ContentsQUICK ANSWER – THE BEST BOULDERING SHOESCOMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST BOULDERING SHOESBOULDERING SHOES REVIEWSSCARPA INSTINCT VSLA SPORTIVA SOLUTIONFIVE TEN HIANGLEEVOLV AGROLA SPORTIVA SKWAMABUTORA ACROEVOLV SHAMANFIVE TEN TEAM 5.10TENAYA OASISCARPA BOOSTER SHOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BOULDERING SHOESSHOE CONSTRUCTIONUPPERRANDMIDSOLESOLELASTCLOSURETHINK AGGRESSIVE!HOOKING ABILITYFITSIZINGMEN’S VS WOMEN’S Is pebble-wrestling your climbing discipline of choice? Have you bought your membership to the local bouldering gym and started dreaming about topping out your pro on the weekend? If yes, then it’s time to invest in the best bouldering shoes to help you reach the next level. Bouldering tends to lend itself to dynamic movements and physical, three-dimensional climbing. Due to the nature of bouldering you will need a shoe that helps you push and pull with your feet while keeping you locked in on steep terrain. In this guide, we break down everything to look for in a fantastic bouldering shoe. Climbing shoes are arguably one of the most important pieces of gear you will own. These are even considered extensions of yourself while on the wall. So, buying the perfect pair can definitely make a world of difference. For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: Ropes | Harnesses | Helmets | Backpacks Climbing Shoes | Approach Shoes | Pants | Shorts | Shirts Carabiners | Cams | Nuts | Quickdraws | Pulleys | Belay Devices Bouldering Shoes | Bouldering Pants | Crash Pads QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST BOULDERING SHOES 1. SCARPA INSTINCT VS VIEW AT REI 2. LA SPORTIVA SOLUTION VIEW AT REI 3. FIVE TEN HIANGLE VIEW AT AMAZON 4. EVOLV AGRO VIEW AT AMAZON 5. LA SPORTIVA SKWAMA VIEW AT REI 6. BUTORA ACRO VIEW AT AMAZON 7. EVOLV SHAMAN VIEW AT REI 8. FIVE TEN TEAM 5.10 VIEW AT AMAZON 9. TENAYA OASI VIEW AT AMAZON 10. SCARPA BOOSTER S VIEW AT AMAZON COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST BOULDERING SHOES PICTUREBOULDERING SHOESBEST FORSOLE THICKNESSPRICERATING PICTUREBOULDERING SHOESBEST FORSOLE THICKNESSPRICERATING Scarpa Instinct VSAll Around 3.0 mm$$$4.7 La Sportiva SolutionAll Around 4.0 mm$$$4.8 Five Ten HiangleAll Around 4.2 mm$$$4.2 Evolv AgroAll Around 4.2 mm$$3.5 La Sportiva SkwamaBudget4.0 mm$$4.5 Butora AcroBudgetN/A$$4.8 Evolv ShamanBudget4.2 mm$$4.4 Five Ten Team 5.10Sensitivity2.5 mm$$4.5 Tenaya OasiSensitivity3.5 mm$4.5 Scarpa Booster SSensitivity 3.5 mm$4.1 BOULDERING SHOES REVIEWS SCARPA INSTINCT VS Check out the latest price on: Amazon | REI BEST FOR: Bouldering, smearing, edging SOFTER VERSION: Scarpa Instinct VSR UPPER: Unlined microsuede RUBBER: Vibram XS Edge SOLE THICKNESS: 3.0 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Highly charged bi-tension active randing that connects toe box to heel cup PROS: Excellent heel, powerful aggressive shoe good for smearing and edging, good from slab to steep, aggressive toe rubber coverage, an identical, softer version available CONS: Not ideal for wide feet, EX Edge rubber reduces sensitivity and flexibility slightly LA SPORTIVA SOLUTION Check out the latest price on: Amazon | REI BEST FOR: Bouldering in steep terrain WOMEN’S VERSION: La Sportiva Women’s Solutions UPPER: Unlined synthetic RUBBER: Vibram XS Grip2 SOLE THICKNESS: 4.0 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Patented P3 permanent power platform PROS: Downturned position is maintained due to patented P3, very aggressive in the toe and excellent for toeing in CONS: Molded 3D heel cup does not fit many climbers’ heels FIVE TEN HIANGLE Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Backcountry BEST FOR: All-around performance and comfort, technical footwork WOMEN’S VERSION: Five Ten Hiangle Women’s UPPER: Unlined split grain leather RUBBER: Stealth C4 SOLE THICKNESS: 4.2 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Supportive, stiff midsole PROS: Great intro to downturned shoes, rubber bites into holds well, toe specialized for technical terrain, stiffest profile in five ten aggressive line offering great stability and comfort CONS: Wears out somewhat quickly, narrow opening can be difficult to get foot into, men’s version dyes feet blue EVOLV AGRO Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Backcountry BEST FOR: Bouldering in steep terrain WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A UPPER: Synthratek with microfiber lining RUBBER: TRAX SAS SOLE THICKNESS: 4.2 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: TPS (tension power system) technology, thin-rubber midsole, downturned and down-cambered PROS: Optimal toe rubber coverage, TPS maintains downturned position in toe over time, moisture-wicking microfiber lining CONS: Sizing runs a bit small compared to other Evolv shoes, somewhat bulky LA SPORTIVA SKWAMA Check out the latest price on: Amazon | REI BEST FOR: Bouldering and technical routes WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A UPPER: Unlined leather, microfiber RUBBER: Vibram XS Grip2 SOLE THICKNESS: 4.0 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Slip-lasted with patented P3 permanent power platform PROS: S-heel construction for perfect heel fit and optimal heel hooking ability, glove-like with soft midsole, Climbing Magazine editor’s choice for 2017 CONS: Higher volume shoe than others in the La Sportiva line, downsizing may be necessary BUTORA ACRO Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Backcountry BEST FOR: Bouldering and steep routes, technical edging NARROW FIT VERSION: Blue Acro Narrow Fit UPPER: Lined synthetic and leather RUBBER: Butyl F5 SOLE THICKNESS: Unknown CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: High-tensioned heel rand, down-cambered PROS: Tensioned heel rand directs pressure into toe for edging, excellent coverage of toe-hooking rubber, durable, custom heat mold binds finished sole rubber and rand to reduce delamination issues CONS: Shoe runs a little small EVOLV SHAMAN Check out the latest price on: Amazon | REI BEST FOR: Bouldering and steep routes WOMEN’S VERSION: Evolv Shaman LV – Women’s UPPER: Unlined synthetic RUBBER: TRAX SOLE THICKNESS: 4.2 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: 1.0 mm half-length “Love Bump” midsole under the toe and obtuse angle “knuckle box” over toe PROS: Designed by Chris Sharma, downturned asymmetric with the knuckle box, great for wide feet, excellent coverage of toe-hooking rubber CONS: Three velcro straps can get in the way when toe hooking, rubber lacks sensitivity, users either love or hate the “knuckle box” and “love bump” FIVE TEN TEAM 5.10 Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Backcountry BEST FOR: Steep bouldering and routes, gym and competition climbing WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A UPPER: Lined synthetic RUBBER: Stealth HF SOLE THICKNESS: 2.5 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Medium stiff midsole PROS: Great heel and toe-hooking, shoes are “pre-downsized” so they fit similar to street shoes, vegan, great on overhanging terrain, ultra-sensitive CONS: Soft, not ideal for edging, not as comfortable as the Hiangle TENAYA OASI Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Backcountry BEST FOR: Steep bouldering and routes, smearing, edging WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A UPPER: Synthetic with cotton lining RUBBER: Vibram XS Grip SOLE THICKNESS: 3.5 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: Built on down-turned and down-cambered last PROS: Almost no stretch so sizing is predictable, great power in the toe, rand does not bulge out at all CONS: Velcro doesn’t last as long as the shoe itself, but it’s replaceable SCARPA BOOSTER S Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Backcountry BEST FOR: Steep bouldering and routes WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A UPPER: Unlined Microsuede upper RUBBER: Vibram XS Grip2 SOLE THICKNESS: 3.5 mm CONSTRUCTION HIGHLIGHTS: 1/3 length vibram sole with tri-tension active randing PROS: Super-light, ultra-sensitive and supple, great for pulling with toe and in overhanging terrain, power focused in the toebox CONS: Soft rubber can wear out more quickly Gear up for climbing, without breaking the bankGet the Latest Deals on Climbing GearSent right to your inbox...GEAR UP FOR CLIMBING HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BOULDERING SHOES Bouldering shoes are very aggressive and highly specialized. Fortunately, there are several options on the market so finding the perfect shoes with a balance between comfort and power is possible. Keep in mind that all the shoes covered in this article are fairly high end. If you are a new climber, consider starting out with a pair of beginner climbing shoes. Steep terrain is easily accessible indoors. Many climbing gyms offer boulder problems in the V0-V2 range that climb through overhangs. Beginners may benefit from a more aggressive shoe if climbing primarily indoors. Lastly, true bouldering-only shoes do not exist. All models covered in this review can also be used for other climbing disciplines. SHOE CONSTRUCTION Understanding the parts of a climbing shoe is super helpful in narrowing down your option. UPPER The upper on a climbing shoe is the material that covers the top of the foot. Climbing shoe uppers are usually made from leather/microsuede or synthetic materials. The upper also provides comfort and breathability. Some uppers are lined to reduce stretch. RAND The rand of a climbing shoe is the rubber that wraps around the toe box and heel, providing something for the sole to attach to. In an aggressive shoe, the rand is often tensioned to deliver power to the toe. For example, Scarpa uses a tri-tensioned rand in some of their shoes. Evolv uses a tension power system and La Sportiva has a patented P3 permanent power platform. MIDSOLE The midsole is a hidden component of the shoe. It is located between the sole and the upper. It gives the climbing shoe its structure while being lightweight and flexible to support torsional and flexional pressures. Ultra-flexible shoes have very small, thin midsoles. SOLE The sole is the outermost rubber on your climbing shoe. It’s the part of your shoe that makes contact with the rock. A thicker sole will give you more stability and last longer. But, a thinner sole will provide greater sensitivity. A variety of rubbers is used on the soles of climbing shoes. All of them aim to provide stickiness, sensitivity and durability to keep you on the smallest of edges and the glassiest of smears. LAST The last is the foot shape that the shoe was constructed on. There are wide and narrow lasts offered to meet the needs of various foot shapes. Once you learn which last (or lasts) fit your feet well, it can make shopping for the perfect climbing shoe a breeze. CLOSURE There are three different types of climbing shoe closures: lace-ups, velcro hook-and-loops and slippers. All the bouldering shoes in this review feature a velcro-style closure. Velcro closures add a little bit of customization to a true slip-on. They are easy to get on and off quickly. The closure also tends to stay out of the way for toe-hooking in steep terrain. Actually, most bouldering shoes are a hybrid slipper-velcro design. THINK AGGRESSIVE! Bouldering shoes are downturned – or aggressive – to help keep your feet on the wall in steep terrain. Downturned shoes have a talon-like or hooked appearance and focus the power into the toe. In aggressive shoes, the toes are pressed into the end of the toe box and slightly curled. Every shoe we’ve suggested in this article is down-cambered or hooked. These shapes are not ideal for all-day comfort and often not a good choice for beginner shoes. HOOKING ABILITY Bouldering involves pulling short sequences of difficult moves on relatively small rocks known as boulders. Many difficult boulder problems require climbing through steep terrain. To keep the body locked in when moving through overhangs, climbers use techniques such as toe hooks and heel hooks. To facilitate better pulling with all parts of the foot, bouldering shoes have powerful heel cups that allow precision heel hooking. Most bouldering shoes also have sticky toe rubber that extends over the upper on the front of the shoe so that climbers can pull with the tops of their feet as well. FIT The most important consideration when choosing the best bouldering shoe is fit. Every person has a slightly different width, volume and heel depth. Climbing shoes are constructed on multiple different lasts that aim to meet multiple different foot shapes. We recommend testing as many models as possible in shops or at shoe demos to find the ones that hug your foot best. If your feet are of two different sizes, there are solutions for that problem as well! Some companies allow you to order a different size for each foot for the addition of a nominal fee. SIZING Sizing your climbing shoes comes down to personal comfort, type of climbing, and the brand you’re buying from. Lined shoes often fit true to street size, whereas European brands like La Sportiva and Scarpa usually require downsizing. Climbers often buy their bouldering shoes a half-size down from what they wear for sport climbing. Downsizing to a snug fit immobilizes your feet in your shoes. A perfect tightness with no gaps or hotspots can increase precision in all aspects of footwork. Downsizing too far can be dangerous though especially in the case of lined shoes that will stretch no more than a half size at most. Stretch is a realistic concern when buying climbing shoes especially when you’re seeking a highly specialized precision shoe for bouldering. While the length of your climbing shoe from heel to toe won’t change, an unlined leather climbing shoe can stretch up to two sizes. MEN’S VS WOMEN’S Most climbing shoes on the market are “Men’s” or “Unisex.” When a women’s specific version is available, the options are usually fewer. Some companies deliver women’s versions to the world as a pink or purple model, whereas other companies advertise a gender-neutral low-volume alternative. Many men have low-volume feet and choose women’s models for a better fit. ROCK CLIMBING RESOURCESTABLE OF CONTENTSROCK CLIMBINGTABLE OF CONTENTS 1. BASICS 5. CLIMBING CLOTHES 2. KNOTS & ANCHORS 6. TRAINING 3. CLIMBING SKILLS 7. SAFETY 4. CLIMBING GEAR 8. PSYCHOLOGY 1. BASICS 2. KNOTS & ANCHORS 3. CLIMBING SKILLS 4. CLIMBING GEAR 5. CLIMBING CLOTHES 6. TRAINING 7. SAFETY 8. PSYCHOLOGY Disclosure: The Adventure Junkies is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. We also use other affiliate programs like REI, LeisurePro, Diviac and Liveaboard.com.