So you’ve caught the rock climbing bug and it’s time to buy your first pair of climbing shoes. New gear is exciting but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Climbing is a sport with many sub-disciplines, reflected by the many different climbing shoes on the market. So, how do you know what are the best beginner climbing shoes for you?

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to make your life easier when it comes to gear shopping. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to choose entry-level climbing shoes and show you our selection of the best models of the year.

 

THE BEST BEGINNERS CLIMBING SHOES – QUICK ANSWER

  1. Butora Endeavor
  2. Scarpa Helix
  3. Scarpa Origin
  4. La Sportiva Tarantula
  5. La Sportiva Finale
  6. Evolv Defy
  7. Evolv Elektra
  8. Madrock Flash 2.0
  9. Five Ten Rogue VCS
  10. SoIll Kick

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide To Climbing

 

THE BEST BEGINNER CLIMBING SHOES – A COMPARISON

PICTURE
SHOES
CLOSURE
LINED / UNLINED
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SHOES
CLOSURE
LINED / UNLINED
PRICE
RATING
Butora Endeavor
Velcro
Lined - minimal stretch
$$
5.0
Scarpa Helix
Lace-up
Unlined - will stretch
$$
4.5
Scarpa Origin
Velcro
Unlined - will stretch
$
4.5
La Sportiva Tarantula
Velcro
Unlined - will stretch
$
4.4
La Sportiva Finale
Lace-up
Unlined - will stretch
$$
4.3
Evolv Defy
Velcro
Lined - minimal stretch
$$
4.1
Evolv Elektra
Velcro
Lined - minimal stretch
$
4.0
Madrock Flash 2.0
Velcro
Lined - minimal stretch
$
4.0
Five Ten Rogue VCS
Velcro
Unlined - will stretch
$$
3.7
SoIll Kick
Velcro
Unlined - will stretch
$$$
4.0

 

 

CLIMBING SHOES 101

 

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST BEGINNER CLIMBING SHOES

 

1. FIT

The most important consideration when choosing the best beginner climbing shoe is fit. Every person’s foot shape is different. The shape, width, volume and heel depth of your foot can all affect how comfortable you are in your new kicks. The only way to find the perfect shoe is to try on as many models as possible, so hit the shops and be patient! Your shoe should fit snug and comfortable, with no dead spaces, hot spots, or painful areas. Start with something that feels great so you can truly love it.

 

2. DOWNSIZING

You’ve probably heard other climbers discussing downsizing from their street shoe size and complaining of cramped and bent toes. Downsizing helps to keep your feet immobilized in your shoes. A lack of wiggle room can increase precision and power needed for finessing those tiny foot edges or pulling hard with that heel hook. Be careful not to downsize too much though – your climbing shoes should never be so painful that you dread your evening session at the local gym for fear of putting them on.

 

3. STRETCH

To complicate things, some climbing shoes stretch, but others don’t. Once you’ve downsized from your street shoes to a comfortable, snug fit, you need to know whether your shoes will bag out or not. The length of your climbing shoe from heel to toe will never change. But, a shoe with an unlined leather upper can stretch up to 2 sizes after being broken in. A shoe with a synthetic lining will remain comparable to how it felt right out of the box. While some people prefer wearing their shoes with a light sock, climbing shoes are designed for bare feet.

 

4. MEN’S VS WOMEN’S

Several climbing shoe models have a “sister shoe” which has been tweaked to better suit some women’s feet. Besides being your source for pink or purple climbing footwear, these shoes tend to be lower volume and often slightly narrower. Learn about the shape of your own foot – many dudes with low volume feet swear by these models too.

 

5. SHOE SHAPE

Every shoe we’ve suggested in this article is flat lasted. Flat last shoes are comfortable and easy to wear all day with little suffering. When you’re first starting, it’s a good idea to rule out the powerful shape of a hooked downturned shoe. Technically aggressive, high-performance shoes will come in useful with more experience, when you’re ready to expand you climbing style.

 

6. VELCRO VS LACE-UP

There are two main ways to tighten climbing shoes – velcro or laces.

Velcro shoes are easier to take on and off. Some tighten just as well as their lace-up counterparts. Velcro shoes are great for bouldering, gym or sport climbing because you’ll be switching from your regular shoes to your climbing shoes often.

Laces-up shoes have several advantages – they are more adjustable, this allows you to get the tightness exactly how you like it. An obvious downside is they are slower to put on and take off.

 

best beginner rock climbing shoes

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/zhukovvvlad

 

 

CLIMBING SHOES REVIEWS

TOP 10 BEGINNER CLIMBING SHOES

 

BUTORA ENDEAVOR

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: Women’s Butora Endeavor

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Leather with hemp lining

RUBBER: Butora F5

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Korea

PROS: This shoe comes in both a wide and narrow fit.

CONS: Company is less well known so may be harder to find.

 

 

SCARPA HELIX

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: Scarpa Helix Women’s

CLOSURE: Lace-up

UPPER: Unlined leather

RUBBER: Vibram XS Edge

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Italy

PROS: Reliable rubber and higher sensitivity. Lace-up closure allows for control of sizing around foot.

CONS: Lace-ups take longer to put on and off.

 

 

SCARPA ORIGIN

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Unlined leather

RUBBER: Scarpa Vision

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Romania

PROS: Dual strap closure allows for quick on and off and a secure fit.

CONS: Relatively new proprietary rubber with little public recognition and unknown reliability.

 

 

LA SPORTIVA TARANTULA

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Unlined leather

RUBBER: La Sportiva FriXion

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: China

PROS: Asymmetrical shape brings more power to the big toe and helps beginners progress. Comfortable. Similar lace-up version available.

CONS: Lower end performance.

 

 

LA SPORTIVA FINALE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: La Sportiva Finale Women’s 

CLOSURE: Lace-up

UPPER: Unlined leather

RUBBER: Vibram XS Edge

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Italy

PROS: Thicker rubber will make the shoes last longer.

CONS: Reduced sensitivity and possibility of feeling clunky.

 

 

EVOLV DEFY

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonBackcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Synthetic Synthratek

RUBBER: Evolv TRAX

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: USA

PROS: Asymmetrical shape brings more power to the big toe and helps beginners progress. Shoe is vegan.

CONS: Synthetic lined shoes can become smellier over time. Lower edging performance.

 

 

EVOLV ELEKTRA

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Synthetic Synthratek

RUBBER: TRAX high-friction

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: USA

PROS: Women’s specific model. Asymmetrical shape brings more power to the big toe and helps beginners progress. Shoe is vegan.

CONS: Synthetic lined shoes can become smellier over time

 

 

MADROCK FLASH 2.0

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Lined leather

RUBBER: Mad RockScience Friction

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: China

PROS: Comfortable and affordable.

CONS: More space in heel and arch, could lead to lower performance. Few retailers.

 

 

FIVE TEN ROGUE VCS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: Five Ten Rogue VCS Women’s

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Unlined leather

RUBBER: Stealth C4

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: USA

PROS: Lace-up version also available. Reliable all-around shoe.

CONS: Well-known issue of blue dye transferring to feet.

 

 

SO ILL KICK

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

CLOSURE: Velcro Strap

UPPER: Unlined leather

RUBBER: SoiLL Dark Matter

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: USA

PROS: Small company Kickstarter innovation. Slightly arched shape helps beginners progress.

CONS: Low stock, less well known, harder to try on before hand.

 

Top 10 Best Beginner Climbing Shoes of 2017 – Best Rock Climbing Clothes for Men and Women – Rock Climbing Outfits for Summer and Winter – What to Wear When Climbing Indoors
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