Updated on

People say that good climbing technique means trusting your feet, and to do that you definitely need the best climbing shoes. You want to have faith that your feet will stick on any foothold so you can power through your feet and not just depend on your ams. A lot of factors go into choosing the right climbing shoes that will give you confidence, from fit to aggressiveness to climbing style. Here at The Adventure Junkies, it’s our mission to help guide you to the best products for your desired sport, so you can start climbing and stop shopping in no time!

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

Beginner Climbing Shoes | Bouldering Shoes | Cheap Climbing Shoes | Trad Climbing Shoes

Gym Climbing Shoes | Women’s Climbing Shoes | Crack Climbing Shoes

Climbing Gift Guide
Climber gift guide mobile

Quick Answer - The Best Climbing Shoes

  1. La Sportiva Kataki
  2. Scarpa Instinct VS
  3. La Sportiva Solution
  4. Five Ten Hiangle
  5. Black Diamond Momentum
  6. La Sportiva Miura VS
  7. Five Ten Anasazi Pro
  8. La Sportiva Testarossa
  9. So iLL Street
  10. La Sportiva TC Pro

Comparison Table - Best Climbing Shoes

PictureNameClosureUpperDownturnPriceRating
La Sportiva KatakiLace-upSuede Leather / MicrofiberAggressive$$$4.4
Scarpa Instinct VSVelcro StrapsSynthetic LeatherAggressive$$$4.5
La Sportiva SolutionVelcro StrapsLeather / Synthetic LeatherAggressive$$$4.1
Five Ten HiangleElastic & Velcro StrapLeatherAggressive$$$4.2
Black Diamond MomentumVelcro StrapsSynthetic KnitNeutral$4.0
La Sportiva Miura VSVelcro StrapsLeatherAggressive$$$4.2
Five Ten Anasazi ProVelcro StrapsSyntheticModerate$$4.2
La Sportiva TestarossaLace-upLeather/LoricaAggressive$$$4.8
So iLL StreetVelcro StrapsSynthetic LeatherModerate$$4.4
La Sportiva TC ProLace-upLeatherNeutral$$$4.7
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 - The Best Shoes for Rock Climbing

La Sportiva Kataki

Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Suede Leather / Microfiber
  • Downturn: Aggressive
Features
  • Stiff Rubber (for durability & support)
  • Snug Heel Cup (for powerful heel hooks)
  • Separate Front & Back Lacing (for precise fit)

BEST FOR: ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE

The La Sportiva Katakis are a fantastic choice for an all-around shoe, since they are made to perform on a wide variety of terrain. The narrow toe box fits easily in cracks, while the stiff rubber sticks on the smallest holds, and the aggressive downturn helps you power through steep climbs. The proprietary S-Heel design keeps your heel securely in place and is excellent for heel hooking.

The Katakis have leather uppers which will stretch over time, so they should fit quite snugly right out of the box. The lacing system separates the front and rear laces, which gives you precise control over the fit.

Scarpa Instinct VS

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Synthetic Leather
  • Downturn: Aggressive
Features
  • Two-Part Sole (for extra flexibility)
  • Non-stretch Upper (for precise fit)
  • Sticky & Durable Rubber

BEST FOR: BOULDERING

If bouldering is your favorite style of climbing, you will love what the Scarpa Instincts can do for you. The sole of the Instinct is split into two separate parts, letting the front and back of your foot move independently. Stiff Vibram XS Edge rubber covers the toes for precise placement on small footholds, and the heel is made of softer rubber, which is more comfortable but still provides heel hooking power.

While the stiff rubber is excellent for powerful climbing, it is not the most sensitive on smaller footholds or for smearing, so the Scarpa Instincts might not be the best choice if you’re looking for an all-around shoe.

La Sportiva Solution

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Leather / Synthetic Leather
  • Downturn: Aggressive
Features
  • Highly Adjustable Closure System
  • Asymmetric Toe (for performance)
  • Molded Heel Cups (for a snug fit)

BEST FOR: POWERFUL PERFORMANCE

An extremely aggressive shoe that will give you the power to climb the hardest routes, the La Sportiva Solutions have sticky rubber and a very downturned profile. You can trust that your toes – and heels – will not slip off any surface.

Though the aggressiveness of the Solutions can make them a somewhat uncomfortable shoe, the Solutions have been designed to conform well to your foot. The closure system is the trademarked Lock Harness which brings the rubber outsole up to join the leather upper and locks your foot in place. The midsole is created to maintain the shape of the shoe over time while providing extra support while you climb.

Five Ten Hiangle

Specs
  • Closure: Elastic & Velcro Strap
  • Upper: Leather
  • Downturn: Aggressive
Features
  • Unlined Upper (for stretch)
  • Elastic & Velcro Closure (for easy on/off)
  • Thick Rubber (for stiffness & durability)

BEST FOR: INTERMEDIATE CLIMBERS

The Five Ten Hiangles are a great choice when you’re ready to take the step from a beginner to an intermediate shoe. They are aggressively downturned and feature stiff midsoles to provide support when you’re climbing steep overhangs. The thick C4 rubber is both sticky and extra durable, so you can project hard without worrying about wearing through your toes.

One thing to note about the Hiangles is that they run on the small side, so make sure you choose the right size. However, because they have an unlined leather upper, they will stretch up to half size when you’re breaking them in.

Black Diamond Momentum

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Synthetic Knit
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • Microfiber Toe Lining (to minimize stretch)
  • Fabric Uppers (for breathability)
  • Molded Rubber Sole

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS

The Black Diamond Momentum stands out due to the unique fabric upper. The mesh knit is meant to fit comfortably as soon as you put them on. It also provides extreme breathability to keep your feet cool and dry no matter how long you climb. The fabric also comes in multiple colors, so you can pick your favorite or even choose a few pairs, especially since the price is quite a value for a climbing shoe.

With a molded rubber sole and a moderate downturn, The Momentums combine good performance and comfort, though they are not the best choice on steep or technical routes. But these are a great shoe for beginners to put in mileage while learning to climb.

La Sportiva Miura VS

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Leather
  • Downturn: Aggressive
Features
  • Precise Fit (with 3 straps)
  • Sweat-wicking Lining
  • Midsole Support

BEST FOR: PRECISION FOOTWORK

When footwork is your focus, the La Sportiva Miuras are your secret weapon. From thin edges to small pockets, the aggressive shape along with the Vibram XS Edge rubber allows you to place your feet with precision on the tiniest footholds. With a flexible midsole, the Miuras are also great for smearing on slab (less than vertical terrain).

You do sacrifice some comfort with the stiff rubber of the Miuras, but the 3-strap closure system allows for a precise fit adjustment. The shoes have a breathable wicking lining which will minimize sweat and odor while keeping your feet dry.

Five Ten Anasazi Pro

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Downturn: Moderate
Features
  • Rubber Toe Patch (for toe hooking)
  • Extra Heel Tension (for aggressive performance)
  • Stiff Sole (for precision on small holds)

BEST FOR: GYM CLIMBING

If you need a high performance gym shoe for training or competitions, the Five Ten Anasazi Pro should be your go-to. Five Ten created this shoe with input from pro climber Shauna Coxsey, who won the IFSC Bouldering World Cup in 2017, so you know it’s designed to help you send the hardest climbs.

Added heel tension makes the Anasazi Pro extra aggressive, while the Stealth C4 sole is extra stiff for precision on the tiniest of footholds. A full coverage toe patch made of extra sticky Stealth Mi6 rubber gives you extra power and control on toe hooks.

La Sportiva Testarossa

Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Leather/Lorica
  • Downturn: Aggressive
Features
  • Performance Heel Cup (for heel hooking)
  • Toe Box Insert (for power & comfort)
  • Asymmetric Lacing System (for precise fit)

BEST FOR: STEEP ROUTES

The La Sportiva Testarossas are made for those seeking power on steep, overhanging routes. A special bilateral stretch technology strategically places Lorica (which doesn’t stretch) and leather (which does stretch) in a pattern designed to create the most power when you need to edge on the thinnest of holds.

A patented 3D cupped midsole gives your toes control without sacrificing comfort, and the asymmetric lacing system allows you to fit the shoes precisely to your feet. The downturn created by the P3 platform is made to keep its shape over the life of the shoe, so you’ll never lose performance.

So iLL Street

Specs
  • Closure: Velcro Straps
  • Upper: Synthetic Leather
  • Downturn: Moderate
Features
  • Two-tone Rubber (for style)
  • Flexible Midsoles (for sensitivity)
  • Padded Tongue (for comfort)

BEST FOR: STYLE

Featuring dip-dyed rubber that matches the upper, the So iLL Streets are distinctive in style while providing performance with Dark Matter rubber, which was originally designed to be used by Navy SEALs.

The Streets have a moderate downturn for precise placement and flexible midsoles that provide sensitivity on small footholds. They are quite comfortable shoes thanks to soft synthetic uppers and padded tongues, though they won’t stretch much, so make sure they fit well when you first try them out. You can also take the shoes on and off super quickly thanks to large velcro buckles.

La Sportiva TC Pro

Specs
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Upper: Leather
  • Downturn: Neutral
Features
  • High-Top (for ankle protection)
  • Padded Toes (for comfort)
  • Ventilated Tongue (for breathability)

BEST FOR: CRACK CLIMBING

If you’re addicted to crack climbing, the La Sportiva TC Pros should be your first choice for a climbing shoe. Designed by pro climber Tommy Caldwell (of “The Dawn Wall” fame), these shoes definitely are pro caliber in cracks. With high tops that provide ankle protection and padding in the toes, the TC Pros make jamming in cracks much more comfortable.

To fit the needs of Tommy Caldwell, the shoes are also excellent at edging and using tiny footholds, due to the proprietary P3 platform that distributes power through the sole of the shoe. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is the standard for stickiness so you’ll never feel like you’re slipping off the rock.

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING CLIMBING SHOES

Your climbing shoes must fit your particular feet well, and everyone has different feet, so some will work better for you than others, no matter the size. That’s why it might be helpful for you to try on a few pairs at your local gym to determine what styles fit your feet best. Also, certain shoes are designed for wider feet or narrower feet (sometimes referred to as low volume), so look for those if you need them.

Pay attention to manufacturers’ suggestions for choosing a size based on what you usually wear in a street shoe. This helps a lot when you are ordering online. REI has some good advice for choosing a climbing shoe and determining if they fit properly. Here are some tips for taking care of your shoes so you can keep climbing in them for awhile.

FIT

Fit is definitely the most important factor in choosing a climbing shoe that works for you. Generally, you should size down from your street shoe size when selecting a climbing shoe. Don’t worry if your shoes feel too tight and perhaps a little painful when you first wear them. Climbing shoes should fit very snugly, and you will need to break them in a little before they become more comfortable. Shoes with synthetic lined uppers usually fit better out of the box, while shoes with unlined, natural leather will stretch to fit more.

 

COMFORT

Although the uppers of many climbing shoes will break in and conform to your foot, the toe and heel are covered in rubber, so they won’t stretch. This means you should be aware that if the toe box feels off or the heel cuts into your ankle when you try the shoe, you probably would be better off in a different shoe.

If your feet sweat a lot, a breathable tongue and wicking lining will keep your shoes drier and prevent them from smelling. Also, some shoes have extra padding in the tongue or toe, which is an asset for crack climbing, but can diminish sensitivity when you’re trying to use tiny footholds.

 

DURABILITY

Once you choose your ideal climbing shoe, you’ll want to take care of them so they last for a long time. While thicker rubber on the soles is more durable and performs well, thinner rubber provides more sensitivity on small footholds, so you have to choose what you value more. If you decide to go for an aggressive climbing shoe, check the specs to see if the downturn is designed to last the lifetime of the shoe and not deform over time.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

CLOSURE

How you take the shoe on and off, as well as tighten it to fit. Possible options include lace-up, velcro straps, and slip-on.

UPPER

The material that makes up the top part of the shoe. Often leather or synthetic, which can be unlined, lined, or sometimes padded.

OUTSOLE

The bottom rubber sole of the shoe. Each brand uses different rubber with varying properties.

LAST

The model around which the shoe is formed. Softer slip-lasted shoes are more sensitive, while stiffer board-lasted shoes are usually more comfortable.

DOWNTURN

The amount of downward curve in the toe of the shoe. More aggressive (i.e. more downturned) shoes perform better, but flatter shoes are more comfortable. Beginners should usually choose a neutral to moderate downturn.

 

 

READ MORE

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

Crack Climbing Shoes | Trad Climbing Shoes

Women’s Climbing Shoes | Gym Climbing Shoes

Cheap Climbing Shoes | Beginner Climbing Shoes

0 Shares
Tweet
Pin
Share
Email
Flip