Best Climbing Shoes of 2018 for Men & Women
Buying new climbing shoes is a tough process.
The prices are high, there are lots of different options, and you might be worried about what size to get. I know how you feel — you don’t want to mess it up and get the wrong shoe.
For people like you, we’ve put together this guide to the best climbing shoes available today. It includes top picks for both men and women in a variety of different climbing shoe categories. There are also links to other articles we’ve written in case you want to learn more about the best options in a particular category.
Table of Contents
- Best Sport Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Genius
- Best Bouldering Shoe: La Sportiva Solution
- Best Beginner Climbing Shoe: Evolv Defy
- Best Climbing Shoe for Wide Feet: Evolv Shaman
- Best Intermediate Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Miura
- Best Trad Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva TC Pro
- Best All-Around Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Katana Lace
Best Sport Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Genius
A top sport climbing shoe needs to be exceptional at edging and climbing on the steepest terrain. Due to the variety of sport routes you will likely climb, it should also be, at its core, an incredibly solid climbing shoe in every aspect.
The La Sportiva Genius, released earlier this year, meets these criteria perfectly. The Genius is one of the best climbing shoes for sport climbing and bouldering, but when it comes to sport climbing, specifically, we think it stands out above the competition. It can climb well on virtually any surface or angle and stick to some of the tiniest footholds.
For these reasons we picked it as the best sport climbing shoe available today. It is pricey, though, which may well be its only con.
WOMEN’S PICK: LA SPORTIVA MIURA WOMEN’S
There is no women’s version of the Genius yet, so for climbers looking for a top women’s sport climbing shoe we recommend the La Sportiva Miura Women’s. For more women’s options, take a look at the above list of best sport climbing shoes.
Best Bouldering Shoe: La Sportiva Solution
High-level bouldering places certain demands on your feet. Shoes designed for this style of climbing should have downturned soles which let you use your feet like talons to hook onto holds on overhung boulders. They also need to be able to edge, toe hook, and heel hook well.
Enter the solution to these problems… the aptly named La Sportiva Solution.
The Solution is likely one of the most common climbing shoes at your local bouldering gym. It is at mine. It’s not just for gym rats, though. Top boulderers such as Daniel Woods, Paul Robinson, and Nalle Hukkataival all wear the Solution and consistently climb V14 and V15 boulder problems in it.
They wear the shoe because everything about it, from its velcro strap to toe-hooking ability, is designed for high-level bouldering.
WOMEN’S PICK: LA SPORTIVA SOLUTION WOMEN’S
Fortunately, there is a women’s version of the Solution. Besides differences in color scheme, women’s climbing shoes tend to be narrower and lower-volume than their male counterparts.
Best Beginner Climbing Shoe: Evolv Defy
Beginner climbing shoes don’t need to be able to climb the hardest routes in the world. As a beginner, it’s best to go with a shoe that is cheap, comfortable, and reliable. The best beginner climbing shoe is one that won’t cost you too much and will help you find your feet in the sport of climbing.
The Evolv Defy is all of those things. It is one of the cheaper climbing shoes on the market. It will last you a good while (my pair is still in good condition after over one year of intense use) and it won’t hurt your feet to wear like some high-level climbing shoes will.
WOMEN’S PICK: EVOLV ELEKTRA
The Evolv Elektra is the women’s version of the Defy. It retails for the same price and offers you the same benefits, and is one of the best climbing shoes for beginner female climbers.
Best Climbing Shoe for Wide Feet: Evolv Shaman
Some of the most popular climbing shoes brands, such as La Sportiva, don’t fit well on people with wider feet.
Due to this, climbers with wide feet may think they have no choice but to cram their foot into a narrow shoe and just deal with it. This is not the case at all — some climbing shoes are in fact designed to fit wide-footed climbers.
The Evolv Shaman is a top climbing shoe that fits well on people with normal-width to wide feet. It was designed by Chris Sharma and now top climbers such as Kai Lightner climb some of their hardest stuff in it.
The Shaman is aggressive but, in spite of this, still surprisingly comfortable. It edges and hooks well and is at home on steep terrain.
WOMEN’S PICK: EVOLV SHAMAN LV
The Shaman LV is the women’s version of the Evolv Shaman. LV stands for “low-volume”, and is an acronym used by some brands to indicate the women’s version of a climbing shoe because women tend to have lower-volume feet than men (i.e. narrower, smaller heel, higher arch).
Best Intermediate Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Miura
Intermediate climbers can’t go wrong by picking shoes that are slightly aggressive, medium- to high-performing, and decently comfortable. This combination of features will help you climb harder grades while letting your feet adjust to the fit of high-performance climbing shoes.
The Miura is that combination packed into a classic climbing shoe. The Miura has been around for over a decade, a testament to its popularity and performance. It edges and hooks well, especially compared to beginner climbing shoes. Also, it will stretch and flatten out slightly over the break-in period and become comfortable for its aggressive nature.
Though we have recommended the Miura here to intermediate climbers, the Miura can hold its own alongside the best climbing shoes. Top climbers such as Adam Ondra and Alex Honnold will climb in the Miura because it is such a solid shoe. Don’t think going with the Miura will hold you back in any way.
WOMEN’S PICK: LA SPORTIVA MIURA WOMEN’S
The Miura is one of a minority of climbing shoes that have female counterparts. Out of this limited pool of options, the Miura Women’s stands out not only as being good for intermediate female climbers, but as being one of the best climbing shoes for women available today.
Best Trad Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva TC Pro
Trad climbing arguably places the toughest demands on a climbing shoe. Top trad shoes let your toes lie flat so you can jam your feet into thin cracks; have semi-sturdy rubber that can be torqued inside cracks but still protect your feet; and preferably have laces since velcro straps can come undone or be painfully smushed against your feet.
The climbing shoe that best incorporates all of the above is the La Sportiva TC Pro. The shoe is also amazing at edging and climbing challenging vertical faces. Perhaps the greatest testament to the TC Pro’s ability is the fact that Tommy Caldwell, the shoe’s designer and namesake, climbed the Dawn Wall in it earlier this year. Read our full review here.
WOMEN’S PICK: SCARPA TECHNO X WOMEN’S OR LA SPORTIVA MIURA WOMEN’S
There is no women’s version of the TC Pro, but the Scarpa Techno X Women’s or La Sportiva Miura Women’s meet the criteria for being good trad climbing shoes.
Best All-Around Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Katana Lace
If you’re looking for a shoe which can do all different types of climbing well, we have an option for you, too: the La Sportiva Katana Lace.
The Katana Lace edges, hooks, and smears well which makes it well-suited for slab and vertical face climbing. It has laces and semi-pliable rubber which help when trad climbing. Finally, it has an asymmetrical toe box and P3 Midsole (a technology that keeps a climbing shoe’s sole downturned) which are helpful for bouldering and overhung face climbing.
The Katana Lace is by no means the only shoe which can perform well in all climbing scenarios, but it is our pick for the one that does it all best.
WOMEN’S PICK: LA SPORTIVA MIURA WOMEN’S
Unfortunately, there is no women’s version of the Katana Lace. There is a women’s version of the La Sportiva Katana, however despite the similar names the shoes themselves aren’t very similar. Once again, we recommend the Miura Women’s instead.
Photo Credit: Amazon