Finding the right pair of climbing shoes can feel daunting, especially for the beginning climber. The many styles and brands of climbing shoes, as well as sizes complicate the process greatly. Furthermore, buying shoes online presents its own challenges in sizing. If you do choose to buy climbing shoes online, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
When it comes to buying shoes online, it is extremely important to know how climbing shoes should fit before purchasing. In addition, make sure you can return the shoes prior to buying if the fit is sub-par. You never know if the shoes will fit perfectly, and you can’t get a feel for them when buying online, which is why reading quality, informed reviews can make it so much more simple to find the best climbing shoes for you.
Over the course of our article, we’ll be reviewing five of the most popular rock climbing shoes on the market, and we’ll be providing you with all of the necessary info to make the right purchase. Whether you are new to climbing or if this is your latest in a long string of shoe purchases, this guide should help.
In this guide, we will present the top-rated shoes for men, women, and children.
Of course, if you’re an experienced climber who knows what kind of shoes work best for them, you may not find all of the info shared in this guide to be enlightening. In the end, feel free to use this guide however you see fit.
Now that we’ve laid out all of the basics, we’ll start off by reviewing the two best pairs of men’s and women's climbing shoes before moving on to the best kids’ shoes.
Best Men’s Climbing Shoes
Best Women’s Climbing Shoes
Best Kids' Climbing Shoes
Best Men’s Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Tarantulace Men’s Climbing Shoes
The Tarantulace climbing shoes from La Sportiva are some of the best shoes around for beginner climbers thanks to their versatility. Unlike other climbing shoes, many of which are more oriented for certain styles of climbing, the Tarantulaces are a great all-around pair thanks to several design aspects.
One of the most interesting aspects of these shoes is the way laces work. The durable eyelets provide leverage needed to tie these shoes incredibly tight. Even after long climbing sessions, these shoes almost never need to be re-tied.
Another interesting feature of these shoes is their use of FriXion RS rubber. When choosing the a climbing shoe based on the rubber sole, the two factors one should focus on are grip and durability. Finding your own personal preference in the balance between these two qualities is difficult, but can greatly add to your climbing enjoyment.
These shoes are asymmetric, and feature a rugged upper panel that protects your toes while climbing. This feature greatly helps eliminate the potential pain associated with foot jams in crack climbing or pressure from toe hooks.
When it comes to sizing these shoes, aim for a snug fit with little room. Keep in mind that they will stretch out a little over time, but you still won’t want them to be painfully tight.
SCARPA Instinct VS Men’s Climbing Shoes
These shoes from SCARPA are more aggressive than the tarantulaces, and are better suited to overhanging terrain often climbed by stronger climbers. These shoes are often seen as one of SCARPA’s most intuitive designs. When compared to other choices, the Instinct VS features a layout that is more accommodating for advanced climbers thanks to the more pronounced curvature in the shoe.
While it may take some getting used to, the shape of the Instinct VS means that it will be a lot easier climb aggressive, overhanging terrain and stand on smaller footholds. These shoes are better equipped for both toe hooks and heel hooks since they feature reinforced rubber in both areas.
The extra grip heel is one half of this system, as it provides both protection and grip for the heel of this shoe, while the toe cover protects your toes in toe-hooks or foot jams.These shoes are also surprisingly flexible thanks to the inclusion of a Flexan sole that makes it easier to match the contour of the wall that you’re climbing. Overall, these climbing shoes from SCARPA are ideal for more advanced climbers who want performance above everything else.
Best Women's Climbing Shoes
Winner - La Sportiva Tarantulace Women’s Climbing Shoes
Once again, we’ll be reviewing the Tarantulace climbing shoes from La Sportiva, but this time, the are the women’s version. There are not many differences between these shoes and the men’s, but there are a few ways that they have been changed, mostly in terms of size.
You’ll find that the sole of these shoes is still made out of FriXion RS rubber, so it holds its shape without sacrificing too much grip. Since this rubber is so much more durable than on other climbing shoes, you’ll be able to use them for a longer period of time, getting more for your money.
The moisture absorbent lining on the tongue of these shoes helps make them much more comfortable for longer climbing sessions since you won't have to deal with excessive moisture buildup. As with most modern climbing shoes, the asymmetric design makes it easier to stand on small footholds.
The sole isn't the only part of this shoe that is designed to last longer, however. The top of the Tarantulace is made out of flexible leather that is meant to protect your toes. In addition to ensuring that your toes don't get injured, the hardened top will reduce wear and tear.
Of course, the Tarantulace system is the very aspect that makes these shoes unique, and is part of the reason why these shoes are so incredibly popular. If you are looking for a great introductory shoe, and prefer laces over straps, these shoes are a fantastic option.
Runner Up - Evolv Elektra Women’s Climbing Shoes
These Evolv climbing shoes feature several aspects that set these shoes apart from other women’s models in the same price range. While these shoes are surprisingly reasonably priced for their quality, you will find that they do not sacrifice function for affordability.
These shoes feature a dual strap closure which will stay tight during climbing, but are easily tightened as well. The toe profile is specifically designed for women's narrower feet, and it also helps improve rigidity and to protection.
The internal lining of these shoes is made out of nylon, and its purpose is twofold: first off, it absorbs moisture from your feet, and second, it makes these shoes easier to slip on. Second, if you end up using these shoes for an extended period and they've worn out, you can always opt to get them resoled.
Speaking of the soles on these shoes, the 4.2 mm TRAX XT-5 rubber used helps improve grip at the expense of slightly less durability. While these soles may not be made of the most durable rubber, they are thick enough to last many months of significant use before needing to be replaced.
The VTR-3D rand used on these shoes is the reason why they can last for many years, even with a softer rubber compound on the sole. Throughout the shoe, the thickness of the rand will vary based on which areas tend to see the most contact, with thicker patches present on the areas that are most abused.
Best Kids’ Climbing Shoes
Winner - Climb X Kinder Kids Climbing Shoe
We've reviewed the top climbing shoes for kids and haven't come across a model that can hope to compete with the Climb X kinder. THis shoe is probably the best all-around climbing shoe for the beginning child. One of the unique features that are present in these climbing shoes is a heel cup that can be removed once your child's feet start growing.
This heel cup ensures that you can save money on new shoes, as the Climb X Kinders will grow up to a half size with your child.
The soles on these shoes are made out of X-factor rubber, which provides additional grip for challenging climbs. These shoes are well suited for use both indoors and outdoors, so your little one can still use them while practicing in the climbing gym and may also use them for outdoor climbing.
These shoes are also designed to be easy for children to put on by themselves. The velcro closure makes them easier to fasten, and the pull tabs on the back make it easier to put these shoes on and take them off. You can also usually find these shoes on sale for a reasonable price when you consider all of the additional features you get with them.
Why You Should Choose Your Climbing Shoes Carefully
So you may be wondering what’s so critical about getting the best climbing shoes on the market, and you’ll find that it has to do with balancing your performance and comfort.
Your rock climbing shoes should be designed with a well-shaped sole, which will allow you to climb with accuracy. Poor-quality shoes may hinder one’s ability to climb well, as a poorly designed sole or toe box will limit climber accuracy as well as the transfer of weight from the climber to the wall.
You should also consider your style of climbing, as the best climbing shoes for you may not necessarily be the ideal ones for another climber.
On What To Pay Attention When Choosing Your Climbing Shoes
There are a few critical features to look for when buying some new climbing shoes, and we’ll be covering them in this section.
Of course, one of the most crucial things that you need to pay attention to when buying climbing shoes is the size. Sizing your climbing shoes can be a bit of a challenge, however, as every manufacturer has a different sizing system.
With climbing shoes, you’ll want to stick to a smaller size than the usual shoes that you wear, but not to an uncomfortable degree. If these shoes are even a little loose, you’ll find that they’re a lot harder to use effectively, but if they’re extremely tight, your feet will end up hurting.The best way to ensure that your climbing shoes fit you, in the end, is to try them on, but that sadly isn't always a possibility when buying online. A general rule for a first pair of shoes is to order a half or whole U.S. size smaller than your street shoes.
The material used in your climbing shoes is another crucial consideration, as that will determine how they perform as well as how long they last. It is important to look for the grippiest rubber soles possible that remain durable.
Furthermore, the type of rubber has an enormous impact on the performance of the shoe. Soft shoes tend to be more flexible, and allow the climber to smear on rock or bend the shoe more easily. Rigid, or “hard” rubber shoes tend to work better on slab climbs or other circumstances when a climber needs to step on very thin ledges.
Flexibility is usually assured through one of two ways. The first option is a variable-thickness sole which thins out near the center of the shoe. The other choice you have is a split sole design where the center of the shoe features no sole coverage and maintains maximum flexibility.
While we have already discussed the importance of the sole thickness around the center of the shoe, the periphery matters just as much. Most climbing shoes feature sole thickness that varies throughout the entirety of the shoe, providing more feel in low-impact areas and thickening in areas of heavy use.
A thicker sole means that a climbing shoe can use grippier rubber without having to worry about it wearing off as soon. Furthermore, this reinforcement lengthens the life of the shoe.
As you can see, finding the best climbing shoes isn’t as hard as you would expect, even if you’re buying them online and you don’t have a chance to try them on. We hope that this review guide has helped you, feel free to leave us a comment down below.