Best Gym Climbing Shoes of 2019: The Top 5 Indoor Options
|Top All-Around Pick: La Sportiva Miura|
|Best for Sport Climbing: Five Ten Anasazi VCS|
|Best for Boudering: La Sportiva Solution|
|Most Comfortable: La Sportiva Mythos|
|Best for Beginners: Evolv Defy|
Each shoe excels at a specific type of indoor climbing (or, in the case of the Miura, all types of climbing), so you can get an idea of which shoe is best for you. We’ve also included sizing info with each shoe so you can feel comfortable buying them online.
- Top All-Around Pick: La Sportiva Miura
- Best for Sport Climbing: Five Ten Anasazi VCS
- Best for Boudering: La Sportiva Solution
- Most Comfortable: La Sportiva Mythos
- Best for Beginners: Evolv Defy
- Best Women’s Gym Climbing Shoes
- How to Choose the Best Gym Climbing Shoes for Your Needs
Top All-Around Pick: La Sportiva Miura
The Miura is the quintessential all-around climbing shoe. It’ll be perfect for you if you don’t have one set style of climbing you do in the climbing gym.
Not only do some of the world’s best sport climbers climb in Miuras (e.g. Adam Ondra and Alex Honnold), but the strongest female boulderer at my local gym boulders in them, too. They work for any type of gym climbing and they transition exceptionally well to the outdoors, too.
The Miura’s slight downturn keeps it comfortable while allowing it to edge on vertical and overhung terrain. It is often called a “quiver of one” shoe (it can be the only shoe you own), and when we reviewed the Miura the only downside we could find was that the laces can fray quickly.
Get your pair 1-1.5 sizes smaller than your street shoe size (in US men’s sizes) and expect them to stretch a bit.
Best for Sport Climbing: Five Ten Anasazi VCS
This shoe is one of the best pure sport climbing shoes out there. It is great for those who climb lots of vertical faces and need a shoe that is both comfortable and high-performing. The Stealth Onyxx rubber this shoe comes with is a potent combination of durability and edging power.
The Anasazi VCS’s flat, stiff sole makes it ideal for technical face climbing. If you frequent the roped section of the gym wall and belay others while wearing your climbing shoes these will work great for you.
Get your pair either the same size as your street shoe size or half a size smaller (in US men’s sizes) since these shoes will not stretch lengthwise. And, if you’d like to know more, check out our full review of the Five Ten Anasazi VCS.
Best for Boudering: La Sportiva Solution
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The Solution is at home on the steepest of terrain. This shoe will fit your style perfectly if you spend a lot of time bouldering or climbing overhung faces at your gym. Daniel Woods, arguably the best boulderer at the moment, climbs in them indoors and out.
One reason the Solution is great for steep terrain is because its sole is aggressively downturned. This design allows you to hook your toes on overhung footholds. However, it does sacrifice some comfort so know that — while these shoes will be best you’ve ever owned for steep stuff — they won’t be the most comfortable.
You’ll need to downsize 1.5-2 sizes (in US men’s sizes) in these shoes. Some people even size down 2.5 sizes to squeeze out as much performance as possible.
Most Comfortable: La Sportiva Mythos
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You’ve probably seen climbers at your local gym wearing the Mythos — it’s a classic sport and crack climbing shoe from La Sportiva.
The Mythos is considered by many to be one of the most comfortable climbing shoes out there, and we agree. The flat sole allows for all-day wear, and the unlined leather uppers are easy to break in. The lacing system is also highly customizable.
While it smears well, hard edging and bouldering isn’t this shoe’s forte. The softness and suppleness that make it comfortable can also lead it to fit a little loose.
Beginners and all-around climbers will like the mix of comfort and moderate performance this shoe offers. Once your pair breaks in you can leave them on for hours. Grade chasers should look for something with better edging performance, such as the shoes mentioned above.
The Mythos will stretch a lot. I’ve read reports of climbers who will downsize three sizes from their street shoe size (in US sizes). But generally climbers tend to downsize 1-2 sizes depending on the level of performance they’re trying to get out of them.
Best for Beginners: Evolv Defy
The Evolv Defy is the perfect gym climbing shoe for beginners because it has all the features and functionality a beginner climber needs — it is cheap, comfortable, and durable.
While it isn’t very high-performing, it will be a great shoe to wear through as you develop your footwork and get stronger. Our review of the Evolv Defy determined that the rubber is soft and sticky which makes it good for smearing and smedging (which you’ll be doing a lot of in the gym).
The Defy is a top option for your first pair or for a cheap gym pair which you can comfortably wear while you do your workouts.
To see how the Defy compares to other beginner shoes, check out our guide to the best beginner climbing shoes.
Get your pair the same size as your street shoe size or half a size below it (in US men’s sizes) and don’t expect it to stretch.
Best Women’s Gym Climbing Shoes
The above shoes are mostly men’s versions, so here’s the list of their female counterparts:
- La Sportiva Miura Women’s
- Five Ten Anasazi LV (women’s version of the Five Ten Anasazi VCS; LV = “low-volume”)
- La Sportiva Solution Women’s
- La Sportiva Mythos Women’s
- Evolv Elektra (women’s version of the Evolv Defy; we’ve reviewed it here)
How to Choose the Best Gym Climbing Shoes for Your Needs
If you’re stuck on which one to get from the list above, here is some advice on what to look for to make sure you get the right pair for you.
If you’re like most climbers nowadays, you climb indoors more often than you do outdoors. For that reason, you’ll want your gym shoes to hold up to all that scraping, dragging, and general wear and tear you’ll put them through on a weekly basis.
Your Preferred Closure Style
There is no closure style which is best suited for the gym. That means you should pick a shoe with a closure style that fits your preference. If you like to take your shoes off often, then a slip-on or a shoe with velcro straps is your best bet. If you like a highly customizable fit and keep your shoes on for longer periods of time, then laces would work well for you.
Climbing shoes can either have flat or downturned soles. The more downturned the sole, the better the shoe is for steep and overhung terrain. Since gyms usually have all different styles of terrain (slab, vertical, and overhung), pick your gym shoe based on which terrain you’ll spend most of your time on. If you’re a beginner, you’ll most likely spend your time on slab and vertical routes or problems. So, for you, a shoe with a flat sole will work well. If you’re an intermediate or advanced climber and you like to climb overhung routes and problems, go with a more downturned (also called “aggressive”) climbing shoe.