The best way to truly enjoy your rock climbing experience is to get the best gear possible. Your comfort, enjoyment, and ability will all be huge factors in how your climb turns out.
By choosing the best rock climbing shoes, you will definitely find that even if everything else goes wrong with your climb, your great shoe choice will make all the difference in the world. Here are the Top 5 Best Rock Climbing Shoes for every climber.
Top 5 Best Rock Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Men’s TarantuLace Performance Rock Climbing Shoe
Rock climbing can be a dangerous sport without the best rock climbing equipment. The Sportiva works best for climbers who want fast pulling lacing and precise adjustment of the interior of their rock climbing shoes. Because of this shoe’s adjustability, the fit and comfort is a big bonus for this shoe.
It has a very aggressive rand in the rubber heel, allowing the shoe to fit very snugly for maximum safety and grip. You don’t want to be caught out on a tricky ledge and have your shoe flopping around.
Low-asymmetry allows climbers to have a greater sensitivity and feel for each nook and cranny of the rock face they are climbing while not cramping or hurting the climbers foot.
Another comfort advantage is the leather upper. Soft and flexible with the tongue of the shoe made fore breathability, the rock climber will not have to worry about overheating.
Even with its low asymmetry of rubber on the shoe, the thickness is actually 1mm greater than the average shoe, which is a huge bonus when you are looking for your rock climbing shoe to last.
When considering budget, The Sportiva is the best rock climbing shoe for your wallet. Other types of climbing shoes are twice the price for the same quality.
A downside to this particular shoe is that a precise fit is hard to come by. Also, the edging performance may affected. Another shoe may be your best bet when doing more difficult climbs such as pocket or crack climbing.
- Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day
- All-leather upper
- Not ideal for a advanced climbing
- Not great on overhangs
Climb X Rave Strap Climbing Shoe 2019
Comfort and odor relief are the Climb X Rave’s outstanding features. With this rock climbing shoe, a padded ankle cuff gives amazing support and comfort. The shoe does have a slight downturn, but it does not take away from this climbing shoe’s great feel.
The odorless hemp material that is woven into the shoe is a very unique feature and make any climber happy. On a long, hard climb, the last thing you need is an annoying stench following you around.
Although there is a slight downturn of the shoe, the sole is still quite rigid and flat. Typically flatter rock climbing shoes are more comfortable and are best used by beginners. More advanced climbers appreciate more downturned shoes to help contour to the curve of their feet while traversing a cliff face.
Standing on small edges shouldn’t be a problem for this shoe, as its build gives plenty of support. However, attempting to use smaller and smaller outcroppings may be more difficult because of the climbing shoe’s rigidity.
Though rigidity of the overall shoe may be an obstacle, the upper portion of the shoe is made from leather which is meant to stretch and flexible so your toes have the ability to move without sacrificing the tight fit of your rock climbing shoe.
Not only that, but over time your shoe will mold to the general shape of your foot due to its leather makeup.
- Velcro, super easy on and off
- Extra Padding
- X-factor manufactured rubber not quality
- Low sensitivity
Five Ten Men’s Rogue VCS Climbing Shoe
A redesign of the Five Ten Men’s climbing shoe has allowed for its heel to be much better for heel-hooking (using the heel of your shoe to actually support you), and more rubber coverage at the front, great for being able to jam your to into smaller openings during your rock climbing trek.
Getting the shoe on and off will be a breeze with this shoe. The pull tab at the back is actually offset, making for a much easier grab to slip the shoe off or on.
Stealth C4 is used in the build of this shoe. It’s “stickiness” is legendary and allows the climber to get a great footing without worrying about slippage.
A downside is that indoor climbing or generally easier outdoor climbs are probably your best bet. The midsole is supported by a stiffener so the shoe is very bendable. With this being the case, if you are relying on footwork to traverse more difficult climbs, this may not be the shoe for you.
Another thing to consider the shoe’s upper leather is made from split grain leather, a type that is a bit flimsy, which may cause the tongue to slide around and bunch up.
Remember, one of the best ways to over come sizing when looking for the best rock climbing shoe is choose a shoe that is one to one and a half sizes down from what you would normally wear.
- 100% Leather
- Reinforced arch
- Too much sensitivity
Black Diamond Mens Momentum Lace Climbing Shoes
Breathability is the Black Diamond Momentum rock climbing shoes claim to fame. It’s been engineered with knit technology that provides exceptional ventilation and overall comfort.
The midsole of this shoe has a medium flex support built in, however this does not takeaway from sensitivity and as you climb you will still be able to get good purchase on smaller outcroppings as you make your climb. But don’t get too hasty when trying out smaller and smaller ledges.
The rubber used in this rock climbing shoe is a NEO fuse rubber with increased stickiness and better durability than other kinds of rubber.
Because of its comfort level, you will most likely be able to keep the shoe on all day, instead of having to halt your climb in the middle to rest your feet.
However, this rock climbing shoe isn’t made for more difficult climbs. Its sensitivity is a hinderance to harsher climbs. You will not be able to heel hook or toe hook and as far as jamming the toe into smaller openings, this may not be an effective strategy.
Though this shoe provides a generous amount of comfort while slightly lacking in performance, each climber will need to decide what is more important to them at the time. Either long, easier climbs indoor, or short, more challenging outdoor climbs.
- Maximum comfort
- Great traction
- Construction quality
- Too sensitive
Scarpa Men’s Vapor V Climbing Shoe
Much more geared towards performance, the Scarpa is made with moderate downturn that curves more towards the contour of the climbers foot. If you are a more advanced adventurer, then you will definitely appreciate the shape of the shoe as it will you allow you to tackle the more risky and challenging climbs outdoors.
It’s adjustability is also a huge boon to the climber. Many people say that the best rock climbing shoes have velcro instead of traditional laces. This allows for easy removal and even easier pull on. It also lets you adjust for fitness more precisely, and for that precise fit to stay throughout your climb.
As for the shoes rand, which in rock climbing shoes is what keeps tension of the shoe to allow the shoe itself to be a kind of a brace so as not to make the climber hold themselves up by just the toes, this particular shoe has an opposite rand which drives the heel backwards instead of forcing the toes at the front to go forward to achieve its tension. A great design that puts stress on your heel instead of your toes.
Sensitivity is another plus for this rock climbing shoe. Climbers report that they can get a great feel for even very small nubs of rock, and also heel hook exceptionally well.
For smearing, using the shoes edge to quickly push off the rock, a little bit more care still has to be taken, and other climbing shoes may give you better traction, but close attention to foot placement may make up for this flaw.
- Adjustable fit because of velcro
- Great fit because of suede/micro-suede on top of shoe
- Heel cup low tightness
- May cause shoe ‘fart’
When looking for the best rock climbing shoe to start your long, short, indoor, or outdoor adventure, you have to first consider what your goal is. Is it to go on short, indoor climbs where comfort is a priority? Or would you rather be able to climb for hours or even days at a time, up harsh terrain?
After you have decided what your main goal on your rock climb will be, there are a few things to consider when picking out your shoes. Every climber is unique, but a simple choice in important features will aid any adventurer.
Flat or Downturn
Flat rock climbing shoes are generally more rigid and will be geared toward beginner or early intermediate climbers. Comfort will be much more apparent in these shoes. Usually the rubber is thicker in the toe, midsole, and heel. This will allow you to do longer, but not more difficult climbs.
Slightly, moderately, or severely downturned rock climbing shoes will give the climber better purchase on more difficult climbs. This built in curve will more conform to the shape your foot has to take when holding yourself up. These shoes have more sensitivity, but therefore are more uncomfortable the longer the climb goes on.
Velcro versus Lace
One of the biggest thing to consider when weighing the pros and cons of velcro rock climbing shoes versus lace up is ease of slipping on and slipping off your shoe. For multi-pitch climbers, being able to easily remove or put their shoes back on will be great comfort to them. Loosening laces is a much more cumbersome process.
The other thing to consider is precise fit. With laces, a much finer fit can be achieved when you are adjusting your shoe tightness. And with each climber having a completely different shape, size, and foot build, this precision may be very necessary for the best experience when traversing cliff faces or completing your adventure indoors.
The type of material used on the upper part of any rock climbing shoe, and also the material used to construct the tongue of the shoe, either helps make your feet feel cool and dry, or causes sweat to build up and your feet to become too hot.
Leather, suede, micro-suede, and various types of meshing are an important thing to look for in a shoe. Not only do these kind of fabrics keep your feet from getting hot and sweaty, but they keep your laces or velcro tight and therefore your shoe fitted because of the lack of moisture and keep your foots temperature at a comfortable level making your long or short climb as enjoyable as possible.
Q: How do I know what my rock climbing shoe is?
A: For the best rock climbing shoe fit, you will want to take your normal shoe size and then go down one and a half sizes. Keep in mind everyone’s foot is shaped differently so this measurement may not always work, but it is a good starting point.
Q: Do narrow or wide fit better into rock climbing shoes?
A: Typically, a narrower foot will more easily fit into and be easier to size when wearing rock climbing shoes. These shoes are meant to fit snugly so as to not slip around while climbing. Climbers with wider feet can definitely find great fitting shoes, it just may be a little more difficult.
Q: How do I wash my rock climbing shoes?
A: Generally you would want to stay away from washing machines to clean your rock climbing shoes. Shoes with leather, suede, or micro-suede should never be put into a washing machine. The material will be ruined. Hand cleaning by scrubbing the outside with minimal amount of water and cleaner and deodorizing the inside with baking powder will be your best bet. Synthetic material in rock climbing shoes is typically ok to wash in the washing machine, but hand cleaning is the safest way.
Q: Can I use my rock climbing shoes as regular shoes?
A: Yes and no. For general walking purposes, you could technically use these shoes. However, only flat and rigid climbing shoes would be comfortable for long periods of time. Also, you wouldn’t really want to wear down your rock climbing shoes by using them that often. Save them for your actual climbing adventures.