Climbing shoes are more than just footwear. They are an extension of your feet, allowing you to grip, smear, edge, and hook on tiny holds and features. A good pair of climbing shoes can make a big difference in your performance and enjoyment of the sport. But with so many options available, how do you find the best climbing shoes for you? In this guide, we'll break down everything you need to know about climbing shoes, from their anatomy and design to their fit and function. We'll also give you some tips on how to care for your shoes and make them last longer. Finally, we'll show you some of the best climbing shoes for different types of climbing and levels of experience.


Our Top Picks

1. Best Overall Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Katana Lace

The La Sportiva Katana Lace is a versatile and reliable shoe that can handle any type of climbing. It has a moderate downturn and asymmetry that offer a balance of precision and comfort. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is durable and sticky, while the lace-up closure allows for a customized fit. The Katana Lace is also great for crack climbing, thanks to its low-profile toe box and padded tongue. Whether you're climbing slabs, overhangs, or cracks, the Katana Lace will deliver.


2. Best Climbing Shoe for Beginners: La Sportiva Tarantulace

The La Sportiva Tarantulace is a beginner-friendly shoe that offers comfort and performance at an affordable price. It has a neutral shape and a soft midsole that make it easy to wear for long periods of time. The FriXion RS rubber is sticky enough for most surfaces, while the lace-up closure provides a snug fit. The Tarantulace is also ideal for gym climbing, as it has a breathable leather upper and a rubber toe patch for toe hooks.


3. Best Climbing Shoe for Bouldering: Scarpa Drago

The Scarpa Drago is a high-end shoe that is designed for bouldering and steep sport climbing. It has an aggressive downturn and asymmetry that give it an edge on small and overhanging holds. The Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber is super soft and sensitive, allowing you to feel every nuance of the rock. The Drago also features a velcro closure for easy on and off, and a rubber heel cup and toe patch for heel hooks and toe hooks.


4. Best Climbing Shoe for Crack Climbing: La Sportiva TC Pro

The La Sportiva TC Pro is a legendary shoe that was created by Tommy Caldwell for his free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. It has a neutral shape and a stiff midsole that provide support and stability on cracks of all sizes. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is tough and durable, while the lace-up closure ensures a secure fit. The TC Pro also has a high ankle cuff and a padded tongue that protect your feet from jamming and abrasion.


5. Best Climbing Shoe for Multi-Pitch: La Sportiva Miura VS

The La Sportiva Miura VS is a classic shoe that has been trusted by many climbers for multi-pitch routes. It has a moderate downturn and asymmetry that offer a balance of power and comfort. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is sticky and resilient, while the velcro closure allows for quick adjustments. The Miura VS also has a synthetic leather upper that resists stretching and maintains its shape over time.

Buying Guide

If you are looking for the best climbing shoes, you might be overwhelmed by the number of options available. Climbing shoes are designed to fit your feet snugly and provide grip and sensitivity on different types of terrain. However, not all climbing shoes are created equal. There are some factors you should consider before buying a pair of climbing shoes.

adidas Five Ten Kirigami Climbing Shoes Men's, Black, Size 11

  • One of the most important factors is the shape of the shoe. Climbing shoes come in three basic shapes: neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Neutral shoes have a flat sole and a relaxed fit, making them comfortable for beginners and long routes. Moderate shoes have a slightly curved sole and a snug fit, offering more precision and versatility for intermediate climbers and varied terrain. Aggressive shoes have a highly curved sole and a tight fit, giving more power and sensitivity for advanced climbers and steep or overhanging routes.

  • Another factor to consider is the closure system of the shoe. Climbing shoes can have laces, velcro straps, or slip-on design. Laces offer the most adjustability and customization, but they can be time-consuming to put on and take off. Velcro straps are easy to use and convenient, but they can wear out over time and lose their grip. Slip-on shoes are the simplest and lightest option, but they can be hard to fit and lack support.

  • A third factor to consider is the material of the shoe. Climbing shoes can be made of leather, synthetic fabric, or a combination of both. Leather shoes are durable and breathable, but they can stretch over time and lose their shape. Synthetic shoes are resistant to stretching and moisture, but they can be less comfortable and more prone to odor. A combination of leather and synthetic can offer the best of both worlds, but they can also be more expensive.


Q: How do I know what size of climbing shoes to buy?

A: Climbing shoes should fit your feet snugly without causing pain or discomfort. You should be able to wiggle your toes slightly, but not move your feet inside the shoe. You should also avoid any gaps or dead space in the heel or toe area. The best way to find your size is to try on different models and brands of climbing shoes at a local store or online retailer.

Black Diamond Unisex Zone Climbing Shoes, Aluminum, 8

Q: How do I break in my new climbing shoes?

A: Breaking in your new climbing shoes can take some time and patience. You should wear them for short periods of time at first, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your sessions. You can also try wearing them with thin socks or dampening them with water to speed up the process. However, you should avoid forcing your feet into shoes that are too small or uncomfortable, as this can cause injuries or damage your shoes.

Q: How do I care for my climbing shoes?

A: Caring for your climbing shoes can extend their lifespan and performance. You should clean them regularly with a damp cloth or a soft brush to remove dirt and dust. You should also air them out after each use to prevent odor and bacteria growth. You should avoid exposing them to extreme heat or cold, as this can affect their shape and rubber quality. You should also resole them when the rubber wears out or becomes thin.