Best Performance Climbing Shoes: Buying Guide

Key Points

  • Climbing is fun, but you need the right pair of climbing shoes to thrive.

  • Understand the factors of a quality pair of performance climbing shoes.

  • Several companies, including La Sportiva and Evolv, sell climbing shoes.

  • Climbing shoes are available at various prices to fit your budget.

Climbing is a thrill. No sport brings you to such epic heights, both mentally and physically. To excel in this craft requires quality performance climbing shoes. Love for the sport also helps.

Just look at John Mowat of Bend, Oregon. At 94, he is still climbing like a 20-year-old and making news by continuing a love of climbing that began in the early 1950s. He's a living, breathing example of how climbing is not just fun but the foundation of a long, happy life.

Choosing the right pair of climbing shoes is crucial because it directly impacts performance, comfort, and safety. Before you learn about the top performance climbing shoes in the market, you must understand the factors that make a top-notch climbing shoe.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Performance Climbing Shoes

Having standards is important. You deserve the best whether you're dating or buying climbing shoes.

Consider the following factors when buying your next pair of performance climbing shoes.

Fit and Sizing

The fit and sizing of climbing shoes affect overall performance and comfort. Climbing shoe manufacturers design their shoes for different foot shapes and sizes. Be sure to get a pair that is suited to your foot shape.

You don't buy normal shoes that are too big, right? Heck no. Oversized or undersized climbing shoes are a recipe for discomfort, pain, and possible injury. Ensure the shoes fit snugly without any painful pressure points.

Your body is smart. It knows when something is wrong. Listen to it. If the climbing shoe hurts, it's not for you. In short, if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.

A properly fitted climbing shoe allows your toes to lay flat or slightly curl, depending on your climbing preference. Climbing shoes tend to run smaller than your regular shoe size.

Some performance climbing shoes offer a more aggressive, downturned shape to enhance precision and power on challenging climbs. Others provide a flatter, more neutral profile for all-day comfort on longer routes. Depending on your climbing goals and preferences, choose a shoe with the appropriate fit and shape to meet your specific needs. There are different strokes for different folks.

Climbing Style and Type

Your climbing style impacts the features you need in your climbing shoes.

You need a stiffer construction with exceptional edging abilities if you're a sports climber. A balanced mix of sensitivity and durability never hurts.

Bouldering shoes prioritize stickiness and sensitivity, so you channel your inner Spider-Man and feel the little cracks and crevices of the holds with your toesies. They have a more elastic construction and aggressive shape to maximize power and precision.

Trad is rad. In trad climbing, the lead climbers install their own protective gear and an adrenaline-inducing endeavor requiring a smattering of courage, a heap of skill, and top climbing shoes. Trad climbing shoes must balance comfort and performance. The construction must be durable to withstand the beatings of time and footholds. They also need to be sensitive so a climber feels the rock.

If you're a rookie climber unsure of what type of climbing is right for you, go ahead and dabble in all of them. The most important thing is getting performance climbing shoes that fit well, are comfortable, and affordable.

Shoe Construction and Materials

Various materials go into making climbing shoes.

The upper part is made of synthetic leather or microfiber, breathable and long-lasting materials. High-quality uppers increase comfort and experience minimal stretching over time,

The midsole, typically made of materials like EVA foam or compressed fiberboard, contributes to the shoe's stiffness and support. Shoes with a softer midsole offer increased sensitivity but may compromise on edging capability. A stiffer midsole provides better support for standing on smaller holds but may sacrifice some sensitivity.

Outsole materials made of sticky rubber compounds ensure supreme grip on rock surfaces. Look for shoes with durable outsoles that withstand extensive use and don't wear down quickly.

The quality of construction, including stitching reinforcement and overall build integrity, significantly impacts the shoes' longevity.

Review of Top Performance Climbing Shoes

These shoes are the wheat among a field of chaff, the crème de la crème, the pick of the litter — the best climbing shoes, for those not quite getting it.

Each has its own perks, so consider carefully which is the best for you. It all comes down to you and your climbing preferences.

black diamond momentum shoe

Photo Source:

Black Diamond Momentum

If you're in the market for a pair of always-reliable climbing shoes, look no further than a pair of Black Diamond Momentum. Designed with your comfort in mind, these shoes boast breathable knit uppers and stretchy material that conforms perfectly to your feet. No matter how long your climb lasts, pain never has a chance to strike.

The lace-up design allows you to easily adjust the fit of your shoes as your feet swell during climbing. These shoes are excellent for rock climbing and bouldering and are especially ideal for beginner and intermediate-level climbers.

With rave reviews about their performance, it's clear these shoes are a popular choice.

They tend to run a bit small, so buy a pair a half-size larger than your sneakers and street shoes to ensure a better fit for climbing.

boreal satori shoe

Photo Source:

Boreal Satori

The Boreal Satori is a high-performance climbing shoe designed for advanced climbers. It features the company's unique wrap-around Rand System, enhancing power transmission and precision. The aggressive downturned shape enables precise foot placements on steep climbs.

These shoes boast a superior synthetic microfiber upper with exceptional breathability and unmatched durability. The Zenith Dura rubber outsole offers incredible grip and sensitivity, making it perfect for use on a wide range of rock surfaces. Its sticky and friction-enhancing properties ensure you stay firmly grounded on your climb.

While more focused on bouldering and steep sport climbing, the Boreal Satori suits climbers looking for maximum performance and aggressive climbing capabilities.

butora acro climbing shoe

Photo Source:

Butora Acro

The Butora Acro climbing shoes have an asymmetric shape for aggressive performance on steep, overhanging climbing routes. It also provides exceptional power and precision. Your feet are snug as a bug in these climbing shoes due to the fork hook and loop strap system, which ensures a secure fit.

Synthetic uppers allow your precious feet to breathe freely and remain well-protected by a resilient and robust material. This gives you an experience of unparalleled comfort and extended periods of safe and reliable climbing, all without making any compromises.

The shoe's Neo Fuse rubber outsole provides superior friction and edging capabilities, enabling climbers to tackle even the smallest holds. The Butora Acro is an excellent choice for climbers seeking a versatile, high-performance shoe for bouldering and steep sport climbing.

Evolv Shaman

The Evolv Shaman is a performance-driven climbing shoe suitable for advanced climbers. Its aggressive downturned shape enhances power and precision on steep climbs. The synthetic upper offers a combination of breathability and durability.

With the triple VCR strapping system, climbers enjoy a secure and customizable fit because they can fine-tune the tension to their liking. The Evolv Shaman's Trax SAS rubber outsole offers excellent grip on various rock surfaces.

If you're an avid climber looking for a versatile shoe, the Evolv Shaman may be a match made in climber heaven. This shoe excels in bouldering and sport climbing, technical face climbing, and overhanging terrain. It is an excellent all-around choice for climbers of different skill levels.

Its design allows for precise footwork. The rubber sole provides excellent grip and support, giving you the confidence to tackle challenging routes.

five ten anasazi lace climbing shoe

Photo Source:

Five Ten Anasazi Lace

The Five Ten Anasazi Lace climbing shoes are renowned for their precision and versatility. The lace-up closure system enables a customizable and secure fit, ensuring the shoe remains precisely in position during intense climbing.

The synthetic Cordura upper offers excellent durability for long-lasting use. The stiff midsole provides optimal support for edging on tiny footholds while maintaining sensitivity on less demanding terrain.

The Stealth C4 rubber outsole delivers superb friction and edging capabilities, making the Five Ten Anasazi Lace an ideal choice for vertical face climbs and all-around performance on various rock types.

Photo Source:

La Sportiva Solution

The La Sportiva Solution climbing shoes are ideal for steep, overhanging boulder problems and sports climbs. The highly aggressive downturned shape complements powerful heel hooks and toe hooks.

The P3 patented technology in the sole maintains a consistent downturn shape over time, providing long-lasting performance. Synthetic and microfiber uppers offer breathability and durability with a precise and secure closure system.

The Vibram XS Grip2 rubber outsole ensures excellent stickiness and edging ability on all rock types.

The La Sportiva Solution is an exceptional choice for experienced climbers seeking high-performance shoes dedicated to overhanging terrain.

Mad Rock Shark

The Mad Rock Shark climbing shoes feature an aggressive downturned shape that excels in bouldering and steep sport climbing. The 3D molded heel cup, along with the Power Upper, provides optimal heel hooking performance.

The shoe's synthetic upper offers breathability and durability for extended climbing sessions. The Science Friction 3.0 rubber outsole ensures excellent grip and friction on various rock surfaces.

The Mad Rock Shark is suitable for climbers seeking high-performance climbing shoes focusing on heel hooking and steep climbing capabilities.

Scarpa Instinct VS

Built for precision and performance, the Scarpa Instinct VS climbing shoes' aggressively downturned shape enhances toe power and edging capabilities. The upper is crafted from synthetic and microfiber to give the shoe a balance of durability and breathability.

Thanks to the innovative dual power strap closure system, achieving a secure and personalized fit for your footwear has never been easier. This feature ensures the shoes stay in place throughout your activities, providing enhanced stability and comfort.

The Vibram XS Edge rubber outsole offers unparalleled grip and edging capabilities on even the most demanding rock surfaces, allowing you to confidently navigate challenging terrains with ease and precision.

The Scarpa Instinct VS is popular among climbers who prioritize power, sensitivity, and versatility.

Tenaya Inti

The Tenaya Inti climbing shoes blend performance and comfort for all-day climbing sessions. The shoe features a neutral shape that balances sensitivity and support. The upper combines microfiber and cotton, offering excellent breathability and minimal stretch.

The closure system integrates hook and loop straps, allowing for quick adjustments and a precise fit. The Vibram XS Grip rubber outsole provides optimal friction on both indoor and outdoor surfaces.

Climbers seeking a versatile shoe suitable for various climbing styles and terrains find the Tenaya Inti an excellent choice.

close up of climbing shoe on mountain side

It's Time to Climb

As renowned British mountaineer Edward Whymper said, "Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning, think what may be the end."

One such "momentary negligence" is failing to get the best performance climbing shoes within your budget. You may not reach your "peak" performance without good climbing shoes. Even worse, the chances for injuries substantially increase.

You've got the strength. You've got the courage. Both are necessary to be a climber. Now, all you need are the climbing shoes.

Make haste. It's time to go forth and conquer your next climb!

Check out MyOutdoorGear for a range of information related to The Great Outdoors.

Was this article helpful?

My Outdoor Gear is the go-to source for in-depth outdoor gear reviews. Join us as we review some of the best outdoor gear items on the market.