The Best Rock Climbing Shoes to Conquer the Next Mountain

Isobel Becker
  Nov 27, 2022 1:31 AM

You are just dipping into this adventurous and highly-challenging sport - rock climbing - and wonder what you should equip yourself with first? Health - for sure! Then, a good pair of durable shoes to accompany you through your beginner’s days. In this article, we have made a detailed compilation of the best rock climbing shoes for you to glance through before making a well-considered choice.
 

The Best Rock Climbing Shoes to Conquer the Next Mountain

1. Affordable rock climbing shoes for entry-level climbers: Black Diamond Men's Momentum Climbing Shoes

Is this your first time trying rock climbing? If you are not down to splurge a few hundred bucks on a pair of high-performance climbing shoes, the Black Diamond Men’s Momentum might be your best bet. With less than $100, you’ll get well-ventilated knit upper fabric, and a flat rubber sole comfortable enough to train all day long. Overall, it ticks all the boxes for a basic pair of rock climbing shoes for those who want to test the waters with a new sport.  

Closure: Strap

Color: Ash

Material: synthetic, knit upper

Recommended Use: Rock climbing, Gym Bouldering

 

2. Durable, ultra-comfy good starter rock climbing shoes: CLIMBX Rave Strap Men's Rock Climbing Shoe

Just like the Black Diamond’s Momentum models, CLIMBX Rave Men’s Rock Climbing Shoes are perfect to set your very first footstep in the climbing journey. It’s a jack-of-all-trades that allows climbers to perform some fundamental tricks of rock climbing, including crack climbing, edging, and pocket climbing, but master of none. The shoes are designed to work especially well for crack climbing with their rigid and flat sole. Also, their padded ankle cuff, mesh material, and flat design altogether make the Rave an exceptional intro pair. 

Closure: Lace-up 

Color: Red

Material: Synthetic

Recommended Use: Indoor Climbing

 

3. Versatile rock climbing shoes at a reasonable price: La Sportiva Men's Tarantulace Rock Climbing Shoe

Have you ever struggled to select transitional rock climbing shoes from beginner to intermediate levels? Look no further, because the La Sportiva Men’s Tarantulace can perform exceptionally well in multiple climbing types and be a great assistant in sharpening new skills, thanks to the snug fit design and spacious toe room for excellent comfort. While they make the cut for starter/intermediate climbing shoes, the Tarantulace models are not recommended for progressing to intermediate or advanced levels.

Closure: Lace-up

Color: Olive/ Tiger

Material: Leather, rubber

Recommended Use: Gym, Rock Climbing

 

4. 2-in-1 climbing shoes that compliment the anatomy of every foot: Joomra Women's Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes

The Joomra Women’s Minimalist Barefoot Shoes are the only female-specialized models that make the list for some obvious reasons. First, their rubber cloud slides offer excellent balance so you can confidently conquer rocky terrains without concerning about straining or losing your grip. Second, they are built to fit the exact shape of your foot, which helps make it comfy while performing a variety of exercises, especially rock climbing. Last but not least, the price! The cost is surprisingly approachable for a pair of minimalist climbing shoes, so this would be ideal for a budget-oriented shopper. 

Closure: Lace-up

Color: Rose Red

Material: Knit

Recommended Use: Gym, Hiking, Rock Climbing

 

5. A simple yet superior quality rock climbing shoes: Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer Climbing Shoes 

The Salomon Men’s X Ultra Pioneer is quite narrow compared to other models, as it should be, as rock climbing shoes are supposed to be narrower to snug-fit your feet perfectly. The shoes also deliver top-notch features, such as lightweight, great odor control, and waterproof, which would be helpful when climbing outdoors.  However, do keep in mind that the laces come loose easily, so make sure you double knot before climbing to avoid tripping and inconvenience.  

Closure: Lace-up

Color: Black/Magnet/Blue Steel

Material: Rubber, knit

Recommended Use: Day Hiking, Outdoor Climbing

 

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What to consider before buying rock climbing shoes

Here is our detailed guide to finding stellar rock climbing shoes that are worthy of your money:

1. Types of Rock Climbing Shoes

  • Neutral: These kinds of shoes have a roomy toe box so yours can lie flat inside for maximum comfort. Neutral shoes are the real deal for entry-level climbers, but experienced ones can also opt for this if they prioritize comfort. 

  • Moderate: The shoes are uniquely shaped downturn to put your sole in a secure position, which is great for technical skills. These models can work on crack climbings, long climbs, or even stroll around the street.

  • Aggressive: Asymmetric shape is a signature shape of aggressive shoes. For perfect placements on even the smallest holds, that form concentrates force over the toe. Climbers prefer aggressive types for single-pitch sport climbs and gym routes to all-day multi-pitch climbs since they are typically less comfortable.

2. Materials

When it comes to rock shoes’ materials, leather is top of the list for ease of cleaning. While unlined leather shoes can stretch to full size, the lined models are reduced to half a size or less. Expect rigidity from synthetic shoes as they don't stretch much and only mildly soften with wear. As a result, the fit won't likely be very much. The tough fabric has less give than perforated synthetic uppers. Some fabrics enable sweat to be wicked off the feet and to breathe.

3. Fit and Sizing 

This category might be tricky for rock climbers of beginner level. Sizing varies from brand to brand, or even model to model within a brand, so you may want to visit the store and physically try them on. Likewise, a shoe’s fit will vary based on your demand: prioritize comfort with a breathable pair of climbing shoes if you’re a starter; otherwise, opt for something more snug fit if you are professionally trained and climbing more challenging terrains. 

4. Closure system

Lace-ups and strap closure are the two most common choices to close your rock climbing shoes. Between the two, lace-ups are probably more flexible, since you can adjust the tightness as you like. Meanwhile, though shoes with straps only have one option of closure, they are more convenient and can save you a little time to set up your foot gear, like the Black Diamond Men's Momentum Climbing Shoes.  

5. Budget

You may expect to see a wild range of prices when searching for your favorite pair of rock shoes. Commonly, starter climbing shoes cost a tad less than specialized shoes due to a lack of special features, around $75 - $120. Fortunately, all entry-level models we recommend in this list have excellent durability, while still in this price range.  

FAQs

1. Tips for choosing the right fit for my climbing shoes 

We highly recommend visiting the store when buying climbing shoes if you are a total newbie and completely clueless about sizing. On top of that, there are some determining factors you should know when trying on a pair of shoes: 

  • Swell factor: avoid trying shoes in the evening since your feet will swell after a long day of moving.

  • The socks factor: this can be quite shocking for a beginner but yes - climbers normally don’t wear socks when performing the task to grip better 

  • The correct toe fitting factor: make sure your toes are somewhat bent and your knuckles are not stuffed in the front part of the shoes to prevent hurting and injuries. 

2. What are the differences between indoor and outdoor rock climbing shoes? 

In terms of climbing indoors, opt for something that feels comfortable on your feet and has a reasonable price because chances are they are likely to wear out soon. On the other hand, climbing outdoors would demand higher-performing shoes with additional specialized features. 

3. What kind of shoes should I wear for my narrow feet? 

Regardless of foot types, flat shoes are always a good choice for additional support. For narrow feet that may be vulnerable to harsh movement, we would recommend you check out the Black Diamond Men’s Momentum

4. Are stiff or soft rock climbing shoes better? 

As a rule, soft models are for boulderers and stiff ones are for top-roping climbers. Soft climbing shoes are often mistaken for shoes for beginners, but they actually perform better when you have to hook your toes or heels on rocky boulders. Stiff shoes, on the other hand, deliver excellent assistance that newbies will need while getting used to climbing.

5. Should I choose a synthetic or leather upper part? 

This is solely based on personal preference. In most cases, leather rock shoes are more low-maintenance as they will turn squeaky clean after a few swipes and smell better for a longer time. In contrast, shoes with synthetic go against everything mentioned previously. However, these win the hearts of environmentally-conscious shoppers. 

Final thoughts

Let’s recap: the best rock climbing shoes should tick all your boxes in terms of comfort, support, and price. Try the  La Sportiva Men’s Tarantulace as they deliver all of the previously mentioned points. With a comfy flat sole, the Tarantulace is precise enough to serve as a good tool while you're developing some footwork; also, it’s super affordable ($89). If you are a casual climber or a newbie that is just testing the water with a new sport, these versatile shoes are certainly worth a try!  

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