Gear Guide: Review of the Best Shoes for Bouldering, Sport, and Trad Climbing

Use this buying guide to learn more about rock climbing shoes and explore our comparison charts to get the lowest prices for the top shoes on the market. Recommendations are unbiased, based on personal experience and community reputation. Your purchases support our free content.

Last update: December 21, 2016. Get our climbing newsletter for a weekly dose of kickass content and check out our deals page for today’s best sales.


Finding the right rock climbing shoe for your style

Shoes vary depending on the style of climbing; hard bouldering will necessitate a more aggressive, downturned shoe than if you’re spending hours on a multi-pitch wall where you’d likely want a flatter, more comfortable option.

climbing shoe style comparison

How to fit a rock climbing shoe

Finding the right fit for a climbing shoe varies depending on both the brand and style. Many climbers find that 5.10 shoes can be sized consistently with your street shoe, while you may choose to go down a size in Scarpa and perhaps two sizes with La Sportiva.

Price comparisons are offered below and you can view the buying options to read reviews, in which climbers will often detail their sizing decisions.

All-around vs. aggressive climbing shoes

All-around shoes tend to be more comfortable with less of a downturn (your foot will be flatter instead of curled). These shoes are suitable in the gym and outdoors on almost all terrain. Aggressive shoes are more downturned, which helps keep your feet on the wall on steep overhangs.

 

Moja Gear’s top climbing shoe picks

Best all-around climbing shoes

Low price: La Sportiva Tarantula and Tarantulace

If you’re looking for all-day comfort and convenience out of your next pair of climbing shoes, you can’t go wrong with La Sportiva’s Tarantula or TarantuLace for women. While they won’t transform you into a spider, they will enable you to climb on the walls for hours without any pain on your feet —at a price that’s hard to beat.

With an ultra easy and adjustable velcro closure system on the Tarantula or quick-pull lacing on the TurantuLace, both styles are simple to put on and take off. And if you happen to have feet that sweat bullets, the lined tongue provides moisture management and an unlined leather interior offers comfort that will keep you feeling fresh until you’re back on the ground.

They also boast an asymmetric shape that opens the door to advanced performance at a value price (about $80). La Sportiva’s unique RN45 upper gives you technical precision and functionality without breaking your toes. Meanwhile, heel-hooking fiends and edging masters will appreciate the aggressive rubber heel rand and the fantastic 5mm of FriXion® RS rubber that provides durability and great friction on plastic or rock.

The shoe’s rounder and higher volume design keeps you on your feet all day, while still giving you the performance you need to take on challenging climbs.

Mid price: Five Ten Anasazi

For the dedicated climber, one pair of shoes is never enough—unless you’ve got a pair of Anasazi VCS or women’s-specific VS from Five Ten. Many crushers will tell you these are the best shoes in the world, and for good reason. Known widely for their versatility, durability, and incredible performance, the Anasazis are some of the best selling shoes in the climbing industry.

Featuring ONYXX Stealth rubber, these shoes offer a triple threat of optimal friction, relentless durability, and precise edging. From toeing tiny granite crystals to cranking on heel hooks, you’ll always feel secure in these shoes. A soft Cowdura upper material maintains comfort while the rubber sole helps you push your performance to the next level.

This shoe was designed to easily slip on and off, with adjustable Velcro straps that let you decide between when you want to keep it cozy and when it’s time to tighten up for your final send go. The form-fitting heel cup keeps your foot securely in place during any style of climb. Similar in almost every way to the VCS, the women’s LV model (low volume) provides a higher arch with a lower instep and heel cup, as well as a narrower toe box to better fit a women’s foot.

Achieving such high levels of performance and comfort within a single design makes the Anasazi such a remarkable shoe. So whether you’re casually traversing indoors or crushing highballs in Squamish, you can count on the Anasazis to keep your feet on the holds so you can continue climbing onwards.

Top tier: La Sportiva TC Pro (unisex)

La Sportiva TC Pro

The absolute go-to shoe for some of the most talented climbers—including Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, and Pamela Shanti Pack— La Sportiva’s TC Pro delivers an incredible blend of high-end performance in a fit and design suited for long, enduring climbs.

Crafted for impeccable edging, crack climbing, and comfort on big wall adventures, this ankle-protecting climbing shoe adds a level of confidence and comfort, second to none. The thin padding over your toes and at the ankle helps to alleviate pain encountered when foot jamming, while the P3 platform of the TC Pros balances just enough sensitivity to give you trust in your footing with a powerful dose of edging gusto. To ensure you feel doubly confident in your feet while on the rock, La Sportiva worked with Vibram to develop the XS Edge rubber, which provides a level of stickiness capable of keeping you on even the smallest micro edges.

Forgoing an aggressive design, the TC Pro’s flat toes make them a climbing shoe you can spend full days in, rather than just a single pitch. Meanwhile, the shoe’s lateral rand perforations and ventilated tongue keep them breathable to deter sweat and stink from accumulating throughout the day.

 

Best semi-aggressive climbing shoes

Low price: Five Ten Anasazi MoccAsym (unisex)

Five Ten MoccaSym

For two decades, climbers have been walking around crags and rock gyms with freakishly red feet—and it’s not from painfully downsized shoes. The Anasazi MoccAsym is famous for dying climbers’ feet an iconic hue, but what makes these shoes legendary is their ability to perform under any circumstances.

Whether you’re jamming your feet into heinous cracks or delicately dancing up never-ending slabs, the MoccAsym keeps your feet glued to rock. Stealth C4 rubber outsoles help you edge, smear, and step up. These shoes are designed to allow the wearer to truly feel the rock beneath their feet—you’ll be able to confidently put your weight on even the tiniest holds. Split-leather upper material provides breathability, while elastic pull-tabs on the heel make it easy to pull your shoes on and off. Ideal for a range of climbing activities from technical multi-pitch routes and splitter trad cracks to seemingly blank slab faces. With a super snug fit, the MoccAsyms become an extension of your foot.

Join the legions of climbers staining their white socks with sweaty red feet, and slip on a pair of pure comfort. While boulderers at the gym complain about their crushed toes stuffed into impossibly downsized and downturned shoes, you’ll be living the life of luxury in a cozy shoe that can keep up in any situation.

Mid price: La Sportiva Katana

If you’re seeking a reliable shoe for all terrain climbing, the La Sportiva Katana model (available in lace or velcro) is a solid choice. Whether that means testing yourself in the gym, bouldering outside, beasting your way up overhanging sport routes, our meandering up techy face climbs—the Katana can handle them all.

With a subtle downturn to provide just enough aggression, you can torque your toes on tufas or balance on small edges with equal confidence in your feet. This shoe features La Sportiva’s P3 platform and Vibram XS Edge, just like the TC Pros, but with a more asymmetric and downturned shape.

Both the lace and velcro versions feature Pacific lining in the forefoot for added comfort on your toes, as well as a Lorica® toe-box to maintain shape and assist in edging. The velcro model also provides moisture management with a Dentex lining in the back. Either way you choose to go, you’ll be pleased with the Katana’s ability to balance aggression and comfort.

Top tier: Scarpa Boostic (unisex)

The Scarpa Boostic is an all-around shoe known for its fantastic edging and impressive comfort. It can perform on plastic in the gym, while pulling on sandstone boulderers, or even on techy Sierra granite. Combining both natural suede and synthetic materials, the Boostic will maintain a consistent fit throughout its lifetime.

We were first introduced to the Boostic after hearing that it’s legendary climber Peter Croft’s favorite shoe, without even having a sponsorship by Scarpa. In his words, “It’s the best shoe I’ve found,” and after giving it a trial run ourselves, it doesn’t disappoint. Consider sizing down if you’ll be doing aggressive bouldering and sport climbing, or sizing up if you intend to wear the Boostics for long periods of time at the gym or on a multi-pitch.

 

Best aggressive climbing shoes

Low price: Butora Acro (unisex)

Butora is a newcomer to the US climbing market and they’re making a splash by delivering affordable shoes that are impressively comfortable and last a long time. Thier durability is especially important if your footwork is still a little choppy!

Available in two width options, you’re almost guaranteed to find the perfect fit in the aggressive Acro. Butora’s in-house F5 rubber covers the toes and wraps the heel to provide unbeatable toe and heel hooking while also delivering top-tier stickiness and durability.

Mid price: Scarpa Instinct VS

Scarpa Instinct VS Shoe

Offering high sensitivity with a reputation for comfort and performance, the Scarpa Instinct VS is an aggressive option for challenging boulders, steep overhangs, and even thin face climbs. Part of the added comfort of this shoe comes from a slightly wider toe box than many aggressive shoes on the market, meaning your toes won’t be painfully crunched together when worn. A single velcro strap offers further security than a simple slipper design, while easy enough to quickly remove between burns.

Top tier: La Sportiva Testarossa

La Sportiva Testarossa

Shoe of choice by sport climbing wizard, Jonathan Siegrist, the Testarossa takes aggression and precision to the highest level.

This significantly down-turned shoe gives you unbeatable edging prowess that allows you to twerk and tip your toes on the tiniest bits of rock. Intended to provide you with the most technical precision you can get on overhanging sport routes, techy face climbs, and hard boulder problems, the Testarossa truly serves as a testament to everything you want out of a powerful aggressive shoe.

The Lorica and leather patterning on the Testarossa harmonize to offer the perfect balance between stretch and stability. Meanwhile, a 3D cupped hytrel midsole leads into a high tension rand under your toes to give you the precision and power of your hands, only with your feet. With the capability of grabbing just about any edge, nob, and tufa in sight, the Testarossas make the send of your dreams that much more attainable.


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