The Best Climbing Shoes: Buyer’s Guide

Buying Guide

Climbing, or rock climbing is fun for those who are adventurous and looking for a bit of a healthy activity to do in their spare time. Whether you’re going out in the physical world or you’re going to your local gym for some rock climbing, having the best climbing shoes is pivotal to the success of your climb. If you don’t protect your feet, you won’t be having a very fun time post-climbing session. It isn’t all about your feet, either, as your grip with the terrain is just as important. In this article, we’ll discuss key factors in choosing the best climbing shoes for your lifestyle.

Don’t Feel Like Reading The Whole Article? Here is Our Top Choice

 La Sportiva Tarantula Beginner Rock Climbing Shoe
 La Sportiva Tarantula Beginner Rock Climbing Shoe
Amazon Rating
MSRP$
Lowest Price$63.32Amazon See it
BrandsLa Sportiva
TypesRock Climbing Shoes
Model10C-KIWI-33.5
Weight1.79 pounds
Product Dimensions13 x 6 x 5 inches
 Read Full Review

Benefits of Using Climbing Shoes

Buying the best climbing shoes isn’t just about how awesome your shoes match with your outfit, it’s about how well the shoes grip the contours of your feet and the contours of your surrounding terrain. Without exceptional quality in either, you won’t be having a very good time – mainly in terms of safety. When you can’t grip the land well, you’re not going to succeed and you may potentially harm yourself. However, if the shoes don’t fit your feet well and they hurt you, you could cause injury to your skin or bones, as well as setting yourself up for failure or falling. In purchasing the best climbing shoes, you can ensure that your feet will remain safe and you won’t miss a step.

Factors to Consider Before Buying Climbing Shoes

Before taking the plunge and purchasing climbing shoes that fit your lifestyle, there are quite a few things to consider before doing so. There are three considerations one must take into account, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran. The aforementioned three include the following:

  • The type of climbing shoe: There are multiple types of shoes you’ll hear about including aggressive, moderate, and neutral. Depending on how rugged or rough the terrain is, this will ultimately decide what can of climbing shoe you’ll be aiming for.
  • Features of your climbing shoes: It’s no doubt that shoes are just as important as any other purchase, and the features are the reason for buying. If you don’t have the proper materials like rubber, linings, or straps, you won’t be making a good investment.
  • The fit of your shoe: The most imperative aspect of your climbing shoe is how well the shoe fits. If they don’t fit well, you could fall while climbing or cause your foot to shift and become painful. The worse the fit, the harder the climb and the harsher the fall – not something you should strive for!

As we mentioned, there are multiple shoe climbing types. Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of choosing one.

Neutral shoe type: For neutral shoe types, you’ll be able to comfortably lie your toes flat within the shoe. The most comfortable style of climbing shoe, these are great for those who are beginners and must get used to neutral terrain. Those who are more experienced will find that neutral shoes are great for an all-day walking or slight climbing experience. Typically, their midsoles are stiffer and measure in at a “medium” with thick soles for awesome support. The profile is more sleek and flat, which make it easier to fit into deeper cracks during a climb. It’s important to note that if you like challenging climbs, a neutral shoe type is not for you, and you’ll have to find something else that caters to more rugged terrain or difficult paths.

Moderate shoe type: It’s no secret that moderate shoe types have a slightly different appearance than the aforementioned in terms of frontal shape. They are sleeker and face “downwards” in order to put your feet and legs into a stronger stance. For more difficult routes, but not the most challenging, a moderate shoe type will work great, whether you’re someone who’s new or old to the scene of climbing. However, those who don’t find the aggressive type comfortable will be able to excel with this shoe type and feel that much more comfortable during their journey. While they aren’t as oriented for performance as the next shoe we’ll discuss, they still pack a punch and perform as intended. They are slightly less comfortable than the aforementioned neutral shoe, but have a more defined purpose.

Aggressive shoe type: Last but not least, we have the frightening “aggressive” shoe type. The shoe type that we’re focusing in on now is one for serious climbers who want to trek the most challenging terrain the world has to offer. Showcasing an even more downward shape, aggressively styled shoes hug every contour of the foot while providing shape and grips for grabbing onto the toughest of cracks and overhanging climbs. For overhanging, the extreme shape of the shoe provides beneficial features. The rubber is typically thinner, yet stickier in order to perform as intended, but they are far less comfortable than the aforementioned shoe types we’ve listed. Because of their thinness, it’s common to see them wear out much quicker than the previously listed. For those who do trek on the terrain we’ve mentioned and are into the aggressive style, you’re more serious about climbing and willing to invest in a great pair of aggressive shoes time and time again.

Tips on How to Choose the Best Climbing Shoes for Your Needs

It’s important to know the materials of the shoe before buying, and the benefits they reap. Without, you may not be purchasing the best shoe for your style. When it comes to shoes, uppers are very important and must be discussed. Uppers are typically either synthetic or leather. While many shoes that competitors and more serious climbers wear are synthetic, leather tends to be the easiest to care for. If you’re someone who is a vegetarian, you obviously would go for the synthetic – which is fine, as they provide a heightened performance than the aforementioned. Let’s dig a little deeper:

Unlined leather: The mentioned leather can stretch much more than others and typically, your toes will touch the end of the shoe. If you’re worrying about the color of your shoe getting onto your skin underneath because of sweat and wear, you’ll want to stay away from unlined leather.

Line leather: The opposite of the previously listed, lined leather obviously won’t stretch as much. These tend to be cheaper because of manufacturer choices on where to line, and you won’t be seeing as much color bleed onto your skin after your climb.

Synthetic materials: Last but not least, synthetics tend to not stretch as well as the leather types we’ve listed above. With little give, you should know your precise size, as they won’t “stretch” and you can’t “break them in”. While the perforated type may be better for those looking for a little more in terms of a giving size, the feeling is all due to personal preference.

Other terms that revolve around the shape of the shoe include the following:

  • Slip-lasted
  • Board-lasted
  • Straight shoe
  • Asymmetric shoe
  • Downturned Shoe

Now that we’ve overloaded you with an abundance of climbing shoe information, check out some reviews of the best shoes for climbing on the market today, available at affordable consumer-level prices.

The Best Climbing Shoes

La Sportiva Tarantula Beginner Rock Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Tarantual Beginner Rock Climbing Shoe

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Made for both men and women, this versatile rock-climbing shoe is fantastic for beginner’s. You don’t have to be the next climbing Olympian to get the most out of this shoe, and it reaps a ton of benefits. Features of this shoe include the following:

  • Synthetic
  • Made for beginner’s
  • Adjustable closure system
  • Rubber sole is grippy

Breakdown of the Features

If you’re a vegetarian and aren’t looking for genuine leather, you’ll enjoy the synthetic upper of this shoe model. Created for beginner’s who want to dabble into the world of climbing without making a huge investment off the bat, this shoe is perfect in terms of fitting the contours of the male and female foot. Coming equipped with an adjustable closure system that uses the good ‘ole “hook and loop” closure system, you won’t have to worry about it not adapting to your foot width. Trying to shove your foot into something that doesn’t fit does NOT work well for those in the world of climbing. The grippy rubber sole enables the shoe to be lightly structured, with a reduced amount of rigidity in order to create a lovely, multi-purpose shoe with an abundance of functionality. Being so functional and versatile, those who are beginner’s will find solace in knowing this shoe can last them for quite some time during their training.

The Advantages of the Product

There are a ton of advantages to this product, starting with the unisex design. Because of the closure system, both males and females can benefit from this one shoe. There are various color schemes to choose from, and it’s available at a fantastic price. Whether you climb indoors or outdoors, this shoe is versatile in terms of functionality, where it can be used, and adjusting the fit to your foot. We can’t say really anything bad about this product as it excels in performance and provides comfort and structure to those who need it. The Frixion rubber grips are also another versatile option for the fit of the shoe, and we couldn’t ignore that!

The Disadvantages of the Product

There aren’t too many disadvantages to this product. In fact, the only one we can find is that it’s not for extreme climbing. If you’re a beginner who wants to immediately dabble in something more aggressive, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Evolv Defy Climbing Shoe

Evolv Defy Rock Climbing Shoe

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Unfortunately, this next shoe isn’t for women, unless you know your sizing in men’s! We wouldn’t say up front that this is a beginner’s shoe, but for the more experienced beginner or those who are in intermediate levels of climbing may enjoy this shoe. Features of this shoe include the following:

  • Synthetic upper, synthetic sole
  • Asymmetrical profile
  • Nylon lining

Breakdown of the Features

Yet another victory for the vegetarians: the synthetic upper and synthetic sole have NO genuine leather whatsoever! The nylon lining allows for a bit of flexibility and better contouring of the feet, despite having synthetic materials within this pair of shoes. To be specific, the synthetic upper for created out of perforated synthratek, which allows for a tad more flexibility, despite the synthetic materials yet again. Coming in a HUGE variety of sizes, it’s easy for women to get in on this shoe, too, as long as they know their sizing in men’s. Typically, to find your shoe size in men’s, you want to subtract two from your normal size in women’s. The midsole is composed of 1mm, half-length, sensitive material and perfect for comfort. Available at an extremely attractive price, we can’t say too many bad things about this product.

The Advantages of the Product

One of the great features of this shoe is while it says it’s a men’s shoe, their choice to add a HUGE variety of sizes make it easier for women to get in on the climbing action, too. Men who have smaller feet will no longer have to look elsewhere, either, as this set of shoes goes pretty small (thanks, Evolv!)

The Disadvantages of the Product

Those who have wider feet will unfortunately not be able to find their shoe size so well, as the general conesus of the shoe sizes point straight to a medium, or general width. Because it’s not genuine leather, the stretch won’t be as wide and as easy, since synthetic doesn’t stretch as much. However, if you’re on the cusp, you’re in luck as the synthetic materials are perforated with a nylon upper, providing a bit of stretch for you (but don’t count on this). The performance of the product isn’t ruined, whatsoever, though!

La Sportiva Tarantulace Performance Rock Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Tarantulace Performance Rock Climbing Shoe

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Yet another from the geniuses at La Sportiva, this pair of men’s tarantulace rock climbing shoe takes inspiration from the world of arachnids. With a 4-lace system on each side, you don’t have to worry about the shoe not being snug when you need it. Other features of this pair of shoes include the following:

  • Leather materials
  • Fast lacing system
  • Unlined climbing shoe
  • Asymmetric design
  • Multi-functional

Breakdown of the Features

This incredibly multi-funtional pair of shoes is composed of leather materials and an unlined upper to ensure that you’re going to be able to get the most movement out of the shoe. With the asymmetric design, you’re going to be able to grab onto those rough terrains and stretch your foot to where it needs to be. A reduction in limitation is why this pair of shoes is hot on the market currently. The fast lacing system ensures that you’ll be able to tighten the shoe quickly and in a precise manner that won’t come undone and potential harm your climb. Snuggling the contours of your feet in a comfortable manner, you’ll have a great amount of support with this pair of Tarantulace shoes from La Sportiva.

The Advantages of the Product

The overall design of the shoe is an advantage in itself, providing an abundance of flexibility and comfort, while letting the intermediate climbers get the most out of the pair of shoes. Unlined for breathability and an asymmetrical design, we can’t say too many bad things about this product. If you’re someone who is a beginner, these shoes may not be for you, but for those looking to get more experience, take a look at this pair!

The Disadvantages of the Product

The only disadvantages of this product are potential possibilities. As we mentioned, leather shoes tend to bleed color-wise onto your feet after your climbing session. If this doesn’t bother you, this disadvantage isn’t truly a disadvantage. For those who are set against not having this happen, you may not want to try this shoe, although bleeding leather isn’t a guarantee in every pair – however, it’s more of a possibility since this pair is unlined.

Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe

Mad Rock Men's Drifter Climbing Shoe

CHECK AVAILABILITY

A simple shoe in design and in style, it’s also available at an appealing price. Coming in a variety of colors, this climbing shoe is perfect for the average minimalist who doesn’t need anything too fancy. Features of this pair of shoes include the following:

  • Various colors
  • Leather materials
  • Rubber sole
  • Velcro straps

Breakdown of the Features

Coming in colors grey, red, and green, the basic color options available are as we’ve mentioned, basic. While not a bad thing, this pair of shoes is for someone who wants something simple and minimalistic. Composed of leather materials and a rubber sole, the aforementioned pair of shoes presents itself as more of a contender in the world of longevity. Velcro straps ensure that you won’t fall mid-climb either, and we’ll touch base on this more below.

The Advantages of the Product

One of the primary advantages of this product is that it does use Velcro. While a disadvantage and an advantage all in one, it’s more of a pro than a con. Having Velcro during climbing allows for a heightened sense of safety and durability. We say this because shoe laces tend to come undone and if you’re mid climb, you can’t exactly let your hands and feet go. You could lose your balance and slip, harming yourself. Thankfully, the Velcro eliminates that possibility entirely.

The Disadvantages of the Product

If you’re not a fan of Velcro materials, we don’t suggest getting this shoe. The Velcro pieces are hard to miss, and they play a big role in the structure of the top of the shoe and how it fits on your foot. We don’t suggest turning a cold shoulder to this pair of shoes completely, as we mentioned above that it poses great benefits in choosing Velcro over lacing.



Scarpa Helix Climbing Shoe

Scarpa Men's Helix Climbing Shoe

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Somewhat disguising itself as a sneaker, there are a ton of bonuses to choose the Scarpa. Features of this sneaky shoe include the following:

  • Suede material composition
  • Rubber sole
  • Asymmetric lacing
  • Pull-on heel

Breakdown of the Features

Having a pull-on heel makes it so that the snug fit of the shoe doesn’t make the actual shoe hard to pull on. You’ll be able to pull the tab and slide your foot into it as if you’re Cinderella of the climbing world – minus the dangerous heel. The asymmetric lacing may be of use to you, or something you’re trying to avoid, but the suede material composition is something that’s attractive in terms of fitting the contours of your feet and the way it stretches.

The Advantages of the Product

There are quite a few appealing features of this product, including the pull-on heel aspect, and the thin and flexible mid-sole that this pair of shoes has to offer. Having such flexibility and fit will ensure that you’ll feel as if you’re climbing on a cloud, which is pretty promising considering you’re on some of the hardest surfaces known to man’s feet.

The Disadvantages of the Product

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages ot this product. If you’re not into the black-grey-red color scheme, you’ll want to look elsewhere, but it’s not a disadvantage that affects the performance. However, if you’re someone who isn’t into suede materials, you won’t like this shoe, but again, it doesn’t affect how the shoe performs and actually makes it easier for some to use and climb with this. The sizing is also a tad weird, especially if you’re a woman trying to fit in a man’s shoe, as it requires a bit more math when it comes to finding out your size. Don’t worry; this is only a small wall you’ll have to get through to get these shoes.

The Final Verdict

Now that you’ve got the scoop on what to look for in the perfect pair of climbing shoes, as well as a number of fantastic potential climbing shoes, it’s important that we leave you on a high note: the winner from this list is the La Sportiva Tarantulace climbing shoe, ensuring that flexibility and comfortability is a must during your intermediate climb.