Ask a climber what they believe are the best climbing shoes. In general, the consensus is that there are a lot out there. And by a lot, we mean, A LOT! In fact, there are a ton of shoes that cater to different types of climbers. Different shapes, materials, stiffness, fits, and closure systems can have your brain reeling from all the choices. In case you haven’t yet, you might want to read through our guide on how to choose climbing shoes to get an idea of what you’ll want first. But if you’re already confident in what you need, we’ll give you some popular choices on the best climbing shoes for each level. Whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced climber, you’ll most likely find something that will catch your eye in our article. Here are our top picks on the best climbing shoes!
Best Climbing Shoes (According to Us)
Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners (Flat-Soled / Neutral)
If you’re just starting off climbing, you’ll need a good pair of shoes to fit your needs. In this case, the best climbing shoes for beginners will favor comfort and flat soles. They take away the pain that moderate and more aggressive shoes almost always come with. Hence, you can relax more and focus all your attention on your climbing. However, you should still make sure that your shoes fit snugly though, no deadspace or room in the toes should be allowed.
Additionally, you might also want to look into a pair of climbing shoes with thicker or softer soles. Thicker soles wear out more slowly which is good if you often find yourself dragging your shoes up the wall. Softer soles stick to rock better and allow for good smearing, although your edging game will not be as strong.
Our top choices for beginner climbing shoes include: the Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym, La Sportiva Mythos, Evolv Addict, Evolv Defy, and La Sportiva TC Pro.
The Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym are perhaps Five Ten’s most popular shoe. Also well known for being very comfortable, the slipper design makes it easy to slip on and off and is suitable for all levels of climbers. Excels at crack, slab, multi-pitch, and gym climbing but stretches a lot and dyes your feet red. Also softens up over time.
La Sportiva’s Mythos are famous for being exceptionally comfortable due to its flat sole and high-quality leather. They can be used for all-around climbing (especially crack, face and big wall climbing), just don’t expect the edging game to be amazing. They are pretty expensive too, costing as much as some high end shoes.
Do the Evolv Addicts look pretty similar to you? They should, they are Evolv’s version of the Moccasym, although they are more affordable and a bit stiffer, which makes them great for gym use due to its durability. However, it can also crack climb and smear really well too. Also stretches a good amount and edging, pockets, and heel hooks can be iffy.
The Evolv Defy is the company’s all-time best selling shoe, and recently received an upgrade for 2017. What makes them great? Amazing value as a beginner shoe, comfortable enough for all-day wear, and can do most everything decently (except edging). This makes them great for gym use and lower level sport climbing.
The La Sportiva TC Pro’s are well known for being the shoe used by Tommy Caldwell to conquer the Dawn Wall, but they also work well as a beginner shoe. They edge incredibly well, are comfortable for long periods of climbing, have lots of support and protection, and are very durable. Geared more towards outdoor climbing (whether it’s trad, face, big wall, or crack), they don’t come cheap so be prepared to pony up.
Best Climbing Shoes for Intermediates (Cambered / Moderate)
Want to step up your climbing? You’re probably looking to ditch that pair of beginner shoes to get something that performs better. With this in mind, the best climbing shoes for intermediates will be a shoe with a cambered or moderate shape with a little asymmetric curvature. These types of shoes curl the toes ever so slightly so that more power is focused on your big toe. Indeed, edging, pockets, precision, and grabbing onto overhung terrain will improve a lot.
Thus, you’ll want to fit moderate shoes a little snugger and possibly tight if you want maximum performance.
Our top choices for intermediate climbers include: the La Sportiva Katana Lace, Miura Lace, Tenaya Oasi, the Five Ten Anasazi VCS, and Scarpa Vapor V.
La Sportiva’s Katana Lace is a pretty versatile shoe; it works great for sport climbing, bouldering, trad climbing, and all the other disciplines as well. Whether it’s sensitivity, edging, smearing, or hooking, they excel in all categories. They are also insanely comfortable, due to a padded tongue which is breathable as well. Expect a long break-in period though.
The La Sportiva Miura Lace is pretty much a legendary shoe in its own right. Whatever discipline you are looking to climb, they can do it, and the consensus in the climbing community is they’re the most popular climbing shoes. They are also widely regarded as the best edging shoe on the market, although the stiff sole equates to less sensitivity.
The Tenaya Oasis have won awards for being incredibly comfortable (mostly due to a cotton sockliner that hugs your foot) while remaining high-performance too. They are extremely sensitive and excel at smearing, edging, and heel hooking. They aren’t the absolute best for overhung terrain or toe hooks, however.
Next up are the Five Ten Anasazi VCS, which are comfortable for all-day wear and performs well in a variety of climbing styles whether it’s sport, bouldering, slab, or the gym. Smears well and are soft and sensitive. However, the upper wears out quickly and there are mixed feelings when it comes to heel/toe hooks.
Then there are the Scarpa Vapor V, which are suitable for intermediate and advanced climbers alike. They are very comfortable and can accommodate a wider forefoot, with a heel that is also very comfortable unlike the previous model. Their only weaknesses are overhung terrain and the fact that they aren’t very sensitive.
Best Climbing Shoes for Advanced Climbers (Downturned / Aggressive)
Finally, you have your high end performance shoes. In this case, the best climbing shoes for advanced climbers have an aggressive, downturned shape with a good amount of asymmetric curvature. It forces your feet into a shape similar to a bird’s claw which forces all your power into your big toe. As a result, this maximizes your climbing capabilities so you can dime on an edge, grab overhung terrain, fit your toes in tiny pockets, and heel/toe hook like a champ. For this reason, these type of shoes are best for bouldering and sport climbing on overhung terrain.
Now, at this point you’re probably no stranger to pain. Thus, you’ll want to size your shoes to whatever amount of pain you can withstand. Generally speaking, the tighter the fit, the better you’ll climb although the more pain you’ll have to endure. So if you’re really a masochist who wants to send those hard problems and routes, you’ll do just fine with these aggressive shoes.
Our top picks for advanced climbers include: the La Sportiva Genius, Scarpa Instinct VS, La Sportiva Solution, Evolv Shaman, and La Sportiva Futura.
The La Sportiva Genius utilizes No-Edge technology, which gives it a rounded toe as opposed to a distinct edge like most other climbing shoes. This feature adapts to the natural shape of your foot, allowing you to fully utilize your toe power to its full potential. It’s not a gimmick as you might believe, they really do help to improve footwork and makes you a better climber. Edging might feel like a totally new concept when first climbing in these, but in time you’ll be able to stand on dime edges with finesse.
The Scarpa Instinct VS is well known for being an incredible climbing shoe. It has amazing sensitivity, great edging capability, lots of rubber on top for toe hooking, and possibly the best heel on the market for heel hooks. The Bi-Tension Randing system helps the shoe retain its shape, while a vacuum fit and pull tabs in the tongue helps to seat your foot really deep into the shoe. Cons? They don’t smear well and the break-in period can be long and brutal if sized tight right. Also scope the newer Instinct VSR, which uses a softer and more sensitive rubber.
Up next are the La Sportiva Solution, which are famous in the bouldering community since it was specifically designed for it. However, they perform really well for sport climbing as well. They offer great precision and toe/heel hooking, with a P3 system that helps the shoe keep its shape. The biggest complaint would have to be the velcro strap, which has the possibility of breaking prematurely.
The Evolv Shaman are well known for being one of the more comfortable aggressive climbing shoes out there (as well as Chris Sharma’s pro model). They feature a knuckle box and love bump that places your big toe into a permanent downturned position. This really helps with edging and grabbing on overhung terrain. However, they don’t stand out in any one category and smearing could use some improvement.
Then there are the La Sportiva Futura, which are similar to the Geniuses but features a velcro strap instead. Aside from the amazing No-Edge technology, it has P3 tech that helps to maintain its aggressive shape. They are also extremely sensitive and surprisingly comfortable for a downturned shoe. The only problem would have to be the velcro strap, which like the Solutions, can break prematurely. If you’re gentle with these shoes, however, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Best Climbing Shoe Brands
|La Sportiva||Scarpa||Five Ten||Evolv|