The great outdoors is calling your name! You’re ready to kayak the rivers, hike the trails, and scale those rocks. No matter how you choose to answer the call of the wild, having the proper gear is vital. This is especially true when you’re climbing rocks. Rock climbing involves using almost every muscle in your body. Your feet are an important part of the sport. If they’re not properly protected and supported, you’re busted. Picking out the best climbing shoes can be daunting.
You want to know what you should look for. You might also be an experienced climber who wants some recommendations on which shoe you need to level up.
Check out our guide to get a grip on the best climbing shoes for every level. Up first, we have our review section, with our picks for the Top 10 Best Climbing Shoes out there. Then we get into the different kinds of shoes available, as well as some features to look for.
10 Best Climbing Shoe Reviews
Choosing a climbing shoe is a matter of personal preference. But we’ve put together a climbing shoe review guide to get you started.
We’ve linked to primarily men’s shoes just to keep things simple. However, almost every style on our list is made as a women’s shoe or unisex as well.
Best Beginner Climbing Shoes
The Evolv Defy is a great neutral shoe for beginners. The asymmetrical shape gives power to the big toe so you can get a better grip while you’re learning. The Defy has a synthetic lining that can get pretty gross over time. But it’s a cheap and durable shoe to get you started, so hope it gets smelly around the time you’re ready to move on.
Best Rock Climbing Shoes for Wide Feet
The Joker Plus is the perfect beginning climbing shoe if you have wide feet. It’s not as sensitive as other climbing shoes. But it has a thick rubber sole around the toes for better protection.
Best Women’s Climbing Shoes
Butora is not as well known in the United States, but it’s a good leather lined option for wide and narrow feet. It has a velcro strap fastening that makes it easy to take the shoe on and off.
Best Intermediate Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva is one of the more expensive brands on our list, but their shoes are some of the greatest. They’re ready to wear right out of the box and are reliable until the day your rubber sole finally wears through. The Genius is one of the best bouldering shoes. It features “no-edge” technology for great sensitivity.
Best Cheap Rock Climbing Shoes
The Tarantulace is the beginner’s version of the Genius. It has a flat sole that’s good for climbing and boulder hopping all day. It has a mix of leather and synthetic leather that will help the shoe stretch and last a long time. It’s an expensive shoe, but the sensitivity technology and fabric quality makes it a smart investment.
Best All Around Climbing Shoe
Comfort is what makes the Quantum stand out among its competitors. It has a cushioned tongue and lace fastenings for a better fit. It isn’t as stiff as other shoes. But it has a moderate downturn on its toe for better control on steep headwalls. It’s also created for wider feet.
Best Climbing Shoes for Narrow Feet
We’ve mentioned more than one climbing shoes for wide feet, so it’s time to help out you with narrow feet. The Tenaya Tarifa is a narrow fitting shoe with wonderful sensitivity and edging. Unfortunately, it’s not super comfortable for crack climbing, but climbers with narrow feet still go crazy for this shoe.
Best Aggressive Rock Climbing Shoes
The Butora Acro is an affordable aggressive option for climbers. It comes in both wide and narrow fits. They coated the upper part of the shoe with rubber so you can hook your toe into hard to grip areas.
Best Sport Climbing Shoes
This medium wide shoe has a low profile toe for scaling the thinnest cracks in the wall. It’s known for its great edging, although the heel is a little tight.
Best Climbing Shoes for Kids
As a bonus for this list, the Butora Brava is the perfect shoe to help your kids get started on rock climbing. It’s affordable and comfortable enough that your kid can climb for a while and not complain. It’s not the best for advanced kid climbers, but if your child is starting out this is a good option.
What to Look for in a Climbing Shoe
The first thing you need to know about the best rock climbing shoes is that there are three types you can choose. Which one you choose depends on what kind of climbing you’re doing.
These shoes are the most relaxed shoes because they allow your toes to lie flat inside the shoes. This makes neutral shoes great for beginners. It’s also good for climbers who are going to spend all day on varied terrain while camping.
These climbing shoes have a slightly downward shape that makes them good for many different routes. You can take them on slab routes, multi-pitch climbs, and crack climbs.
Aggressive shoes have distinct downward facing toes with lots of heel tension. They’re built this way to put your feet in the best position for challenging climbs. The most aggressive men’s climbing shoes put the focus on the big toe, for better placement in tight areas.
There are two types of fastenings: laces, and velcro. Laces give you more control over the tightness of your shoe (the more advanced a shoe is, the tighter it is). But velcro fastenings help you quickly get the shoes off and on.
The amount of sensitivity in your shoe is up to you. Many people want that protection around their toes, especially if they slam their feet into the rocks.
Proper fit is the most important part of buying an athletic shoe. The best climbing shoes need to stay put on your foot, so make sure there’s no dead space in your shoe. As tight as these shoes need to be, they shouldn’t be a chore to get on your feet. You want your toes to be comfortable in the shoe, even when they’re curved. The heel should be snug but it shouldn’t pinch you.
Ready to Get Out There?
There are so many wonderful benefits of spending time outside. For more tips on how to enjoy the great outdoors, check out our blog. We have a lot of resources for anyone who loves hiking, camping, kayaking, and adventuring.