Climbing shoes are an important purchase for any climber. With many options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which best matches your needs, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional.
This article will give you an overview of the different types of best climbing shoes on the market today, so that you may make a more informed decision when it’s time to buy your first or upgrade your current climbing shoes.
What are Climbing Shoes and Why do you Need Them?
Climbing shoes are best used for indoor and outdoor rock climbing.
The purpose of these specialized rock-climbing shoes is to provide the best grip possible on slippery surfaces, while also protecting your feet from sharp edges.
For beginners, the most important thing to remember is that a climbing shoe must be comfortable. Your toes should lie flat in your shoes so that they don’t get cramped or twisted, and you’ll want all-day comfort for long climbs.
The Different Types of Climbing Shoes
There are three different types of climbing shoes: neutral, moderate and aggressive climbing shoes.
Neutral climbing shoes are comfortable for all-day wear. They offer a relaxed fit for flat feet and provide comfort without compromising performance. These shoes are perfect beginner’s climbing shoes as well as for more advanced climbers who want more comfortable footwear.
Next, we have moderate climbing shoes. These shoes have a slightly downturned shape that is designed for technical climbing. These all-purpose shoes can handle slab routes, crack climbs and long multi-pitch climbs. They are also perfect for easier overhung sport routes as well.
The third type of climbing shoes are the aggressive climbing shoes. These are best for steep overhanging routes and bouldering problems that require a high amount of friction on the toe to stick in pockets or edges.
These shoes are aggressive, which means they have an asymmetric shape that curves toward the big toe to focus power over that toe and make precise placements on small holds. This shape would be best for single-pitch sport climbs or routes at the gym and not all-day multi-pitch routes because of their tight fit and shape.
How to Choose the Right Climbing Shoes
When buying climbing shoes, there are a few things you should keep in mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert climber, these things will help your climbing experience be more efficient and enjoyable.
As we mentioned before, there are three different types of climbing shoes: aggressive, moderate, and neutral (or all day). Your best bet is to start with the type you’ll use most often before purchasing another pair for other styles of climbs.
One of the most important aspects is fit. Different sizes and styles may feel best for your feet, so if possible try on several before buying.
Make sure that the shoes are comfortable as well. This is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to climb for hours without pain or discomfort!
The right climbing shoes should be sock-tight. Although we mentioned climbing shoes should be comfortable, your first time wearing them your feet should be in pain (a little) after climbing in them for an hour or two. After this, you will start to break in your shoes and start to feel comfortable wearing them.
The last thing is cost. You may find yourself wanting a more inexpensive pair, but if they’re too uncomfortable or not what feels best for your foot then spending an extra few dollars could save you from buying yet another pair of shoes later on.
We do highly recommend that you try to find somewhere (an indoor gym, for example) to rent shoes and try them out first if you can.
New vs Used Climbing Shoes
When buying a pair of climbing shoes, you have the option to buy new or used ones.
New climbing shoes have the main advantage that you have the option to buy exactly what you need, often tailored specifically to you and your feet. The downside is that they are more expensive than buying used ones.
Buying used climbing shoes on the other hand can be a lot less expensive, but there are some things to keep in mind. On the upside, they can often be more durable and last longer than new ones if you take care of them properly. The downside is that it’s harder to find exactly what you need.
Oftentimes you can find shoes in nearly new condition this way. Plenty of people make the mistake of buying everything and finding out they don’t like rock climbing or picking shoes like they would any other shoes and have to bring them back because they don’t fit right.
The Best Climbing Shoes in 2022
Below, we will look at some of our recommendations when it comes to climbing shoes. For a more extensive overview of our top recommendations, we recommend reading the specific guides mentioned below the products.
The Best Climbing Shoes for Children
For children, we recommend getting neutral climbing shoes, which are more comfortable and better for beginning climbers anyways.
Below are a few of the best climbing shoes for children we could find!
For more about the best climbing shoes for children, we highly recommend checking out our dedicated guide:
In this more dedicated guide, we will look specifically at the best climbing shoes for children.
The Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners
For your first pair, we recommend a mostly flat sole, for all-around use. They usually do alright in any situation and they are oftentimes cheaper.
Below are a few great options when it comes to the best climbing shoes for beginners in 2021.
For more about the best climbing shoes for beginners, we highly recommend checking out our dedicated guide:
In this more dedicated guide, we will look specifically at the best climbing shoes for beginners.
The Best Climbing Shoes for Men
Below are a few great options when it comes to the best climbing shoes for men:
For more about the best climbing shoes for men, we highly recommend checking out our dedicated guide:
In this more dedicated guide, we will look specifically at the best climbing shoes for men.
The Best Climbing Shoes for Women
Climbing shoes are sized differently between genders as they generally fit narrower than regular footwear; women’s climbing shoes are often narrower climbing shoes specifically designed for men.
Below are a few of the best climbing shoes for women we could find!
For more about the best climbing shoes for women, we highly recommend checking out our dedicated guide:
In this more dedicated guide, we will look specifically at the best climbing shoes for women.
When Should you Replace Your Climbing Shoes
No matter how much you love your climbing shoes, they won’t last forever. Depending on how often you use them, you can expect them to last for about 6 months to a year. If you use them less often, you could probably get some more use out of them.
So how do you know when it’s time to replace yours?
If you notice your toes getting jammed or the inside of your shoes wearing down, it might be time to retire them and get a new pair. Quality shoes will last until the rubber wears out. This is determined by how often you climb, your footwork skills, and how soft the shoe is.
Climbing less than twice a week with a high-quality pair of climbing shoes will often result in them lasting much longer than the average lifespan. If you are climbing more or with lesser quality soft shoes, the expected lifespan is probably shorter.
Of course, other issues such as a broken closure system or rips in the sole can force an early retirement for your climbing shoes as well.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the different types of climbing shoes and what you should keep in mind when buying (new) climbing shoes. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current pair or buy your first pair, we’ve provided all the information you need in order to make an informed decision that will help improve your climbing.
Now it’s time to get back out there and show everyone what these new shoes can do. Good luck, and climb safe!