How many rocks have you climbed in your life?
If the answer is anything above zero, then kudos to you…
You’ve climbed more rocks than most other people ever will. Because most will remain stuck at zero for an entire lifetime.
Once you’ve gotten into the groove of scaling rocks, then there’s no going back anymore, is there?
Whether you’re a newbie about to scale his first gym wall, or a veteran who’s crossed 90% of rocks off his bucket list and you just wore out your existing pair… you’re going to need the best pair of rock climbing shoes you can get!
For all you rock loving adventurers out there, I have come up with a list of the best 20 climbing shoes for beginners and experts alike.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Best 5 Men’s Rock Climbing Shoes – Reviews
1. Mad Rock Men’s Drifter Climbing Shoe
This innovative and affordable climbing shoe is built and designed for indoor (or gym) climbing enthusiasts as well as trad (traditional) climbing adventurers. It’s made out of leather and a rubber material that Mad Rock is known for, a genius material they call Science Friction 3.0 and Science Friction R2. So what’s that mean for you? Just know this, it’s sticky. The kind of sticky that’s not too stick, just right for trad or gym climbing. It has a flat profile and weighs 7.9 ounces. It has a hook-and-loop lacing system which is perfect. Mad Rock is also known for its innovations (like Science Friction) but what they really do well is they don’t overdo it with too many features as to make the shoe useless.
It’s a simple, yet well-built and sturdy climbing shoe that will give you the fit and feel you need when you’re climbing around on your favorite surfaces. And since they don’t overplay the features, this makes the Mad Rock Drifter Climbing shoe one of the most affordable on the market, coming in at half what the average competitor’s shoe costs. It’s an excellent climbing shoe for the beginner, intermediate or professional climber, whether you climb indoors or outdoors.
2. Five Ten Men’s Wallmaster Climbing Shoe
- Stealth C4 rubber outsole (4.2mm)
- Unlined leather upper ? Up to a full-size stretch
- Extra thick toe rand
- Stiffness ? Stiff
- Double-strand Velcro closure system
The Five Ten Wallmaster is a great pair of climbing shoes for intermediates, beginners as well as climbers who frequently tackle long, multi-pitches. It features a stiff and robust midsole, which offers outstanding foot support while providing great edging performance. The upper is comfortable and flexible, thus allowing you to climb boulders, rocks, cliffs or plastic, without any difficulties or restrictions.
These rock climbing shoes for beginners are equipped with a stealth, C4 rubber outsole, which supplies superior grip and traction. Therefore, you can climb with confidence, without worrying about slipping and sliding, especially when you are tackling technical or tricky climbs. Also, the rubber outsole protects your feet against sharp rocks and objects, while enhancing the longevity of these shoes.
Slipping them on and off is easy, thanks to the two Velcro straps. One of the Velcro straps runs across the forefoot area, while the other one runs across the instep. With the two straps, you can adjust the different areas of the shoe, depending on your preferred fit. When it comes to climbing shoes, you will need one that keeps your feet comfortable, without sacrificing performance. And that pair of shoes is none other than the Five Ten Wallmaster. These climbing shoes for plantar fasciitis, bunions, and bad knees, come with an unlined leather upper, which ensures you have adequate comfort without losing your grip on any surface.
- Superior performance
- Sturdy construction
- Versatile and comfortable
- Easy on and off
3. Black Diamond Men’s Momentum Lace Climbing Shoes
- Neutral, flat last for vertical climbing and...
- Engineered Knit Technology upper provides...
- 4.3mm rubber is built for durability and molded...
- Soft flex midsole for added sensitivity and...
- Lace entry for fit adjustability
If you are looking for a pair of comfortable, durable and top of the line climbing shoes for the gym, then the Black Diamond Momentum is a solid choice. These entry-level climbing shoes feature a flexible, flat last, combined with a cushioned upper, to provide comfort, support, and breathability. You can use these shoes for top roping on a crag, climbing at the gym or multi-pitch routes. It’s not advisable to use these shoes repetitive crack climbing or steep terrain.
As noted above, the Momentum features a flat last and an asymmetrically designed toe box. Its midsole is moderately flexible. Therefore, it tends to lean more towards comfort, as opposed to performance. Thanks to its flat last, your foot will assume a natural position. On the other hand, the flexible midsole enhances mobility, whether you are ascending or descending.
It comes with 4.3 mm of NeoFuse rubber, which is renowned for its superior grip and durability. This rubber extends slightly around the forefoot and rearfoot sections, for added traction, protection and durability. They are also furnished with a microfiber lining at the front part of the shoe, where the toe meets the rubber rand. The microfiber lining minimizes instances of friction while enhancing comfort. Breathability remains one of the biggest strengths of these climbing shoes for beginners.
- Grippy and durable outsole
- Breathable and comfortable upper
- Easy to adjust
- Quite bulky
4. Five Ten Men’s Verdon Vcs Climbing Shoe
- Stealth C4 rubber outsole (4.2mm)
- Lined leather upper ‐ Up to a half-size stretch
- Dual-strand Velcro closure system
- Asymmetric toe box
- Molded thermoplastic midsole with EVA fill
Built for comfort and performance, the Five Ten Men’s Verdon Climbing shoe offers superior edging, without out of the box comfort in mind. It’s a shoe developed by a brand with experience in the outdoor industry since 1985. Yes, you can expect all those years of hard work and research, to be evident in the design of this shoe.
Furthermore, the shoe comes with a moulded thermoplastic midsole, which is complemented by the unique moulded piece of EVA fills. The EVA fills exist in the dead space of the natural curves, which provide support to the foot structure. Yes, the makers of this shoe have considered all these factors and more.
Furthermore, the double-strand Velcro closure ensures the shoe provides the perfect fit, making the shoe ideal for high-performance situations. You will also appreciate the perforated tongue and leather upper lined, for unmatched comfort.
Made using 100% leather, this shoe is not only comfortable but also provides exceptional longevity benefits. It even comes with a Stealth C4 rubber outsole (4.2mm), which offers optimal traction, and ease of maneuverability. Like all good rock-climbing shoes, this unit comes with an asymmetric toe box design, that can accommodate users with large feet conveniently.
The inclusion of a lined leather upper material means you have a shoe with a stretchable and high-performance material. Plus, the shoe adapts to the structure of your feet over time for optimal comfort.
- Leather lined upper material is comfortable
- Dual-strand Velcro closure system for the perfect fit
5. Climb X Men’s Crush Lace 2019 Bouldering Shoe
- Please Refer to Sizing Chart for Recommended Size
- X-Factor Sticky Rubber Sole; Padded Ankle Cuff
- Rubber Wrapped Sticky Heel
- Breathable Mesh Padded Tongue
Rock climbing has never been this easy. Why? Well, the Climb X men’s crush lace shoe, provides a more custom and high-performance fit. The shoe offers all these unit benefits, while also accommodating a large variety of foot shapes and sizes. When going for activities such a rock climbing, owning the correct attire such as the Climb X shoes has its benefits. You stay safe, and you also enjoy optimal performance.
These shoes will not only improve your ability to climb different areas, but they are also highly comfortable. That’s right! Comfort is among some of the key features to consider in high end climbing shoes. Thus, these shoes come with a pillow-like padded ankle cuff, to make comfortable regardless of the way you use it. Using this shoe is not associated with no odor, even when used for several hours. Furthermore, breathable mesh padded tongue and sandwiched foam lining take your comfort to the next level.
On the outer sections of the shoe, you will also appreciate the contoured quick straps, with a tight rubber grip. This way, the shoes offer the perfect fit, ideal for slippery rocks, or places without optimal traction. The shoe has a rubber wrapped stick heel, with an exclusive X factor rubber. Such a unique material offers various benefits, including improved traction and comfort on rocky terrains.
- The shoe has a rubber wrapped sticky heel for traction
- The breathable mesh padded toungue offers comfort
- Does not mold well to the feet like a leather shoe would
Best 5 Women’s Rock Climbing Shoes – Reviews
1. La Sportiva Women’s Oxygym Shoe
While no shoe company is perfect, don’t blame La Sportiva for not trying. The Italian-based company has worked to think of everything when designing their climbing shoes, as evidenced by the Oxygym Women’s Shoe. It’s a beautiful shoe, built and designed for indoors or outdoors climbing adventurers but what makes this shoe so unique is the synthetic materials used, especially the outer fabric. It has a three-layer WashTex fabric designed to make the shoe as hygienic and clean as possible. The fabric on the inside is made to be as breathable as the fabric can be, allowing for excellent moisture wicking.
It’s also an incredibly comfortable shoe, designed with a hook and loop closure system which has been patented. This system is designed for any foot type and shape allowing for a personalized fit to mimic a glove on your foot. It’s built for durability and extended use for any kind of surface from mountain to indoor rock wall gyms. Did we mention it’s completely washable? Well, it is. When it comes to sizing always remember you want a tight fit, toe touching front, with a slight curl. While the fit should be as snug as possible, don’t let the fit cause pain.
2. La Sportiva Women’s Miura Climbing Shoe
- Slingshot rand connected to the powerhinge under...
- Speed lacing system for quick lace-ups
- 8-panel directional lining for channeling stretch
- Ideal terrain: Overhanging sport routes,...
The LaMuiva Women’s Climbing shoe provides award-winning comfort and breathability, to make it perfect for the toughest climbs. The shoe comes with a unique upper construction, which means the shoe can stretch easily. More so, they also provide optimal breathability, meaning that you can go hard without worrying about excessive sweating. You will be pleased with the unique design of the shoes, which makes them perfect for tackling hard rocks or unusual plastic platforms. Remember to evaluate the vamp area of climbing shoes before buying. Thus, this is why LaMuiva Women’s shoe has a unique rubber construction for optimal friction. While these climbing shoes are only available in one finish, they are durable and styling as well.
You will stand out from the rest when you have these pairs of climbing shoes in the next session. Grip is a crucial factor to consider when investing in these types of shoes. Thus, you can expect these shoes to provide excellent traction, even when tackling slippery terrains. Also, the medium flex midsole provides the sensitivity and balance you need to tackle climbing tasks. The midsole on a climbing shoe is essential because it plays a role in your ability to reach around obstacles during climbs. The lacing system on these climbing shoes is also unique, unlike the Velcro straps which won’t provide a snug fit.
- Stretchable vamp area for flexibility when climbing
- High-quality lacing system for a snug fit
- Well-ventilated interior is perfect for intense sessions
3. Climb X Rave Rental Indoor Climbing Shoe
- Please refer to the Sizing Chart for Recommended...
- Padded Collar and Heel for Comfort.
The Climb X Rave Rental is an all-around pair of rock climbing shoes, specifically designed for indoor sessions. Featuring an all-leather upper, these rock climbing shoes for the gym will protect your feet, while giving you the flexibility you need to scale those walls. They are equipped with a padded collar and tongue, which provide additional comfort for your feet. Furthermore, its double-stitching construction ensures durability. Adjusting these shoes is easy, thanks to the two Velcro straps. If you are an active climber, you will love how these shoes perform. They offer great value for your money.
These rock climbing shoes for beginners come with two pull-on tabs at the rear, which make it easy to slip them on and off. At the same time, the anti-microbial hemp footbed reduces unpleasant odors. They fit great and you will not experience irritation, blisters, or hotspots. You can loosen them for a comfort fit or tighten them for an aggressive performance fit. The sizing numbers are clearly visible, which means that you can purchase them as rental shoes for your gym. If you are looking for a pair of rock climbing shoes that can comfortably withstand years of abuse, then you should check out these shoes.
4. Scarpa Women’s Helix WMN Climbing Shoe
- Classic For A Reason | With more than a few awards...
- Women’s Last | These climbing shoes feature a...
- Vibram XS Edge Rubber | Offering superb support,...
- Symmetrical Profile | Designed to match the...
- Passive Rand | Prioritizing comfort over power,...
The Scarpa Women’s Helix WMN Climbing Shoe is an affordable and all-around classic climbing shoe which has a sterling reputation for quality and performance. It exhibits classic passive randing with flat-lasted manufacturing that will deliver exceptional performance and all-day comfort. It remains on the most popular rock climbing shoes because of the designers of the shoe hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they have tweaked it over the years, a little here, a little there, but leaving the features that have made it so famous mostly intact. The amazing feel, grip, and durability are because of the rubber compound used.
The Vibram XS Edge rubber material allows for ultra-sticky grip and excellent edging. All-day wear is supported with toe-to-toe lacing system and the light heel cup cushioning. It has a flat profile with a symmetrical footprint, which are original design features left intact. The high-quality padded tongue adds to the comfort. So with classic styling and technology and added advanced features the latest incarnation of the Helix keeps it a must have rock climbing shoe. When it comes to the fit always make sure it is tight with a slight toe curl, but don’t accept a shoe where the fit is painful in any way.
5. Five Ten Women’s Blackwing Climbing Shoe
- Padded tongue has a super-soft, fleecy microfiber...
- Dual adjustable Velcro closure
- Gently downturned outsole
The Five Ten Women’s Blackwing Climbing Shoe is designed for high-friction rock climbing and high performance. It has a slightly downturned outsole meant to keep that shape for the length of time you own the shoe. It’s made of high-quality synthetic materials and high-grade rubber compound. The closure system is a Velcro dual adjustable system for excellent comfort and fit. The tongue is padded for an incredibly soft fit and feel and a lining made of a fleecy microfiber created to help wick away sweat and prevent the shoe from developing hot spots. The research and development facility at Five Ten’s Redlands, California’s home base is world-class, especially its rubber-testing facility.
The Blackwing utilizes this facility’s best work as it has the Stealth rubber compound sole which incorporates durability and the type of stickiness you’ve come to expect from a Five Ten rock climbing shoe. Five Ten’s shoes are made with the athletes of some of the exciting and dangerous sports in mind, like rock climbing kayaking and wingsuit flying. When it comes to choosing the correct size, remember rock climbing shoes should have a tight fit with a slight toe curl. But the shoe should never be so close as to cause pain.
What Kinds Of Climbing Can You Do With Rock Climbing Shoes?
Traditionally rock climbing shoes should fit like a glove fits your hand.
You want it tight, but not too close. Precision is important. But can any shoe allow you to climb a mountain, a hill, a crag, a boulder (yes, folks climb huge boulders), or how about those popular indoor rock climbing walls that litter gyms and recreation centers throughout the country?
Truthfully? Sure, any athletic shoe could be worn to climb.
More truth? If you want to accomplish your goal of climbing a rock wall or a hill, crag or mountain successfully, then no, you need a specialized shoe designed for the various surfaces you’re sure to find climbing indoors or outdoors.
First, let’s take a look at the types of rock climbing folks are getting in to nowadays.
Believe it or not rock climbing walls found at gyms, recreation centers or even specific places that operate only climbing walls, have become prevalent and can be found pretty much anywhere.
These climbing walls are constructed plastic walls with intense challenges of walls with grips for your hands and feet. Of course, you’re likely to find folks straight off the street in gym shoes at these places as well as experienced climbers up for a challenge when they can’t make it to their favorite outdoors climbing areas.
These places have thick multiplex boards, sometimes several, of varying degrees of difficulty. Some are geared towards kids and some for professional rock climbers. Some areas even have belay ropes and setups where you can practice more advanced climbing techniques such as bouldering and lead climbing.
Outdoors surfaces are still the most popular, so let’s start with trad climbing (or traditional climbing). Trad climbing can be done individually, but many folks like to climb in groups where each passage is taken one at a time, with climbers and gear removed once the passage is cleared. Trad climbing is typically done without the use of anchors.
The most adventurous and oldest type of rock climbing is mountaineering (or alpine climbing). It’s also the most dangerous and can be done in all kinds of terrain in all kinds of elements (snow, ice, rock, etc.). Experience is mandatory for safe passage and hazards include lightning, rockfalls, avalanches, etc. Extreme situations can be encountered, so survival skills and proper safety, medical and cooking equipment is essential.
Sport climbing involves climbing a rock with permanent anchors and the focus of the climber is the athleticism (think gymnastics ability) where strength, endurance, and skill is essential. The sense of adventure is apparently there, but an emphasis is put more on safety and free climbing ability.
Then there is top-roping or top-rope climbing. This is a form of a designed climb where a rope is used for safety, and the line can run from the belayer at the beginning of the route run through an anchor system through one or several carabiners then back down to the rock climber. This style is similar to what goes on at more intense indoor rock climbing walls. This type of climbing is an excellent way for a beginner to become introduced to the extreme sport.
Bouldering is an exciting and popular form of rock climbing in a large boulder is used for what is short climbs. A bouldering mat (or crash pad) is utilized to try and limit any injuries from a fall. The popularity of bouldering is evident because, besides large natural boulders that are used, there are also gyms and recreation centers throughout the country who have artificial boulders for rock climbers to try their skill.
A form of free climbing called free solo climbing is another popular rock climbing adventure where no harnesses, ropes or protective gear is used as the rock climber will ascend using only their climbing ability, physical strength and of course guts (or psychological strength) to keep from, gulp, falling to their death. This extreme sport is not the same as free climbing. In all seriousness, this is not a rock climbing choice a majority of experienced rock climbers choose to make because the danger of falling is real and just not worth the risk. Still, there is a segment of the rock climbing community who partake in this highly dangerous activity.
What To Look For When Buying Rock Climbing Shoes?
Now that you know a thing or two about the types of rock climbing extreme sports enthusiasts partake in let’s take a look at the rock climbing shoe, the importance of the shoe in rock climbing, sizing, and the different types available.
Once you’ve decided on the type of surface you want to try, you need to know about the equipment required. For this article, we’re focusing on the rock climbing shoe.
And that’s where an expert rock climbing shoe like those on our Top 20 Men’s and Women’s Rock Climbing Shoe list come into play. Rock climbing is a dangerous sport (as you can tell) with more than a bit of danger to it.
And even seasoned professionals with the best equipment (and shoes) available can fail to manipulate their chosen surface. But the idea of this piece is to enlighten and (hopefully) inform you as to the importance of the adequately fitted rock climbing shoe for your adventure into rock climbing.
There are specific shoes for each type of rock climbing, but any of the shoes on this list should suffice no matter the surface. Still, it’s best to find the rock climbing shoe that fits you just right, because comfort is exceedingly necessary for the success of this sport.
Because as important as your hands are to finding the right grip for your next obstacle of your climb, your feet are equally important because to see the proper purchase on the rock you’re climbing, you need to “feel” with your feet. And the more sensitivity allowed through your shoe, the more information your feet can send to your brain so your decision making can kick in to manipulate the next challenge or obstacle.
The general rule of thumb (or foot!) is to have a very snug fit. You want a tight fit, with the big toe tip touching the front of the shoe. From there, you also want the toes to have a slight curl. But not to the point of feeling pain.
Some rock climbing shoes are sized like street shoes, so your street shoe size will suffice. But like street shoes, this rule doesn’t always apply. Most climbing shoes are designed and built to stretch (almost a full size) once broken in, so you may need to order a shoe that is a half size to two sizes larger than the regular shoes you wear.
If ordering online, allow for some trial and error, so you may need to return (or you have the means, order a couple of different sizes and return the ones that don’t fit). Of course, you could always go to a physical store and try on the brand and size you want, then go home and order the ones that fit right.
Of course, once you get the hang of ordering rock climbing shoes, and you’re a seasoned climber, ordering will become easier.
As you can tell by this list of the top 20 men’s and women’s rock climbing shoes, there is no lack of variety and styles.
Three things to keep in mind when deciding upon a rock climbing shoe: fit, features, and type.
The climbing shoe fit is to make sure you are getting the top performance from your choice of shoe as the shoe should fit snugly without pain and allow you for more time on the rock surface of your choice.
Types Of Rock Climbing Shoes
The climbing shoe type is a choice between neutral, moderate or aggressive styles. Think of it as beginner (neutral), moderate (moderate) and expert (aggressive).
The neutral type tends to gear towards all-around and all-day comfort and a relaxed fit. Of course, this kind is ideal for beginners because the design and layout of the shoe allow for your toes to be flat within the shoes, whereas more advanced climbers acquire shoes that require the toes to curl slightly.
There’s also a difference in stiffness in the neutral shoe type as they tend to run from medium-to-stiff midsoles as the rubber soles are made of thicker rubber for support, necessary for beginners. They also have a flatter profile, much like a regular athletic shoe, but it allows for easier crack slotting.
The moderate rock climbing shoe type has a slightly downturned shape and is ideal for rock climbers who like more technical challenges. It’s a perfect all-purpose climbing shoe excellent for slight overhang sport routes, slab routes, longer multi-pitch climbing challenges and crack climbs. The moderate type tends to be the more comfortable of all the types because of stickier, thinner soles, allowing for more flexibility and better feel and grip. A more powerful shoe than the neutral type.
The aggressive shoe type has a more severe downturn with tons of heel tension which gives you the most strength and power for positioning which is optimal for overhanging climbs. The asymmetrical shape gives you more power at the big toe area which is ideal for precision holds and placements. This is a perfect shoe for gym routes, and single-pitch sport climbs, not so much for all-day climbs on the multi-pitches. The stickier rubber and thinner soles provide better feel and grip, but there is some sacrifice when it comes to comfort as to compared to moderate and neutral types.
Other Facets Of Climbing Shoes
And of course, the features of the climbing shoe can vary widely as more and more shoe companies (some that make only rock climbing shoes) are using advanced technologies to create some impressive choices. So look for features like lacing, linings, straps, and rubber choice.
Lacing is essential, especially when it comes to securing a comfortable and snug fit.
Straps are closure systems know as hook-and-loop. Nothing beats the quickness when it comes to getting in and out of the shoe. Velcro is used as is one to three strategically placed straps to help you get the most comfortable fit.
Slip-ons are called slippers, and the closure system is simply a tighter elastic material that closes off when you slide into the shoe. It allows for a lower profile and greater sensitivity and mainly used as a training shoe, though it is good for thin cracks and slotting.
The lace-up is versatile as you can make more accurate adjustments for when your feet swell due to use or heat. It also allows for more precise adjustments for certain types of climbing.
The upper portion of the shoe can be either leather or synthetic materials.
Lined leather you don’t have as much stretch, which can give you a more accurate feel, while unlined leather can stretch as much as a full size which can help when it comes to getting the perfect fit.
Synthetic materials may not stretch as much and can slightly soften as time goes on so the fit you have will be much the same the day you purchase the shoe as the day you’re done with them. A significant benefit of synthetic materials is breathability and wicking sweat away from your foot.
When you read about a shoe’s “last” think of it as the shape when it comes to the heel and toe dimensions, instep height, volume, and width. Broad-lasted is stiffer, slip-lasted less rigid and allows for better sensitivity. Straight has more comfort, and relaxed fit, downturned is for more advanced climbers and more difficult routes, and asymmetrically allows for greater power and control on a single point of rock contact.
Finally, the sole is the rubber part, where traction comes into play. The outsole rubber can come with softer rubber and stickier options, depending on the types of surfaces you want to manipulate. Firm rubber gives you more support for better edging; sticky rubber is better for smearing and the best gripping. Also, remember the stickier rubber is less durable. Too much thickness can also affect foot sensitivity. Thin soles (3-4 mm) are made for more slab routes and smearing. Thick soles (4-5.5 mm) give you more support and last longer as they are more durable. Think also thicker rubber is suitable for beginners, thinner for advanced climbers.