The Best Climbing Shoes in 2023
As rock climbing continues to surge in popularity, the gear and equipment has also seen constant innovation and improvement. Climbing shoes, in particular, have grown in their ability to cater to various climbing styles and skill levels. It can be overwhelming, so I’ve highlighted the best climbing shoes for beginners, aggressive climbers, budget-conscious adventurers, crack enthusiasts, bouldering aficionados, women-specific needs, sport climbers, and overall versatility in 2023.
Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners
Embarking on a climbing journey can be both exciting and challenging, especially for beginners. The right climbing shoes can make a significant difference in comfort and performance during those initial climbs. In 2023, several options stand out as ideal choices for novice climbers:
- La Sportiva Tarantulace: Known for their comfort and versatility, the Tarantulace shoes from La Sportiva provide an excellent entry point for beginners. With a balanced blend of affordability and performance, these shoes offer a comfortable fit while still maintaining adequate sensitivity for improved foot placements.
- Five Ten Rogue VCS: Five Ten’s Rogue VCS is another exceptional choice for newcomers to the sport. With a simple yet effective design, these shoes offer a snug fit and a sturdy grip, helping beginners build confidence as they progress in their climbing skills.
Best Aggressive Climbing Shoes
For those seeking to push their limits and tackle overhanging routes and challenging holds, aggressive climbing shoes are a must. These shoes are engineered for maximum precision and power, allowing climbers to conquer even the most demanding routes. In 2023, these aggressive climbing shoes have stoodout:
- Scarpa Instinct VS: The Scarpa Instinct VS is a high-performance shoe that excels in steep and technical terrain. Its aggressive downturned shape provides exceptional toe power, enabling climbers to grip onto the tiniest of holds with confidence. The shoe’s Vibram rubber sole offers unparalleled grip on a variety of surfaces.
- Evolv Shaman: The Evolv Shaman is a favorite among aggressive climbers for its unique “Love Bump” technology, which supports the big toe while enhancing edging and toe-hooking capabilities. With its asymmetric design and high level of sensitivity, the Shaman empowers climbers to tackle the steepest challenges.
Most Affordable Climbing Shoes
Climbing doesn’t have to break the bank. There are budget-friendly options available that still deliver solid performance and durability. For those looking to embark on a climbing journey without overspending, consider the following economical choices:
- Black Diamond Momentum: The Black Diamond Momentum climbing shoes strike an impressive balance between affordability and functionality. These all-around shoes offer a neutral shape, making them comfortable for long climbing sessions while still maintaining decent performance on various routes.
- Mad Rock Drifter: The Mad Rock Drifter shoes are a wallet-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality. With a flat profile and durable construction, these shoes are suitable for both indoor climbing walls and outdoor crags.
Best Climbing Shoes for Cracks
Crack climbing requires a unique set of features in climbing shoes, including comfort, durability, and the ability to jam into tight crevices. Climbers who relish the challenge of crack climbing will find the following shoes to be their perfect companions:
- La Sportiva TC Pro: The La Sportiva TC Pro is a top choice for crack climbing aficionados. With its flat last and sturdy construction, it offers comfort for extended crack sessions. Its Vibram rubber sole provides excellent friction for secure jamming in even the smallest spaces.
- Butora Altura: The Butora Altura is designed with crack climbing in mind, featuring a wide toe box that allows for better foot placement and jamming. Its snug fit leaves minimal deadspace while its durable build make it a go-to option for climbers tackling cracks of all sizes without worrying about aggressive wear and tear.
Best Bouldering Shoes
Bouldering demands shoes that excel in short, powerful movements, precise edging, and aggressive toe power. In 2023, two bouldering shoes stand out for their performance and versatility:
- La Sportiva Solution: The La Sportiva Solution is a perennial favorite among bouldering enthusiasts. Its innovative P3 (Permanent, Power, Platform) technology maintains the shoe’s downturned shape over time, ensuring consistent performance on overhangs and dynamic moves.
- Scarpa Instinct VSR: Building on the success of the Instinct VS, the Scarpa Instinct VSR offers a refined design with a more sensitive feel. This shoe excels in toe hooking and heel hooking, making it an essential companion for bouldering challenges.
Best Women Climbing Shoes
While the shoes listed are applicable to all genders, it is still a male dominated sport and thus can be overwhelming to know which options may contour most optimally when beginning your climbing journey. Here are two climbing shoes that have gained recognition for their exceptional design and suitability for female climbers
- La Sportiva Kataki Women’s: The Kataki offers a precise fit tailored to the shape of a woman’s foot. It’s moderate downturned shape balances comfort and performance, while providing excellent friction and heel hooking capabilities. The Kataki’s lace-up closure system allows for customizable adjustments, creating an optimal fit.
- Scarpa Vapor V Women’s: Known for its versatility and comfort, the Vapor V Women’s features a moderate downturned shape that offers both performance and sensitivity. The Bi-Tension randing system and Vibram XS Edge rubber sole
promotes efficient energy transfer, enhancing edging capability and overall performance particuarly on small holds.
Best Shoes for Sport Climbing
Sport climbing demands a versatile shoe that excels in different terrains and climbing styles with enough comfort to last the long-haul. The best sport climbing shoe of 2023 is:
- Tenaya Mastia: With its precise fit, optimal toe power, and superior edging capabilities, the Mastia is a versatile choice for sport climbers. Aggressive downturned shape provides the sensitivity and support needed for technical moves, while its Vibram XS Grip rubber sole ensures reliable grip on various types of rock. Its design minimizes pressure points, making it comfortable for extended climbing sessions.
- La Sportiva Skwama: Designed for precision and adaptability, the Skwama offers a snug yet comfortable fit that enhances sensitivity on the rock. The P3 technology maintains the shoe’s downturned shape over time, and the rubber sole and innovative S-Heel construction enhances heel hooking capabilities, for optimol technical and dynamic moves.
Best Overall Climbing Shoes
Selecting the absolute best climbing shoes can be subjective as it depends on individual preferences, climbing style, and fit. However, based on their overall performance, popularity, and versatility, two climbing shoes have consistently stood out in 2023:
- La Sportiva Solution: The La Sportiva Solution remains consistent as one of the best overall climbing shoes. The shoe maintains it’s downturned shape over time and provides exceptional edging capability with precision on small holds. It offers a secure fit and minimizes dead space, enhancing sensitivity and control while allowing for power.
- Scarpa Instinct VS: This shoe is favored by climbers for its exceptional toe power and precision, making it suitable for a wide range of climbing styles and difficulties. The aggressive downturned shape allows for maximum power transfer to the toes and its Vibram XS Edge rubber provides excellent grip on both small edges and smears. The Instinct VS features a unique Bi-Tension randing system, which pulls the heel into the shoe and enhances performance.
The climbing shoe landscape of 2023 presents a diverse array of options tailored to every climber’s preferences and skill level. Whether you’re a beginner seeking a solid foundation or an experienced climber pushing your limits, the best climbing shoes of this year offer innovation, performance, and comfort that elevate your climbing experience to new pinnacles. As climbers continue to reach for the skies, these exceptional shoes will be there, providing the tools needed to scale new heights and conquer challenging routes with confidence.