A Buying Guide for the Best Rock Climbing Shoes In 2018

Rock climbing is no mean feat. You can’t wake one morning and decide to go for it without the proper gear. The indoor climbing terrains are rarely intense but a proper rock climbing shoe is necessary. The outdoor however is a different matter. We’re talking bouldering, crack climbing and overhanging.

For exact precision, the climbing shoe must have specific features, such as comfortable toe box, adjustable closure active randing and rubber sole for stability.

We’ve narrowed does some of the best rock climbing shoes for 2018. The selection encompasses high performance, comfortable and versatile shoes.

Name of Rock Climbing ShoeShoe MaterialType of Closure Action
La Sportiva TarantuLace PerformanceLeatherLaceBuy Here
La Sportiva Tarantula BeginnerLeather and syntheticVelcro StrapBuy Here
Burota Acro Wide FitLeather and syntheticVelcro StrapBuy Here
La Sportiva SkwamaLeatherVelcro StrapBuy Here
Scarpa Men’s Instinct VSSyntheticVelcro StrapBuy Here
Scarpa OriginLeatherVelcro StrapBuy Here
La Sportiva Mythos Leather LaceBuy Here
Scarpa Women’s Force VLeather and suedeVelcro StrapBuy Here
Mad Rock Drone High VolumeSynthetic Velcro StrapBuy Here
Scarpa Men’s Vapor VSynthetic Velcro StrapBuy Here

Reviews for the Best Rock Climbing Shoes in 2018

1.  La Sportiva Men’s TarantuLace Performance Rock Climbing Shoe – Helps an amateur climb like a pro

The TarantuLace shoe can go to the gym, climb and other activities without hurting your toes. Be careful while ordering, you might get a shoes size less or more.

Specs

  •  Made of leather
  • Excellent foot support
  • FriXion RS rubber soles
  • Lined tongue that monitors moisture

The shoe lacing system is quick and ensures precise regulation of inner volumes. The shoe fits properly offering excellent support and comfort. Just starting to learn how to climb, these shoes will make you feel like a pro. The rubber heel is aggressively rand allowing you to stand on micro edges. In addition, it has long-lasting sticky FriXion RS rubber sole. The special RN45 shape is effective for upper end performance while protecting your toes.

From outdoor climbers to gym climbers, the shoes unlined leather upper ensures comfort. The lined tongue manages moisture and improves breathability. The synthetic leather harness gives great support to entry and intermediate climbers. The shoe is built with high quality materials. Midsole- 1.8mm of LaspoFlex. Sole – 5mm FriXion RS making the shoes durable and stable.

Pros

  • Provides a secure and comfortable fit by cradling the foot
  • Made of durable leather
  • The shape of the shoe does not force the toes to curl and can be worn all day
  • The shoe’s lined tongue manages sweat preventing the foot from slipping around
  • It allows one to smear and search for small edges sensitively
  • When you tie the laces well, they tighten the upper of the shoe ensuring a comfortable fit.

Cons

  • You can easily order the wrong size
  • You can’t use them for a long time

 

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Verdict

The shoe is a great fit for both amateur and expert climbers. The price is low and you can use for numerous activities.

2. La Sportiva Unisex Tarantula Beginner Rock Climbing ShoeEasy on and off design ensure more climbing time and less gearing time

The climbing shoes was essentially designed for beginners trying to improve their climbing skills. The price is rather steep.

Specs

  • Made with leather and synthetic
  • Durable and comfortable
  • Sticky FriXion that ensures amazing grip
  • Unlined leather upper
  • Easy off and on straps

Generally for people who want to improve their climbing skills. Tarantula provides convenience, comfort and versatility. The soles are made with sticky FriXion that helps grip rock and plastic with ease and sensitivity. The low asymmetrical build help move new climbers from training walls to outdoor pitches without compromising comfort. The shoe has adjustable hook-and-loop closure system which is adaptable to several foot shapes and widths. Performs aggressively on any level while providing a comfortable introduction to climbing.

The unlined leather upper offers comfort by keeping your feet dry and breathable all day. La Sportiva boast of high quality materials for their shoes which include a sole of 5mm FriXion and 1.8mm LaspoFlex at the midsole. The round shaped shoe won’t strangle your feet and give novices tactical performance to master new skills. The shoes comes is 2 colors, Kiwi and Grey which might not be suitable for all.

Pros

  • Unlined leather upper provides airflow
  • Simple to put on and take off
  • It is durable
  • Can climb different platforms

 

Cons

  • The price is on the higher side
  • It not lightweight as you would expect with rock climbing shoes

 

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Verdict

The price and color should not prohibit you from getting this shoe as it will increase your climbing skills at a faster rate.

3. Butora Acro Wide Fit – An excellent shoe for steep climbing and bouldering

Specs

  • Aggressive
  • Plenty of rubber on the toe patch
  • Mixture of synthetic and leather in upper construction
  • Secure heel
  • Hook-and-loop strap

The Burota design is unique for steep climbing. Made with a combination for natural leather and synthetic, it allows for greater performance. The high tensioned heel rand puts power on the front toe for greater edging capability. Butora boast of triple fork closure strap that’s convenient and provide extra security. This feature is particular with lace-up shoes. The toe patch is a sticky rubber, allowing you to safely hook your to even in the most technical situations.

A favorite among wide fit climbers for its comfort and versatility. Granite smearing, limestone pockets, micro edges, name it, are no challenge for the Acro. Note that, with all aggressive shoes, the smearing is not as efficient. The 3D ABS midsole occupy the shoe fully; it’s stiff but sensitive enough to feel tiny crystal and divots. The midsole further enhances the shoe’s durability and ensures it doesn’t lose its down-turned shape. Acro’s toe profile is narrow allowing you to wiggle your toes in small crack and pods.

Pros

  • Available in wide and narrow versions
  • Performs exceptionally without pain
  • Has superior edging ability
  • Stiff yet sensitive
  • Low profile make it easy to wiggle in small spaces

Cons

  • Leaves a lot of space in the heel cup

 

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Verdict

If you’re ready to push your limits this is the shoe for you. The price should not be a deterrent, just focus on the overhanging cliffs and let the Butora do its job.

4. La Sportiva SkwamaMidsole is soft and sensitive and helps you edge like a pro

The rock climbing shoe has protective, sticky rubber toe patches that protect against abrasion and makes climbing more fluid and harmonious.

Specs

  • S-Heel construction
  • Soft but stiff LaspoVlex midsole
  • Rubber toe cap
  • P3 downturned performance

Patented S-heel construction caters for ideal heel maneuverability on rock faces, slabs or overhangs. The heel fits excellently with zero dead space. The shoe performs with flexibility, sensitivity and precision on all surfaces. The P3 patent system comes with split-sole construction allowing your sole to spread out when weighted. The Skwama boast of a protective rubber toe patch that protects against scratches and makes them relatively good for crack climbing.

The shoe is aggressive, unfortunately it’s softer and does not edge well. The soft construction of suede leather upper, Vibram sole and flexible build offers the climber a combination of performance and comfort. It gives you extra sensitivity to feel the rock under your feel while helping you adapt. The suede leather upper snugs around your foot, eliminating rigid areas to promote stability in torsion.

The forefoot features a rubber toe patch that helps the Skwamas excel in hand-sized cracks. Unfortunately, they don’t do well in smaller cracks.

Pros

  • Aggressive yet soft and sensitive
  • Comfortable and stable
  • Climb all styles and don’t hurt your feet
  • Easy to get on and off
  • Stick rubber toe patch protects against abrasion
  • Great for crack climbing

Cons

  • Expensive

 

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Verdict

An excellent shoe for all climbers, the patented S-Heel and sticky rubber toe patches giving it an extra advantage. High shoe price doesn’t necessarily mean efficiency but for this shoe the price equate the performance.

5. Scarpa Men’s Instinct VS Climbing Shoe – Put on and removing the show is a breeze because of the single hook-and-look

Specs

  • Synthetic sole
  • Vibram xs edge in forefront for incredible grip
  • Bi-tension active randing gives maximum toe power
  • A lightweight, helping you move with convenience

The Instinct is perfect for sport and boulder climbers. The Italian made rock climbing shoe is a mixture of innovation and tradition. Built in a slipper design with a single strap and vibram xs edge. This helps it to resist deformation when standing on edges and performs consistently in hot and cold weather. The Instinct performs well in overhanding gym routes and slabby boulder problems. The sensitive midsole and aggressive down time permits you to toe-In on solution pockets and edges. The innovative Bi-tension system offers the big toe maximum power without excess pain. The shoe’s best feature is the single hook-and-loop strap that makes on and off simple and ensures a secure fit. The rubber patch on the toe-box is effective and durable. The excellent heel ensures your foot doesn’t move around the shoe.

The Instinct is made completely from synthetic fabric to minimize stretching and help retain shape. This robust construction means the shoe is durable although it takes longer to break in. It may appear stiff for indoor climbing but the outdoor climbers find it excellent for edging and smearing on steep terrain. The midsole is super-soft enhancing sensitivity and precision.

Pros

  • Exceptional heel
  • Fits perfectly offering comfort and stability
  • Toes slide easily into cracks
  • Amazing feel and ease of movement
  • Aggressive shoe for smearing and edging

Cons

  • Not ideal for large feet
  • Takes time to break in
  • They sometimes tend to stretch more than expected

 

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Verdict

The Instinct is suitable for edging and smearing. Whilst not cheap it performs exceptionally in any rock climbing event.

6. Scarpa Origin Climbing ShoesIts vision rubber is sticky and resilient to any conditions new climbers will experience

Specs

  • 100% suede
  • Rubber sole
  • Power strap closures give maximum adjustability
  • Flat lasted construction for comfort and performance
  • Scarpa Vision rubber that’s sticky and hardy to all conditions

This Italian climbing shoe is best for beginners. The designer made sure the shoe would raise a climber’s passion and keep it high. It has lush leather upper that gives a luxury padded feeling and long-term comfort. It molds into the foot perfectly guaranteeing minimum stress and great performance. It further encourages you to climb as you toe-in confidently in small cracks. High-mileage climber will appreciate the price and durability.

The simple hook-and-loop Velcro closure conforms nicely to the foot and ensures you’re well positioned during the climb. One of its best features is the visionary rubber soles durable and has a special stickiness that helps a new climber experience different terrains with ease. The flat heel keeps your foot constantly comfortable during long pitches of climbing. Relaxed randing ensure you can easily step on small footholds.

Pros

  • They’re comfortable and offer good performance
  • They are cheap
  • Made with durable material
  • Great for outdoor experiences

Cons

  • They may feel a bit tight for a while

 

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Verdict

A beginner will find comfort in these shoes. The leather upper gives a padded feeling and helps you enjoy the climbing experience.

7. La Sportiva MythosThe unlined leather is cozy and it stretches as temperatures increase

Specs

  • Made with Leather
  • 4mm Vibram XS edge sole
  • 1mm LaspoFlex midsole
  • Medium-low asymmetry
  • Ideal for face, crack climbing and big walls

The Mythos fits like a sock and keeps your toes cramp-free. A narrow, pointed toe ensures considerable performance of face climbs. Two inches of rubber around the foot is absolutely ideal for crack climbing. You can easily grip thin cracks with the sticky and soft Vibram XS sole. The unlined leather upper is comfortable and stretches considerably even when your feet sweat from temps increases. The lacing is unique and wraps around the foot keeping it in position. You can wear the shoe all day with no pain guarantee. The shoe is certainly durable but not the best for edging or smearing.

This rock shoe has been around for more than 20 years and that’s a testament of true performance. To improve the environment the shoe was made with eco-friendly materials. Italian cobblers at La Sportiva are responsible for this simple Mythos design which offers comfort, versatility and performance to nearly every foot. The shoe is efficient for a beginner and expert climbers.

Pros

  • Soft and super sticky Vibram XS grip
  • Made with 95% recycled materials
  • Fits well for any variety of foot shape; wide, long, knobby and skinny
  • The leather upper is almost bombproof

Cons

  • The laces are annoyingly long especially for people with small fit
  • It not performance oriented
  • They don’t offer secure heel and toe hooking or cranking through overhangs

 

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8. SCARPA Women’s Force V Wmn Climbing ShoeThe special padded tongue cushions your feet all day

Specs

  •  Leather and suede
  • Vibram XS edge for firm grip and durability
  • Technical and flat-lasted profile delivers all day comfort Hook-and-look power strap enclosure provides maximum adjustability
  • Low-charged Active Randing ensures energy conservation

The Scarpa is made of suede and leather with a rubber sole. The technical and flat profile construction strikes a perfect balance between climbing performance and all-day comfort. The low-charge V-Tension randing helps in conservation of energy and provides full day efficiency. It allows for excellent performance without pushing your toes firmly into the tow box. The 4mm Vibram XS edge is common for Scarpa climbing shoe range. Together with a sensitive Flexan midsole they’re essential for grip and durability. The Scarpa Dual Power Straps offer a precise fit and optimal adjustability.

The shoe is less aggressive for anyone looking to increase their climbing performance. Overhung climbs, bouldering or sport climbing will be easy to tackle. The down side is poor performance on in really precise footwork like small foot-holds. The low symmetry ensures no pain as you introduce yourself to steeps and learn to fight with gravity. The advantage of moderate asymmetry being the weight is not laid on the big toe but spread evenly among all the toes. The unlined suede leather upper is conforming, soft and stretchy to your feet. Velcro straps closure makes getting the Force V on and off very easy.

Pros

  • Comfortable padding
  • Fits extremely well
  • Has good performance without any pain
  • Enhances better footwork
  • Suitable for anyone beginning to rock climb

Cons

  • Don’t perform well on small foot-holds
  • May not fit those with square or wide shaped feet

 

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Verdict

Combination of comfort and performance, the Force V features soft construction features. The snug heel cup gives all day cushioning.

9. Mad Rock Drone High VolumeThin rand rubber helps get rid of dead space in the shoe’s arch area

Specs

  • Expendable edge heel design fit for various foot shapes
  • Breathable tongue
  • Science friction tuber sole
  • Arch flex for better fit and support
  •  Aggressive and significantly asymmetrical

This USA rock climbing shoe encompasses 3.0 Science Friction compound; a special feature for the Mad Rock. The climbing shoes are available in both high and low volume models. The design is a comfortable fit and made with stretchy materials. It fairly easy to fine tunes the volume and length of high performance shoes. It molds well to the foot shape removing any pressure points and dead spots your foot might produce. You’ll appreciate the expendable Edge Heel that will stretch to fit most heel sizes and shapes. The Mad Rock is aggressive enough for overhanging, bouldering to hard sport climbing. All these features ensure your feet are comfortable regardless of how long the routes take.

The full-length midsole connect to the molded boot which then transfers power from the toe to the back of the heel. The climbing grade rubber is sticky and helps to maximize toe hooking. The synthetic shoe fits properly after breaking in although that does take a while. The breathable tongue is essential for a snuggly and comfortable fit. A stretchy, thin rand rubber helps eliminate dead space in the arch area creating a sensitive platform. We save the best feature for last, the 3D molded heel cup, which improves your ability to hook, jam, smear and lock on any terrain.

Pros

  • Excellent toe heel hooking
  • Comfortable interior
  • Flat profile best for beginner climbers and long day climbing
  • Breaks in and conforms to your foot well
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Take long to break in
  • Limited Velcro adjustment

 

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Verdict

An amazing shoe for all climbing situations, fit well, comfortable and versatile. If you’re willing to wait for it to break in the reward will be high-performance.

10. Scarpa Men’s Vapor V Climbing A best seller for Scarpa which offers provides high-performance and precision

Specs

  • Made with synthetic material
  • Rubber sole
  • Split sole for more flexibility
  • Less tension assures you of all-day comfort
  • Active randing system culminates into maximum toe power
  • Adjustable fits in terms of dual power strap

The Scarpa is especially popular because of its high performance and versatility which allows one to meet the demand of challenging climbs. The durable design and other features help you transition from easier to intense climbs simple. The designer paid special emphasis on this shoe to ensure that you’re comfortable all day. The rand, for example, doesn’t work like a sling shot but connect beneath the toes. Then it pulls back towards the heel offering you extreme precision. The airmesh tongue ensures proper air circulation providing better breathability on the longest climbs. Your feet will remain dry and safe from smelly odors.

Vibram XS edge is in form of rubber and responsible for incredible grip and durability of the shoe. The addition of a split sole allows you to be more flexible. Vapor V uses a thin ‘Flexan’ midsole for extra sensitivity although it takes some time to get used to. The Bi Tension rand system provides a slight downturn, despite excessive wear. You can use the shoes repeatedly without deformation.

Pros

  • Comfortable in long climbs
  • Airmesh tongue ensures breathability
  • More flexibility with the split sole construction
  • Fits well courtesy of power strap enclosure
  • Durable Rubber Vibram XS edge is provides awesome support
  • The build is of high quality
  • The heel is snug fitting

Cons

  • Expensive
  • It may cause some pain from long-day use

 

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Verdict

The Vapor V is an all-round performance shoe and brilliantly comfortable and flexible. You can’t go wrong with this shoe even if the price is on a higher side.

How to choose a rock climbing shoe

There are various reasons to buy a climbing shoe, for example, for gym climbing, bouldering and crack climbing or for the fun of it; that’s if you have money to spare. Some shoes are expensive. Climbing shoes have to offer much sensitivity, support your foot and stick to surfaces. As you consider those lets analyze other features that are a must have for in an efficient shoe.

Lace-up: Many manufacturers use this closure style. Temperatures are bound to heat up at times and when your feet swell, just loosen the laces and continue with your climb. Often the most comfortable, they are less convenient especially when you wish to take them off in-between boulders. When encountering a difficult climb or pitch, tighten up the laces to crank down the toe to increase the shoe’s performance. Lace-up shoes are nice for all-day routes and the most adjustable. Be ready to replace laces because they get torn up and wear out.

Slip-on: No laces or straps, only elastic closure systems. Often called slippers, they’re fun for training, offer great sensitivity but decrease performance. The lack of midsole and stiff sole ensure your feet get stronger and faster. Their low profile gives the climber the advantage of slotting feet into thin cracks.

Velcro Strap: Also known as hook-and-loop and offer a much superior on and off convenience. They make it easy to take the shoes off between bouldering and gym climbs. They offer a combination of comfort and performance and are suitable for bouldering and aggressive climbing. Most strap shoes stretch out so climbers use them on the rock and not for walking around. When not using your shoes keep the Velcro closed to maintain the shape longer.

Unlined leather upper: They’re easier to care for, including deodorizing. Because shoes with unlined leather do stretch to full size, when buying your toes slightly touch the shoe end. If your see your toes pushing against the leather find a bigger shoe. Don’t be alarmed when your foot changes color, all-leather shoes have a tendency to bleed shoe color.

Lined leather upper: As with unlined leather they’re easy to maintain but stretches only by half size or less. Manufacturers try to reduce costs by lining the toes only which minimizes the stretch where it needs to occur. Although they provide a consistent fit, a climber will wait a bit longer for them break in.

Synthetic upper: Popular materials for high-performance shoes. They offer a slight stretch although they soften up with use. Their shape doesn’t change much so size them properly and buy the most comfortable fit.

Climbing shoe last

A climbing shoe should feel like a firm handshake, so your thoughts focus on climbing and not the amount of pain your feet and toes will suffer. In this regard the shoe is built around a foot-shaped model known as a ‘last’. This gives it instep volume and height, toe and heel dimensions and width. There are two types of last for climbing shoes.

Board-lasted; This model is stiffer and gives little on sensitivity. However they are comfortable and can be worn all day. Ideal for beginners and moderate climbers who love encountering different moves on long outdoor routes. The stiffness further supports your feet, preventing fatigue, as you build your feet and toe muscles.

Slip-lasted: More sensitive, softer, flexible and less stiff. The midsole is responsible for the stiffness, as slip-lasted shoes generally don’t have an insole. They excel on training walls and overhanding pitches. However, they tend to be uncomfortable on long routes because of their softness.

The ‘last’ determines which shape the climbing shoe will take. The primary shapes are asymmetric, straight or downturned.

Asymmetric: The big toe is the longest point increasing power inside the shoe. The climber is given a single point of contact with the rock. The shape essentially allows you to balance on thin holds with the inside or outside edge of your foot or your toes. Asymmetric last are made for either aggressive or moderate shoes.

Straight: (or flat last) provide a relaxed fit and greater comfort. Best for climbing lot of cracks or long multi-pitch routes.

Downturned: The shape bends down towards the toes. You’ll find this shape in moderate and aggressive shoes. Climbers passionate about overhanging rocks will toe and heel hook perfectly with this shoes. The offer maximum performance and control on difficult routes. Interestingly most downturned shoes have an asymmetric shape.

Pricing: Some shoe prices are on a higher side but the most important fact is the performance and comfort. If it can manage those two factors it’s definitely worth it.

There’s little difference between shopping for normal shoes and rock climbing shoes. They’re plenty of models to try and compare so we’ve come up worth some tips to help you select the right shoes;

  • Your feet are likely to swell up during the day so shop in the afternoon. Try the shoes on the store’s climbing facilities.
  • Try on multiple sizes. If ordering online, purchase more than one size and send back what doesn’t fit.
  • Because rock-shoes don’t have sizing standard be flexible. Shoe charts are available for size translations. Lace-up shoes, undo, and tighten them accordingly to feel the effect.
  • What fit do you want? Choose wisely. Any foot pain will cause you problems like blisters, calluses and hamper your full climbing potential. Tip. Shoes which allow your toes to slightly bend at the knuckles give you the best performance.
  • Make sure the shoe doesn’t press hard on your Achilles tendon when you stand on your toes.

 

Conclusion

Rock climbing is a healthy physical and mental exercise. It requires planning, analysis and patience. Whether you’re a beginner or expert climber a good rock climbing shoe is an essential aspect of the climb. Focus on a shoe that’s comfortable depending on your foot shape. Don’t forget the terrain you want to encounter given that shoes handle platforms differently. The more you climb the more passionate and better you become so choose a suitable shoe.