Rock climbing is an activity liked by many people all over the world. People who reside in hilly places generally go after this activity. This activity requires the right mindset as well as the right gear.
Climbing is extremely demanding on the body. Therefore, you need strength as well as good tools to help you with this activity.
No matter you are a novice climber or a professional, you will need different resources for climbing and one of the most vital gears is a pair of good climbing shoes.
Different Types of climbing shoes
If you are new to this activity, you have to keep in mind that there are several types of footwear for it.
Conventional climbing shoes: Best for long climbs.
They are lighter than the other types and they are also comfortable for using in long hours in this activity. Some of these footwear are all-around worn with no specific feature while others are designed to be used specifically in certain locations.
The all-round climbing shoes: Comfortable as they can be used in different locations.
These shoes come with a stiff sole that makes them wade through cracks in the rock with much ease as compared to other types.
Some models in this category hooks or loop straps instead of the usual laces. One major advantage that these types of shoes carry with them is that they are sturdy and long-lasting since they are made of synthetic material and will normally remain intact even after long periods of use.
Traditional climbing shoes: which is almost comparable to the all-round ones.
However, compared to the former, they have stiff and symmetrical soles. They are therefore made more comfortable by these features and as such can be worn all day long.
When you choose a pair of shoes, it is okay to select from your gym collection as these are suitable for this activity too.
How to choose the best climbing shoes for your needs?
In any adventure sport and activity, investing in the right gear is half the battle won. No matter how strong you are physically or how dedicated to the sport you are mental, if you don’t have good equipment and the right outfits for it, you are going to put yourself at severe difficulty.
An activity like rock climbing not only involves superlative physical strength and mental commitment but also requires good equipment and gear to help climbers make the best of the activity that they love. Now we share with you some tips on how to choose the right shoes for your rock-climbing activity.
#1 Pay for Quality
If you are just starting with the sport you have to know that now is not the right time to experiment or skimp on quality to save some bucks.
A sturdy and durable pair of rock-climbing shoes from a reputable and trustworthy brand will save you a lot of time, research, serve you well, and can be beneficial for years to come. Instead of hazarding guesses about what makes to invest in, we recommend you to head to a popular mountain gear store and ask the assistance of an expert. Some mountain climbing equipment shops even allow you to test the shoes for comfort and support before you buy them.
If you don’t want to do that, you can buy your pair of climbing shoes online but after you search a lot, read the customer reviews, check product ratings, and try to stick with the reputable brands as well.
#2 Comfort Fit
Your pair of climbing shoes is going to undergo some changes as you continue to use them. One of the most common of these is that these shoes stretch in width as you use them to accommodate the strain of the climb.
When you are climbing you need a shoe that can adapt well to the situation and can accommodate the needs of the terrain. Only purchase a shoe once you are sure is good in terms of fit and comfort, as well as strength.
#3 Discounted Models
As new and new models come in, the older ones go on heavy discounts. Buying a new pair of climbing shoes that belong to last season’s model line is an excellent idea as it can help you to save tons of money on the new line.
The older styles and models will be sturdy and right for climbing; the only lacking will lie in the fact that they might not have some of the features of the fancy new styles.
#4 Wear Shoes While Climbing only.
Climbing shoes must not be used for your daily wear. Not only will the soles of the shoes become unclean, but the shoes will also start to wear and tear. Gravel can get stuck between the grooves and put you at a disadvantage while you climbing.
4 best climbing shoes on the market
Buying the right gear is very significant with any other sport not only for climbing. Regardless of how good you are at rock climbing or how strong you are, if you don’t have the right tools and equipment as we said earlier you are putting yourself at risk.
Here is our favorite list of best climbing shoes out there:
The Vapor V from Scarpa is a solid option for most climbers, from overhung boulders to multi-day trad climbers. The Scarpa climbing shoe does a fantastic job of mixing comfort with performance, thanks to a moderately downturned shape that lets you push off smaller edges but without the discomfort related to super-aggressive shoes.
In this update to Scarpa’s well-loved shoe, Randing (the rubber layer on top of the suede upper of the shoe) at the toe and heel has been improved for more grip and a less restrictive fit. The air-mesh tongue and Microsuede upper make this shoe comfortable enough for long days and suitable for several foot shapes.
I was first skeptical about the Velcro closure, but I found the two straps and elastic cover on the tongue allowed me to dial in the fit without making hot-spots.
These shoes are a little softer than the La Sportiva Solution and other aggressive shoes, which makes for more comfort and sensation but might compromise performance on the smallest edges. This climbing shoe from Scarpa struck the sweet spot between accessibility and durability, and it’s comfortable to be an intro shoe but also technical to last as your climbing skills grow.
The Vibram XS Edge rubber sole and Microsuede upper combine to offer plenty of grip and a little stretch, which means these shoes must stay the same shape after many months of use. There’s a clever feature, called the Bi-Tension Rand, which, according to Scarpa, transfers the power from the heel to the toe without blocking the toes painfully into the front of the shoe.
For beginners, the Vapor V from Scarpa will be a big upgrade from rental shoes. Certainly, it will feel unfamiliar, but after a few minutes on the wall, the performance benefits become clear.
Experienced climbers will often amass a collection of shoes, with something in their quiver for every possible contingency. But starting with the Vapor V might mean you can hold off your next shoe upgrade, as it really delivers amazing performance outside and inside, on plenty of routes.
Next up we have the best climbing shoes for beginners which go to The Five Ten Gambits. The box for these shoes came with the instruction that climbing shoes shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. I scoffed at the thought that a shoe could be both comfortable and useful on challenging routes.
When I slipped on the Five Ten Gambit, I was ready to dismiss the shoe as not stiff or aggressive enough for anything but simple gym climbs designed for beginners. But, as I challenged myself outside and in, I was really impressed with what the Gambit offered, and I didn’t have to take the shoes off to belay.
The flat shape and low level of asymmetry mark the Gambit out as a more comfortable shoe and one that is well suited to multi-pitch routes where climbers will keep the shoes on for an extended climb, which allows for resting periods on ledges in between difficult sections.
The version I tested uses Velcro straps, but a lace-up version is also sold for people who feel they need more adjustability. Expert testers liked the semi-technical fit, with a slight bias toward the big toe and a grippy heel cup that allows for surprisingly technical climbing in a comfortable shoe.
The shoe’s padded tongue felt comfortable and seemed to mitigate the pressure points and hot-spots I sometimes feel with Velcro shoes. The cotton-lined leather upper didn’t stretch much, but after a few weeks, I noticed a bit of expansion. In general, I would say these shoes fit true-to-size; I ordered the same EU size that I wear in street shoes and have been happy with the fit. The stiffened midsole helps with arch pain on long climbs but makes the Gambit less sensitive than the softest slipper.
Most beginners will notice this stiffness and find it helpful as they progress to smaller footholds where the stiffer sole provides a more solid platform. I also found the Stealth C4 rubber to be both durable and grippy — again, a major upgrade compared to gym shoes that are often worn out.
The Gambit isn’t the ultimate performance shoe, but it is more than adequate for any beginner or mid-level climber wanting to progress out of gym shoes without the extreme discomfort of more aggressive shoes. If you want to go from the gym to climbing outside, these are a great shoe to straddle both and, at less than $100, are extremely affordable.
Up next, we have the best climbing shoes for wide feet which goes to Solution from La Sportiva. I love a good aggressive climbing shoe. I inadvertently stumbled into a pair of stiff, asymmetrical shoes when I began bouldering and since then I’ve always enjoyed the way a more downturned and stickier shoe lets me trust my feet in a way that I can’t seem to in a more neutral slipper.
However, aggressive shoes can be unbearably constrictive for climbers with high volume or wide feet.
If this is you, the La Sportiva Solution is just that: a solution to your climbing shoe problem. The Solution fits a broad range of feet in comfort, thanks to its combination of a shoelace with a hook-and-loop tab that La Sportiva calls the Fast-Lacing System. This system allows the shoe to distribute tension evenly, rather than creating hot-spots.
There’s no mistaking this for a neutral shoe; it looks like the talons of some kind of futuristic mutant eagle. The drastically downturned toe, stiff sole, secured heel cup. and grippy Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber make the Solution a trustworthy partner on aggressive bouldering routes and sport climbs, where tiny edges and heel hooks might make the difference between sending (a successful climb) and ending up back on the floor.
The asymmetric shape lets me stand on my toes on the smallest of footholds, something that the Solution’s previous iteration was well known for. This is not a shoe for all-day sessions, but thanks to the innovative lacing system it can be easily taken on and off.
In the first few sessions, I took advantage of this feature but once the shoes were broken in, I was happy climbing for an hour or so without the need to relieve pressure on my feet. I found that my high-arch but lower-volume feet needed me to cinch really far over on the strap to get the right fit I needed. I would consider cutting the strap down for longer sessions. I found these fit a little larger than the other similar-sized shoes I tested, but it may be because of my low-volume feet. If you find yourself between sizes, size down on these.
Backcountry buyers love the solution, with one raving, “These will get you up some things other shoes just can’t.” Testers at Outdoor Gear Lab loved that they could use the shoe on tiny edges and shallow pockets. These aren’t cheap shoes, but if the much-loved previous model is anything to go by, they’ll resolve well for years to come. I should find out, as I plan to keep them in my gear bag for those times when I need a shoe to give me a little extra boost on tough routes.
For our last pick, we have the best climbing shoes for less than $100 which goes to the Black Diamond Momentum. Black Diamond is to climbing what Coca-Cola is to soft drinks. For years climbers have relied on the company’s clothing, helmets, and headlamps, from the Himalayas to the local bouldering gym. Despite this, it wasn’t until 2017 that it released its first climbing shoe.
Thankfully, the Momentum shoe lives up to expectations and delivers a great fit, beginner-friendly pricing, and excellent performance. The Momentum really shines for its ability to combine comfort and performance. In large part, this is due to the use of an innovative knitted material that expert testers at REI loved, saying that “the knit is tight where you need support, and loose where your feet need to breathe.” The relatively flat and symmetrical shape of the shoe means it’ll be comfortable when belaying or trad climbing longer routes outside, as well as on short boulder problems (routes) or gym climbs.
The synthetic material should maintain its shape and deal well with sweat, chalk, and weather. The shoe looks basic, but the Momentum offers a comfortable fit and surprisingly capable design, despite costing $100 less than other shoes we tested. This comfort does not come at the price of performance thanks to a well-engineered rubber sole and toe box.
The shoe’s double tongues don’t tend to fold up and create pressure points on the foot as much as single-tongue designs. When combined with the Velcro closure, one expert tester found the Momentum “comfortable to wear all day whether climbing or belaying.” If you’re looking to get out of gym shoes, this is a great upgrade. If you stick with climbing, you’ll no doubt find your shoe quiver growing, but this should remain a staple.
I have several pairs of climbing shoes, and there are certainly times when I reach for the super downturned and aggressive shoes to help me send a particularly challenging route with a tiny edge. However, it’s the Momentum shoes that live in my truck and that I know I can pull out for an evening at the gym or a full day of climbing outside. That is what these shoes a fantastic choice for any climber, no matter what their experience or climbing preference.