After some time climbing at the local rock climbing gym, you get to a point where you’re ready to venture out a little more. This includes finally ditching the rental shoes and getting your own.
But how do you choose? There is a staggering amount of options out there and it can become quite confusing.
Take an in-depth look at how to find the best climbing shoes for your needs.
How to Choose the Best Rock Climbing Shoes
To find the best rock climbing shoes, you have to take a serious look at what type of climbing you’ll do and how experienced you are as a climber.
How many hours have you put in? Are you experienced enough that you know how to warm up and stretch out? How safe do you feel outside of a climbing gym?
Some of the best rock climbing shoes are conformed in a way that novice climbers may not be able to handle the discomfort.
This guide should help.
1. What Type of Climbing Do You Do?
There are various types of climbing and levels of expertise. These are important factors to consider while determining the best climbing shoes for you.
Will you be climbing overhangs, boulders, cracks, verticle rocks, long terrains, or strictly in a rock-climbing gym? How conditioned are your feet?
For short climbs and bouldering, you’ll want a tighter, stiffer, and more supportive shoe than can also be slipped on and off with relative ease. This is important for giving your feet a minute to relax between climbs.
For longer climbs and more advanced climbers, a more comfortable shoe with less support is best. For gym climbers looking to improve foot-strength, they should go with a very soft shoe.
2. Lined or Unlined
There are lined shoes, partially lined shoes, and unlined shoes. The lining consists of either canvas or synthetic material. Canvas material, while feeling organic can become odorous over time.
Synthetic material is odor-resistant and stretches less than canvas linings. The level of lining you want depends on how stiff or soft you want your shoes to be. Again, the best climbing shoes for you will depend on the type of climbing you’ll be doing.
3. Last Shape
Climbing shoes come in three basic last shapes.
Flat lasts are a generic shape that can be used at the gym or easy outdoor climbs with limited slopes. They are also great for crack and are more comfortable for long-term wear.
Toe-down or slightly downturned lasts are the best climbing shoes for steep and overhanging cliff faces. The shape allows climbers to edge better and is another good contender for cracks. However, this shoe is very uncomfortable.
Asymmetrical lasts are banana-shaped and are great for bouldering and extended overhang climbing. There are also very uncomfortable and typically required a seasoned climber’s foot.
As with any shoes, the best climbing shoes are the ones that fit the way they’re supposed to. For example, climbing shoes come specifically made for women to fit their narrower feet and higher arches.
The right fit also is determined by varying levels of flex – soft, medium, and stiff. While largely based on the type of climbing you intend to do, your experience level and comfort are also factors.
While some rock climbing shoes are designed in a way that discomfort is somewhat inevitable, a shoe that’s overly tight or too loose could cause significant problems down the road.
Lastly, all of the best climbing shoes come with different features. Some come with laces or velcro, while others simply slip on. Additionally, some are made completely of leather or canvas, while some are made with synthetic material.
Regardless of shape, climbing shoes come with various levels of thickness for their rubber outsoles. Additionally, climbing shoes are made with different types of rubber outsoles, some softer and stickier and others are more firm.
Take a Look at Our Inventory
If you’re ready to jump on the climbing wagon and get your own shoes, take a moment to see what we have to offer. We’re confident you’ll find the best rock climbing shoes for your needs.
And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!
Good look out there and be safe!