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BEST ROCK CLIMBING SHOES OF 2019

We adore shake climbing shoes, and we wager you do as well. The uplifting news for climbers is that there are more styles and quality items to look over than at any other time. Tried and true works of art like the La Sportiva Miura, noteworthy new models, for example, the Skwama, and best in class brands like Butora all are spoken to on this rundown of the top climbing shoes of 2019. From long snow capped courses to overhanging game ascensions and bouldering, we have you secured. Notwithstanding the men's or unisex variant, we've connected to the women's-explicit model when accessible. For more foundation data, see our climbing shoe correlation table and purchasing guidance underneath the picks.

Best All-Around Climbing Shoe
1. La Sportiva Miura VS ($185)
Downturn: Aggressive
Upper: Leather
Closure: Velcro
What we like: The climbing shoe that, quite simply, does it all.
What we don’t: The shape and fit won’t work for everyone.

It's intense not to be wowed by La Sportiva's inheritance model, the Miura. It truly addresses La Sportiva's quality craftsmanship that this shoe was at the highest point of the pack ten years back, and still is today. You've heard the articulation, "On the off chance that it isn't broken, don't fix it," correct? Consider the Miura VS the encapsulation of that idea. It's simply that great. The Miura edges on a dime, climbs soak territory just as vertical, toes in on little pockets just as any shoe in the business, and heel snares like a champ. There aren't numerous shoes that can rock V10, climb 5.13 game, and punch up hard finger splits, however this is one of them.

The Velcro model of the Miura has turned out to be unmistakably more omnipresent than the trim up as of late, and all things considered. The VS is a stiffer, progressively forceful shoe, and dissimilar to the Lace is developed with the P3 padded sole. Though the Miura Lace can turn into a floppy solace shoe in the blink of an eye, the VS will hold its forceful shape consistently. All things considered, with a calfskin upper, anticipate that the Miura should extend somewhat after some time (if this is a worry, investigate the incompletely engineered Otaki underneath). Further, those with wide feet may see the Miura VS as on the limited side, and numerous climbers concur that the toe box puts fix weight on the huge toe. Be that as it may, as the adage goes, if the shoe fits, it doesn't beat the Miura VS.

Best Bouldering Shoe
2. Scarpa Instinct VS ($185)
Scarpa Instinct VS climbing shoeDownturn: Moderate
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Slipper/Velcro
What we like: A bouldering slipper that provides amazing support.
What we don’t: Some will want a softer shoe.

The Instinct VS is a relatively new shoe from Scarpa that quickly has grown in popularity. It established itself as a versatile choice for sport climbing and bouldering, but it’s also a common choice for indoor and competition climbing (most notably, 11-time American Bouldering Series champion Alex Puccio cites the Instinct VS as her favorite shoe). The rubber-shrouded toe and heel are excellent on steep rock, and the medium-stiff rand offers more edging power than we’re used to seeing in a bouldering shoe.

Made with synthetic microsuede, the Scarpa will stretch less than a leather shoe, but an elastic patch on the top of the foot gives it a close fit. The stiff feel and moderate downturn set it apart from most shoes made for high-performance sport climbing and bouldering, but a thinner 3.5mm sole adds sensitivity and flex (note that the XS Edge rubber on the men’s version is replaced with XS Grip 2 on the women’s model for an even softer, grippier shoe). Scarpa also offers the same design in a softer version with a 2mm sole (the VSR), which is ideal for lighter climbers or those who prefer a more sensitive feel. And the impressive Instinct family is rounded out by a high-performance lace model and a slipper (SR), each of which are quality, standout shoes in their own right... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Scarpa Instinct VS  See the Women's Scarpa Instinct VS



Best Budget Climbing Shoe for Beginners
3. Butora Endeavor ($100)
Butora Endeavor climbing shoe_0Downturn: Flat
Upper: Leather/synthetic
Closure: Velcro
What we like: Great price for such quality construction and design.
What we don't: Not a high-performance shoe.

Butora might not be a household name like La Sportiva or Scarpa, but the Korean company quickly is gaining traction in the U.S. Before launching Butora in 2014, shoe designer Nam Hee Do had been in the business for over 30 years (most notably, he worked with Chris Sharma to design the Shaman). He came out of the gate swinging with an impressive attention to detail and use of top-notch materials, and their Endeavor quickly became our top pick for a beginner shoe. With its $100 price tag, we recommend it to anyone new to the sport, and even to guides or gym rats looking for a super comfortable all-day shoe.

The flat Endeavor won’t help you push into high-level climbing, but if you want a cozy rig that climbs up to 5.10 or V4, it won’t disappoint. The zig-zagging Velcro straps provide a snug, customized fit, and a unique mix of leather and synthetic in the upper offers comfort and breathability in the areas where you need them most. Further, the inner layer of the tongue is made of memory foam, and the shoe is fully lined with 100% organic hemp to minimize stretch and odor. Plus, both the men's and women's Endeavor come in two versions—wide and tight—so you can tailor your fit. All in all, there’s simply no other entry-level shoe in the game with such thoughtful, quality design. And for a more comprehensive list of recommendations, check out our article on the best climbing shoes for beginners.
See the Men's Butora Endeavor  See the Women's Butora Endeavor



Best Shoe for Crack Climbing
4. La Sportiva TC Pro ($190)
La Sportiva TC Pro climbing shoesDownturn: Flat
Upper: Leather
Closure: Lace
What we like: The best crack climbing shoe on the market, hands down.
What we don't: Expensive and very specific.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you know who Tommy Caldwell is. He climbed this little thing called the Dawn Wall in Yosemite a few years ago, which became some of the biggest climbing news ever—and this is the shoe that TC designed for the job. The TC Pro is an absolute climbing machine for vertical to less-than-vertical terrain, and specifically granite. While we often correlate a flat shoe with a beginner shoe, the TC Pro is a notable exception: the stiff make-up and sticky XS Edge rubber make it an ultra-high-performance edger and slabber. And the upper that extends over the ankles is a game changer for protection—we actually cringe now when faced with climbing a wide crack in any other shoe.

Take note that the TC Pro is not at all an all-rounder. On anything steeper than vertical, this shoe will feel clunky and flat, akin to having bricks on your feet. Even on thin finger cracks, we’d rather be wearing a shoe like the Anasazi Pink or Otaki below. Boulderers, sport climbers, and gym climbers: this is not your shoe. And as far as fit goes, we’ve found that sizing the TC Pro comfortably does not compromise much in the way of performance. For an all-day shoe that you might take to the mountains and wear with a sock, this is great news... Read in-depth review
See the La Sportiva TC Pro



Best Shoe for Face Climbing
5. Five Ten Anasazi Lace ($150)
Five Ten Anasazi Pink climbing shoesDownturn: Moderate
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Lace
What we like: Our favorite shoe for technical face climbing.
What we don’t: Painful in wide cracks.

The Anasazi Lace (aka the "Pink") is sort of like living in Colorado—you know who wears this shoe because they tell you they wear the shoe, all the time. Pink fans are true devotees. This shoe excels on vertical face—trad, sport, or bouldering—with excellent edging power that comes from a unique heel and high-tensioned rand. The lace closure allows for a closer, more precise fit than any of the Velcro options above, and the synthetic Cowdura upper minimizes stretch throughout the life of the shoe.

The fit of the Pink doesn’t work for every foot, but when it does, it seems to work extremely well. In other words, you’ll probably love the Pink or hate it, and therefore we heartily recommend trying this shoe on before you buy. And everyone is bound to like the price: at $150, the Pink is one of the most affordable high-performance shoes on this list. To add to that, Five Ten’s popular Anasazi collection is available in a number of different versions: recent iterations for this year include a Velcro model (VCS) and the Pro, a bouldering specific version of the VCS with a rubber toe patch... Read in-depth review
See the Five Ten Anasazi Lace



Best of the Rest
6. Butora Acro ($160)
Butora Acro climbing shoeDownturn: Aggressive
Upper: Leather/synthetic
Closure: Slipper/Velcro
What we like: Fantastic quality; comes in both narrow and wide sizes.
What we don’t: Unique toe shape might take some getting used to.

We took the tried-and-true La Sportiva Solution off of our list and replaced it with the Acro, which is Butora’s solution to… the Solution. In just a few years, these shoes quickly have proved their performance chops, gaining a devoted following amongst boulderers and sport climbers alike. If you’re a La Sportiva diehard and the Solutions fit you well, by all means stick with them. However, if you’ve struggled with their fit and are looking for something slightly more comfortable, less bulky, and super form-fitting, it might be time to try out the Acro. And it doesn’t hurt that the quality of this shoe is absolutely outstanding. Despite heavy use, our pair shows no signs of frayed stitching or delamination.

The truth is that we have few gripes about the Acro, although we don’t recommend it for less-than-vertical terrain. The shoe is almost completely covered with rubber, making it a toe and heel hooking machine, perfect for boulders and steep sport climbing. It also has a full-length 3D ABS midsole, which means that it retains the downturned shape over time. And lastly, climbers in general have been very impressed with the fit: the Acro comes in both narrow and wide sizing and fits a wide spectrum of foot sizes... Read in-depth review
See the Wide Fit Butora Acro  See the Tight Fit Butora Acro



7. Evolv Shaman ($160)
Evolv Shaman climbing shoeDownturn: Aggressive
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Velcro
What we like: It’s tough to argue with Chris Sharma.
What we don’t: The “knuckle box” and “love bump” are features you’ll either love or hate.

Designed in part by Chris Sharma, the Shaman is best suited to the kind of climbing Sharma enjoys most: steep, endurance limestone sport routes. They perform incredibly well on this terrain, dominating small pockets, toeing in on positive crimps, toe hooking on tufa-like features, and heeling on small edges. The Trax rubber is not our favorite, but it is super sticky and performs well once you get used to it. Meanwhile, the synthetic upper maintains a tight fit over time, and the Velcro straps are thin enough to give ample room for toe rubber.

All in all, the Shaman is a really good shoe at a very competitive price. That said, Evolv’s unique “knuckle box” and “love bump” technologies certainly offer a unique experience. The knuckle box creates space on top of the foot, making room for toes to sit comfortably, even when curled. The love bump, meanwhile, is a physical bump that sits under the ball of the foot, filling the dead space under the toes and pushing them toward the knuckle box. The intention is to create a comfortable space for a downturned foot, and if the fit is right, it accomplishes this goal. But if the fit is not right, it’s really wrong. We definitely recommend trying on the Shaman before buying or choosing an online retailer with a good return policy... Read in-depth review
See the Evolv Shaman  See the Women's Evolv Shakra



8. La Sportiva Genius ($195)
La Sportiva Genius climbing shoes_0Downturn: Aggressive
Upper: Leather/synthetic
Closure: Lace
What we like: The No-Edge technology is, as the name implies, genius.
What we don’t: About as expensive as climbing shoes get.

The La Sportiva Genius is a high-performance climbing shoe, perhaps best known for its role in popularizing No-Edge technology. It’s a highly-aggressive model that features a toe box rounded around the natural shape of the toes, rather than the standard beveled edge we’re used to seeing. The result? It can conform to a large surface area better than shoes with edges, resulting in more sensitivity, stickiness, and security on rock. No-Edge technology has been embraced by many, and now is available on a few more Sportiva models, including the men’s and women’s Futura and the Maverink slipper.

The Genius received rave reviews—including from us—upon its release, but now that the fanfare has settled, its uncertain as to whether No-Edge technology truly is a game-changer. On the right terrain (think overhung with large footholds, or especially slabby), it allows you to have the messiest of footwork and still stick to the wall. But for vertical face climbing with small edges, you’ll be left with very little to stand on. Overall, the trade-offs are similar to that of many shoes: you get high performance on one kind of rock, but not on another. Furthermore, when it comes time for a new sole, you’ll have to send your shoes to one of just a few specialized re-solers to get the job done... Read in-depth review
See the La Sportiva Genius



9. Unparallel Up Mocc ($110)
Rock Climbing Shoes (Unparallel Up Mocc)Downturn: Flat
Upper: Leather
Closure: Slipper
What we like: A durable, comfortable slipper made in the U.S.A.
What we don’t: An unlined slipper isn’t for everyone.

If you haven’t yet heard of Unparallel, here’s your introduction. After Five Ten was bought out by Adidas in 2011, their production was moved overseas, leaving their SoCal factories and many former employees idle. Before long, Unparallel was born, taking over Five Ten’s abandoned spaces with a resolve to carry the U.S.-made torch. Now, this grassroots, domestic company makes a full line-up of climbing, mountain biking, and commuter shoes, with a dedication to high-quality materials and construction.

Unparallel’s Up Mocc is a classic, unlined leather slipper, great for all-day comfort on everything from long trad climbs to boulder problems. It differs from the popular Five Ten Moccasym in a few ways: for one, it’s cheaper at $110 (compared to the Moccasym at $125). Second, the Up Mocc has a rubber toe patch, which gives the shoe more durability, protection, and performance in cracks. Last, it’s simply a better-made shoe. In the past few years, the quality of the Five Ten Moccasym has diminished—most notably, many have experienced issues with the leather tearing—leaving many former devotees on the lookout for a replacement. And if slippers aren’t your jam (let’s be honest, they’re not for everyone), we recommend taking a look at Unparallel’s complete collection of bouldering, sport, and trad climbing shoes.
See the Unparallel Up Mocc



10. La Sportiva Otaki ($180)
La Sportiva Otaki climbing shoesDownturn: Moderate
Upper: Leather/synthetic
Closure: Velcro
What we like: Downturn plus stiffness allows for great edging on vertical face.
What we don’t: The wide toe box is good for some, but sloppy for others.

The Otaki is a recent innovation from La Sportiva, touted as the successor to the uber-popular Katana lace. Built on the same last as the Skwama below and with the same P3 technology and S-Heel design, you’d think it was a bouldering shoe. And it can be—but it’s also so much more. We’ve worn the Otaki both on vertical sport climbs and hard finger cracks, and have been super impressed with its performance in both environments. It has edging capabilities on par with the Miura VS, but with slightly less downturn is versatile enough to jam up cracks as well.

The Katana Lace is an amazing, versatile shoe, but a few major improvements make the Otaki even more impressive. For one, it’s constructed with a synthetic lining around the toe, reducing the pesky stretch that occurs in the toe box of the Katana. This is a big innovation and we’re excited to see how it performs over the long run. Additionally, the Otaki has a Velcro closure and S-Heel technology that make it a superb crossover shoe between technical face climbing and steep bouldering. And wide-footed climbers rejoice, it’s just as comfortable as the Katana. If you’ve struggled to fit into the Miura VS, the Otaki might be your solution.
See the Men's La Sportiva Otaki  See the Women's La Sportiva Otaki



11. Five Ten Hiangle ($150)
Rock Climbing Shoes (Five Ten Hiangle)Downturn: Aggressive
Upper: Leather
Closure: Slipper/Velcro
What we like: Best toe hooker in the business; very comfortable.
What we don’t: Becomes floppy over time.

Similar to the Scarpa Instinct VS above and the La Sportiva Skwama below, you’re likely to see the Five Ten Hiangle on the foot of many a pro boulderer or sport climber. With a huge pad of sticky toe rubber, an aggressive downturned shape with lots of sensitivity, and a Velcro strap to keep the shoe from sliding off on heel hooks, this shoe screams steep climbing. As we mentioned above, Five Ten sizing can be a little strange, but for the right foot, it doesn’t get much better than the Hiangle.

This shoe is very similar to the 5.10 Team, but with a premium leather upper instead of synthetic. Do the math, and with the leather you get more stretch, a closer fit, and more comfort. But such a tightly-sized leather shoe does mean that you’ll experience more of a loss of performance over time than you would with a synthetic upper like that of the Acro or Instinct VS above. If you’re on a budget, this is important to keep in mind—although it doesn’t hurt that the Hiangle’s price was dropped to $150 this year from $165. Finally, take care when easing into wearing such a soft shoe: your feet will have to work harder to support themselves than they would in a stiffer rig.
See the Men's Five Ten Hiangle  See the Women's Five Ten Hiangle



12. Evolv Oracle ($175)
Evolv Oracle climbing shoeDownturn: Aggressive
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Lace
What we like: Like the Shaman, but with laces and a better heel.
What we don’t: Still not great for toe hooking.

Evolv has been a bit of a dark horse in the climbing world—their shoes often are thought of as being lower quality than premium Italian brands like Scarpa and La Sportiva—but we’ve been super impressed by many of their recent additions to the market. The Oracle is case in point. Combining the toe box technology of the Shaman (described above) with the high performance heel of Evolv’s popular Agro, the Oracle quickly is proving itself as a stellar steep climbing shoe with an exceptional fit.

While the lace-up system lends itself to a snugger fit than a Velcro shoe, some boulderers will be put off by the lack of rubber on the toe box. In addition, the Love Bump and Knuckle Box borrowed from the Shaman detract from the Oracle’s ability to toe hook. But we love the heel tensioner—a system, similar to the Anasazi above, that locks the foot in place like a slipper and pulls power to the toe of the foot. If you love the Shaman but have wished for a closer fit and a better heel, it’s worth checking out the new Oracle.
See the Evolv Oracle



13. La Sportiva Skwama ($170)
La Sportiva Skwama climbing shoesDownturn: Aggressive
Upper: Leather/synthetic
Closure: Slipper/Velcro
What we like: Comfortable for such an aggressive shoe.
What we don’t: Too soft to be a great edger.

One of La Sportiva’s newest innovations, the Skwama is a performance climbing slipper, comparable to the Acro and Genius above in terms of its highly aggressive build. However, with a soft midsole and supple Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber—one of the only Sportiva shoes to use this blend on the men’s version—the Skwama is a remarkably soft shoe. The benefits to this design come on steep terrain: it provides incredible sensitivity and precision for heel and toe hooks, and allows you to pull holds toward you with your feet better than most.

The most glaring downside of this soft construction is the lack of support underfoot. This makes the Skwama a poor choice for long days on the rock—even long single pitches at the crag—and does not inspire confidence on vertical edges. Those who are used to a stiffer shoe will find that their feet grow noticeably sore in the Skwama. But for steep sport climbing and bouldering, it’s quickly become a go-to option for many climbers, and notably comes in both men’s and women’s versions. Further, the Skwama is wider than most aggressive shoes, giving it that rare combination of comfort and performance... Read in-depth review
See the Men's La Sportive Skwama  See the Women's La Sportiva Skwama



14. Scarpa Boostic ($190)
Scarpa Boostic climbing shoeDownturn: Aggressive
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Velcro
What we like: Premium craftsmanship.
What we don’t: Expensive and doesn’t toe hook as well as comparable Five Ten and La Sportiva shoes.

The Boostic is one of Scarpa’s premier climbing shoes, built similarly to the Evolv Shaman above but with a more acute edging platform and slightly less aggressive toe. Created by the visionary designer Hans Mariacher, the closure system is superb: complimentary flaps of leather connect by thin mesh and tighten down with two opposing Velcro straps. For being such an aggressive shoe, the Boostic is extremely comfortable and easy to put on.

There are, however, a few problems with this shoe. The Velcro straps are a bit long, and when tightened down all the way can end up catching on holds and gym carpeting. Scarpa also uses a different kind of rubber on top of the toe, which makes for less secure toe hooking than on similar models like the Hiangle above. The Boostic’s greatest strengths are toeing in on small, positive crimps on dramatic overhangs and sticking small pockets. If you want a shoe for both indoor and outdoor sport climbing, this is a great choice—especially if climbing on limestone or pocketed conglomerate rock.
See the Scarpa Boostic



15. La Sportiva Mythos Eco ($155)
La Sportiva Mythos Eco cilmbing shoesDownturn: Flat
Upper: Leather
Closure: Lace
What we like: A time-tested classic made with 95% recycled materials.
What we don’t: At the end of the day, not very performance oriented.

The Mythos is one of the most iconic shoes on the market. And for new climbers venturing outside, this is an incredibly comfortable and durable choice. It has a flat last and leather upper that allow it to be worn all day, and the quality Eco rubber on the sole means you get top notch performance too. For beginning climbers and intermediates alike, it’s a great choice.

While the Mythos is great for beginner climbers or those looking for all-day comfort, it is not an incredibly versatile shoe. It’s not made for cranking through long overhanging sport climbs, nor for heel and toe hooking your way through roofs. Even among the beginner shoes on the market, it isn’t the best option for smearing or edging. Heck, we don’t even recommend the Mythos for gym climbing—it’s overkill and expensive for what you need. But it’s certainly among the most durable and best fitting of the bunch, making it a nice option for beginning trad climbers. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Mythos Eco is now made using 95% recycled materials from the Sportiva cutting room floor.
See the Men's La Sportiva Mythos  See the Women's La Sportiva Mythos Eco



16. Scarpa Maestro Mid ($199)
Scarpa Maestro Mid climbing shoeDownturn: Flat
Upper: Leather
Closure: Lace
What we like: Like the TC Pro, but more durable and streamlined.
What we don’t: It’s still too soon to tell how great this shoe will be.

The Maestro Mid is Scarpa’s answer to La Sportiva’s wildly popular TC Pro: a mid-height, trad-climbing shoe that’s been without rival for years. In some ways, Scarpa has made a better shoe and resolved our main gripes with the TC Pro. The upper of the Maestro Mid features continuous leather (unlike the small strips of leather on the TC Pro that often come unhinged), a padded and well-anchored tongue, and a design that covers the laces and keeps them from being chewed up by cracks. Furthermore, it is made in both a men’s and women’s model, which is great news for those with low-volume feet who could not get the TC Pro to fit.

Despite these upsides, the Maestro Mid falls short in a few significant ways. First, it’s a softer shoe than the TC Pro, meaning less stability on edges or support during long days on the rock. And perhaps of even greater concern is the high-volume toe box of the Maestro. If you thought the TC Pro was bulky and wished it would fit into finger cracks better, you ain’t seen nothing yet. These nitpicks aside, the Maestro Mid still is a solid effort by Scarpa and a well-made shoe overall...

17. Black Diamond Momentum ($95)
Black Diamond Momentum climbing shoeDownturn: Flat
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Velcro (lace available)
What we like: Checks off a lot of boxes for beginner climbers.
What we don’t: Too narrow for some; not a high-performance shoe.

Black Diamond’s Momentum is purpose-built for new climbers looking for a comfortable shoe that doesn’t break the bank. In fact, at $95, it’s one of just a small number of models available for under $100 (along with the Butora Endeavor above, which squeezes in at $99.90). With the Momentum, you get a unique stretchy knit upper for ventilation and all-day comfort, the choice of lace or Velcro closure (which also comes in a vegan version), and high-quality Neo Fuse rubber underfoot. All in all, it’s a solid choice for beginning climbers or those looking for a gym workhorse. Keep in mind, however, that you get what you pay for here: the poorly-designed flaps under the Velcro closure have a tendency to bunch up, the knit upper gives up a lot in the way of durability and fit, and the toe box is prohibitively narrow for many.

If you’re in the market for something more technical, don’t let the Momentum dissuade you from taking a look at Black Diamond’s more performance-oriented offerings. In their few short years of making shoes, the company has developed a model for everything, from the trad-climbing Aspect and all-around Focus to the ultra-soft Shadow. We’ve been impressed with the premium nature of these shoes, which puts them on par with brands like Scarpa and La Sportiva. Plus, they’re all constructed with Butora’s Neo Fuse on the sole, an impressively sticky and durable rubber. All that said, our one major gripe (and why the Momentum is our only BD offering for now) are the high price points, which give us little reason to switch over from our beloved Italian-made models.

18. Mad Rock Shark 2.0 ($119)
Mad Rock Shark climbing shoeDownturn: Aggressive
Upper: Synthetic
Closure: Slipper/Velcro
What we like: What a surprise: an affordable aggressive shoe!
What we don’t: Extremely difficult to get on and off.

Mad Rock often gets a bad rap among climbers, but for steep bouldering and sport climbing, the re-designed Shark 2.0 is surprisingly good. In a world where most aggressive climbing shoes run close to $200, the Shark stands out as an option that’s easy on your wallet without sacrificing a ton in the way of performance. It boasts Mad Rock’s Arch Flex system, a design that is stiff around the sides and soft in the center, allowing for both effective smearing and edging. However, your feet better already be pretty strong to survive the lack of arch support. That said, people rave about the snug fit of the Sharks, and report that it doesn’t change much throughout use.

As far as the upper of the Shark 2.0 is concerned, it’s composed almost exclusively of 2.2mm R2 rand rubber, resulting in a toe hooking and scumming machine. The form-fitting heel cup and sticky rubber textured heel cap make for an excellent heel-hooking shoe as well. On the downside, this mostly rubber upper is known to stifle feet. And Mad Rock’s Science Friction rubber never was, and still isn’t, anything to write home about: it’s hard and clunky, and has a slippery feel that does not inspire confidence. But priced at $119—and often found on sale—this is a solid choice for those who want an aggressive shoe for the gym.

Rock Climbing Shoe Buying Advice
Types of Climbing Shoes: Trad, Sport, Bouldering, Gym
Downturn: Flat, Moderate, or Aggressive
Soft vs. Stiff
Closure: Laces, Velcro, or Slipper
Upper: Leather vs. Synthetic
Rubber
Fit and Sizing
Men’s and Women’s Versions
Indoor vs. Outdoor Climbing

Types of Climbing Shoes: Trad, Sport, Bouldering, Gym
There are as many styles of climbing shoes as there are rocks, and for best performance, these two factors should be matched appropriately. Sport climbing, bouldering, trad climbing tend to be as similar as apples, oranges, and bananas—which is to say, rather dissimilar. A shoe designed for overhanging boulders would be painful and less-than-functional in a hand crack. In the same vein, a stiff, flat shoe perfect for slab climbing would be clunky and useless when trying to toe hook on steep terrain. That said, whether you’re on a boulder, placing gear, or clipping bolts, the rock will dictate your style of shoe more than the discipline. Granite climbs differently than sandstone, which climbs differently than limestone, and quartzite, and basalt, and so on and so forth. Obviously, there’s no perfect categorization, and a good understanding of the terrain helps to round out these delineations.
Rock climbing shoe lineup
Testing a range of climbing shoes in Joshua Tree | Megan Kelly

Trad
Trad climbing typically takes place on slabby to just-vertical terrain, and often involves a great deal of jamming in cracks. For this, flat climbing shoes—also thought of as all-around shoes or non-aggressive shoes—are the top-performing models. These shoes are often more comfortable than their more aggressive counterparts, but comfort need not compromise performance. Certain flat shoes offer the best performance for slabs, techy face climbing, and cracks (the La Sportiva TC Pro, for example). Look for very slight or no downturn at all, a stiff midsole, relaxed fit, minimal heel/toe rubber, solid ankle protection, and most often, laces. That said, the more technical and steep the trad route (think 5.12 finger cracks or thin 5.11 edging on Index granite), the more you might prefer a shoe with a moderate or aggressive downturn. For vertical faces and thin finger cracks, a model like the Five Ten Anasazi Pink or the La Sportiva Otaki will perform far better than the clunky TC Pro.
Rock Climbing Shoes (Smith Rock)
Sport climbing at Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon

Sport
For sport climbing on vertical to slightly less-than-vertical terrain—imagine Smith Rock or the New River Gorge—you can get away with a relatively stiff shoe with a moderate downturn. These models absolutely shine on face climbs where precision edging is paramount. They’re characterized by a solid edging platform, tight heel cup with a slingshot-style rand, stiff midsole, and laces or a Velcro closure. Our favorites include the La Sportiva Miura VS and Five Ten Anasazi Lace. For steeper sport climbing (such as that found in Kalymnos, the Red, or even in the gym), we’d look to a more aggressive shoe like those described below in the bouldering section below. The La Sportiva Skwama is a great example: it’s soft, aggressively downturned, has a Velcro and slipper closure, and sports a whole lot of rubber on the toe and heel.

Bouldering
Bouldering shoes—indoor and outdoor—are characterized by an aggressive downturn, generous patch of toe rubber, floppiness for sensitivity, rounded heel cups covered in rubber, and a hybrid closure (often an elastic slipper with a single Velcro strap). These shoes—the Five Ten Hiangle, for example—shine on steep terrain, when toe hooking, heel hooking, and sticking to tiny incuts on overhanging walls. They usually are sized snug and probably aren’t comfortable to wear for more than a minute or two.

If you’re a new boulderer—especially indoors—we recommend that you save your money and foot ligaments and start with a stiffer and less aggressive shoe like the La Sportiva Otaki or Black Diamond Momentum. You can graduate to something softer and more aggressive once your technique improves and your feet get stronger, but for V2 and under (even up to V4 in the gym) an entry-level shoe is more than sufficient (for more on soft vs. stiff shoes, see below).
climbing shoes (bouldering 2)
Bouldering in the soft and aggressive La Sportiva Skwama

Downturn: Flat, Moderate, or Aggressive
We have used the term “downturn” many times above—it’s of the most notable features of a climbing shoe. Essentially, downturn defines the amount of curve in the sole of a shoe, from banana shaped (aggressive) to flat. The more aggressive the downturn, the more power your toes have to pull and perch on small edges, but the less your feet are able to rest in their natural position. In general, aggressive shoes perform well on steep rock, and flat shoes shine on vertical to less-than-vertical terrain. Just picture the banana shape of a shoe like the Evolv Oracle, and envision toeing in on overhanging holds with the power to pull your body towards them. Then tilt the rock back to slab, and you’ll understand that you want a flat shoe (like the La Sportiva Mythos or TC Pro) that allows you to stand on the ball of your foot.
climbing shoes (downturn)
La Sportiva's moderately downturned Katana and flat TC Pro

Soft vs. Stiff
Stiffness is another way that shoes differ from each other, but here it’s tough to make blanket statements. So much of this depends on preference. While many boulderers prefer ultra-soft shoes like the Five Ten Hiangle or the La Sportiva Skwama, others prefer stiffer models like the Butora Acro or Scarpa Instinct VS. Same goes for trad climbers—the TC Pro is wildly popular, but so are slippers like the Unparallel Up Mocc. One thing that we can say definitively is that a stiff shoe offers more support for the foot—if you’re just getting into the sport, you’ll definitely want to start with a stiff to medium-stiff shoe until your feet grow stronger. Soft shoes are far more sensitive and flexible, and your feet will have to do much of the work to support themselves.
climbing shoes (slipper)
The La Sportiva Skwama is a soft, flexible shoe

A stiff shoe will also offer more edging power, as it provides a solid platform for your foot to stand on tiny edges. For this reason, we like a stiffer shoe for vertical face and slab. Soft shoes, on the other hand, do not provide the stability needed for precise edging, but enable you to toe in better on steep routes. Plus, you’ll be able to feel the holds more underfoot, which many climbers like. Soft shoes are also more comfortable to downsize, so you can really hone in a tight, snug fit. Finally, keep in mind that the thinner the sole, the softer the shoe will be. For example, the Scarpa Instinct VSR’s 2mm sole helps to make it a much softer shoe than its sibling, the Instinct VS (with 3.5mm sole).


Closure: Laces, Velcro, or Slipper
Closure systems should not be overlooked, and in fact they can be a deciding factor in what shoe is the best match for you. There are not hard-and-fast rules about which is better than the other, and each has their strengths and weaknesses for various forms of climbing. The three main closures are laces, Velcro, and slipper, and more and more we’re seeing Velcro and slippers combined for a best-of-both-worlds closure.

Laces
Laces are a favorite of trad climbers who put their shoes on and keep them on. They’re much better suited in cracks than Velcro, which tends to come undone after repetitive jamming. Laces also allow you to dial in an incredibly precise fit. Whether your feet are wide or narrow, you get more versatility with a lace shoe like the La Sportiva Genius than any other kind. That said, laces can be a pain in the butt if you are putting on and taking off your shoes all the time, and if you’re crack climbing, they will wear out over time.
climbing shoes (TC Pro 2)
As the shoe's upper stretches, laces help maintain a precise fit

Velcro
Many climbers prefer Velcro closures because they are easy to put on and take off. They’re great for indoor climbing, bouldering, and sport climbing, when you’re often relieving your feet in between problems or pitches. A Velcro closure, however, can get in the way of toe hooking—for steep bouldering, we’d rather have a large patch of rubber on top of our toe than a bulky strap. Furthermore, Velcro can easily come undone during repetitive jamming in cracks. Velcro shoes can also be somewhat limiting in how well they fit and tend to fail quicker than laces.
Climbing Shoes (Velcro closure)
Wearing the Velcro version of Black Diamond's Momentum

Shoe

Shoes give one of the most agreeable, advantageous kinds of conclusion, and they by and large connect with delicate shoes that exceed expectations on contact sections and in breaks, (for example, the Unparallel Up Mocc). In any case, shoes can extend after some time, and when that occurs, there Is no real way to fix them up. Strangely, the work-around to this issue has brought about a significant number of the best bouldering shoes: the La Sportiva Skwama and Scarpa Instinct VS, for instance. These shoes include a solitary Velcro tie close to the lower leg of the shoe, bringing about an entirely agreeable and secure fit and a huge space on the toe for an enormous elastic fix. We believe that shoes are somewhat of a withering breed, however this blend of shoe and Velcro will just develop in prevalence.

Shake climbing shoes (Acro)

The Butora Acro is a shoe with a Velcro tie

Upper: Leather versus Manufactured

The upper is the piece of the shoe that rests along the top and sides of your foot. In most climbing shoes, the upper is a cowhide or engineered calfskin substitute, and there's not so much a rubric to figure out which is better for you. Some favor cowhide, and some engineered. Both have their upsides and downsides, and there are various agents of the two sorts on this rundown. The greatest contrast is that cowhide stretches and manufactured uppers for the most part don't, and this has an assortment of results.

Since cowhide extends, it can fit in with your foot. After some time, it takes on a glove-like shape which results in expanded solace. Contrasting the La Sportiva Miura VS with the Anasazi Pink, for instance, the Miura will stretch up to an entire size, while the Five Ten will scarcely extend by any means. This implies one of two things: one, on the off chance that you need the Miura to have a similar usefulness as the Pink a year afterward, you need to begin with a littler size. Or on the other hand two, in the event that you need the Pink to be as agreeable as the Miura in a year, you need to begin with a greater size. Regardless of whether you lean toward your shoe to turn out to be progressively agreeable after some time or you need it to hold its unique measurements should assume a major job in picking the shoe you purchase. What's more, observe that numerous advanced cowhide shoes fuse a manufactured liner in high-stretch zones—we think this is a best-of-both-universes arrangement.

climbing shoes (heel snare)

The Otaki's upper is made with both cowhide and manufactured materials

Elastic

Climbing shoe elastic is an obscure subject. Would it be a good idea for you to purchase Vibram XS Edge or XS Grip? Stealth HF or Stealth C4? Shouldn't something be said about restrictive mixes like Trax and Science Friction? The elastic is what will really adhere to the stone, so this is unimaginably significant, correct? Indeed, however perhaps not as significant as you might suspect. All rubbers attempt to discover some parity on the clingy strong continuum. A few, similar to Science Friction, go hard to the clingy side, while others, similar to Sportiva's exclusive FriXion RS, incline toward the more sturdy side. Whichever way can bode well contingent upon your needs. Truth be told, we know numerous a male climber who wears the ladies' Miura VS, as it's made with a stickier elastic (XS Grip 2) than the men's form (made with XS Edge). Simply comprehend that there is a tradeoff: the grippier your elastic, the shorter it will last. The more it keeps going, the less clingy it will be.

climbing shoes (edging)

The men's Miura VS is made with Vibram XS Edge elastic

But since you asked (you did, right?), we do have our favored brands and models of elastic. A fast check of the correlation table above is obvious: Vibram and Stealth are our reasonable top choices. We particularly like the predictable execution of the XS Edge and XS Grip from Vibram, alongside Five Ten's Stealth C4. Butora's Neo Fuse is rapidly gaining our loyalty also. What's more, obviously, when you bust through the elastic, it doesn't mean you need to resign your shoe. Resolers aren't hard to discover nowadays—Rock and Resole in Boulder, CO is one of the most broadly known—and most even give you the choice to change the sort of elastic that is on your shoe.

Fit and Sizing

We could give you a lot of principles about how to estimate your shoe, however at last, measuring is so explicit, so one of a kind, thus specific to each shoe and each foot. A few shoes will be excessively wide or unreasonably slender for your feet. Some will extend a full size, while others won't by any stretch of the imagination. Some are measured on track with road shoes (Black Diamond's lineup, for instance), while others will make them drop down a bunch of sizes. Therefore, your most solid option is to: a) do some exploration on what other individuals need to state about the shoe's fit, and; b) consistently give the shoe a shot before purchasing. In case you're requesting on the web, you can roll the shakers or purchase a few sets from a legitimate retailer and return one.

La Sportiva Miura VS (fit)

Nailing down the fit is perhaps the hardest piece of a climbing shoe buy

So, a couple of speculations apply. Above all else, you need your climbing shoes to feel more tightly than your road shoes. Second, more tightly doesn't mean cutting off dissemination. In case you're swimming in your shoe, it's most likely excessively free. Be that as it may, if putting it on takes you a moment of genuine pulling just to bring about a number 8 on the torment scale, they're excessively tight. Be straightforward with yourself: how tight would you be able to abandon giving uneasiness a chance to hinder the delight of climbing? Numerous individuals will forfeit torment for the additional presentation it brings to their climbing game, while others imagine that a tight shoe includes next to no exhibition. Everything relies upon the territory, the shoe, and the climber. Third, comprehend that cowhide stretches and engineered textures tend not to. At long last, it's significant that a great many people have one foot that is marginally greater than the other, so take a stab at the two shoes before you make a buy. What's more, if your feet are heinously various sizes, go with Evolv: you can purchase the correct foot shoe in one size, and the left in another.

People's Versions

All things considered, in any event in climbing shoe land, the standard is as per the following: men's shoes are for wide feet and ladies' shoes are for restricted feet (Butora, then again, offers their shoes in "wide" and "tight"). You can hurl this "rule" out alongside all other hetero-normatives, however you can likewise utilize it as a manual for assistance you select a shoe. Perhaps you're a man with a restricted foot, which means you ought to think about a ladies' style. Furthermore, a few ladies lean toward men's shoes. The fact of the matter is that you won't mind what sexual orientation your footwear is the point at which you're cruxing out on your venture, and neither will your belayer or any other individual. With respect to looking at people's sizes, utilize this supportive diagram from La Sportiva. What's more, remember that some "unisex" models (the famous Scarpa Boostic or Five Ten Anasazi Pink, for instance) aren't made in shifting widths. On the off chance that your foot is more extensive or smaller than most, almost certainly, these shoes won't work for you.

Indoor versus Outside Climbing

In spite of the fact that there are not many shoes made explicitly for exercise center climbing, it truly is an entire unexpected brute in comparison to climbing outside. Generally, indoor dividers are vertical to overhung (at our neighborhood rec center, there are V0s on a 45-degree shade and 5.10s out a gigantic rooftop, which you'd be unable to discover outside), the solid footings bigger, and the courses stacked over one another (which means it's simpler to pile on mileage than if you're outside moving from precipice to bank or stone to rock). When all is said in done, footwork matters less and you'll destroy your shoe all the more rapidly, which means two things: the style, fit, and bottom of your shoe is of less outcome (don't hesitate to contend with us on this point, in spite of the fact that before you do, continue perusing), and you'll gather a remarkable bill in case you're stirring through $190 shoes.

climbing shoes (exercise center)

In case you're another climber or utilize the exercise center more as preparing for the outside than as the end-all-be-everything, you can pull off a moderately level, agreeable, and reasonable shoe for indoor climbing. Set aside your cash for when you head outside, where execution on ventures matters more and exact footwork is objective. All that stated, if rec center climbing is your jam, the purple course is your venture, and you're truly pushing the evaluation inside, you'll certainly need to search for a forceful, bouldering-explicit shoe. For either situation, look at the "Best Uses" segment of our examination table above to see which shoes we suggest for indoor climbing.

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