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You’ve found your niche – bouldering. The gear is minimal and you don’t need a partner, so you can go anywhere, anytime with few limitations. Just you and your crash pad. But the one really important thing you need other than yourself and your pad are the best bouldering shoes for you! Don’t get overwhelmed with all the choices on the market. Our climbing team over here at The Adventure Junkies compiled a list of our favorite shoes for bouldering to help you find the best shoe for sending your hardest problems!

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

 

Quick Answer - The Best Bouldering Shoes

  1. Scarpa Vapor V
  2. Scarpa Booster S
  3. Five Ten Hiangle
  4. Scarpa Instinct VS
  5. La Sportiva Solution
  6. Five Ten Team 5.10
  7. evolv Shaman
  8. La Sportiva Miura VS

 

Comparison Table - Best Bouldering Shoes

PictureNameWeightClosureLiningPriceRating
Scarpa Vapor V1 lb 0.9 oz mens; 14.6 oz women’sVelcro StrapNone$$4.3
Scarpa Booster SScarpa Booster S7.4 ozVelcroUnlined$$$4.5
Five Ten Hiangle15.8 ozSingle Velcro Strap/Slip OnUnlined$$4.4
Scarpa Instinct VSScarpa Instinct VS1 lb 0.5 oz (men’s); 14.1 oz (women’s)Single Velcro Strap/Slip OnUnlined$$$4.4
La Sportiva Solution1 lb 1.8 oz (men’s); 15.8 oz (women’s)Single Velcro StrapToe Box and Arch Area Only$$$4.3
Scarpa DragoScarpa Drago14.1 ozSingle Velcro StrapUnlined$$$4.8
Five Ten Team 5.10Five Ten Team 5.107.2 ozSingle Velcro StrapSynthetic$4.0
evolv Shaman1 lb 3 oz Shaman; 14.4 oz ShakraTriple Velcro StrapUnlined$$4.5
La Sportiva Miura VS1 lb 3 oz (men’s); 1 lb 0.8 oz (women’s)Triple Velcro StrapDentex Synthetic Stretch Fabric$$$4.7
Evolv Agro1 lb 3.2 ozSingle Velcro StrapUnlined$$4.6
PictureNameWeightClosureLiningPriceRating
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 - The Best Shoes for Bouldering

Scarpa Vapor V


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1 lb 0.9 oz mens; 14.6 oz women’s
  • Upper: Synthetic microsuede
  • Outsole: 4 mm Vibram XS Edge Rubber
  • Lining: None
Features
  • Slip-lasted For A More Sensitive And Stiff Shoe
  • Can Be Resoled
  • Padded Mesh Tongues For All Day Comfort

BEST TRANSITION SHOE

The Scarpa Vapor V is a bouldering shoe with medium stiffness, making it a good choice when you are starting to get into harder boulder problems, but aren’t quite ready for the super aggressive shoe required to send harder problems. These shoes have just enough downturn to make them the perfect pair to try out on some aggressive features. 

On less steep problems where you are relying more on edging rather than heel hooking, the wider toe box of the Vapor V will be right at home and even fit in any tiny cracks you might encounter. If you get them tight fitting, they will help you excel in bouldering, but if you get them bigger, you can wear them all day long if you want to mix it up with some other types of climbing.

Scarpa Booster S

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro
  • Weight: 7.4 oz
  • Upper: Microsuede
  • Outsole: 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip 2 Rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
Features
  • Rubber Coating On Velcro Straps For Better Toe Hooking
  • Velcro Straps Fasten In Opposing Directions To Ensure Optimal Fit And Snugness
  • Ultralight
Scarpa Booster S

BEST ON STEEP TERRAIN

If steep, overhanging boulders are your game, then this is the shoe for you. The Scarpa Booster S has proven itself a top contender for boulder problems that are overhanging and require a lot of edging and toe hooking. The attention to detail in such features as the rubber coating on top of the velcro straps ensures expert-level toe hooking abilities. This shoe is actually rather sensitive for precision, but does not sacrifice support. With velcro straps that fasten in opposite directions of one another, you can be sure to get a snug fit.  And the bright colors of this shoe are an added bonus so you get noticed while you crush!

Five Ten Hiangle


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Single Velcro Strap/Slip On
  • Weight: 15.8 oz
  • Upper: Leather
  • Outsole: 4.2 mm Stealth C4 Rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
Features
  • Stiff Midsoles For Precise Edging
  • Slip-Lasted For A Sensitive And Stiff Shoe
  • Very Comfortable For All-Around Wear

BEST ALL PURPOSE 

Downturned, soft, and stiff, but not to the extreme, the Five Ten Hiangle is a well-balanced all-around climbing shoe. When it comes to sticking to the rock or plastic, the Stealth C4 Rubber does go to the extreme, offering maximum stickiness to help you “stick” your problems. 

Steep and overhanging, tiny edges, or cracks, this shoe will perform well on it all. Featuring a single velcro strap closure with stretch elastic tongue, this shoe almost feel like a slipper. And with a slightly larger toe box to curl your toes into, you can keep these shoes on longer rather than taking them off between every single problem. This shoe will stretch, so size accordingly.

Scarpa Instinct VS


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Single Velcro Strap/Slip On
  • Weight: 1 lb 0.5 oz (men’s); 14.1 oz (women’s)
  • Upper: Synthetic Leather
  • Outsole: Vibram XS Edge Rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
Features
  • Uppers Made With No-Stretch Lorica Synthetic Leather
  • Tensioned Rand To Position Toes For Power
  • Rubber On Top Of Toes For Toe Hooking
Scarpa Instinct VS

BEST ON SMALL EDGES AND CRYSTALS

When you need to edge on some of the smallest features, the stiff and supportive fit of the Scarpa Instinct VS is what you want to be wearing. The bi-tension rand of this shoe pushes your toes frontward and puts the big toe where it needs to be – in the driver’s seat, so you can have all the precision to edge without all the pain. And with a large patch of rubber covering the top toes, you can also do some pretty impressive toe-hooking in these shoes. Because it’s constructed with 100% no-stretch Lorica uppers, the shoe won’t stretch out (so make sure you order the correct size the first time!), but it also means this shoe has great flexibility and durability without compromising its shape.

La Sportiva Solution


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Single Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1 lb 1.8 oz (men’s); 15.8 oz (women’s)
  • Upper: Leather/Synthetic Leather
  • Outsole: Vibram XS Grip 2 Rubber
  • Lining: Toe Box and Arch Area Only
Features
  • Molded 3D Heel Cup For Snug Fit And No Slipping
  • Midsoles In Toe Area For Added Comfort
  • Highly Adjustable Fast Lace System Velcro Closure For Secure Fit

BEST FOR TOE AND HEEL HOOKING

This shoe’s been around the block and has been beloved by many climbers for a long time. In 2018, the shoe got a makeover, but it was only cosmetic; a relief to its many fans. Aggressive and downturned, this shoe has been compared to a hawk’s talon. Because of these features, it has a lot of versatility, but it really excels in toe and heel hooking on steep terrain. The pointy toe offers amazing precision on edges and also easily fits into those pockets you might encounter on the wall. Certainly not the most comfortable shoe out there, but that’s a price worth paying for high performance. The single velcro strap makes these shoes pretty easy to take on and off between climbs.

Scarpa Drago

Specs
  • Closure: Single Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 14.1 oz
  • Upper: Microsuede
  • Outsole: 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip 2 Rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
Features
  • Designed For Wider Fit
  • Thin Outsole For A Softer Shoe
  • Lack Of Midsole For Precision And Sensitivity
Scarpa Drago

BEST SOFT SHOE

For such a high performing shoe, you couldn’t ask for a softer, more comfortable fit. While being soft and sensitive is good for slab climbing, the sticky rubber that coats this shoe makes it pretty awesome for some of those ridiculously fancy gym problems too. While the sensitivity may not be what you desire on cracks, it does allow you the feeling of where your toes are being placed in pockets, and because of the softness, you can get this shoe into some larger pockets as well. You can also feel confident in downsizing a half size in this shoe for a more aggressive fit without worrying about endless pain. Though on the expensive side, the Scarpo Dragos will hold up exceptionally well and be worth the investment for bouldering.

Five Ten Team 5.10

Specs
  • Closure: Single Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 7.2 oz
  • Upper: Synthetic Microfiber
  • Outsole: 2.5 mm Stealth HF Rubber
  • Lining: Synthetic
Features
  • Super Sticky Rubber On Soles For Great Smearing
  • Very Aggressively Downturned For Steep Climbs
  • Fully Rubbered Top So You Stick To Everything
Five Ten Team 5.10

BEST FOR SMEARING

A lot of rubber went into the construction of the toe on this shoe. All that rubber paired with an aggressive and downturned shape means you can smear to your heart’s content in this shoe and you can be sure you will stick! With the Stealth rubber, you will be able to edge on even the tiniest holds. If it weren’t for the aggressiveness, you could almost wear this shoe slab climbing. With little stretching in the upper, you can bet you will get a tight and secure fit in this shoe. Unlike other Five Ten models, because of this feature, you will want to try a pair on prior to purchasing to make sure you are sizing it correctly. However, because of the tight fit, they can sometimes be difficult to get on and off.

evolv Shaman


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Triple Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1 lb 3 oz Shaman; 14.4 oz Shakra
  • Upper: Synthetic Suede
  • Outsole: TRAX XT-5 Rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
Features
  • Toe Rand Of Varying Thickness For Durability In More Used Areas
  • Midsoles Add Medium Stiffness For Powerful Edging
  • Vegan Construction Is Good For The Environment And Your Conscience

BEST PRO CLIMBER SHOE

Designed by Chris Sharma himself, you can expect the Evolv Shaman to perform exceptionally on some of the toughest climbs. The comparable women’s version called the Evolv Shakra will have the ladies feet prepared for the hard stuff as well. 

Designed with what is referred to as a “love bump,” this shoe is downturned and will remain that way, pushing the big toe into action for maximum power and control. And paired with the “love bump,” the Shaman is also equipped with midsoles so you won’t experience the pain that typically comes along with a tight fitting shoe. 

While designed by one of the hardest climbers in the league, this shoe can also be appreciated by beginner climbers and performs well in the gym too. Plus, wearing this shoe could give you something to grow into and aspire to as well.

La Sportiva Miura VS


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Closure: Triple Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1 lb 3 oz (men’s); 1 lb 0.8 oz (women’s)
  • Upper: Leather
  • Outsole: 4 mm Vibram XS Edge Rubber
  • Lining: Dentex Synthetic Stretch Fabric
Features
  • Slip-Lasted For A Stiff And Sensitive Shoe
  • Midsole Support For Powerful Edging
  • Three Velcro Strap Closures For Secure Fit

BEST SHOE FOR EDGING

Designed with Miura’s Vibram XS rubber, edging performance is super sharp in these shoes. An aggressively downturned toe with the added assistance of a stiff midsole will be sure to hold you in any pocket you might come across in your climb. The hard rubber casing allows you to push down hard on the toe, which does cut down on sensitivity of the shoe. However, this then allows you to hook the downturned toe into pockets and pull yourself into the rock more easily. 

Commonly used as a trad climbing shoe, if you size them tighter, then they can be perfect for sending your hard boulder problems too. Even though this is a super stiff shoe, it does soften a bit over time, and patience while learning to handle and break them in is well worth it when you are performing like a pro!

Evolv Agro

Specs
  • Closure: Single Velcro Strap
  • Weight: 1 lb 3.2 oz
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Outsole: 3.7 mm Sensa Trax High Friction Rubber
  • Lining: Unlined
Features
  • Tensioned Thin Rubber Midsole For Ultimate Sensitivity
  • Optimal Rubber On Top Of Shoe For Great Toe Hooking
  • Tensioned Heel Rand To Keep Heel In Place

BEST ON HARD TERRAIN

The Evolv Argo has been described as the “ultimate high end bouldering shoe.” This shoe has a tight fit, so make sure you get a pair that fits your foot well. That tightness and downturned shape will give you a lot of power on your climbs. The aggressive downturned will also pull you into pockets and, because of the sensitivity of this shoe, you will be able to feel the contact with the rock, keeping you in control. 

A snug but comfortable heel cup is a result of the tensioned heel rand that keeps your foot locked in place so you won’t have to worry about your heel slipping out of the shoe when performing heel hooks on overhanging moves. The Argo is also pretty generous with the rubber, including on the tops of the toes for all the necessary toe hooking.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING BOULDERING SHOES

Boulder problems are essentially the crux of a longer climb. These short climbs are typically steep, overhung, and very pumpy. Having a climbing shoe that can perform to the max on this type of terrain is key to sending your problem. For this reason, many climbing shoes designed for bouldering have an aggressive shape for all the edging and hooking you’ll be doing.

An aggressive shoe will fit tighter and have a curved shape, making them less comfortable than your all-around climbing shoes. This means you probably won’t want to wear them between climbs, so most bouldering shoes have velcro closures to make putting them on and taking them off a piece of cake. Besides that one fairly consistent feature, there are a lot of different options to choose from when buying your first (or fifth) pair of bouldering shoes. Read on for some things to consider when making your selection and we’ll meet you back at the wall!

 

COST

When you are looking for a high performing shoe, as needed to assist you in hard boulder problems, you are going to be looking at a higher price tag than you would for those all day comfort shoes. Because of this, it is best to not crunch you pennies too much and pay the little extra money up front for an investment that will make you a better climber. Keep in mind, there are still plenty of sound options that won’t leave you in the poorhouse.

 

PROFILE/SHAPE

The profile of a good bouldering shoe is going to be vastly different than an all day trad shoe. These more aggressive shoes have downturned toes and a tighter fit, but that is exactly what is needed to get you up those hard, steep, and overhanging climbs. You can learn all about the importance of properly fitting a climbing shoe over at Rock & Ice.

 

STIFFNESS AND STRETCH

Any new shoe is going to require some level of breaking in and will stretch somewhat over time. Leather shoes such as the Mad Rock Drifter, La Sportiva Finale, and Scarpa Helix will stretch, so plan accordingly when purchasing. Five Ten and Evolv shoes are typically synthetic and will not have much stretch, so get as close to your fit as possible with these. Leather shoes also tend to be unlined, which allows for stretch compared to synthetic linings.

 

RUBBER

Rubber is huge when it comes to bouldering shoes. The placement of rubber on the shoe can make all the difference on some harder climbs. The placement of it also determines how well a shoe will edge, smear, fit into cracks and pockets, as well as overall stickiness. You should also consider if the shoe can be resoled to save you some time and money in the long run in not having to regularly purchase shoes and break them in. Learn more about the science of sticky rubber and and how it can enhance bouldering shoe performance.

 

CLOSURE

Of the three types of closures (velcro, laces, slippers), you will most likely want bouldering shoes with velcro so you can remove them between problems. But there are several variations of velcro you encounter when looking at bouldering shoes. Some will have the traditional two straps, while others may have just one over top of a slipper. Others will have three straps and both these and double straps can fasten in opposing directions, which will help in getting a more snug fit. All the options will work fine for all types of bouldering, so how the shoe closes is really just up to your personal preference.

 

WEIGHT

A lot of rubber goes into making a good bouldering shoe to give you the power and precision needed to toe and heel hook even the most overhanging rock. With this comes some added weight, but depending on the distribution of the rubber, some shoes may be lighter than others. Unless you’re hoping to boulder in a very remote area with a multi-mile approach, don’t worry too much about the overall weight of your shoes.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

OUTSOLE

The outer portion of the shoe that contacts the ground.

INSOLE

The bed of the shoe.

RAND

The actual rubber on the shoe that goes from the toes to the sides to the heel.

TOE BOX

The entire front section of the shoe where the toes sit.

HEEL CUP

The section the heel sits in.

BOARD-LASTED

Less sensitive and stiffer shoe, providing more comfort for all-day wear.

SLIP-LASTED

A more sensitive, less stiff shoe.

DOWNTURNED

The shape and profile of the shoe is noticeably curved down, providing a more aggressive shoe and a tighter, more secure fit.

READ MORE

For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

About The Author

Born in Maryland, Lindsay Rohrbaugh is an avid rock-alpine climber and mountaineer. An urban wildlife biologist by trade, she is also a travel writer and student of Integrative Medicine. When not in school or conducting field work on bats and turtles in Washington, DC, she is out climbing rocks and peaks or scaling high points across the globe. She’s hiked the Lares Trek in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and climbed various routes in Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. She has even tried her skills at deep water soloing! Her weekends are often spent with her husband in their newly self-built cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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