it can be dangerous at times, and there are a few aggressive climbing advocates out there that can be considered daredevils, however, there are a lot of people who take on the sport to add a touch of fun to their workout regime. Thinking about CrossFit for working out? Check out the top shoes for CrossFit. We hope to help you with our climbing gear guide!
The first step when considering climbing, is to choose the discipline or type of climbing you want to do. You can choose from indoor, outdoor, or bouldering, and each of these types of climbing require a different kind of kit and approach. Most will start their journey with indoor climbing, bouldering or top-rope climbing in the great outdoors.
No matter where you start or how far you go, you will need the best kit. This includes the best shoes to enable you to get the grip and support you need. These shoes will help to keep you on the rock, and not dangling from your climbing ropes – resulting in having to be belayed down, without even reaching the top!
How Should Rock-climbing Shoes Feel?
The look and feel of your shoe will differ, depending on the type of climbing you are going to be doing. Beginners will look at a little looser fitting shoe that is comfortable and supportive, but the more aggressive experienced climber of higher skill levels will go for the tighter shoe. This allows them to perform spectacular feats on the rock face.
There are a number of aspects to your shoe that will determine how it feels on your foot, including the “last” or style of the shoe, different closures, soles, outsoles, material used and more will determine not only how the shoe will feel on your foot but also what it will enable you to achieve on the rock face or the climbing wall.
Below we take a look at what aspects of the shoe will determine the look and feel of the shoe and how they will help you to reach your goals when it comes to your chosen sport:
Climbing shoe last is simply the manner in which the climbing shoe is built.
The “last” will not only determine the height and volume of the shoe but also the width and dimensions of the heel and toe area.
Most of your rock shoes will be slip-lasted but some will be board-lasted.
The “last” determines the shape of the shoe and this will affect the manner in which the shoe will support the climber and the kind of fit the shoe offers. There are three shoe types of “last” shapes.
Board lasted shoes are shoes that are a lot stiffer in design with the material between your foot and the sole of the shoe is stiff. They are engineered for beginner climbers or for advanced climbers who are taking on long outdoor routes. They support your feet a lot more than you slip lasted shoes and help to prevent fatigue. Climbing steep or overhanging rock is difficult with these board lasted shoes as they are not very flexible.
Slip lasted shoes are perfect for smearing or climbing on smooth rocks. They are also great for climbing on training walls, overhangs, and steep trad climbs. They are climbing shoes that are designed for advanced climbers and the shoes perform hook and grab holds well. This shoe, however, can become very uncomfortable when it comes to longer routes or when climbing carrying a pack or having to take on crack climbing.
Unlined leather shoes will tend to stretch, if you are going to select an unlined leather shoe then you need to get the fit just right. To be sure you get the right size, you need to ensure that the fit of the shoe when you purchase it is very tight, your toes should be pushing up against the leather. Lined on the other hand will stretch a lot less. Some brands only line the toes of their shoes to prevent stretching where it is most likely to occur in the shoe.
Most of your high-performance shoes will be made from synthetic material, they do not stretch and tend to have a very good fit that will remain the same throughout. Some of the synthetic shoes contain perforations which allow the foot to be able to breathe, they also often contain qualities that allow them to wick away water. The synthetic shoe will soften after a lot of use.
The thickness of the outsole will definitely affect not only the performance of the shoe but also the feel of the shoe. Most thickly soled climbing shoes will range between 4 and 5.5mm. They do not give you the same kind of sensitivity you will get with a thinner sole, however, they do offer great durability and are perfect for edging.
Beginners will generally choose a thicker soled shoe which helps to prevent fatigue as well as providing better support for your foot. Thinner soles will range between 3 and 4mm and are great for smearing when you are ready to take on more difficult rock climbs you will move on to thinner soled shoes.
Style and closure
There are three shoe types: lace-up, slip-on and strap closure shoes. Lace-up shoes are the most versatile of all the climbing shoes; they are great as you can loosen the laces if your feet swell or if you need to walk along the routes. Strap closures, on the other hand, are hook-and-loop as they are sometimes known, are perfect for gym climbing or bouldering and are easy to put on and take off.
Finally, the slip-on style or slipper offer an elastic closure and are the shoes that offer the most sensitivity of any of the climbing shoes. They are perfect for training and they work well when crack climbing.
Gender to a large extent does not make a huge difference in selection of climbing shoes. Men’s shoes do tend to be a little wider in both the heel and forefoot and in a man’s shoe the upper might be a little higher. Most manufacturers will have shoes that are great for both men and women, with small distinctions in the sizing, and whether you are a woman or a man it is important to choose a shoe that fits perfectly and molds to your foot keeping it snug and secure during your climbing.
What size Rock Climbing Shoes do I Need?
Sizing in a climbing shoe is really important. You should not have any gaps between your toes and the inside of the shoe, this is because you need them to remain rigid when gripping on a foothold. The shoe should keep your heel snug and are not painful when wearing them.
What are the Best Rock Climbing Shoes?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to selecting your climbing shoes.
There are some people that will prefer specific brands and styles of shoes. This is because the best shoe for you will be based on your own climbing style, type of climbs you like to do and how long you will be climbing for.
Some shoes are a little stickier than the other and the one you need will depend on the climb you are doing, if you are tackling vertical climbs, overhangs, bouldering or straightforward indoor climbs will determine which shoe is perfect for you.
Are Rock Climbing Shoes Necessary?
Yes, most definitely if you are going to do rock climbing you need the specialized rock climbing shoes which will provide the traction, friction, and grip to hold onto the rock face with your feet. These shoes provide you with the stability your feet need as well as stopping them from sliding around in the shoe. Edging, smearing and bouldering cannot be done without specialized climbing shoes.
Do Rock Climbing Shoes Stretch?
The climbing shoes with leather uppers will stretch; the unlined uppers will stretch up to 1 size and the unlined up to a half size. Synthetic shoes will have minimal stretch and will not change much over time.
The Top Climbing shoes for Beginners & Advanced Climbers in 2018
We take a look at the top ten climbing shoes and how they will help you to reach that next pinnacle in your climbing journey. The list below covers neutral, aggressive and moderate shoe options:
When considering which climbing shoe you need, consider what type of climbing you will be doing and what is the most important feature for your needs, be it comfort, aggressiveness or style of closure. Rock climbing is a superb way of getting in your exercise in a fun and adrenaline-packed way. It is not only exciting but can be extremely challenging and when you are taking it to the ultimate level (e.g. free solo climbing), dangerous. For the study on the motivations of rock climbers click here.
Having the right equipment, including a climbing harness, climbing ropes and shoes make the difference between reaching the summit and, falling short of your goals. A climbing shoe that offers the grip, support, stability, and comfort you need will ensure that you reach your goals whether you are a beginner just starting your journey or an advanced veteran climber who wants to take on the challenge of the more highly rated routes. Climbing gear has had an interesting history in terms of how the gear has had to evolve, and the increasing standards climbing gear needs to adhere to.
When selecting the right shoe for you, ensure you go towards the end of the day, and take any wraps or straps that you usually wear with you to ensure you get the best fit and the right size shoe. Climbing gear needs to be reliable and slip resistant.
Expert Advice Tip
When selecting your climbing shoe to ensure you shop in the afternoon as your feet may swell during the day, fit your shoe without socks and be flexible about sizing.
Did you know?
Although everybody has a different way of bending their feet to get a shoe on, if it does not slip on easily, then it is probably too tight a fit for you.