Climbing has always been a popular sport with the active enthusiasts and nature lovers, but nowadays the young and old are turning to climbing as a recreational activity which can incorporate getting back to nature and climbing outdoor peaks, and also visiting the many climbing centres that are now popping up around town. For enthusiastic and regular climbers, one of the most important equipment selections will be choosing the right shoe to climb in, with safety and comfort being the top priorities. Narrowing down the choices and selecting the best climbing shoe can be tough given the amount of information available, experience level, the type of climb (indoor/outdoor/terrain type) and obviously personal preference.
We’ve hand selected some of the most important things to consider when buying:
You can see summary of content here
- 1 What to look for in a climbing shoe
- 2 Warning signs
- 3 Top 7 Best climbing shoes 2018 for different types of climbing Activities
- 4 Five Ten Men’s Team VXi – The best high-performance climbing shoes
- 5 La Sportiva Katana –The best technical face climbing shoes
- 6 Five Ten Anasazi Pink Lace-up (unisex) – Best all-around climbing shoes
- 7 Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsym (unisex) – Best semi-aggressive climbing shoes
- 8 Tenaya Tarifa – The best climbing shoes for beginners
- 9 evolv Men’s Shaman – The best climbing shoes for bouldering
- 10 Butora Acro (unisex) – Best aggressive climbing shoes
- 11 Finding the right rock climbing shoe for your style
What to look for in a climbing shoe
While comfort and style are normally the top consideration when purchasing a shoe, safety and practicality will become most important when choosing a climbing shoe. A shoe that fits correctly, hugs the foot and is comfortable for the wearer and does not slip are very important factors when buying a climbing shoe. Along with these factors, Gearx.com outdoor gear exchange suggest there are 7 main things to consider:
- Lined Leather
- Synthetic &
- Rubber types
- Construction &
- Closure system
When considering each of these factors, the wearer must also ensure that the selected shoe is durable and can withstand the terrain that they will be climbing on (indoor vs outdoor) and that the shoe is fit for the whole purpose (when outdoors, suitability for hiking and climbing may be considered, whereas indoor climbing may only need specific climbing capability)
When trying on climbing shoes, a proper fit will be extremely important in successfully purchasing a pair of shoes with long-term wearability and comfort. This will also ensure that the shoe will last for a long time, offer value for money and not leave the wearer with any pain or discomfort during wear. The following warning-signs can help notify the wearer of any potential issues with comfort and durability:
Hotspots – Rubbing or sharp pain in the areas of the toes or toe nails, heels, or sides of the foot can lead to raw skin and blisters and make climbing an unhappy exercise.
Saggy heel – While wearing the shoes, pinch the sides of your heels and push up on the bottom of the heel.
Shallow heel – Your heel might also slip out if the heel cup is too small.
Sloppy toe – You shouldn’t be able to easily move or wiggle your toes inside the shoe.
Smashed toe – If your toes are so knuckled under they scream in pain, the shoes are too tight
Folds – If the leather or fabric sides and top of the shoe are folded and full of dead air space, the shoes are probably too loose to be supportive.
Arch cramps – If you pull the shoe on and feel the muscles on the underside of your foot immediately clench up, your shoes are too tight. This is more common in downturned shoes designed for steep climbing.
Forefoot squeeze – A shoe that’s too narrow can cause uncomfortable pressure in the front of the foot, squeezing the bones together and making it hard to wear the shoes for extended periods of time.
While it may seem straight forward, different types of climbing (indoor vs outdoor, leisurely climb vs active climbing) require different types of shoes. Such as feet come in different shapes and sizes, weather and conditions mean that different shoes are better for different activities. Some shoes are designed for rugged mountain peaks whereas others do better in the gym or climbing a rope.
|Five Ten Men's Team VXi (Editor’s Choice)||The best multi-pitch climbing shoes|
|Five Ten Anasazi Pink Lace-up||Affordable price|
|Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsym||The best climbing shoes for beginners|
|Tenaya Tarifa Climbing Shoe||The best technical face climbing shoes|
|evolv Men's Shaman||The best technical face climbing shoes|
|Butora Acro||Best Moderate climbing shoes|
|La Sportiva Katana||The best climbing shoes for women|
Five Ten Men’s Team VXi – The best high-performance climbing shoes
The Five Ten Team VXi is a unique slipper-style shoe that performs very well in terrain of any angle. It’s superior rubber sticks in the most improbable of situations and tended to hide the shoe’s inherent flaws. The softness of the shoe makes for a comfortable fit, yet it remains aggressively downturned during use. As the only shoe in the test group without a midsole, the Team VXi is radically sensitive but lacks a defined edge.
Cons: The top-level performance and quality rubber comes with a lofty price. Two months of testing showed no fatal signs of wear, but the rubber is so soft that testers feared quicker-than-average deterioration.
Conclusion: Minimalist fans and barefoot climbers rejoice! Geared for high performance, this new iteration of the Team shoe has a ballet slipper–like feel with ultra-sticky rubber that’s great for hard gym, bouldering, and sport.
La Sportiva Katana –The best technical face climbing shoes
La Sportiva has designed an exquisite workhorse with the Katana — suitable for just about any style of climbing. Not only is the shoe designed for all climbing styles, it performs incredibly well for each. The original Katana was already a stunner and now La Sportiva has integrated P3 technology to make for an unstoppable machine. The lace-up style serves for excellent adjustability and the combination of leather and Lorica synthetic attributes to a precise fit. A slightly downturned toe and asymmetric last provide high-end performance while remaining comfortable for hours on end.
Five Ten Anasazi Pink Lace-up (unisex) – Best all-around climbing shoes
For the vertical or tech-focused climber, few shoes have the acclaim of the the mega sturdy and precise, Anasazi Pinks.
Many of the greatest crushers of the 90s considered these the go-to shoes for tackling the challenges of highly technical terrain or tricky, cryptic cracks. These flat-lasted shoes let you stand on the smallest grains of Smith Rock tuff nubs and keep you stuck to slick Yosemite granite; whether that be for smearing on slabs or twerking your foot up a two-inch greasy crack. Fortunately, they’ve also been known to perform well on just about any other on-the-rope terrain.
And luckily for us all, Five Ten recently brought the Pinks back to the climbing world; only this time in a better-than-ever form. The newly refreshed model includes the glove-like fit of the Cowdura upper and the beloved Stealth C4 rubber, which provides a triple threat of optimal friction, relentless durability, and precise edging power. Add the longer lasting synthetic midsole, a sturdy rubber toe rand, and a narrower heel fit for the needs of women’s feet—and you find yourself a shoe that you can smear and edge on seemingly non-existent holds, all day long.
Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsym (unisex) – Best semi-aggressive climbing shoes
For two decades, climbers have been walking around crags and rock gyms with freakishly red feet—and it’s not from painfully downsized shoes. The Anasazi MoccAsym is famous for dying climbers’ feet an iconic hue, but what makes these shoes legendary is their ability to perform under any circumstances.
Whether you’re jamming your feet into heinous cracks or delicately dancing up never-ending slabs, the MoccAsym keeps your feet glued to rock. Stealth C4 rubber outsoles help you edge, smear, and step up. These shoes are designed to allow the wearer to truly feel the rock beneath their feet—you’ll be able to confidently put your weight on even the tiniest holds. The split-leather upper material provides breathability, while elastic pull-tabs on the heel make it easy to pull your shoes on and off. Ideal for a range of climbing activities from technical multi-pitch routes and splitter trad cracks to seemingly blank slab faces. With a super snug fit, the MoccAsyms become an extension of your foot.
Tenaya Tarifa – The best climbing shoes for beginners
If you’re seeking a high-performance shoe under $100 that also manages to deliver unbelievable comfort for hours on end, Tenaya’s Tarifa will surpass your greatest expectations for what can be achieved without destroying your toes. And whether you’re using them to test yourself in the gym, edge on techy face climbs, power through boulders, meander up cracks, or to beast your way up overhanging sport routes—the Tarifa will impress you with its ability to handle virtually any terrain.
Designed with a subtle downturn that provides just enough aggression and just the right amount of sensitivity to let you pull on the rock, you can torque your toes on tufas or balance on small edges with equal confidence in your feet. This shoe also features a microfiber upper and an extra cozy cotton lining with the moisture management support of a TXT treatment, so you can keep these on your feet when your hunger to keep climbing insists. And for those days when you can’t wait to through on your kicks to climb, the Speed Lace system will have them laced up and ready to go in no time.
evolv Men’s Shaman – The best climbing shoes for bouldering
The brainchild of famous sport climber Chris Sharma, Evolv’s Shamans were made specifically to conquer his ideal type of terrain: Steep, overhanging limestone routes. This design also makes them extremely popular for bouldering, which boasts technical, often overhung climbing in short sequences of moves. Added rubber is ideal for toe hooking and their downturned shape is complemented by a roomy toe box to ensure your big toe stays bent while climbing.
The Shamans boast high performance 4.2-millimeter TRAX XT-5 high-friction rubber and three hook-and-loop velcro straps for added adjustability. While not ideal as an all-day shoe or on long, moderate climbs, these $160 shoes excel at exactly what they were designed for.
Butora Acro (unisex) – Best aggressive climbing shoes
Butora is a newcomer to the US climbing market and they’re making a splash by delivering affordable shoes that are impressively comfortable and last a long time. Thier durability is especially important if your footwork is still a little choppy!
Available in two width options, you’re almost guaranteed to find the perfect fit in the aggressive Acro. Butora’s in-house F5 rubber covers the toes and wraps the heel to provide unbeatable toe and heel hooking while also delivering top-tier stickiness and durability.
Rock climbing shoes are the interface between you and the rock, and the wrong type of shoe or fit can hold you back. When choosing climbing shoes, there are three primary considerations:
Climbing shoe type: Choose between neutral, moderate and aggressive shoes depending on what kind of climbing you intend to do.
Climbing shoe features: Features like laces, straps, linings and rubber affect the performance of a shoe.
Climbing shoe fit: For the best performance, climbing shoes should fit snug but not painfully. Getting the right fit will help you climb harder and longer.
Some general fitting rules:
- Avoid shoes that have dead space between your toes and the inside of the shoe since the shoe will not stay rigid when you place your toes on a foothold.
- Make sure your toes are flat or comfortably curved and that your toe knuckles aren’t bunched painfully against the top of the shoe.
- Your heel should have a snug fit. When you are standing on your toe, ensure the back of the shoe doesn’t pinch the bottom of your Achilles tendon.
- Everyone’s feet bend differently, but if a shoe is difficult to slip on your foot, it is probably too tight.
- In general, the higher performance the shoe, the tighter the fit.
What Type of Climber Are You?
Best beginner climbing shoes come in three distinct types; neutral, moderate and aggressive.
Neutral shoes off the most relaxed fit when all-day comfort is paramount. For this reason it’s the perfect shoe for beginners, but advanced climbers will often have a pair of neutral shoes in the gear closet for when they attempt all-day multi-pitch routes. The shape of the allows the toes to lie flat inside the shoe and the sole is generally thicker for increased stiffness and durability.
Moderate shoes are generally the next purchase after new climbers wear out their first pair of neutral shoes. The toe is turned down slightly (also known as camber), providing more power from the foot when pushing off tiny ledges and holds. Moderate shoes generally have thinner soles for a better grip and a more natural feel, but will also wear out quicker. That said, moderates can handle almost every type of technical climbing such as slabs, cracks and longer multi-pitch climbs
Aggressive shoes have a high amount of camber, scrunching the front of the foot towards the big toe. This makes for most powerful foot position for tougher slab climbs and overhangs, but also means the shoes can be uncomfortable when worn for long periods. Advanced climbers generally reserve their aggressive shoes for tough bouldering problems and single pitch sport climbs, where it’s easy to rip off their shoes in between sessions. Aggressive shoes are also unsuitable for longer crack climbs, as the sole flexes too much when torqued inside a crack.
You may have heard the following about cheap climbing shoes: They are supposed to be painful; The tighter the shoe the better; The more aggressive the shoe, the better you will climb. At AntiGravity Equipment, it’s our opinion that none of those statements is 100% true.
While there are scenarios in which a tighter shoe will be what you require and, there may come a time in your climbing career where an aggressive pair of shoes is what will work better for a particular route, generally, a solid technique will help you progress in just about any pair of climbing shoes. If you’ve ever seen seasoned climbers get on a route in sneakers, what keeps them on the wall is technique.
If technique is so important, what should you consider when buying a pair of best indoor climbing shoes?
Climbing Shoes Are Like Tools
It’s helpful to think of best kids climbing shoes as tools. You need certain tools for certain jobs. Most dedicated climbers will often have two or more pairs of shoes in their arsenal and will wear them according to what they’re going to be climbing, such as a bouldery, technical route versus a slab multi-pitch. The shape of the shoe is a factor in what to choose when, but so is the fit.
When it comes to fit, we can break it down into 3 categories, comfortable, performance, and competition style. Each fit has its intended purpose and can sometimes cross over into other applications, but the shoe will generally work best when used for what it was fitted for.
The biggest error when selecting intermediate climbing shoes is to go too small too fast, especially when taking advice from friends and, sometimes even, professionals. The best thing you can do is to assess where you are in your climbing and what you want to get out of your shoes. This can help you formulate questions to ask online, over the phone, or at your local shop and decide if what they suggest is right for you. Your local shop employee should take the time to ask you a variety of questions regarding your climbing level and goals and offer you some appropriate choices. Be cautious if someone is trying to fit you into the tightest or most expensive model right off the bat without asking any questions.
Climbing can be a fun and challenging adventure that is filled with endless variation. Having the best climbing shoes for your needs and climbing style can make the whole process much more rewarding.