Every climber knows how important a good pair of best climbing shoes can be to your performance. This article aims to help you make the right choice in your next climbing shoe purchase by providing insight into what to look for in the best rock climbing shoes and listing our top picks.

A huge market has developed for rock climbing shoes. Today’s options range from down-turned, aggressive styles to performance flat designs with sticky rubber. Whether you’re looking for a pair of comfortable all-day shoes or just need something for your most challenging climbs, there is an option available to suit every budget and climbing style.

Now let’s take a look at the best rock climbing shoes on the market,

Top Pick

Evolv Shaman

4.3/5

Budget Pick

La Sportiva Skwama

4.6/5

Value to Money

La Sportiva Men's

4.1/5

6 Best Rock Climbing Shoes

1. Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

COMFORT 88%
DURABILITY 82%
TRACTION 86%
VERSATILITY 88%
OVERALL SCORE 89%
Rating:
4.3/5
Main Features / Technical Specifications
  • Best Use: Rock Climbing
  • Climbing Shoe Type: Aggressive
  • Last: Slip-lasted
  • Upper: Synthetic suede
  • Lining: Unlined
  • Outsole: TRAX SAS rubber
  • Footwear Closure: Strap
  • Can Be Resoled: Yes
  • Vegan: Yes
  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 3 oz.

Coming in at number one is the Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe. This highly versatile shoe is great for high-end sport climbing shoes and bouldering shoe alike. They feature a comfortable, padded tongue that locks the laces down firmly to seal out dirt and moisture without compromising closure or comfort. The heel’s narrow shape enhances sensitivity while still providing enough hold to cope with smooth or overhanging terrain.

The Shaman is made of a lightweight, stiff shoes leather upper that will mold to your foot after several sessions. And making it one of the most versatile outdoor climbing shoes around. The shoe’s midsole is lined with Evolv’s proprietary high friction rubber which ensures optimal grip on all types of rock. This rubber also makes the climbing shoe highly abrasion-resistant which is great for long-lasting performance.

The toe features a hook that secures your grip on small holds. This makes the Shaman one of the best rock climbing shoes for technical edging, be it pocketed limestone or side-pull tufas at your local crag. Don’t let the Shaman’s comfortable fit fool you into thinking that they would lack support or stiffness, the shoe’s downturned shape provides plenty of power for smearing and edging on steep terrain.

Comfort

The Shaman’s stiff shoes midsole and upper ensure you will always be comfortable whether you are climbing easy boulders or placing gear on long, hard sport climbs. The shoe is available in half-sizes so there’s no need to size up or down depending on the fit you’re looking for. The padded tongue ensures all-day comfort even when laced tightly over a bulky ankle brace.

These shoes are the best rock climbing shoes for Metolius fingerboard.

Quality

Evolv’s proprietary high friction rubber is some of the stickiest on the market. This gives you a reliable grip regardless of how overhanging or polished your route may be. The leather upper is lightweight and extremely abrasion-resistant which makes these shoes a great choice if you’re looking to upgrade from a beginner shoe. The multi-purpose toe performs well on small holds and edges while still being comfortable enough for long days at the crag.

Evolv’s manufacturing tolerances are tight which means that each pair of Shaman shoes will perform almost identically to the next. This is important to note if you’re looking to get the best out of your best climbing shoes and push them to their limits.

These shoes are our top choice for advanced sport climbers that need a highly sensitive shoe for steep terrain. The narrow, down-turned profile provides precision while the high friction rubber keeps your feet glued to any hold. If you’re considering upgrading from beginner or intermediate shoes then the Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoes are an excellent option.

Rand

The Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe is medium-firm, making it suitable for intermediate climbers looking to push their limits on steeper terrain. It’s also an excellent choice if you’re looking to upgrade from beginner or intermediate climbing shoes due to the shoe’s narrow profile and high friction rubber.

The medium-firm midsole is complemented by the highly sensitive toe and hook which helps you feel secure on even the smallest holds. The Shaman’s multi-purpose profile makes it suitable for all styles of climbing whether that best for steep sport climbing, bouldering or long, endurance routes.

Waterproof

Unluckily, these rock climbing shoes are not waterproof.

Pros
Cons

Verdict

Chris Sharma, the creator of the Evolv Shaman, created it for climbing the world’s most difficult climbs. Their distinctive “love bump” aids in keeping the downturn consistent over time and pushes your big toe forward.

Finally, Evolv also offers this shoe in a women’s specific fit which has the same features but with a narrower toe box.

2. La Sportiva Skwama Climbing Shoe - Men's

COMFORT 85%
DURABILITY 87%
TRACTION 86%
VERSATILITY 85%
OVERALL SCORE 89%
Rating:
5/5
Main Features / Technical Specifications
  • Best Use: Rock Climbing
  • Climbing Shoe Type: Aggressive shoes
  • Last: Slip-lasted
  • Upper: Leather/microfiber/rubber toe cap
  • Lining: Unlined
  • Outsole: 4mm Vibram XS Grip2
  • Footwear Closure: Strap
  • Can Be Resoled: Yes
  • Weight (Pair):15 ounces

The Skwama is a good all-rounder that performs well on most types of rock climbing. The medium stiffness midsole is comfortable enough for long days at the crag yet it still has plenty of support for more technical climbs. La

Sportiva’s Vibram XS Edge rubber is extremely durable and has an excellent grip which makes these shoes a popular choice for climbers aiming to push their grades.

The Skwama’s comfortable fit and excellent build quality make it a good choice for beginner climbers that are looking to invest in a more performance-oriented shoe. Quality Price Our Rating

La Sportiva ensures that each pair of Skwamas performs almost identically which is ideal for those looking to push their limits and make the most out of your best climbing shoes.

Comfort

The Skwama’s upper construction is extremely breathable and features a velcro closure system. The fit is tight but remains comfortable thanks to the lining which is made from a soft shoes, frictionless material.

The Skwama is a softer shoe and can be quite stretchy, so if you have a wide foot then it may be worth going up a size.

Possibly due to its soft construction, the Skwama gets a bit uncomfortable when worn for extended periods of time but most climbers won’t mind wearing these shoes at the crag for a few hours.

The velcro strap is adjustable and can be tightened as much as you like to ensure maximum comfort and support.

The Skwama’s XS Edge rubber is extremely durable and ensures these shoes will last through months – if not years – of frequent use.

Quality

The Skwama’s soft shoes upper is made from a single piece of leather, which is ideal for smearing. The suede sole has an all-around profile that works well on most types of rock climbing with the added benefit of being extremely abrasion-resistant.

La Sportiva manufactures its shoes in smaller batches compared to other companies which mean you’re likely to get a more personalized experience.

The Skwama comes with a leather lining which is great for those that prefer smearing as it will remain comfortable even after extensive use.

On the whole, this is an excellent shoe for beginners and intermediate climbers but serious climbers looking to push themselves harder will find a more suitable choice below.

The Skwama’s XS Edge rubber has a medium stiffness which helps it edge pretty well. However, if you are looking for something with slightly more friction then the Shaman is probably a better choice.

Shoes Rand

The shoe rand of the Skwama is made from a single piece that wraps around the shoe’s toe box. This design allows the shoe to remain comfortable while smearing but also does an excellent job of protecting the rubber against repeated impacts.

As mentioned the Skwama is manufactured in smaller batches, which means that quality control can be hit or miss. If you’re lucky, you might receive one of their impeccable pairs but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

After months of use, the rubber on the heel and toe box will begin to peel off which hurts these shoes’ durability. However, this is not an issue for most beginner climbers.

Waterproof

The Skwama is not waterproof which means that it will soak through if exposed to excessive amounts of moisture. If you’re looking for a pair of rock climbing shoes that can be used in all conditions then the Shaman or Solution are probably better options.

Pros
Cons

Verdict

The Skwama is an excellent shoe that suits just about any kind of rock climbing. The shoe’s narrow shape makes them ideal for steep climbing and the medium stiffness midsole will keep your feet comfortable for long climbs too.

3. La Sportiva Men's Zenit Rock Climbing Shoe

COMFORT 83%
DURABILITY 86%
TRACTION 87%
VERSATILITY 88%
OVERALL SCORE 95%
Rating:
4.1/5
Main Features / Technical Specifications
  • Best Use: Rock Climbing
  • Climbing Shoe Type: Neutral
  • Last: Slip-lasted
  • Upper: Knit textile/rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
  • Outsole: Vibram XS Grip rubber
  • Footwear Closure: Strap
  • Can Be Resoled: Yes
  • Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 8 oz.

This is the second La Sportiva shoe on this list and it’s easy to see why. The company manufactures its shoes with a narrower heel which makes them ideal for vertical climbs. However, the toe hooks box is still relatively wide so they are just as comfortable when used for bouldering or steep routes.

The Zenit features an unlined leather upper which means it is not as breathable as some of its competitors. This shoe also comes with a velcro strap closure system instead of the traditional lace-up system used by most climbing shoes.

The Zenit has an aggressive shape and performs best climbing shoe when given vertical terrain to tackle. The lower stiffness makes these shoes great for beginners, but more serious climbers may want to look elsewhere.

Comfort

The Zenit feels very tight out of the box but after a few days, they become slightly more flexible. The unlined leather upper is a bit stiff and takes some time to break-in, which can be annoying for beginners looking to climb as soon as possible.

The velcro strap system stretches over time so it’s best to tighten these shoes as much as possible to ensure they’ll hold your feet in place. However, the strap can be difficult to tighten properly which is one of Zenit’s most annoying features.

The heel cup on these shoes fits comfortably and does an excellent job of ensuring your heel stays locked down throughout each climb. These shoes are also great for overhangs because the toe box is slightly curved which ensures you’ll maintain a strong foothold.

Quality

As with most la sportiva miura vs shoes, the workmanship on these best climbing shoes are top-notch. The soles are sewn to the uppers in an incredibly efficient manner and will stay together for the life of the shoe.

These shoes are very durable and can easily last a few years when taken care of properly. However, the velcro straps will stretch over time which means that these shoes won’t be as snug as they were in their earlier days.

However, the velcro strap system used on this model is a bit lackluster. The straps can easily become stretched which makes these shoes more difficult to tighten properly. The strap also won’t last nearly as long as some of the other synthetic materials used on more traditional climbing shoes.

Shoes Rand

These shoes are only available in a full rand option which means they’re built to last. The teeth on the bottom of the front half of the sole perform well when placed against rough surfaces, making them great for vertical climbs or traverses.

Waterproof

The Zenit is not waterproof which means that it will soak through if exposed to excessive amounts of moisture. If you’re looking for a pair of rock climbing shoes that can be used in all conditions then the Shaman or Solution are probably better options.

Pros
Cons

Verdict

This climbing shoe performs well despite some minor flaws. It’s an ideal model for vertical climbs and overhangs thanks to its narrow, yet relatively wide shape. The velcro strap system feels cheap and has trouble stretching evenly over time. It’s best to tighten this shoe as much as possible to ensure that your feet will stay in place.

4. Tenaya Iati Rock Climbing Shoes

COMFORT 88%
DURABILITY 85%
TRACTION 86%
VERSATILITY 88%
OVERALL SCORE 89%
Rating:
4.8/5
Main Features / Technical Specifications
  • Upper: Leather microfiber with perforated lycra tongue
  • Inner: Cotton with TXT treatment
  • Insole: 2D multi-layer stretch tex
  • Midsole: Double midsole GI 1.8 + TST 150
  • Outsole: Vibram XS Grip 3.5 mm
  • Closure: Velcro, Draxtor PAT system

The Tenaya Iati is a great all-around climbing shoe that performs well on most types of terrain. This model is best suited for beginners and recreational climbers who want a simple yet comfortable shoe they can use for a wide array of climbs.

The Iati is surprisingly comfortable right out of the box, but they do run small so it’s recommended that you order a half size up. The unlined leather upper stretches over time which means they’ll fit your feet comfortably after several days break-in period. Unfortunately, this also means that they won’t provide as much support when you first wear them.

Comfort

These shoes are extremely comfortable and feel great straight out of the box. The unlined leather stretches slightly which ensures a perfect fit after just a few wears.

The Tenaya Iati is fairly comfortable despite being a bit stiffer than the Vasque Versatile. They’re perfect for all types of climbing and perform well when used on long multi-pitch climbs or traverses.

The Iati is only available in one width so be sure to order accordingly if you have particularly narrow or wide feet. This shoe does stretch over time which means they’ll eventually feel too big for some people.

Quality

The Iati is a high-quality climbing shoe that’s built to last for several seasons of use. The rubber on the bottom of these shoes are relatively soft which means they’re great for smearing but do wear out slightly faster than harder rubber.

While they’re not as high-quality as some of the La Sportiva climbing shoes they still offer a good amount of performance at a lower price point.

These shoes are comfortable right out of the box and stretch slightly which ensures a perfect fit after just a few wears. They only come in one width so keep that in mind when buying these shoes if you have especially narrow or wide feet.

These shoes are a relatively well-built climbing shoe that performs well despite some minor issues. The leather upper is relatively stiff shoe which makes them great for smearing but slightly uncomfortable when used on long free climbs.

The untextured leather upper is great for gripping when placed against rough rocks but gets slippery in wet weather. The velcro strap closure system on these shoes has a tendency to stretch unevenly which makes it hard to tighten them up evenly.

Shoes Rand

The Tenaya Iati is a great all-around climbing shoe that performs well on most types of terrain. The unlined leather stretches slightly which ensures a perfect fit after just a few wears. They only come in one width so keep that in mind when buying these shoes if you have especially narrow or wide feet.

These shoes are comfortable right out of the box and stretch slightly which ensures a perfect fit after just a few wears. They’re an ideal model for beginners, casual climbers, or anyone who is looking for a comfortable pair of climbing shoes that are suitable for most types of terrain.

Waterproof

These shoes are not waterproof which means they’re not an ideal model for climbing in wet weather. The synthetic upper retains water when exposed to moisture making these shoes slippery when worn on wet rocks.

These climbing shoes are not waterproof which means they’re not the best choice for climbing in rainy conditions. They absorb water when exposed to any level of humidity and become extremely slippery on wet rocks.

They only come in one width so keep that in mind when buying these shoes if you have especially narrow or wide feet.

The Tenaya Iati is a great all-around climbing shoe that performs well on most types of terrain including slabs and vertical climbs. The unlined leather stretches

Pros

Cons

Verdict

The Tenaya Iati is an all-around great climbing shoe that performs well on most types of terrain. This shoe does stretch a little bit which means they’ll eventually feel too big for some people.

5. La Sportiva Men's Finale Climbing Shoe

COMFORT 88%
DURABILITY 86%
TRACTION 83%
VERSATILITY 88%
OVERALL SCORE 89%
Rating:
4.1/5
Main Features / Technical Specifications
  • Lace-up closure
  • Excellent for all-day comfort and reliable performance, the Finale is a lace-up rock shoe that is equally at home in the gym or the crag.
  • Unlined leather upper for a soft, comfortable fit
  • Tensioned heel rand and powerhinge for high-end edging performance
  • 5mm Vibram XS Edge sticky rubber outsole

La Sportiva as a company specializes in making high-quality shoes for all types of climbing and it great for trad climbing. The La Sportiva Men’s Finale Climbing Shoe is an excellent example of the outstanding craftsmanship that goes into every La Sportiva shoe.

The unlined leather upper stretches a bit which ensures a comfortable fit after just a few times wearing them. Like many La Sportiva shoes, this model has an asymmetric shape that prevents your toes from going numb during long climbs.

Comfort

One of the best features of this shoe is its lace closure system which makes it easy to tighten or loosen the shoe according to your preference. The shoes are also surprisingly comfortable despite being a bit stiffer than other models in this price range.

They only come in one width so keep that in mind when buying these shoes if you have especially narrow or wide feet. They’re great all-around climbing shoes that perform well on most types of terrain.

Quality

The quality of these shoes is excellent and they’re built to last for many seasons. The ergonomically shaped inner padding fits well against the foot without causing too much discomfort over time. They also stand up well to water since they’re made out of unlined leather which doesn’t absorb as much moisture like other types of climbing shoe materials.

We recommend these shoes if you’re looking for a high-quality all-around shoe that’s flexible enough to perform well on most types of rock. They might be a bit stiffer than other models in the same price range but they deliver an outstanding level of performance and can withstand years of continuous use.

Waterproof

These shoes are not waterproof which means they’re not an ideal model for climbing in wet weather. The synthetic upper retains water when exposed to moisture making these shoes slippery when worn on wet rocks. These shoes are best for warm days where no rain is expected.

The Midsole is made of a Dual-density PU midsole that provides great edging and smearing capabilities. With a Vibram XS Grip 3.5 mm outsole these shoes perform well on vertical climbs and slabs.

Pros
Cons

Verdict

The Men’s Finale Climbing Shoe is an all-around great shoe that performs well on most types of terrain. This shoe has a relatively stiff shape and only comes in one width so keep that in mind when buying these shoes.

6. Evolv Geshido Climbing Shoes 2021 - Men's

COMFORT 81%
DURABILITY 91%
TRACTION 86%
VERSATILITY 86%
OVERALL SCORE 90%
Rating:
5/5
Main Features / Technical Specifications
  • Leather sole
  • Unlined single layer vegan synthetic upper
  • Downturned asymmetric profile
  • Synthetic (Synthratex VX) upper
  • MX-P: 1.2mm full length, Dark Spine heel midsole
  • 4.2mm TRAX SAS outsole, VTR rand (thicker front toe area)

The Evolv Geshido Climbing Shoes are a lace-up climbing shoe that’s made with synthetic material. They have a padded tongue and collar for added comfort, but the biggest selling point of these shoes is their extremely thin sole which makes them excellent all-around shoes.

These shoes are one of the most sensitive climbing shoes on the market thanks to their thin rubber soles. The Vibram XS Edge 3.5 mm sticky rubber sole is very thin which enhances your ability to feel small irregularities in the rock beneath your feet. This provides you with an excellent amount of feedback when performing difficult foot placements.

Comfort

The Evolv Geshido Climbing Shoes have a padded tongue and collar for added comfort and it great for trad climbing. These shoes are very comfortable to wear all day long which makes them ideal for doing routes at the gym climbing multiple pitches in a day at a nearby crag. There is a big difference between outdoor climbing shoes and indoor climbing shoes.  

These shoes have a steeply downturned toe hooking box which makes them well-suited for technical climbing and bouldering. The leather upper provides a secure fit and maintains its shape even after months of use.

Quality

These shoes are made out of a tough, synthetic material that stands up well to water and retains its shape even after months of use. The rubber sole is also very sticky which makes these shoes useful on all types of rock.

The Geshido has a steeply downturned toe box which makes them well-suited for technical climbing and bouldering. They also have a midsole that’s made out of 4mm LaspoFlex which makes them very comfortable for extended periods of use.

The Geshido is one of the most sensitive climbing shoes on this list thanks to their thin rubber soles. The Vibram XS Edge 3.5 mm sticky rubber sole is very thin which enhances your ability to feel small irregularities in the rock beneath your feet. This provides you with an excellent amount of feedback when performing difficult foot placements

Shoe Rand

The heel rand on these shoes is made out of a thin, synthetic material that doesn’t add much in the way of support. It does however keep the back of your foot from feeling crushed during an extended climb.

Pros
Cons

Verdict

The Evolv Geshido Climbing Shoes are one of the best beginner rock climbing shoes that money can buy. They have a thin rubber sole that’s perfect for climbing technical routes and they’re extremely comfortable which makes them ideal for extended periods of use.

Buying guide to Best Rock Climbing Shoes

When it comes to choosing the best shoes for rock climbing, the three main things you should look out for are comfort, fit and grip.

Comfort

This might seem rather obvious but it’s worth noting that an uncomfortable shoe will not only be distracting when climbing but could also cause foot damage. Some of the most common complaints are blisters or pressure points on the toes, heels or top of the foot.

Let your feet be your guide: if you’re not comfortable in a shoe then it doesn’t matter how good it might be for other things – it’s just not worth wearing!

Fit

Choosing a climbing shoe that fits well is essential when trying to achieve maximum performance. If there’s too much room in the shoe, your foot will move around and this will result in poor grip.

A tight toe box on the other hand is very hard to get into but provides more sensitivity. The best shoes are ones that fit like a glove without restricting movement (i.e., there’s enough wiggle room for you to be able to feel the rock). Make sure you try before you buy.

Grip

Different types of climbing require different levels of grip and a shoe that’s good for granite faces may not necessarily be great for limestone. Look out for rubber that grips well on the type of rock you’re most likely to climb on.

The best shoes will have an excellent, all-round level of grip – but this is something you’ll only know through experience.

Common Shoe Styles And Features

Now let’s take a look at the main types of climbing shoes and any key features they have to offer:

Traditional/Slip Ons

These are by far the most popular type of rock climbing shoes on the market. They’re easy to get on and off, work well in most situations, and are relatively cheap. The downside is that they don’t provide the best level of grip or edging power.

Velcro Closure

This style provides great heel support for pushing into crack climbing, but isn’t very comfortable if you do a lot of hooking movements or have a wide foot.

Slip Ons With Laces

This kind of shoe offers the best closure system and affords the most accurate fit, but they take longer to put on and off than slip-on shoes. This can be particularly problematic if you’re climbing multi-pitch routes.

High Top Climbing Shoes (Lace-Up Only)

High-top shoes provide the best edging power and widest range of movement (especially for crack climbing shoe), but they can be a bit bulky to carry around. They’re also not ideal if you do lots of hooking moves or overhangs.

Conclusion

In the end, it is clear that, as technology advances and climbers become more experienced, shoes have evolved from a protection device into an essential tool for any climber. In order to push themselves onto the next level, they need to refine their techniques, acquire experience and perfect their style. For that, they will need a good pair of shoes.

However, there is no one best shoe for everyone, because rock climbing styles are different and require different types of shoes. There are many things to consider when buying the right footwear, but that is what I have tried to do in this article. Safe climbing to all!

FAQs

What do rock climbing shoes look like?

Climbing shoes resemble any other type of athletic footwear, but are available in low-top versions that expose the ankles. Shoes are generally snug-fitting with a sticky rubber sole. The outer portion of the shoe is constructed from leather or nylon fabric, while the toebox area has a sturdier and thicker leather. The lacing system is designed to help snug the shoe around your foot and, if present, tighten it over the top of the foot.

Are sneakers good for climbing?

Climbing shoes are a specialized type of athletic shoe with sticky rubber soles and a curved last. Sneakers, on the other hand, have flat lasts and thick rubber soles that usually lack stickiness.

What is a climbing shoe's last?

A climbing shoe’s last is the central portion of the shoe that wraps around the foot. This is usually curved to help roll the shoe onto its edge. Climbing shoes are available in three foot shapes: a “straight last” or traditional shape, an asymmetrical “asymmetric” shape, and an aggressive downturned “techno/performance” last.

How do I size rock climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes are sized by length, but the actual size is a matter of personal preference. Most climbing shoe manufacturers use a universal sizing scale that is divided into three categories: small, medium, and large. Decide which category you would most closely compare your foot to before shopping around – small/medium or medium/large.

What is a downturned shoe?

Climbing shoes can be divided into three main categories: neutral, moderate and aggressive shoes. An aggressive climbing shoe is also referred to as an “asymmetric” or “down-turned” design because the toe box of the shoe is curved more dramatically than other models. Aggressive shoes are designed to improve your ability to stand on small rock features.

Should your toes be curled in climbing shoes?

A: The design, fit, and shape of your toes should determine whether you should be curling them or not. If the shoe fits well, the front points of your big toe and second toe should touch the end of the shoes.

Best Rock Climbing Shoes Based On User Review