Last updated: 17/10/2022

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In several forms climbing, climbing shoes are used, a type of shoe that has come to give climbers extra assistance in their sport. These climbers need a special type of shoe as something like a pair of sneakers simply isn’t sufficient. These are shoes that are closely fitted and suited to the foot, like a second skin, something that allows greater sensitivity to feel and grip the small projections of the rocks.

Additionally, climbing shoes have rubber coating on the soles, the front and the sides, which was first introduced by the Boreal brand in the early 1980s. This evolution in the shoe provided better grip and allowing participants to climb with much more precision and less risk.

Key Facts

  • Climbing shoes allow better sensitivity in contact with rocks or walls.
  • The shape of our foot should be the main reference to choose the model of cat feet that suits us.
  • As we will see in the shopping criteria, it is essential to have the right size climbing shoe, as a shoe that is too loose or too tight, would detract from their benefits or even be painful.

Our Selection: The Best Climbing Shoes

Here we introduce several models of climbing shoes that can adapt to suit your needs, whatever they may be. These models either have a guarantee from brands which are internationally renowned in the manufacture of climbing shoes, the most popular or those that have the best reviews from users.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Climbing Shoes

There is a wide variety of climbing shoes available. They vary according to your gender, the style you practice, the shape of your foot, the type of sole, the materials and where you will practice this sport. Let’s answer a series of questions to learn more about this special shoe for climbers.

Climbing shoes

Climbing shoes are frequently used by rock climbers.
(Source: Vladislav Zhukov: 39485661/

What are climbing shoes exactly?

Climbing shoes are footwear used by climbers to get greater grip and precision thanks to their special soles which feature special adherent rubber located on the front and sides. Other characteristic features include lightness and flexibility. They are shoes that must fit very well to give the climber sensitivity to the climbing surface.

Climbing Shoes For Indoor and Outdoor Climbing

Generally, there are more climbing shoes designed for outdoor activities than for indoor activities. This does not mean, however, that you should buy outdoor shoes to practice the sport on a climbing wall. When practicing rock climbing indoors, you usually cover more distance, meaning that the shoes will wear out more quickly, which can become very expensive.

Comfortable and cheap climbing shoes designed for indoor climbing are the best option unless you are practicing on very advanced climbing walls, in which case you are better off with durable shoes specifically made for bouldering. Look for better quality when climbing outdoors, where sensitivity and technique have priority.

Did you know that the invention of climbing walls in the 1980s was an important evolution in the sport of climbing?

What are the different types of climbing shoes?

There are different types of climbing shoes, each with their own characteristics and specific features. This does not make some models better than others but simply means that certain shoes have specific features for a particular climbing style, or for a specific type of foot. You can see what we mean in the following table:

Material Shape of the shoe Shape of the sole Type of rubber Closure system
Natural leather Symmetrical Flat Hard Cords
Synthetic Asymmetrical Curved Soft Velcro
Adherent Ballet shoes
Less adherent  

What impact do climbing shoes have on your performance?

To get maximum performance and comfort, the shape of the climbing shoe should match that of your feet. Remember that these shoes are intended to be like a second skin, very well fitted to your foot, but without causing excessive discomfort or pain that lasts for a long time. These are the main types of soles and their characteristics:

  • Symmetrical: These are recommended for climbers who starting out in this sport, for those who do many hours on long climbs or for veterans who intend to have long sessions at the climbing wall. They offer premium comfort over sensitivity and fit.
  • Asymmetrical: These are more technical footwear. Their main feature is the modification of the transverse axis of the foot, which puts the force of the tread on the big toe, which gives you more precision.

Is your level of climbing experience important?

If you are a beginner in the world of climbing, it is best to look for comfortable and versatile climbing shoes, with a flat, rigid sole and good thickness. This will give strength and support to your fingers and ankles. Also remember that you will probably use your shoes for many hours and the more durable they are, the longer they will last.

As your technique develops, you can opt for other more specific shoes. These usually have an asymmetric sole that moves the body inwards. But do not rush, because using these shoes without the experience to back it up can lead to injuries or strain. The symmetrical sole is better for beginners.

Are climbing shoes for men and women different?

Manufacturers of climbing shoes offer models for women and children that are different from those for men. However, in reality, the differences are really only in the size or the design of the shoe. Obviously, the size of the sole will be significantly different, but you don’t always have to look for a model made specifically for women or children.

The most important thing is to follow the same criteria as when buying climbing shoes for men. That is, opt for comfortable shoes that fit well and offer durability. For beginners, which is very likely to be the case with children, you should avoid technical shoes with high sensitivity.

Climbing shoes

There are many brands of climbing shoes, we recommend the ones which are best suited to your needs.
(Source: Alexey Poprotsky: 40869433/

What are the best-known brands of climbing shoes?

The most recognized climbing shoe brands stand out for their efforts in innovation, which improves the performance of footwear for climbing and allows greater challenges to those who practice this sport. There is a wide range of models, many of which offer a high level of quality.

  • La Sportiva: Italian firm that manufactures climbing equipment and is a benchmark for quality when it comes to climbing shoes, which offer a high level of sensitivity.
  • Boreal: Spanish brand known for their technological innovation. In the early eighties, they developed a special rubber sole that was a revolutionary advance for the industry.
  • Scarpa: An Italian brand that began its journey in 1938 and that, despite its growth and expansion around the world, is still considered a family business.
  • Five Ten: An American manufacturer of sports shoes for outdoor activities. In recent times it has become one of the largest sellers of climbing shoes.

Shopping criteria

Although there are several characteristics to consider before choosing the most suitable climbing shoes, we must remain mainly with two aspects that are non-negotiable: foot size and shape. To obtain a perfect fit, which is crucial in the sport of climbing, both of these elements must be correct.


Climbing shoes have to be very closely fitted, we would say almost as tight as possible. Therefore, choosing the correct size is essential for adequate performance, while not causing excessive discomfort. In any case, we must avoid shoes which are loose, because sensitivity and precision are lost.

Sizes can be inconsistent between the different brands which make climbing shoes, so in some companies, the ideal size may be the same as that of your street shoes, while in others you will need to go one size smaller. The key is that they are not loose, they should even feel a little too tight at first, but without causing pain.

Climbing shoes

Many manufacturers of climbing shoes also make models for children.
(Source: Tatiana Kostareva: 23807699/


The shape of the foot is what should guide us when deciding which pair of climbing shoes to choose. Otherwise, you may try to force your feet into a shoe which may be great quality, but that is not suitable for our foot shape. Your feet should not slip inside the shoes, and the shoes should not be loose. There are three types, depending on the shape of your foot:

  • Egyptian foot: The big toe is the largest with the other toes getting smaller in descending order.
  • Greek foot: The second toe is the longest, the big toe and third toe are equal length, and the others are smaller.
  • Polynesian foot: The toes are all practically the same length. Also known as a square foot.


There are four types of soles in climbing shoes, depending on the hardness of the rubber: hard, soft, more adherent and less adherent. Hard rubber shoes are most recommended for beginners, because they help you to strengthen your muscles, among other reasons.

The soles of climbing shoes come in either flat or curved shapes. Most models are flat, but there are some where the front end curves down. This makes it easier to make some of the necessary movements when climbing. These types of soles are generally used by experienced climbers.


Climbing shoes are made of natural or synthetic leather. The former are better fitted to the foot and should be bought to be very tight, because as they mould themselves to the shape of the foot as they are used and become a second skin. They also allow for sweating. It is in the price where synthetic materials have an advantage, being a little cheaper.

Climbing shoes

Remember that the shoe should be closely fitted to your foot.
(Source: Wavebreak Media Ltd: 47306174/


Closures may not be a defining factor when buying climbing shoes, but it is still a good idea to choose the type which best suits your sport and how you practice it. How far you climb will also affect which is the best closure for you, which can be of three types:

  • Laces: They fit better and are softer. Recommended for long-distance climbing.
  • Velcro: They are more comfortable. Able to be taken off and put on quickly. Suitable for the boulder climbing, which consists of climbing blocks of rock or small walls.
  • Ballet shoes: They adapt perfectly to the foot, are comfortable and offer a high level of performance.


The purchase of climbing shoes should be governed by the shape of the climber’s feet: everyone has unique feet and, with this type of footwear, it is essential that they are closely fitted. It is not easy to buy this item online, although following certain criteria such as those we have mentioned, you can be confident in your purchase.

It should be noted that the leading brands are usually those you can rely on. In case we do not get the exact size or have some other type of problem you can usually exchange them. Then, with experience, you will discover which models perform best according to your needs or sports practices.

(Source of the featured: Alexey Poprotsky: 34579961/