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|Most Comfortable: La Sportiva Mythos Eco|
|Best Value: Five Ten NIAD Moccasym|
|Most Comfortable High-Performance Option: Scarpa Maestro|
|Best for Beginners: Evolv Defy|
Climbing shoes are supposed to be tight and painful, right?
Climbing shoes do not have to be uncomfortable and painful to wear, in fact. There are plenty of comfortable climbing shoes that will allow you to climb without foot pain. However, it can be hard to know without trying them on which climbing shoes are comfortable and which are not. For that reason, we have compiled this list of the most comfortable climbing shoes available today.
Most Comfortable: La Sportiva Mythos
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The La Sportiva Mythos is a classic climbing shoe that has been on the market for years. This flat-soled lace-up is also one of the most comfortable climbing shoes you can find, especially for those with narrow to normal-width feet (if you have wide feet, we recommend the Five Ten NIAD Moccasym).
The Mythos is best suited for slab climbing, moderate sport climbing, and multi-pitch climbing. If you’re looking for an all-day climbing shoe, you can wear the Mythos for hours without needing to take them off.
The Mythos isn’t the best at edging or hooking so it’s not the highest performing shoe on the list (that would be the Scarpa Maestro). It also isn’t ideal for overhung sport climbing or bouldering. But if you’ll be doing moderate sport climbing or want a climbing shoe that doesn’t hurt your feet, the Mythos is your best bet.
The Mythos is an unlined leather climbing shoe so it will stretch a decent amount. Your pair might be slightly uncomfortable until they are broken in, a process which won’t take long and will leave them feeling like slippers.
Best Value: Five Ten NIAD Moccasym
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The NIAD Moccasym is a comfortable climbing shoe at a comfortable price. It isn’t the cheapest option on the list (that would be the Evolv Defy), but it does offer the greatest performance bang for your buck.
The shoe is good at edging and smearing and excels at crack climbing and face climbing. It is ideal for all-day climbing, moderate sport climbing, or multi-pitch climbing. It won’t be the best option for bouldering or climbing on overhung faces.
As for comfort, the name of this shoe says it all. The Moccasym, with its slip-on design, is not only comfortable but easy to get on and off (if you ever want to take them off…). The shoe does stretch a lot so if you size them small they will be tight initially but, like the Mythos, they’ll break in to be very comfortable. While the Moccasym can fit a range of foot widths, it is best for normal-width to wider feet.
Your best bet is to size these shoes tight since they will stretch a lot. Also, they will likely dye your feet red in the beginning.
Most Comfortable High-Performance Option: Scarpa Maestro
Now I imagine that some of you are looking for the best of both worlds — a climbing shoe that is comfortable AND high-performing. The Mythos and NIAD Moccasym sure are comfy, but they aren’t the best for climbing tough and technical routes and problems. For you we instead recommend the Scarpa Maestro.
The Maestro is great at edging and performs well at a variety of climbing styles. Its edging and smearing abilities make it best suited for technical or long face climbs. Though not aggressively hooked, the shoe is also a solid option for overhung climbing and bouldering. It’s also well-suited for crack climbing. Overall, the Maestro is a well-rounded, high-performance climbing shoe.
Though it may be hard to believe, the shoe is still comfortable in spite of how high-performing it is. After they break in you can wear them all day due to their mostly flat sole and comfort build. They will stretch very little, if at all, so the break in is more a process of the shoe conforming to your foot than stretching lengthwise.
Best for Beginners: Evolv Defy
If you’ve recently started climbing you might have heard horror stories about climbing shoes — how you have to buy them super tight, how badly they hurt, or how you have to keep your toenails trimmed at all times.
This might be how some people wear their climbing shoes, but you don’t have to subject your feet to that if you don’t want to. The Evolv Defy is a comfortable entry-level climbing shoe that gets the job done, period. To give you an idea of their comfort level, I used to boulder in them for two hours straight without taking them off.
The Defy is not a high-performance climbing shoe, and it’s not trying to be. It is, instead, a comfortable, reliable, and relatively cheap climbing shoe suited for beginner to intermediate climbers. The Defy works well for entry-level bouldering and sport climbing and its flat sole is comfy enough to help you enjoy the sport without foot pain. For these reasons, we selected it as the best beginner climbing shoe.
The Defy is soft and not the best at edging but, as a beginner climber, you won’t need a shoe capable of edging on incredibly small holds yet. The shoes do smear well, though, and I found myself able to successfully “smedge” on plenty of holds in place of true edging when wearing the Defy.
If you’d like to learn more about this climbing shoe, read our full Evolv Defy review.
Most Comfortable Women’s Climbing Shoes
Many of the above shoes are men’s versions, so here we have included the most comfortable climbing shoes for women. Three of the shoes — the La Sportiva Mythos Eco Women’s, Scarpa Maestro Women’s, and Evolv Elektra — are women’s versions of shoes listed above.
The Five Ten NIAD Moccasym is a unisex shoe, one that fits wider feet better.
In general, women’s climbing shoes are narrower and lower volume than their male counterparts.
- La Sportiva Mythos Eco Women’s
- Scarpa Maestro Women’s
- Evolv Elektra (women’s version of the Evolv Defy; here’s our review of it)
- Unisex shoe: Five Ten NIAD Moccasym
How to Make Climbing Shoes More Comfortable
Maybe you already have a pair of climbing shoes you enjoy climbing in. Instead of buying a new pair, you’d rather make your current pair more comfortable and continue using them.
The best way to make climbing shoes more comfortable is to climb in them more. By climbing in them the shoes will soften, break in, and potentially stretch lengthwise (especially if the shoe is new, not so true if the shoe isn’t new).
If you just bought your shoes and they are a little tight, try different ways of breaking them in and see if that helps.
There are some ways to try to maximize the stretch of your climbing shoes, but if you’ve been climbing in your shoes for a while then I wouldn’t expect them to become much more comfortable. If general discomfort, not tightness, is the issue then you can always wear socks with your climbing shoes.
And know that if your shoes are made of leather, they will stretch lengthwise as you wear them. If they are made of a synthetic material, they will likely not stretch lengthwise much.
If everything fails, maybe your current climbing shoes are just too tight. If so, you can’t go wrong with any of the shoes listed above. They truly are some of the most comfortable climbing shoes available today.