Lets face it–rock climbing shoes can be expensive. Name brand models from La Sportiva and Scarpa frequently cost over $100, which is a large initial investment for the beginning climber. While models from these brands may last slightly longer, many budget rock climbing shoes are well worth their low cost for their quality. In this article we’ve compiled the best budget rock climbing shoes and ranked each in terms of quality. Find great budget climbing shoes by reading our reviews below!
Climb X Technician – Score: 7.5/10
The Climb X Technician is a great, and very affordable, pair of beginner climbing shoes. For a climber transitioning out of gym rentals, this is a great first pair, and are leaps and bounds better than most gym-rented shoes. First, the Technician’s rubber is far stickier than most gym rentals, which I noticed right away even for a pair of shoes this inexpensive. This grip will greatly improve a beginner’s climbing, and will encourage better form by allowing early climbers to trust their feet more.
The soles of these shoes are flat, with a moderately aggressive toe. The Technician’s soles may not be the most conducive to aggressive climbing, but are aimed at beginner or intermediate climbers who are more interested in climbing easier routes. For shoes with more camber, read our Climb X Red Point review below! Furthermore, at under $70, these shoes are a steal when compared to other beginner pairs by name brands like La Sportiva.
Ive found that these shoes tend to run a little small, even for climbing shoes, so make sure to buy a half or whole size up from what you may be used to. A helpful shoe sizing video can be found here.
The technician’s body is slightly bulkier than other shoes I have worn, which detracts from performance slightly. However, compared to gym rentals, the bulkiness is only a slight annoyance.
For the climber looking to dive headfirst into this great sport, the Climb X Technician will serve well as an introductory pair of shoes that still allow for exploration into harder terrain. This incredibly affordable pair also won’t break the bank!
Read all of our Climb X Shoe reviews here!
Mad Rock Drifter Score: 8.5/10
Out of any of the budget climbing shoes we have reviewed in this article, I found the Mad Rock Drifter to excel in terms of comfort and fit. These shoes conformed to my feet and had great precision while edging while others simply lacked the quality soles that these shoes had. The rubber was very grippy, a nice surprise given the price point. Furthermore, the 100% leather build ensures a durable shoe that can be used for years if resoled occasionally.
The shoe sole strikes a balance between both camber and rigidity, making it a great all-around pair of climbing shoes. The slight camber will also allow for use on more difficult, overhanging terrain. I personally love the incredibly tapered toe, as it gives greater precision for standing on small foot rails or chips.
While more expensive than Climb X models, these shoes still come at an incredibly affordable price. Furthermore, their performance is well worth the extra money, in my opinion. Even as an owner of expensive La Sportiva and Scarpa shoes, I still use the drifters in the gym often.
While I love these shoes, I wish Mad Rock offered a laced model. The straps work well at providing a snug fit, though not exceptional. This is a minor issue, and to be expected from climbing shoes priced this affordably.
If you are a climber really looking to explore the sport of climbing with a quality shoe that won’t break the bank, the Mad Rock Drifter is certainly the shoe to buy. The Mad Rock Drifter is an amazing all-around climbing shoe that comes at a budget price.
Black Diamond Momentum Lace Score – 8/10
Often overlooked in the climbing shoe market, Black Diamond’s Momentum Lace shoes are another great and affordable option for climbers who prefer laced shoes. With a fairly neutral sole, this model is also oriented towards an all-around climber. I found the toe shape to be not as conducive to standing on smaller footholds as the Mad Rock Drifter was, though better than the Climb X Technician.
A major selling point of the Black Diamond Momentum was how comfortable they are. Though climbing shoes are not designed to be the most comfortable footwear, these shoes, for me at least, were exceptionally comfortable. I really like these shoes as a gym shoe for casual days.
These shoes seemed fairly durable as well, and a friend who has used these for a year said he has yet to notice delaminating rubber or holes in the soles.
Personally I wish the rubber was softer and stickier, as other budget climbing shoes I have tried had more friction than these. In addition, I wish Black Diamond engineered a more sturdy edge to make edging easier.
Five Ten Gym Master Score: 6.5/10
My least favorite out of the four models picked for this review, the Five Ten Gym Master is a decent beginner’s climbing shoe. The strongest aspect of this shoe is its pointed toe, which is fairly sturdy and enables the climber to edge well. The soles of this shoe are fairly neutral, making it a good all-around pick.
I found these shoes very easy to slip on and take off, which is a nice extra feature of climbing shoes. The fit was ok, and I could not find a size that was comfortable for me without space in front of my toes.
I did not like the almost plastic-like soles of these shoes, as they did not provide good friction while climbing. The soles are engineered to avoid marking climbing gym walls, however they lack proper grip. Furthermore, the closure system seems cheaply made, and did not provide consistent tension on my feet.