Best Climbing Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Comfort

So, you’ve chosen your sport, you’ve chosen your venue – now you need to make sure you’ve got all the right kit to make sure your climb is as safe and enjoyable as it can be. There’s more to your kit than the latest pants and shirts, the best harness, gloves or anything else you need to prepare. A decent climbing shoe can make a huge difference between a great climb and a terrible one, not to put aside an emphasis on the safety aspect too. It seems frivolous to spend a fortune on the rest of your kit and then to cut corners when it comes to your footwear, in reality, you need to research, and spend time choosing a decent pair of climbing shoes that will serve you best individually. So no sharing a pair with your best mate – no matter how close you are, it can be a fatal misjudgment and you may end up paying more than extra dollars because of it.

Featured Recommendations

Mad Rock Drifter
  • Mad Rock Drifter
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Quality Leather
  • Price: See Here
La Sportiva TarantuLace
  • La Sportiva TarantuLace
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable Comfort
  • Price: See Here
Five Ten Anasazi
  • Five Ten Anasazi
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flexibility
  • Price: See Here

This guide will review ten of the best climbing shoes, and provide insight into the individual shoes rather than just a generic review. It’s better to look at a few designs and brands so you can make sure you spend your hard earned cash on something that is decent and will see you through some decent climbs both safely and in comfort. The term no pain no gain does not really work when you have a trip planned. The top three recommendations are based on editors choice, best mid-range, and the best value, all are good sellers and there should be a pair that ticks the boxes for you.

10 Best Climbing Shoes

 

1. Mad Rock Drifter

1. Mad Rock Drifter
The Mad Rock Drifter climbing shoes are an all-rounder for complete versatility, they are produced from good quality leather that will envelop the foot and develop an individual shape. The asymmetrical shape places the point over and in line with the big toes, which serves to divert the point of contact to the bigger, stronger toe. They come in a choice of three colors; grey, Azul and red, and they have two functional closure straps for ease putting on and taking off.
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Features

These climbing shoes have a rubber sole and a stiffness rating of three. The leather upper is complemented with polyester on the footbed and compressed polyester for the midsole. They are a lightweight shoe with an overall sole thickness of 3.8mm.

Stylish

The Mad Rock Drifter climbing shoes are deceptively stylish and functional, premium materials combined with technological production ensures these shoes will be able and ready for an all-around climbing trip with comfort and safety.

Cost and Value

The cost and value of these climbing shoes are on a level bar, the value is added to by the overall quality of both materials, and workmanship. The style they created in, belies the full functionality of the shoe, and they are excellent value for money.
Pros
  • Asymmetrial
  • Leather upper
  • Compressed midsole
  • Choice of colors
  • Stylish
Cons
  • Sizing is off
  • Rubber not overly tacky

2. La Sportiva TarantuLace

2. La Sportiva TarantuLace
The Tarantulace climbing shoes are an all-rounder designed for intermediate users, they come in a choice of two colors; Kiwi/grey and flame, They benefit from a fast lacing system that uses quick-pull harnessing to provide exact tightness around the foot where it is needed most. They also offer support, great fitting and are comfortable to wear, an aggressive rubber heel rand and sticky FriXon RS rubber soles will provide sensitivity without discomfort.
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Durable

The climbing shoes are designed to be worn both indoors and outdoors, offering more versatility for better lasting and premium shoes. They are produced with a 1.8mm aspoFlex midsole and coupled with the quality soles, they are tough and practical.

Comfort

The low-asymmetry RN45 build allows for ease finding edge purchasing, and the lined tongues balance both moisture and breathability, another benefit is the synthetic leather overlay - this increases support and helps to retain comfort.

Cost and Value

The TarantuLace climbing shoes are produced using a trusted technological system that incorporates science and practicality - ensuring full functionality whilst offering both comfort and versatility. Overall-great value shoes for the money.
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Quality materials
  • Fast lacing system
  • All rounders
  • Excellent value
Cons
  • Weak eyeholes
  • Sizing is off

3. Evolv Defy

3. Evolv Defy
These Evolv Defy climbing shoes are made in the USA and are manufactured using a layering system of a synthetic sole, perforated Synthratek upper and a plush nylon lining. They are offered in a choice of two colors; black/sulfur and charcoal and are fastened with two closure straps. The asymmetrical profile benefits by concentrating focus on the strength of the big toe, and this is complemented with a VTR thicker rand around the area.
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Soles

The comfortable nylon lining is on top of a 1mm MX-P half-length midsole and a 4.2mm high friction TRAXⓇ rubber. These shoes benefit from the anti-microbial mesh which helps to reduce and eliminate odors when those climbs get hot and sweaty.

Fit

The Evolv Defy climbing shoes have an anatomical fit that improves not only the comfort but the overall capability of the shoes. Increased sensitivity provides a better fit and confidence when it’s needed most, and the closures are adjustable.

Cost and Value

The overall cost and value of these climbing shoes are well balanced, for a trusted brand at an economical price the features and comfort they offer ensure the shoes are a great buy for the money.
Pros
  • USA made
  • Asymmetrical
  • Synthetic
  • Comfortable
  • Quality materials
Cons
  • Sizes run small
  • Inside smells

4. Mad Rock Flash

4. Mad Rock Flash
The Mad Rock Flash climbing shoes are produced using leather and synthetic materials for the upper, and leather with rubber on the soles. The all-around performance shoes benefit from an easy velcro two-strap closure system for ease getting on and off, and for making adjustments as required. They come in a choice of two colors; yellow and orange/black, stiffness level is graded at three. The asymmetrical shape is complemented with a 3D molded heel for maximum friction.
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Features

The Flash climbing shoes have been remodeled and incorporate leather with synthetics on the upper, the midsole is polycarbonate and the footbed is made using premium leather. The innovative new design uses Shock Gel in the heel to reduce painful impacts.

Grip

The 3D molded rubber heel provides great grip when needed most, this is added to by the R2 rand at 1.8mm thick. The internal comfort is provided by the AES-1 midsole shape and 1.8mm thickness, and the flat sole measures in at 3.8mm.

Cost and value

The Mad Rock Flash climbing shoes are well priced when consideration is taken into account of the redesign and the innovative features that now come as standard. They are competitively priced and this is well reflected in the value.
Pros
  • New design
  • 2 strap closures
  • Leather and synthetic
  • Asymmetric
  • Great value
Cons
  • Better for beginners
  • Sizing is off

5. Evolv Shaman

5.  Evolv Shaman
These Evolv Shaman climbing shoes come in orange and blue and are synthetic with a rubber sole. They benefit from a downturned asymmetric design which has a unique two-piece knuckle box that is 4.2mm high traction TRAX rubber. The toe rand is VTR3D thickness for variability and also benefit from a higher friction toe patch for durability. They are designed for performance when utilized on hard climbs, bouldering, and steep terrains.
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Comfort

The shape of the Shaman is designed to hug the feet and give support and grip even on the tightest of edging runs. The high friction rubber outsole provides ultra sticky-ness whilst the tensioned heel and arch supports and maximizes comfort all over the foot.

Quality

The combination of top quality leather and synthetic materials ensures a no stretch compromise which improves the sensitivity even more. The molding keeps the big toe in a strong comfortable position and the heel is softened with cotton.

Cost and value

Overall the Evolv Shaman climbing shoes are packed with creative design features that will provide comfort, grip, and confidence on any climb. The quality materials used in the manufacture ensure they are excellent value for money.

Pros
  • Downturned asymmetric
  • Leather toe patch
  • Cotton heel
  • Supportive
  • Functional
Cons
  • Sizes run small
  • Not durable

6. La Sportiva Katana

6. La Sportiva Katana
The La Sportiva Katana climbing shoe offers Vibram XS Edging compound that benefits by allowing the feet to have access to smaller footholds. They offer a medium-asymmetrical toe box for maximum sensitivity and accuracy on foot placement. And the PD75 last used in the manufacturing process leaves a pointed and downturn to balance weight distribution and edging support. The all-rounder can meet even the greatest expectations when edging is a paramount part of the climb.

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Versatile

The Katana climbing shoes are almost as three in one, the aggressive design is ideal for steepness and edging control, they are sticky enough for great smearing and to top it all - they are also suitable for indoor wear.

Quality

These shoes use 1.1mm Laspo flex on the midsole and combine this with a patented P3 technology that increases overall support. They are made with both quality leather and lorica uppers with a bonus Pacific lined forefoot.

Cost and Value

The La Sportiva Katana climbing shoes are well priced, and the manufacturing process used means they offer great features for a multitude of uses. The functionality of the shoes is more than adequate for all-around use and they are excellent value for money.

Pros
  • Weight distribution
  • Supportive
  • Versatile
  • Functional
  • Practical
Cons
  • Sizes are off
  • Not ideal for longer uses

7. Scarpa Vapor V

7. Scarpa Vapor V
The Scarpa Vapor V climbing shoes are fully functional and do exactly what they are expected to do, technological innovation goes into the production of these trusted shoes. The offer a new design in split soles which allows far more flexibility than that of a single sole, they are made with synthetic materials and have a dual power double strap closure that increases adjustability so that comfort can remain at a premium. They are also available with a choice of two carabiners or simply on their own.
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Practical

The randing applied the Vapor V is a Bi-Tension system that increases overall toe strength and power, and the Vibram XS edge gives maximum grip and helps to increase the life and longevity of the shoes. They also benefit from having a lower tension on the Achilles and this improves comfort.


Functional

The Vapor V shoes are fully functional in challenging terrains and climbs, the ease that they can be put on and taken off is a real-time bonus, and also allows for personal adjustment throughout the climb. The intermediate shoe is ideal for stepping the climb up a gear.

Cost and value

These Vapor V climbing shoes are packed with features that ensure they are equally level on both cost and value, the confidence that they offer and the support means they are great value for money.
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Split sole
  • Hard wearing
  • Comfortable
  • Great value
Cons
  • Odd sizing
  • Narrow at the front

8. Five Ten Anasazi

8. Five Ten Anasazi
These USA made leather climbing shoes are designed with longevity in mind, and should the sole need replacing through hard climbing - these shoes are fully resolvable. It benefits from triple pull tabs for ease of use and has a side exit heel seam for comfort. The slingshot heel makes getting them on and off even simpler, as a bonus, they incorporate C4 stealth rubber that measures in at 4.2mm.
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Comfort

The Five Ten Anasazi climbing shoes produced in a moccasin style for optimum comfort that is easily matched with their counterparts. The comfortable leather is good quality and comes in a great shade of deep red and black.

Versatile

The shoes are flexible and versatile enough to toughen and strengthen beginners feet, yet will provide adequate flexibility for the more experienced climber. This bonus means the shoe will see through from training to fully competent climber.

Cost and Value

The shoes are on the upper price gauge, but the overall quality and functionality of them make this money well spent. The variety of different climbs they can tackle ensure that one pair should be practical for any climb whether it is boulders or edging.

Pros
  • Versatile
  • Comfortable
  • Functional
  • Hard wearing
  • Resoleable
Cons
  • Sizes are off
  • Dye bleeds

9. La Sportiva Oxygym

9. La Sportiva Oxygym
The Oxygym climbing shoes are synthetic and are manufactured using a three layer WashTex fabric on the outside that helps to keep them more hygienic and clean for longer periods. A boost for this feature is the internal fabric that is not only breathable but helps to draw moisture through the wicking system. The shoes come in a choice of four complimenting colors; mint/coral, turquoise/coral, carbon/ sulfur and blue/red.

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Practical

The closures are a comfortable loop and hook, in a pair, they allow for adjustment so the shoe is adapted for size changes through the day. They are an all-arounder which improves the practicality because they can be worn indoors and outdoors.

Functional

The shoes have an added boost because they can be machine washed, although only on a cool wash with a small amount of detergent; this useful feature will enable every climb to be undertaken with fresh feet and maintain comfort.

Cost and value

The Oxygym climbing shoes are a great all-arounder with some useful and functional features that add value, comfort, and practicality to the purchase. Overall they are excellent value for money and are of great quality.
Pros
  • Easy care
  • Versatile
  • Practical
  • Functional
  • Great value
Cons
  • Sizes are off
  • Wear out quickly

10. Scarpa Instinct

10. Scarpa Instinct
These neat and well designed Scarpa Instinct climbing shoes are manufactured with a mixture of both textiles and a synthetic sole. The randing offers high charging bi-tension for superior toe power, and a floating power strap boasts being able to enhance fit and exude more power where it is most required. They are available in a choice of two purchases, one black/orange on their own, or the same with a pair of carabiners.
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Functional

The Vibram system is doubled up, as an xs edge to the front of the shoes, helping with maximum grip and longevity, and as xs grip 2 enables fast and simple heel hooking. The outsole is mid-length and this improves comfort.

Versatile

These Instinct shoes are versatile enough to be practical for climbs on boulders through to indoor or outdoor overhang climb. This means fewer pairs required if the level of different climbing alters over time.

Cost and value

These top range climbing shoes promise to make climbing a lot more comfortable and practical. The full functionality of them coupled with the technological production means that overall these shoes are excellent value.

Pros
  • Versatile
  • Comfortable
  • Adjustable
  • Heel hooking
  • Excellent value
Cons
  • Sizes are off
  • Take time to break in

So, there it is, a good review to help you on your way when you’re shopping for the ideal pair of climbing shoes. There is plenty of food for thought and hopefully useful enough to be of assistance in your hunt. Happy climbing!

Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Climbing Shoes

Types

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or an experienced climber you will probably be aware that there are different types that match your ability and the type of climb you intend to take on. A neutral climbing shoe is beneficial for beginners and for more seasoned climbers who want a comfortable all day shoe. They are produced as a relaxed fit and allow your toes to lay flat within the shoe – providing all-day comfort, they have thicker, flatter soles so you may be limited in the types of climbing you can do safely in them.

Next type you will most likely come across is moderate types of climbing shoe. The shape of these climbing shoes is distinguishable due to the curvature of the toe end, it slopes neatly downwards and enables a greater variety of climbs to be undertaken. The soles on these tend to be thinner and have more traction than the neutral shoe, and this provides better grip and they are still comfortable to wear.

For a well seasoned and more technical climber, the aggressive type of climbing shoe is probably the way you want to go. The toe curvature is more pronounced and this is done to provide strength and power in the correct places on your feet, this enables better grip on a wider range of surfaces and more technical climbs. They are less comfortable than the neutral or moderate shoe, but this type of shoe is not designed for all-day wear.

Features

Another aspect of the climbing shoe you want to be aware of are the different features different shoes offer. One type is the slip on, this is predominantly made with an elastane closure; it increases sensitivity and has the lowest profile of many types of climbing shoe. They benefit from having a stiff sole which is ideal for training purposes and encourages strong growth in your feet. Strap closures are usually loop and hook in design and are quick to put on and take off, they are also beneficial for gym climbing or training as you can remove them without any hassle.

Lace-up climbing shoes are the most versatile for those days when the temperature is up and you need some relief for your feet. They are adaptable to changes in your feet when they are hot and this allows you to be more comfortable and less restricted when it’s hot. The laces allow you to adjust areas of tightness on your feet so allowing more freedom of movement and increases the overall functionality of them.

Materials

As a rule, your climbing shoes will probably be made of either leather or of man-made synthetics. The latter will not be prone to give after prolonged use, and if they are designed with perforations they may increase breathability and wicking. Some synthetics are treated to improve both these functions so be ready to check the shoe specifications.

Leather climbing shoes are either lined or not, lined shoes will not give as much as unlined  – which can be prone to stretch up a full size over time. Bearing this in mind when you are making your purchase will save you money in the long run so it’s always best to check before you part with your cash.

The material and grade of the sole outer can vary from shoe to shoe, some will have better performance and you should buy a suitably solid pair that is right for the climb you are undertaking. Thicker soles are usually about 4 – 5mm thick, these are better for support on edging and last well over time. The thinner soles are about 3 – 4mm in thickness and are practical for slabbing and smearing, they don’t have the durability of the thicker soles but do allow for better ‘feeling’.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need to buy my climbing shoes too big?

A. No, as a rule, they should fit comfortably and you should be able to slip them on if they are too tight they will be very uncomfortable after a climb and can cause you a lot of pain. Bear in mind as well that climbing shoes are designed to be worn against the skin – so it could be a good idea to try any new shoe later in the day when you have been on your feet for a while. However, if you are intending to climb in colder weather, it may be advisable to buy a half size up to compensate for any socks.

Q. How do I know I’ve got the right size?

A. Always try before you buy, you should make sure there isn’t space between your toes and the shoes and likewise, your toes shouldn’t be scrunched up.

Q. Can I improve the length of life in my climbing shoes?

A. A few simple tricks can help, if your shoes get wet let them dry naturally away from direct sunlight, try to keep them out of extreme hot or cold temperatures as this can lead to deterioration of the materials.

Q. Do my new climbing shoes need waterproofing?

A. It is a good idea to prolong the life, try a good brand of waterproofing wax and re-apply after your shoes have been exposed to extreme conditions.

Q. What purpose does the mid-sole have?

A. It is a layer in between the outer and inner sole, it gives a layer of cushioning for extra comfort.

Q. What type of closure is best?

A. That is down to personal preference, you need to make sure your feet are properly comfortable, you may want a quick slip on, or a tighter hook and loop strap, or possibly a lace up the pair that you can adjust to suit as you go through your day.

Q. Can I buy wide-fitting climbing shoes?

A. Yes, you can, always check first but they come in narrow fitting, mid-width and wide fitting, make sure you don’t buy a pair that is too tight for comfortable use or you could cause problems for your feet.

Q. Does stiffness make a difference to my shoes?

A. It can make a difference yes, the softer the shoe the more sensitive they will be and will allow you to feel what’s underfoot when you’re tackling overhangs. Stiffer climbing shoes are more suited for vertical climbing and for edging.

Q. What difference can the rubber make?

A. Each brand you can buy can alter the rubber on your shoes, if you want good smearing then the stickier type is best for you, they aren’t as durable but are great for tiny holds. More durable rubber is better if you’re just starting out as they are stronger and will last you for longer.

Q. Do I need to wear socks with my climbing shoes?

A. Not unless you are climbing in cold weather, they are designed to be worn against the skin, but for colder temperatures, it is probably best to buy a pair a half size too big to ensure the best fit.

Sources

  1. Rock Climbing, Ten Randon Facts
  2. How Stuff Works, How Climbing Gear Works
  3. Wikihow, 3 Ways to Rock Climb
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