Disclosure: Links marked with * are Affiliate Links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases if you decide to make a purchase through these links – at no cost for you!
If you’re just starting out, you’re probably a little confused about your climbing shoes. Which are the best? Do they really have to be this tight?
With a huge selection of climbing shoes, it is difficult for beginners to choose the right one. To help you do this, here is a list of the best climbing shoes that will accompany you for a long time at the beginning of your climbing career. No matter which pair of climbing shoes you choose from this list, you will always make a good choice!
The respective versions for women are also listed for the individual climbing shoes. However, a shoe for women does not necessarily have to be worn by a woman and a man’s shoe by a man. Climbing shoes for women are narrower in shape. If a man has narrow feet, a climbing shoe for women could also fit him well and vice versa. If you don’t otherwise have major problems with your foot shape, you should first stick to this gender segregation.
The all-rounder: La Sportiva Mythos
- Upper: Leather
- Sole: Vibram XS Edge 4 mm
- Closure: Lacing
- Women’s version: La Sportiva Mythos Women
The myth exists – climbing shoes that fit everyone and can do everything! With its Mythos climbing shoe, La Sportiva has created one of the best all-rounders. This shoe has been around for a long time and rightly so. If you know that you will go climbing more often in the future, these shoes will be worthwhile. However, the quite high price is definitely compensated by the excellent quality, performance, comfort and durability. The 4 mm thick Vibram XS sole is very robust and lasts longer than other 4 mm soles. And if the sole should be down at some point, you can resole it.
The shoe is very flat, which makes it very comfortable and not painful even in longer climbing sessions. Due to the patented lacing, the shoes can be adjusted extremely well to the feet and create a perfect fit.
The main reason why these climbing shoes are so suitable for beginners is that you don’t need a second pair, as they are suitable for everything. Whether you prefer to go indoor climbing or to the crag, the La Sportiva Mythos is always a good choice. Due to the good workmanship, the shoe can also withstand narrow crevices in the rocks, into which you squeeze your foot. If you’re sure you want to get into this fantastic sport, the investment in this shoe will definitely pay off!
The La Sportiva myth expands quite a bit over time. So choose a size smaller than your street shoes when buying.
Comfortable and Robust: La Sportiva Tarantula
- Upper: genuine and imitation leather
- Sole: FriXion RS 5 mm
- Closure: Velcro (also available with lacing: Trantulace)
- Women’s version: La Sportiva Tarantula Women
The Tarantula was specially designed for beginners with the aim of offering a good all-rounder with an enormous durability and unbeatable comfort. La Sportiva has definitely succeeded in this with the Tarantula. The flat sole makes it extremely comfortable. Finding a more comfortable climbing shoe is not easy.
The sole is with its 5 mm one of the thickest and therefore also very durable. In addition to the thickness, the FriXion RS sole material also ensures that the sole does not wear out quickly.
The disadvantage of the tarantula is its limited performance. You will not be able to climb the most difficult climbing routes or boulder problems with these shoes. So if you’re an ambitious climber and think you’re making very fast progress, you won’t enjoy this shoe for very long. For those of you who see climbing as rather casual, enjoy every climbing session with comfortable shoes and don’t want to buy new climbing shoes in the long run, there is no better shoe!
Best Price/Performance: Evolv Defy
- Upper: Synthetic leather with nylon lining
- Sole: Evolv Trax 4.2 mm, high friction
- Closure: Velcro
- Women’s version: Evolv Elektra
It is no wonder that the Defy is by far Evolv’s best-selling shoe. The price-performance ratio is very good and many climbing gyms prefer this shoe as a rental shoe, as it fits almost everyone, is considered a good all-rounder and is very robust. This shoe is ideal for beginners who want to find out if climbing is something for them. Also for advanced climbers this is a good second shoe for longer climbing sessions or for indoor training. The aggressive professional shoes can still be taken out if you want to test your limits.
The Evolv Defy climbing shoe has a very robust yet soft sole, which still gives you a very good feel for the ground, as it is relatively soft. The disadvantage is that the toes are not well protected and you will feel your toes during actions where you slam hard against the rocks. But as a beginner this should not be a problem. The rough surface of the sole provides enough friction to hold you even on small edges.
The toes have enough space to avoid (orthopaedic) damage. In general, this shoe is so comfortable to wear that even hours of climbing are no problem. And if your foot complains, you can easily put it on and take it off again thanks to the Velcro fastener.
The synthetic material tends to emit bad odours over time. Until recently, these shoes were even known to stink – but Evolv recognized this and equipped the climbing shoe with an improved inner material. With the newer versions even this disadvantage is eliminated.
As far as size is concerned, there is good news here too. The Defy hardly stretches lengthwise at all and will at most adapt to your foot shape. This is ideal for beginners, as you still have no idea how much a climbing shoe can stretch in the long run. This way you don’t end up with a shoe that is too tight or too big. It is recommended to order this climbing shoe in your normal size of your street shoes or half a size smaller.
Slip-on: Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym
- Upper: Leather
- Sole: Stealth C4 4.2 mm
- Closure: None – Slipper
- Women’s version: –
This climbing shoe should not be missing on this list. A tried and tested climbing shoe, which is sometimes so popular that it is bought over and over again. Many beginners swear by this climbing shoe, it is also very popular with professionals as a training shoe.
The robust sole forgives bad footwork and lasts very long. Despite the thickness, you can feel the surface well and the roughness improves the hold. The Stealth C4 sole is one of the best on the market.
Due to the lack of a closure, the climbing shoe has a completely different feeling than climbing shoes with lacing or velcro. There are far fewer seams inside that could bother you. Besides, it is of course super easy to get in and out of the shoe.
Since leather stretches slightly and there are no holding seams in the upper, you should order this climbing shoe one size smaller, as it will stretch a little after a while. But don’t worry – the moccasym is so comfortable that getting used to it is not unpleasant.
For long climbing sessions: Boreal Joker Plus
- Upper: leather + microfibre
- Sole: Zenith Quattro rubber 4..4,5 mm
- Closure: Lacing or Velcro fastener
- Women’s version: Unisex
The Boreal Joker Plus is an excellent all-round climbing shoe for long climbing tours with a long lifespan thanks to the robust sole. This climbing shoe is particularly suitable for wider feet – this is what the Boreal brand is known for.
The toes are well protected by the thick sole, which is reinforced again at the toes. The disadvantage of course is that some of the feeling is lost.
The Boreal Joker Plus is best suited for extended climbing sessions as it is extremely comfortable. On the heel, the sole is equipped with a shock absorber – so you can climb all day in these climbing shoes and also comfortably overcome the path between two routes. The Zenith Quattro rubber, which is the sole of the Joker Plus climbing shoes, has a better grip than the old rubber soles for beginners by Boreal and still lasts longer. This gives the climbing shoe a good balance between durability and friction. The robust midsole makes the Joker Plus a little stiffer in the middle of the foot, so that you can support yourself well on small edges.
Due to the combination of leather and synthetic materials on the upper side of the shoe, the shoe looks very qualitative and should withstand a resoling without problems. On the sides there are air-permeable areas that allow the foot to breathe even better.
Despite the leather, this climbing shoe does not stretch too much over time. You should therefore order it at most half a size smaller than your normal shoe size. Fortunately Boreal offers this shoe in many sizes and half sizes. If you prefer the individual fit of a lacing or would rather have velcro for a comfortable slipping in and out, the Boreal Joker Plus offers you both.
For beginners with experience: Scarpa Helix
- Upper: Leather
- Sole: Vibram XS Edge 3.5 mm
- Closure: Lacing
- Women’s version: Scarpa Helix Women
The Scarpa Helix is not a real beginner’s shoe, which is why it is at the bottom of the list. I was climbing indoors when I was still fresh in climbing. After I was tired of paying the fee for the rental shoes and wanted to buy my own climbing shoes, I was no longer a beginner and needed a climbing shoe that was a bit more advanced. The Scarpa Helix would have been the perfect choice!
With this climbing shoe, the ratio between performance and comfort is ideal. The Scarpa Helix is particularly suitable for outdoor climbing routes. Through the leather and the ergonomically designed tongue, you can climb all day in these shoes.
The robust Vibram XS Edge sole and the slightly asymmetrical shape of the shoe provide sufficient support.
How to Choose the Right Climbing Shoe?
Here is the complete article: How to Choose Rock Climbing Shoes
- Type: Climbing shoes are classified as neutral, moderate and aggressive. Beginners should choose neutral shoes. They are comfortable and do not strain the foot.
- Sole: The sole is stiffer to support the foot better and thicker for beginners than for advanced climbers, which makes it less sensitive but lasts even longer.
- Closure: The closure is personal preference for the first pair of climbing shoes. With a lacing you can adjust the tension better than with climbing shoes with velcro. Velcro and Slip-ons are more practical if you want to give your feet a break in between and take off your shoes.
- Material: Climbing shoes made of leather or artificial leather are best. Leather shoes in particular are easy to care for and do not develop a bad smell so quickly. The disadvantage of leather is that it stretches slightly over time. Synthetic material does not stretch, but is less breathable and does not adapt as well to the foot as leather.
- Women’s shoes: There are climbing shoes with a narrower cut that cover a foot with a smaller volume better. On average these shoes fit better on women’s feet.
How should a Climbing Shoe Fit?
Here is the complete article: How are Rock Climbing Shoes supposed to Fit?
Your climbing shoes should cover your foot perfectly, i.e. without pressure points or air holes. Climbing shoes are not comfortable by nature, but they must not hurt! This myth is probably as old as climbing itself. If the climbing shoe squeezes your toes or extremely bends your feet, it can cause permanent damage.
Many climbers will tell you that you will lose performance if your shoes are not as tight as possible. If you squeeze your foot so tight that it becomes rock-hard together with the climbing shoe, you will find it easier to find a hold on tiny edges, but the pain will affect your concentration (not to mention the orthopedic damage).
Especially as a beginner, you should therefore make sure that the shoe fits tightly but comfortably. For the shoe size, subtract a half to full size from your normal shoe size.
Each of the climbing shoes listed above is suitable for beginners and will accompany you for a long time – for most of us at least. If you are a natural talent, ambitious and plan to climb regularly and frequently, you should immediately look for more advanced climbing shoes that have a moderate cut with higher tension.
I know many climbers who have been buying the same beginner’s shoe for years and are satisfied. You only need more advanced shoes when you feel that your shoes are slowing you down or hindering you and you want to climb more difficult routes. Remember, however, that professional shoes are a good deal more expensive and have a rather thin sole, which does not make them very durable.
I hope you could find a climbing shoe for you here, so that you can successfully start into the world of climbing!
Attention: You have to take care of your safety when climbing! The information on climbtheearth.com only helps you to learn. Before you climb, you should make sure that you have been properly instructed by an expert and that you follow all safety precautions.
Disclosure: This website is the property of Martin Lütkemeyer and is operated by Martin Lütkemeyer. Martin Lütkemeyer is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to enable Web sites to earn advertising revenue through advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Links marked with * are affiliate links.