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If you’ve recently gotten into climbing and are ready to graduate from gym rental shoes, you’ll find an almost overwhelming assortment to choose from. Trusting your feet is key in climbing, and when you’re just starting out, you need a shoe that helps you stick to the foot holds without being too aggressive and uncomfortable. At the Adventure Junkies, we’re here to help you sort through the all options to find the best beginner climbing shoes.

For more of our top climbing footwear recommendations, check out the Best Climbing Shoes.

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Quick Answer - The Best Beginner Climbing Shoes

  1. La Sportiva Tarantulace
  2. Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsym
  3. So iLL Street
  4. Scarpa Helix
  5. Black Diamond Momentum
  6. Butora Endeavor
  7. TENAYA Ra
  8. evolv Nighthawk
  9. Scarpa Origin
  10. La Sportiva Mythos

 

Comparison Table - The Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners

PictureNameClosureUpperDownturnPriceRating
La Sportiva TarantulaceLace-upLeather/Synthetic LeatherNeutral$4.4
Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsymSlip-onSplit-grain LeatherModerate$$$4.1
So iLL StreetVelcro StrapsSynthetic LeatherModerate$$$4.2
Scarpa HelixLace-upSuede LeatherNeutral$$4.5
Black Diamond MomentumVelcro StrapsSynthetic KnitNeutral$$4.0
Butora EndeavorVelcro StrapsSuede LeatherNeutral$$4.3
TENAYA RaVelcro StrapsMicrofiberModerate$$$4.5
evolv NighthawkLace-upLeatherNeutral$4.3
Scarpa OriginVelcro StrapsSuede LeatherNeutral$$4.5
La Sportiva MythosLace-upSuede LeatherNeutral$$$4.6
PictureNameClosureUpperDownturnPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - Best Beginner Climbing Shoes

La Sportiva Tarantulace


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Leather/Synthetic Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Quick-Pull Lacing System (for easy on and off)
  • Lined Tongue (for comfort)
  • FriXion RS Rubber (for durability)

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

The Tarantulace is a versatile lace-up shoe that combines comfort with performance for beginner climbers at a great price point. Suitable for gym climbing or cragging outside, the shoes have an unlined upper that will form to fit your foot (they will stretch about half a size out of the box) while the FriXion RS Rubber keeps your feet securely on the wall.

Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsym

Specs
  • Closure: Slip-on
  • Upper: Split-grain Leather
  • Downturn: Moderate
Features
  • Sensitive Rubber (for precise foot placement)
  • Natural Leather (forms to feet)
  • Elastic Band (for ease of on/off)

BEST FOR: CRACK CLIMBING

A classic shoe created in 1990, the MoccAsym has continued to be a favorite of climbers for nearly 30 years.  It is unique in its elastic slip-on profile, which forms to your feet in a low profile perfect for jamming in cracks, but also well-suited to many other climbing styles both inside and out. The Stealth C4 rubber is especially sensitive so you can practice your precise footwork.

So iLL Street

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Synthetic Leather
  • Downturn: Moderate
Features
  • Slightly Aggressive Shape (for overhanging walls)
  • Natural Leather (forms to feet)
  • Elastic Band (for ease of on/off)

BEST FOR: BOULDERING

A bit more aggressive than most beginner climbing shoes, The Street excels for boulderers. The synthetic uppers are cotton-lined and won’t stretch much, meaning So iLL recommends you generally size up from your normal street shoe size. The Dark Matter rubber used on the outsole of these shoes was originally designed for use by Navy SEALS and will keep your feet securely on the rock or gym plastic.

Scarpa Helix


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Suede Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Symmetrical Shape (for toe comfort)
  • Cushioned Heel Cup (for comfort)
  • To-The-Toe Lacing Closer (for maximum adjustability)

BEST FOR: ALL DAY WEAR

The flat last and more symmetrical shape make the Helix a great choice for extended gym sessions or long days at the crag. Plus, the heel cup is cushioned and the tongue is padded. The lacing closure extends all the way to the toe, so you can fine-tune the fit to your unique foot.

Black Diamond Momentum


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Synthetic Knit
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Microfiber Toe Lining (minimize stretch)
  • Fabric Uppers (breathable)
  • Various Color Options

BEST FOR: OUT OF THE BOX COMFORT

The most striking feature of the Momentum is the knit upper. As opposed to synthetic or natural leather like most climbing shoes, the stretchy fabric needs very little time to break in out of the box. The fabric also is extremely breathable to prevent your feet from sweating and the shoes from developing an odor.

Butora Endeavor


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Suede Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Organic Hemp Lining (for odor control)
  • Triple Fork Webbing (customizable fit)
  • Wider Fit

BEST FOR: WIDE FEET

The Endeavor has an organic hemp lining which goes a long way toward the all-important odor control. The specialized webbing closure of the straps helps customize the fit, which generally runs wider to accommodate feet that might not quite fit in other shoes.

TENAYA Ra

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Microfiber
  • Downturn: Moderate
Features
  • Reinforced Toe (for durability)
  • Cotton-Lined Upper (for minimal stretch)
  • Mid-Volume & Width

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE

Slightly downturned with a Vibram XS Grip rubber, the Ra is excellent at sticking to small edges and all-around performance. The synthetic uppers are cotton-lined, which means they won’t stretch much, and you should make sure you have the proper fit out of the box.

evolv Nighthawk


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Unlined (for form-fitting stretch)
  • Roomy Toe Box
  • Slightly Asymmetrical (for performance)

BEST FOR: VALUE

The Nighthawk (Skyhawk is the women’s version) is a shoe that can handle just about any type of climbing, from gym to outdoors, from sport to trad. The shoes are slightly asymmetrical for improved performance on your toes, and the rubber is designed for durability.

 

Scarpa Origin


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Suede Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Padded Uppers (for extra comfort)
  • Durable Rubber
  • Flat Last (for comfort)

BEST FOR: COMFORT

With padded uppers and a flat last, the Origins are designed with extra comfort in mind, so they are a perfect shoe for getting gym mileage in. The Vision rubber is made to hold up to the demands of newer climbers as they practice footwork technique.

La Sportiva Mythos


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Suede Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Patented Lacing System (for best fit)
  • Unlined (for form-fitting stretch)
  • Low Toe Profile (for crack climbing)

BEST FOR: PROGRESSION

The Mythos combines comfort and performance in a way that makes them great beginner shoes, while also offering features that are useful as your skills improve. The all-around rubber and low profile are excellent for use in crack climbing, and the patented lacing system provides exceptional customization in fit.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING BEGINNER CLIMBING SHOES

Climbing shoes can be tricky to fit properly, because everyone’s feet are different. Ideally, you’ll want to try on the shoes in a store, but most manufacturers also have suggestions for sizing based on your street shoe size, so it is possible to order online.

For beginner climbing shoes, you shouldn’t size down too aggressively, though you definitely do want a snug fit. REI has some helpful tips for choosing a shoe and determining if you have the right fit. Once you’ve found your perfect Cinderella climbing slipper, here are some tips for taking care of them so they last until you’re ready for a more advanced pair.

 

FIT

A good fit is crucial to both climbing performance and comfort in a climbing shoe. Shoes with unlined, natural leather uppers are designed to break in and mold to your feet, so they will feel extra tight when you first get them, while shoes with synthetic lined uppers offer minimal stretch, and should fit fairly close to size straight out of the box.

 

COMFORT

If your shoes feel like torture devices on your feet, you’re not going to climb well. Some brands fit some people’s feet better than others, and it’s useful to try on different brands so you can find out which work best for you.

Also, some shoes prioritize comfort with extra padding, but that can come at the cost of sensitivity for performance.

 

DURABILITY

Beginner climbers often have bad footwork, which can wear through the rubber of shoes pretty quickly. Look for rubber designed for durability (like Vibram X, Dark Matter, or Stealth C4) to avoid replacing your shoes too often.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

CLOSURE

Method of taking the shoe on/off and tightening to fit. Options include lace-up, velcro straps, and slip-on.

UPPER

Material that composes the upper portion of the shoe. Usually leather or synthetic, and can be unlined, lined, or padded.

OUTSOLE

The bottom of the shoe, which is always rubber in climbing shoes. Each brand has its own proprietary rubber with different properties.

LAST

The model around which the shoe is built. Slip-lasted shoes are softer which makes for greater sensitivity; board-lasted shoes are stiffer but tend to be more comfortable.

DOWNTURN

How much the shoe curves down in the toes. Flatter shoes are generally more comfortable, but more aggressive (i.e. more downturned) shoes provide better performance, especially on overhanging terrain. Beginner climbers should look for a neutral to moderate downturn.

READ MORE

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