The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

From multiday missions in Yosemite to indoor competition bouldering, we’ve identified the best climbing shoes to help you reach your climbing goals.

As the climbing popularity boom continues, the demand for high-performance gear is greater than ever before. While a climbing rope and a bouldering crash pad are not required items for brand-new climbers, a pair of shoes is essential from day one.

Thanks to recent innovations, the climbing shoe market now includes a vast range of brands and models that aim to accommodate various foot shapes and specialized climbing styles. Need a shoe for training sessions in the gym? No problem. Looking for a style that will elevate your heel hooking ability? There’s a shoe for that, too.

On this list, we’ve divided our recommendations into many specific categories to help you efficiently identify the best shoes for your climbing needs. We’ve also included a comprehensive buyer’s guide and a comparison chart that will help you navigate the complex realm of climbing shoes as well as our FAQ section to answer any lingering questions to help you make an informed purchase.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023


Best Overall

  • Sizing
    Best for slightly narrow feet; most climbers size down one full size from their street shoe
  • Rubber
    4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber
  • Profile
    Slightly downturned with subtle asymmetry
  • Key features
    Split sole (women’s), narrow toe profile, P3 tension rand

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Best for slightly narrow feet; most climbers size down one full size from their street shoe
  • Rubber
    4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber
  • Profile
    Slightly downturned with subtle asymmetry
  • Key features
    Split sole (women’s), narrow toe profile, P3 tension rand

  • Great for thin cracks

  • Versatile

  • Great lacing system

Best Budget Climbing Shoes

  • Sizing
    Best for slightly narrow feet; size down slightly from street shoe size
  • Rubber
    5mm FriXion RS rubber
  • Profile
    Flat
  • Key features
    Thick rubber sole and customizable fit

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Best for slightly narrow feet; size down slightly from street shoe size
  • Rubber
    5mm FriXion RS rubber
  • Profile
    Flat
  • Key features
    Thick rubber sole and customizable fit

  • Comfortable

  • Good value

  • Laces allow for a customizable fit


  • Not ideal for progressing intermediate or advanced climbers

Best Climbing Shoes for Steep Routes and Bouldering

  • Sizing
    Midwidth toebox and narrow heel, size down one-half or full size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2
  • Profile
    Asymmetrical, downturned, and aggressive
  • Key features
    Microfiber lining, fiberglass midsole shank for extra stability

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Midwidth toebox and narrow heel, size down one-half or full size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2
  • Profile
    Asymmetrical, downturned, and aggressive
  • Key features
    Microfiber lining, fiberglass midsole shank for extra stability

  • Great for overhanging routes and boulders

  • Thrives on heel and toe hooks


  • Expensive

  • Not ideal for technical edging

Best Climbing Shoe for Trad Climbing and Big Walls

  • Sizing
    Start with your street shoe size; the TC Pro can be sized up or down depending on preference and climbing style
  • Rubber
    4mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Moderately downturned
  • Key features
    Durable peel-resistant rand, ankle-high cuff

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Start with your street shoe size; the TC Pro can be sized up or down depending on preference and climbing style
  • Rubber
    4mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Moderately downturned
  • Key features
    Durable peel-resistant rand, ankle-high cuff

  • Versatile (with a strong preference for granite trad climbing)

  • Supportive

  • Durable

Best Climbing Shoe for Beginners

  • Sizing
    Best for slightly wider feet; start with street shoe size
  • Rubber
    4.2mm Trax
  • Profile
    Flat
  • Key features
    Soft liner and padded split tongue

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Best for slightly wider feet; start with street shoe size
  • Rubber
    4.2mm Trax
  • Profile
    Flat
  • Key features
    Soft liner and padded split tongue

  • Great value

  • Comfortable

  • Beginner-oriented yet versatile


  • Velcro closure lacks precision fit

The Best Climbing Shoe for Gym Climbing and Competitions

  • Sizing
    Great for climbers with a low-volume heel; size down a half or full size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS Grip2
  • Profile
    Asymmetrical, downturned, and aggressive
  • Key features
    Narrow redesigned heel, soft and sensitive feel, large rubber toe patch

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Great for climbers with a low-volume heel; size down a half or full size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS Grip2
  • Profile
    Asymmetrical, downturned, and aggressive
  • Key features
    Narrow redesigned heel, soft and sensitive feel, large rubber toe patch

  • Excellent for indoor climbing and competitions

  • Exceptional toe hooking ability

  • High-quality materials


  • Soft and thin rubber sole wears out fairly quickly

  • Sizing
    Size down a half size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Highly downturned and asymmetric
  • Key features
    Stiff yet sensitive underfoot feel, durable Alcantara upper

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Size down a half size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Highly downturned and asymmetric
  • Key features
    Stiff yet sensitive underfoot feel, durable Alcantara upper

  • Unparalleled power on small footholds

  • Supportive yet sensitive

  • High-quality materials

The Best Climbing Shoes for Kids

  • Sizing
    Start with street shoe size
  • Rubber
    4.2mm Trax SAS
  • Profile
    Flat and asymmetric
  • Key features
    Available in a wide range of youth sizes

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Start with street shoe size
  • Rubber
    4.2mm Trax SAS
  • Profile
    Flat and asymmetric
  • Key features
    Available in a wide range of youth sizes

  • Good value

  • Stable and precise


  • Not ideal for heel and toe hooking

Best of the Rest

  • Sizing
    True to size with a roomy toebox
  • Rubber
    4 mm of Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Neutral
  • Key Features
    Supple eco suede upper, mid-height ankle cuff, tension rand

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    True to size with a roomy toebox
  • Rubber
    4 mm of Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Neutral
  • Key Features
    Supple eco suede upper, mid-height ankle cuff, tension rand

  • Suede ankle cuff protects and supports

  • Holds up to the demands of granite big walls

  • Comfortable


  • Requires a break-in period for peak performance

  • Can get sweaty in warm conditions

  • Sizing
    Despite the semi-narrow toebox, this shoe runs large. Size down at least one full size from your street shoe.
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS grip
  • Profile
    Downturned and aggressive
  • Key features
    Pointy toe, split sole construction

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Despite the semi-narrow toebox, this shoe runs large. Size down at least one full size from your street shoe.
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS grip
  • Profile
    Downturned and aggressive
  • Key features
    Pointy toe, split sole construction

  • Ideal for long, complex routes with various styles and hold types; thrives on pockets

  • Top-notch heel and toe hooking


  • Not ideal for super-wide feet

  • Sizing
    Size down a half size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    Original Acopa RS rubber
  • Profile
     Moderately downturned with a split sole
  • Key features
    Cotton liner, stiff midsole, split sole construction

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Size down a half size from street shoe
  • Rubber
    Original Acopa RS rubber
  • Profile
     Moderately downturned with a split sole
  • Key features
    Cotton liner, stiff midsole, split sole construction

  • Powerful on small edges

  • High-quality materials


  • Not the most sensitive

  • Requires a break-in period to achieve peak performance

  • Sizing
    Good for climbers with a narrow heel and wide toebox. We recommend sticking with your street shoe size or sizing up one-half size.
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Stealth C4
  • Profile
    Minor downturn with a straight and symmetrical shape
  • Key features
    Very sticky rubber, soft microfiber upper

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Good for climbers with a narrow heel and wide toebox. We recommend sticking with your street shoe size or sizing up one-half size.
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Stealth C4
  • Profile
    Minor downturn with a straight and symmetrical shape
  • Key features
    Very sticky rubber, soft microfiber upper

  • Not very sensitive

  • Not ideal for super-steep terrain

  • Sizing
    Go with your street shoe size for optimal fit
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Mildly downturned with a touch of asymmetry
  • Key features
    Narrow toebox height, large rubber toe patch for scums, hooks, and jams

The Best Climbing Shoes of 2023

  • Sizing
    Go with your street shoe size for optimal fit
  • Rubber
    3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Profile
    Mildly downturned with a touch of asymmetry
  • Key features
    Narrow toebox height, large rubber toe patch for scums, hooks, and jams

  • Narrow toebox height is great for jamming thin cracks

  • High-quality materials

  • Comfortable


  • The lacing system ends near the midfoot

Climbing Shoe Comparison Table

Trail Running Shoes Price Rubber Profile Key Features
La Sportiva Katana Lace $219 4mm Vibram XS Edge Slightly downturned with subtle asymmetry Split sole (women’s only), narrow toe profile, P3 tension rand
La Sportiva Tarantulace $89 5mm FriXion RS rubber Flat Durable materials and comfortable fit
SCARPA Mago $209 3.5mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 Asymmetrical, downturned, and aggressive Microfiber lining, fiberglass midsole shank for extra stability
La Sportiva TC Pro $219 4mm Vibram XS Edge Moderately downturned Moderately downturned
Evolv Defy Velcro $109 4.2mm Trax Flat Soft liner and padded split tongue
La Sportiva Solution Comp $209 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip 2 Asymmetrical, downturned, and aggressive Narrow heel, soft and sensitive feel, large rubber toe patch
SCARPA Boostic $219 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge Downturned and asymmetric Stiff yet sensitive underfoot feel, durable Alcantara upper
Evolv Venga $69 4.2mm Trax SAS Flat and slightly asymmetric Breathable mesh upper, simple Velcro closure system
SCARPA Generator $225 4mm Vibram XS Edge Neutral Mid-top cuff, stiff midsole, durable “eco suede” upper
Tenaya Indalo $215 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip Downturned and asymmetric Pointy toe, split sole construction
Acopa Merlin $195 Original Acopa RS Rubber Moderately downturned with a split sole Cotton liner, stiff midsole, split sole construction
5.10 NIAD VCS $150 3.5mm Stealth C4 Minor downturn with a straight and symmetrical shape Very sticky rubber, soft microfiber upper
SCARPA Vapor Lace $199 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge Mildly downturned with a touch of asymmetry Narrow toebox height, large rubber toe patch for scums, hooks, and jams
 
Tenaya Indalo Review
Smearing against slick limestone in the Tenaya Indalo; (photo/Austin Beck-Doss)

Why You Should Trust Us

To put together this list of the best climbing shoes, the GearJunkie team rigorously tested dozens of models. Our ongoing testing involves systematic trial and observation. Author Austin Beck-Doss and editor Seiji Ishi are seasoned climbers with over 3 decades of climbing experience between them.

While we made sure to test popular models from major brands such as 5.10 and La Sportiva, we also checked out shoes from smaller up-and-coming brands. We looked at popular long-standing models and 2023 season newcomers. With every model, we assessed comfort, performance, durability, and overall value.

We tested shoes all over the U.S. and beyond — from the slick limestone of Central Texas to the slabby Granite of Squamish, British Columbia. In the gym, we wore shoes on competition-style boulder problems, overhanging training boards, low-angle slabs, and everything in between.

Over dozens of climbing sessions, we assessed durability and long-term performance. These days, many climbing shoes have thin outsoles that wear out quickly, which can be a major bummer after spending $200+.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Climbing Shoe

Long gone are the days of toiling up big walls in Yosemite in a pair of stiff-soled mountain boots. In 2023, climbing shoes are sticky, lightweight, and fine-tuned for the job at hand.

It can feel daunting to decide where to begin when sifting through the numerous high-quality options. As a climber, that’s a good problem to have.

Beginner climbers may especially feel overwhelmed while navigating a sea of technical specs and terminology. Experienced climbers may already have an idea of which specific footwear features they are looking for, but it can still be tricky to differentiate between similar options. This buyer’s guide can help any climber make an efficient and informed climbing shoe purchase.

Contributor Matt Samet training in his 50s; (photo/Matt Samet)

Climbing Disciplines

Though rock climbing is considered a unified sport, it is really a collection of similar, but different, disciplines. Sure, trad climbing and bouldering both involve climbing on rock, but the techniques and gear involved are wildly different. For this reason, most climbing shoes are designed to specialize in a certain kind of climbing and appeal to a certain kind of climber.

If you’re a beginner climber who enjoys bouldering in the gym, you won’t want to choose shoes that are designed for elite trad climbers. Shoes do not make the climber, but it is important to select the correct tool for the job.

Bouldering

Bouldering consists of climbing relatively short routes on small cliffs and freestanding boulders. This discipline is all about difficult climbing in its most distilled form.

Steep overhangs are common in this style, and bouldering shoes are designed with overhanging terrain in mind. Bouldering shoes are characterized by a downturned profile, toe and heel hooking capability, and a soft and sensitive sole.

Gym

As of 2023, gym climbing is experiencing a major popularity boom. Gym climbing offers a convenient, social, and effective workout, and many gym climbers are perfectly content to climb exclusively indoors. As new gyms continue to pop up across the world, many shoe manufacturers are now offering shoes that are marketed specifically for gym use.

Typically when shoes are marked as gym shoes, they’ll be geared toward beginner climbers who have recently entered the sport. These entry-level shoes, like the Evolv Defy, are made to be comfortable and progression-focused.

Because most new climbers start out in the gym, it makes sense that beginner shoes and gym shoes have become almost synonymous. Beginner-focused, gym-style shoes also work great for learning to climb outside.

However, today’s market also includes indoor-specific shoes intended for elite-level competition climbers. These styles, like the La Sportiva Solution Comp, have been custom-built for the demands of modern-day indoor climbing competition.

Competitions of today require a unique combination of gymnastic movement and precise footwork. Shoes in this category tend to have thin, soft soles and an aggressive profile.

Multipitch

Multipitch climbing involves long routes and full days spent with climbing shoes on. Comfort is an especially important consideration for multipitch climbing shoes.

Aggressively downturned and ultra-tight climbing shoes tend to be painful over long periods, so these traits are often avoided for multipitch routes. Most climbers prefer comfortable shoes with a flat profile for multipitch climbing.

Toeing down on some thin limestone edges in a pair of La Sportivas; (photo/Chris Carter)

Trad

Traditional climbing routes usually follow cracks and fissures in the rock. Climbers jam their hands and feet in these cracks while climbing, and trad climbing shoes are designed with this application in mind.

Footjams tend to work best with shoes that have a semi-flat profile and are not aggressively downturned. Jamming with aggressive or severely tight shoes is unpleasant and not especially effective.

On this list, the La Sportiva TC Pro and the Katana Lace with its low-profile toebox that can squeeze into narrow fissures.

Of course, steep and powerful trad routes exist too, and sometimes aggressive shoes actually are your best bet. As always, picking shoes for the job is not a perfect science. It’s wise to be flexible with your shoe choice. Sometimes trad climbing calls for aggressive shoes and sometimes bouldering calls for flat and stiff shoes.

Sport

Sport climbing comes in all angles and difficulties. Technically, sport climbing refers to a climbing ethic rather than a specific style. The word “sport” means something slightly different as far as shoes are concerned.

When shoes are marketed for sport climbing, they’re usually soft and aggressive, just like a pair of bouldering shoes. However, many sports climbing routes are not severely overhanging.

On vertical to slightly overhanging terrain, you’ll likely want a relatively stiff shoe with only a slight downturn. There are all kinds of sport routes out there, just know that sport climbing shoes will usually be quite soft and aggressive.

Calamity Jane Wild Iris Climbing
Soft shoes are essential in overhanging terrain; (photo/Trent Wheeler)

Stiff vs. Soft

Every climbing shoe exists on a spectrum from soft to stiff. A shoe’s stiffness comes from its construction. Thicker material — especially soles and midsoles — results in stiffer shoes. Meanwhile, thinner materials create a softer and generally more sensitive shoe.

The stiff/soft spectrum works just like hiking boots. Stiffer shoes offer more support and help prevent foot fatigue and soreness. Softer shoes are more pliable and sensitive, allowing you to feel the nuanced texture of the rock through the sole.

When the rock requires you to stand on lots of minuscule footholds in more vertical terrain, stiffer shoes are most effective. For smearing or bouldering on severely overhanging rock, softer shoes are the go-to choice.

On this list, the La Sportiva TC Pro is a great stiffer shoe that can handle tiny footchips and nubbins with ease. The La Sportiva Solution Comp is a mega-soft shoe commonly known as a “rubber sock.” The Comp won’t work very well on technical and vertical terrain, but it’s perfect for steep overhangs or indoor competitions.

Shoe Profile: Aggressive vs. Flat

Aggressive climbing shoes have a downturned shape that looks and feels similar to a claw. Thanks to this shape, aggressive shoes are great for climbing overhanging rock. Usually, aggressive shoes are also better for toe hooking and heel hooking.

Flat shoes tend to be more comfortable than aggressive shoes, as they keep your foot in a more neutral position. Flat shoes are great for beginners.

When climbers are just starting out, an aggressive profile will probably create more pain and distraction than actual climbing benefit. For this same reason, flat shoes are most climbers’ preferred option for long multipitch routes.

One climber ascends slabby terrain while the other works through the steeps; (photo/Chris Carter)

Closure System

Rock climbing shoes typically feature one of three closure-system styles: laces, Velcro, or slipper. Some shoe models, like the Evolv Defy, come in more than one closure style. Though a closure system may seem like a minor detail, it can actually be an important factor to consider when choosing climbing shoes.

Laces

Laces are the classic closure system for just about all kinds of footwear. On climbing shoes, laces require a little extra time compared to Velcro or slippers. That said, laces allow you to thoroughly customize the fit of your climbing shoes.

For example, climbers with a wide toebox can keep the laces in that area slightly looser to accommodate their foot shape. Lace-ups are versatile. They can be kept loose for long multipitch routes or cinched up aggressively for increased precision.

Velcro

Velcro closures are quick and efficient to use. However, it can be difficult to create a precise fit with only a few straps. Also, Velcro straps can sometimes hinder a shoe’s toe hooking ability and can come undone while foot jamming in cracks.

On this list, the SCARPA Boostic employs a unique closure system that integrates the shoe’s straps directly into the structure of the shoe. The result is an impressively customizable fit.

Slipper

A well-fitted pair of climbing slippers can be comfortable, convenient, and excellent for smearing and jamming. However, because slippers rely on elastic fabric to create a precise fit, they tend to stretch out and become less effective over time.

On this list, the La Sportiva Solution Comp is essentially a slipper, though it does have a single Velcro strap which helps maintain the shoe’s integrity over time.

Putting climbing shoes to the test on steep terrain near Smith Rock; (photo/Austin Beck-Doss)

Parts of a Climbing Shoe

The primary parts of a climbing shoe are the sole, midsole, closure system, rand, and upper. Each part has a specific role to play in the shoe’s construction, and each can have an effect on overall performance.

Upper

The largest component of a climbing shoe’s construction is called the upper, which covers the top and sides of your foot. Climbing shoe uppers are made of either leather or synthetic material. Neither is strictly better, but they do each have unique strengths and weaknesses.

Leather uppers stretch and conform to the shape of your foot. If you’re interested in a shoe made from leather, you can purchase a slightly smaller size under the assumption it will stretch and expand.

On this list, the Acopa Merlin is built with a robust leather upper. Though the Merlin feels a bit stiff and uncomfortable right out of the box, it will stretch and become well-fitted over time.

Synthetic uppers do not stretch, and they will generally maintain their original shape in the long term. When purchasing synthetic shoes, it’s important to make sure you buy the exact size and fit you want, as it will not change over time.

Another benefit of synthetic uppers is they can be quite thin without sacrificing durability. On this list, the SCARPA Boostic includes a very thin, lightweight upper made from Alcantara fabric. This subtle feature adds sensitivity to the Boostic’s performance without adding weight or decreasing durability.

Climbing Shoe Rubber

As a primary point of contact between the climber and the rock, the rubber outsole is a crucial part of any climbing shoe.

In 2023, all climbing shoes feature sticky rubber soles. As a general rule, soft and thin rubber outsoles are better for steep routes and bouldering. Soft rubber is stickier, and the thinner the outsole, the easier it is to feel the texture of the footholds underfoot. While soft and thin outsoles can be great, they also tend to wear out quickly. It’s a bummer to pay $200+ for a shoe that runs out of rubber after 4 months — but that’s the price climbers pay for top-notch performance.

On the other end of the spectrum, harder, thicker outsoles are ideal for vertical routes with tiny footholds. On the famous Dawn Wall on El Capitan, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson utilized La Sportiva TC Pros with firm rubber outsoles to stick to minuscule quartz crystal footholds. Harder rubber compounds also tend to last longer before they require resole or replacement.

Some shoe manufacturers make multiple types of rubber for various climbing applications. For example, some La Sportiva shoes include XS Grip 2 rubber, while others include XS Edge. The softer, rubber-like XS Grip is ultra-sticky and soft, but also wears down quickly. Meanwhile, the slightly harder XS Edge rubber is less sticky but a bit more durable in the long term. Many other shoe brands including Tenaya and SCARPA also use XS Edge and XS Grip rubber.

There is a lot of debate in the climbing shoe world about which shoes have the best rubber. All of the shoes we have included on this list come with quality, highly capable soles.

Birdwell diamond fkt
Strapping on some TC Pros and preparing for battle; (photo/Tyler Allen)

Fit and Sizing

Properly fitting a pair of climbing shoes is a puzzling task. Every shoe manufacturer seems to fit their shoes according to their own unique system. Often, sizing will even vary from style to style within a single brand’s lineup. Ideally, the best way to choose the right size is to physically try on the shoes.

How tight or loose to wear climbing shoes will depend on your needs as a climber. Generally, climbers like to fit their shoes tightly when trying routes that are challenging for them.

A tight fit ensures minimal negative space within the shoe. A tightly fitted shoe will slightly curl the toes, which helps to channel power into the toe edge when standing on small footholds.

However, the performance benefits of tightly fitted shoes come at the cost of discomfort. Your feet do not want to be held in an unnatural position, and tight shoes will need to be regularly taken off during your session to give your feet a break.

There is nothing wrong with sizing your climbing shoes for comfort. Beginner climbers especially should prioritize comfort over an aggressive fit. For long sessions at the gym or all-day multipitch routes, you don’t want to worry about nagging pain and foot cramps.

Value

All of the climbing shoes on this list are high-quality, though they do range wildly in price. Typically, entry-level climbing shoes lack specialized features and cost quite a bit less than high-performance models.

For beginner-level climbing shoes like the Evolv Defy or La Sportiva Tarantulace, you can expect to pay between $75 and $120. With thicker soles and heavier materials, much of the value of entry-level shoes comes from their long-lasting durability. On this list, the La Sportiva Tarantulace is our pick for the best budget climbing shoe.

High-performance climbing shoes are significantly more expensive than entry-level options. Specialty features like toe hooking rubber, a downturned profile, and added arch support boost a shoe’s performance capabilities.

On this list, shoes like the La Sportiva Katana Lace ($220) and the Tennaya Indalo ($215) represent some of the most expensive options on the market.

Men’s and Women’s Versions

Some climbing shoe styles, like the La Sportiva Tarantulace, come in both men’s and women’s versions. Generally, men’s versions are a bit wider and higher volume than women’s versions. Sometimes, men’s versions also feature harder and stiffer rubber compounds than women’s.

Every climber has a unique foot shape. Many men find that women’s versions of climbing shoes are a better fit, and vice versa.

Helmet group climbing photo
Navigating tricky dolomite in Lander, Wyo.; (photo/Austin Beck-Doss)

FAQ

The best climbing shoes are the ones that best fit your needs as a climber. All of the shoes on this list are great options, and we have included models that are well-suited to various climbing disciplines.

Unless you are absolutely sure the recipient will fit into a specific style and size of climbing shoes, it’s best to have them try shoes on before purchasing. If you’re looking for climbing shoes for a beginner climber, the Evolv Defy is an excellent choice.

Climbing shoes range from around $75-230 per pair.

Climbing shoes with thicker soles and heavier materials, like the Acopa Merlin, tend to last longer than softer, thinner shoes. That said, a regularly worn pair of climbing shoes will last between 3 months and 2 years. The rubber outsole of a climbing shoe usually wears out first, but rubber can be replaced by a qualified resoler for around $60.

If fitted appropriately, climbing shoes can be quite comfortable. Every climber has their own unique fit preferences. While a tighter fit tends to offer the highest level of performance for elite climbers, it’s not always necessary to wear uber-tight climbing shoes. For beginner and intermediate climbers, we recommend prioritizing comfort over an aggressive fit.

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