Top 10 Best Climbing Shoes For Men

A Guide To The Best Climbing Shoes For Men

If you are a first-time buyer or looking to upgrade your existing climbing gear, prepare for an extensive research! There is no simple yes or no answer to what seems to work for everyone. Finding the right pair of climbing shoes can be time consuming and may seem like a daunting task but remember that the long term benefits will certainly pay off through your thorough research.

la-sportiva-genius

Finding your first pair of climbing shoes can be fun!

To save you some time, we have collected the information on all you need to know about the climbing shoes depending on your abilities, experience, shoe type preference and gender. Not only will you learn about the best climbing footwear brands and their various models but you will also find out how to narrow your selection and pick a pair you will get the most wear out of rather than following suggestions of a random sales person. 

Climbing shoes can vary quite significantly depending on the type of climbing they are designed for. Each shoe model may perform exceptionally well under certain circumstances and can be useless when used on different terrains. It is crucial to understand what type of climbing you are going to use them for, whether it is gym, bouldering, trad, sport, crack, approach, overhangs or big walls.

In addition to the above, consider what other type of gear you will need and allocate a budget for it so you are all prepared for your very first sessions. If you aren’t sure yet what type of climbing you will want to go ahead with, start with your local indoor climbing gym to see how well you do and whether or not you can start looking at the more advanced add-ons. Once you have established certain criteria for your dream pair of climbing shoes, selecting your favourite pair will be a lot easier and you will be a lot more knowledgeable.

 La Sportiva GeniusLa Sportiva MiuraLa Sportiva MythosBOREAL Joker LaceLa Sportiva Katana
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Average User Rating (5 / 5) (5 / 5) (5 / 5) (4.9 / 5) (4.7 / 5)
Sole StiffnessLaspoflex 1,1 combined to P3 System - mediumLaSpoFlex 1,1mm midsole LaSpoFlex 1,1 mm total midsolemedium-stiff midsoleLaSpoFlex 1,1 mm total midsole
Profile shapeAggressive downturnAggressive downturnNeutralNeutralMild downturn
Upper materialsuede leather

*micro fiber
suede leathersuede leather
*unlined for adaptability
split lined leather with zero stretch

- IRS padded heel (EVA pad)
suede leather

*micro fiber
Closure systemlace uplace uplace uplace upVelcro
ColourYellow / Red / BlackYellow / BlackBeige / BlackBlue / BlackYellow / Black
Available Sizes (UK)3.5-113-135-11.54-123-11
Product characterstics
Foot type
moderate asymmetricalmoderate asymmetricalunique patented adjustable lacing system

-perforated Vibram rubber rand for stretch and comfort
wide and high volume
Lorica® toe-box
*optimum edging power

9
-moderate assymetry

-medium fit
Rubber type-Vibram® XSGrip2 - 3 mm - ultra sticky and durable-Vibram® XS Edge 4 mm - razor sharp and hard-Vibram® XS Edge 4 mm - razor sharp and hard-FS-Quattro rubber 4-4.6 mm - sticky-Vibram® XS Edge 4 mm - razor sharp and hard
Climbing type best for-advanced trad and sport climbing

-bouldering

-steep rock climbing

-slabs
small cracks, foot holds, pockets-trad, cracks

-gym


multi-pitch
, vertical crags, technical routes, weak footwork
-bouldering
--overhanging sports routes,
-bouldering,
-gym climbing

-crack climbing

-technical face climbing
Lining CrossDentexCrossPU Air Net - comfort and increased ventilationDentex -back

Pacific - front
Best for / Usage-Highest performance

-Advanced climbers
-Advanced

-performance

-sport and trad climbing, overhangs, bouldering, indoor and technical face climbing

-precision, sensitivity
-Beginners

-Advanced

-Comfort

-all-day routes
-smearing
-climbing cracks


-all-round shoe
-Beginners

-comfort

-thicker, wider feet

-all day routes
-Comfort
-All-round shoe
-Performance

-Precision
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 Five Ten Rogue VCSScarpa Instinct LaceRed Chili AmpLa Sportiva TarantulaEdelrid Sigwa
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Average User Rating (4.6 / 5) (4.5 / 5) (4.5 / 5) (4.4 / 5) (4.4 / 5)
Midsole / Stiffnessmedium-soft midsoleFlexan 1.0 - super soft midsoleLeather, 3/4 lenght midsole - mediumLaSpoFlex 1,8mm complete - medium
Neoprene - medium midsole
Profile shapeNeutralAggressive (Mild downturn)Moderate (Mild downturn)NeutralAggressive (Mild downturn)
Upper materialSplit-grain leatherMicrosuede and leatherSyntheticSuede leatherNatural and synthetic leather
Closure systemVelcroLace upVelcroVelcroVelcro
ColourBlue / CharcoalOrange / BlackBlue / Orange / BlackLime / GreyLime / Purple
Available Sizes (UK)3-115-10.55-12.53-112-10
Product special features-Active arch technology -Rubber Toe Patch

-Bi-Tension System

*maximum toe power
-wide volume
-Rubber Toe Patch
-leather foot bed resists slippage
Asymmetrical shape-low and narrow volume

-Lorica toe box
Rubber typeStealth® C4™ 2mm -ultra-sticky rubberVibram® XS Edge; 4 mmVibram XS Grip 4.5mmFriXion 4mm- sticky and durableE-Grip Solid 4 mm - durability
Climbing type best for-Gym climbing

-Sport climbing

-Multi-pitch
-Bouldering

-Sport and face climbing

-Crack climbing
-Bouldering

-Sport and face climbing

-All-around climbing
-Crack climbing

-Moderate overhangs
-All-around climbing

-Gym climbing

-Crags
-Bouldering

-Gym climbing

-Technical sport and trad climbing
LiningCrossCrossleatherCrossCross
Best for / usage-Intermedia to Advanced

-Comfort

-Gym-to-rock perfomance

-Smears and cracks
-Intermediate to Advanced

-Performance

-Support
-Intermediate

-High end technical climbing

-Performance

-Comfort

-Precision

-Technical climbing
-Beginners

-Comfort

-Sensitivity
-Comfort

-Beginner

-Performance

-Precision and sensitivity
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How To Choose The Best Climbing Shoes For Men

Choosing the right pair of climbing type and the shoe model that will work best for you may take some time. They vary in terms of desired performance, shape, rubber type, volume, support, comfort and appearance. This is why we prepared our Top 10 Best Climbing shoes for you and give you the best hand-picked suggestions of best available models depending on your set of skills.

Our comparison table will give you detailed information about the best climbing shoes models and list the specific climbing type they were designed for. A rookie or an expert-on-his-way, we recommend you do your own research and start visiting local shops for the feel. Engage in small talks with climbing pals to get some idea and collect some opinions.

If this is not enough and you are dubious about what type of climbing will suit you best, we have broken down this sport into the climbing types and listed some great footwear options to fit your individual needs. Shortly you will develop a preference for brands and specific models. Choose climbing footwear based on type of climbing you are into.

 

Gym gym-wall-climbing

It is very likely that your climbing career will take the first baby steps at your local climbing gym. If this is the case, aim for a comfortable pair of shoes with a medium stiffness level.

Opt in for a slight downturn which will add extra edge to your many indoor sessions where you will be bouncing off the techniques and ideas with other climbing gym goers. What you want is to feel your feet placed firmly on the hold.

Choose a simple shape, nothing too fancy. You will not need an advanced shoe type used for overhanging as you are only at a beginner’s level. The following models will help you get over the pain easily, you should consider a pair from the list below:

 

Bouldering

When bouldering, you are looking to optimise your workout. A wise footwear choice would be a relatively stiff model with a moderate downturn. However, more advanced boulderers will go for medium stiffness with an aggressive downturn. Selecting a tight fit is a must and for increased efficiency a Velcro-type model will help you put your shoes on and take them off in no time. 

We have listed a few models that are worth your time thanks to their features and above all good fit:

 

Trad

Traditional climbing (trad climbing) goers sport looser shoes for more comfort, especially on considerably longer climbs. Attention should be paid to the stiff soles. This is due to the trad routes which are rich in cracks. Another good feature worth mentioning would be a high cut ankle. May be ideal for longer duration of efforts on the wall. What models should you consider:

 

Slab

Slab shoes are generally softer and with a moderate downturn. These features will maximise the contact between the shoe and the rock for smearing and additionally let you stand firmly on numerous small holds. Below are a few options for you to select from:

 

Sport

Sport climbing is certainly a niche dedicated to climbing enthusiasts, comfortably using their formerly acquired skills to perform at an advanced level. For best results, the recommended shoe type would be a tight fit one with an aggressive downturn to combat the rock face. Your shoes are only needed up until you reach the base. They are exceptionally good when used only for a short period of time as they need to fit like a glove for the best results.

Consider Velcro for multi-pitch climbing for more comfort when taking your shoes off. If this is the niche you are into, then the following models may spark your interest most:

 

Crack

Crack climbing involves a lot more expertise as this is a very specialised niche. If this is your choice, your optimal shoe type will have a stiff sole. It may be worth checking out some high cut lace-ups models as Velcro may hinder your performance. This can potentially happen if Velcro gets looser whilst making your way through the cracks of different width and depth.

At this stage you might have worn a few pairs, if you have not come across the models below, here is what we recommend:

 

Overhang

If you are adventurous and an experienced climber looking for a challenge, a natural and steep progression to advanced climbing would be overhang climbing. Either a rock face or artificial wall, you are expected to see a slope above 90 degrees steep reaching horizontal angle. Choosing a softer shoe will work to your advantage.

Consider medium to high heel tension as this climbing shoe style will fit your heel well and set your feet for hooking onto the crags. You may like:

 

Features

climbing-shoe-features-explained

Climbing shoe fit

Finding a pair of comfortable shoes is on top of your priority list. It may not be easy but is doable. What you need to consider is that the shape of the shoe is well fitted and snugs around your feet but not overly tight. Otherwise, your entire climbing experience will be associated with exacerbating pain and sore feet for days on.

Our advice about the width is to choose a snug fit because the shoes will loosen up with multitude of workouts. Apply the same rule to the size. Your toes should curl up a little when putting on the newly bought shoes but your feet should still have some room to breathe. Over time, your shoes will break in eventually and create some more room.

 

Stiffness

Climbing shoe soles range from ultra-soft to very stiff types. When there is no general rule of thumb which one seems to hold supremacy over others, your comfort will purely depend on the climbing style you will choose to follow. If you are a beginner, opt in for a stiff sole.

The stiffer the sole, the more support it provides to your feet. This will be particularly noticed and revered when standing on holds for an extended time. The stiff sole will past the test on vertical walls and climbing slabs. Say ‘yes’ to a stiffer sole if you are a devoted to traditional climbing.

As you progress to the next levels, you can treat yourself to a softer sole. This type will feel great on the overhanging routes and will give you the feel of minute footholds and smallest cracks.

 

Profile Shoe Shape

Climbing shoe profiles range from almost flat to some models reaching a very aggressive, downward pointing profile shape. Depending on your climbing style preference, intentions and abilities, the shoe profile you go for can make a radical difference.


Neutral
Features: 
  • sole shape near flat
  • toes lie flat
  • medium to stiff midsoles
  • rubber, thick soles
  • low profile

Pros:

  • comfortable fit
  • provides rest for foot
  • thicker sole lasts longer
  • durable
  • provides strong and stable base for footwork
  • ‘all-around’ shoes

Cons:

  • limited flexibility and sensitivity due to solid and thick sole
  • less sticky
  • not for overhang routes

Good for:

  • beginners
  • traditional climbing (easier routes)
  • slab / face and crack climbing
  • full day climbing escapades
  • fitting into cracks
  • multi-pitch routes
  • all day performance
  • value for money

Moderate
Features:
  • slightly downward pointing toe, called ‘camber’
  • medium heel tension

Pros:

  • downward profile shape positions foot in a prominent location
  • medium heel tension and slight curvature will allow some rest for foot
  • necessary support for performance on more challenging routes
  • increased flexibility and sensitivity due to thinner and stickier sole
  • enhanced grip

Cons:

  • less comfortable fit than neutral
  • less durable due to thinner sole
  • can’t provide same performance as aggressive shoes on overhung routes
  • not precise enough for difficult overhang routes

Good for:

  • more advanced climbing routes
  • more experienced climbers
  • ‘all purpose’ climbing shoe type
  • multi-pitch routes
  • some easier overhung routes
  • anyone looking for progress from beginner level
  • happy medium for comfort vs. performance

Aggressive
Features:
  • high heel tension
  • asymmetric shape
  • decisive downward shape
  • pointy front

Pros:

  • provide great edging
  • flexibility
  • thin sole provides greater sensitivity
  • sticky rubber allows for a better grip

Cons:

  • less comfortable
  • soles are often thinner and wear out quicker
  • generally more expensive
  • definite curvature – different models fit different foot types

Good for:

  • intermediate and advanced climbers
  • very precise footwork
  • advanced routes
  • overhanging edgy routes
  • single pitch
  • advanced climbers

climbing-shoe-sole-shapes

 

Material

Leather – shoes made out leather tend to be strong, breathable, stretch out and get comfortable with time. Choosing the un-lined leather means your shoes will break in moulding around your foot shape. Beware that sometimes a well fitted shoe can stretch by up to a size and continue to stretch making your footwork sloppy and affect your climbing experience to some extent. If un-lined leather is your preference, go for shoe that is one size smaller and give it some time for a cosy fit.

Lined leather – it is simply a fusion of leather and synthetic. Expect the shoe to stretch no more than half a size and in some cases where a shoe line offers ample support, it may not stretch at all. It will perform well despite factors like time and wear off. Just like un-lined leather, they resist odour.

Synthetic – choosing this shoe type will allow you to preserve the very same shape you got shoes on day one. If you found your perfect fit, your shoes will stay untouched for a long time. Less-breathable material will attract and retain unwanted odour. However, on the upside, your synthetics are easy to wash in the washing machine, do not stretch and will maintain the same shape over their lifespan, creating a great ground for performance.

Outsole rubber types

The rubber type and individual composition will differ from one shoe to another, with some manufacturers using several different rubber types in their lines. Some rubber components offer more stickiness, others promote durability.

Soft rubber – will offer stickiness, an important feature for cold weather, small edges and smearing conditions to name a few.

Hard rubber – will perform exceptionally well at edging. To our consent, manufacturers offer a combination of durability, elasticity and hardness. Do not undervalue thickness of the sole, the thinner it is, the more sensitive and the shorter its lifespan. Your choice should be based on the chosen climbing type. The stickier the rubber, the quicker it will wear out but on the upside it will perform better on the more challenging routes.

For any beginner we recommend durable and non-sticky footwear with rather thicker soles. It won’t get affected by large holds and an inexperienced newbie’s footwork, making it last longer.

 

Closure system

la-sportiva-mythos-lace-mens

La Sportiva Mythos sports a comfortable style with lace-up closure

Lace ups – More secure and protected as they literally lock your foot in. Particularly good when your feet get stuck against the cracks in the rock face. On the downside, lace ups are quite time consuming. 

Velcro (hook and loop) –  thanks to the wide opening, Velcro shoes are easy to put on and take off. Velcro shoes will provide more range for people with wide and narrow feet that need more adjustability in order to get a snug fit. Particularly recommended for gym climbing or bouldering.

Slip-on – often referred to as slippers, they can be distinguished by their elastic closure and low profile thanks to not having straps or laces. The soles in slip-ons are usually quite thin and will wear out fast. On the bright side, they offer supreme sensitivity thanks to lack of stiff midsole and sole. This can be a good alternative for those willing to learn fast or those who have some climbing experience.

 

Top Tips for Choosing Your First Pair of Climbing Shoes

If you haven’t had much experience with any form of climbing and you are looking for your first pair of climbing shoes, then you may find the following information exceptionally useful:

  • Do not underestimate the intensity of training at a beginner level – choose a less aggressive but a comfortable shoe model.
  • You are at the start of the steep learning curve. Getting the right technique is far more important than the training duration or difficulty level.
  • Climbing shoes have a different feel to your usual trainers, it may take a good while before you get used to them. Do not get demotivateded easily. Choose comfort over fancy features. The better your first experience, the more motivation you will have for the upcoming sessions.
  • Invest in your first pair of climbing shoes wisely. A comfy pair of less aggressive shoes sporting neutral shape with a rounded toe and medium stiffness will win over the ultra-advanced pair with a stiff sole, pointy toe box and to make matters worse, downturned shape.
  • A snug fit is likened to high performance indicator. However, starting off at the beginner level your footwork you will need some practise until you master the climbing essentials first so leave a bit of space for straightening your toes from time to time.
  • Comparing Velcro vs. Lace-ups. If you are planning on the short routes or your main climbing workout is confined to an indoor climbing gym, go Velcro for easiness and practicality of putting on and taking off you shoes. In case of choosing all day climbing, laces will guarantee a more precise fit. 
  • Make sure that your shoes provide you a good and snug grip on your feet whilst the back of your shoes is not nipping your Achilles tendon. On shorter sessions this will not cause much stir but this may spoil your day long outings.
  • If you are shopping around, try on the shoes after some walking. Nothing will give you a better fit like a pair of shoes that fits slightly swollen feet. Most climbing shoes are worn sockless and during physical exercise your feet will naturally expand.

 

Vegan Climbing Shoes

The sharp worldwide increase in turning-vegan fad is no longer seen only as global trend and has been embracing its principles evermore. It has transpired into numerous areas of life, including various sport disciplines. Notwithstanding its beaming impact on individuals combined with technology advancements has been echoed to the world of climbing, making it breathe those changes all in.

We have been actively involved in gathering some useful pieces of information on the vegan clothing and climbing gear. New models are launched every season, vegan products are increasing in numbers. Vegan climbing shoes are no longer promoted only by pioneering start-up brands, but also many established, reputable names. 

The Oxygym by La Sportiva model is 100% Vegan

The Oxygym by La Sportiva model is 100% Vegan

Many big name companies are dynamically seeking to support vegan climbers with footwear made out of alternative materials, i.e. of synthetic components and free from by-products and animal ingredients (leather, fur, wool, silk, suede).

Whether you are a dedicated vegan or are simply just curious to see what alternatives await you when choosing synthetic footwear for climbers, check out the list below for some shoe brands and much-loved models that will make you fall in love with them thanks for their phenomenal fit!

If you are aspiring to excel at climbing and looking for a good pair of shoes, here are our Top 10 Best Vegan shoes choices: