Best climbing shoes 2018: keep a sure footing

Find the best shoes to tackle rocky terrain with our picks of the best climbing shoes for comfort, balance and support

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Climbing is a sport that's growing in popularity. That's for the challenge it presents but also because it's quite easy and inexpensive to get into, so long as you don't want to start off by doing a vertical ascent on a snowy day. One thing you should not skimp on however is footwear; you need the best climbing shoes.

How to buy a climbing shoe that's right for you

There are a few things to consider when buying the best climbing shoes. The type of shoe you buy depends on the type of climbing you are doing and there three different styles: neutral, moderate and aggressive. 

Neutral climbing shoes provide all-day comfort as they have flat soles.  This is great for both walking and climbing, so if you’re planning on going on a long hike, these might be the best climbing shoes for you. They’re also the best option for beginners as they provide good support and padding while you find your feet. 

If you’re an experienced climber, then a moderate climbing shoe with a slightly downturned sole is ideal for technical climbing as they shape your feet into the correct position for climbing slab routes, multi-pitch climbs and crack climbs, and they tend to have much better grip than a neutral shoe. 

The more extreme climber should be looking to invest in an aggressive climbing shoe. These shoes have a curve at the toes, moulding your feet into a strong position for overhanging sports climbs and other technically tricky climbs. They aren't the most comfy for walking in, mind. 

Other factors to take into consideration include the kind of closure. Lace up will give you the most freedom of movement, especially as your feet swell when you’re hot. These are probably your best bet for hikes and long, complex climbs. If you’re just training indoors or still learning smaller climbs, then you may find that strap closures or slip-on climbing shoes are more comfortable and convenient. 

The last important thing to check out before choosing the best climbing shoes for you is the rubber soles. Thick soles (anywhere between 4-5.5mm) will last much longer and provide extra comfort, especially to beginners who are not used to the harsh shaping of climbing shoes. Thinner soles (between 3-4mm) are better for slab routes and smearing as you can get a better feel for the surface beneath your feet.

The 6 best climbing shoes

Anasazi lace-up shoes in pink and black

1. Anasazi Lace Shoe

A moderate shoe that’s comfy on all terrain

Specifications
Best for: All terrain
Shape: Moderate
Closure: Lace
Sole: 4.2mm Stealth C4 Rubber
Reasons to buy
+ Great grip + Very comfy  
Reasons to avoid
- Rubber wears quickly  

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, these moderate climbing shoes are a great option for all terrains, with users saying they are super comfy and have very grippy soles for all types of climbs. 

The sole is relatively thick at 4.2mm, but some users have said they can wear quickly if used a lot. However, the Anasazi is said to be a great fit, with a lace up closure making them stable and supportive for longer trips.

La Sportiva Genius climbing shoes in grey, red and yellow

2. La Sportiva Genius

A traditional climbing shoe for intermediate climbers

Specifications
Best for: Traditional climbing
Shape: Agressive
Closure: Lace
Sole: 3mm Vibram XS Grip 2
Reasons to buy
+ Flexible  + Accurate fit  
Reasons to avoid
- Not for beginners 

If you’re a seasoned climber and often participate in all different types of extreme climbing, then these aggressive climbing shoes offer a flexible yet accurate fit which users say make them very comfortable. 

Customers have recommended not opting for a smaller size to get a tighter fit, as these are already true to size, and with the laces you can adjust them to your desired fit. Despite their aggressive shape, users found them to be very comfortable, but their thinner soles still allow you to feel the terrain beneath you for successful climbs.

Five Ten Quantum shoes in black and blue with white laces

3. Five Ten Quantum

Neutral climbing shoes for all-day wear

Specifications
Best for: Comfort
Shape: Neutral
Closure: Lace
Sole: 4.2mm C4 stealth rubber
Reasons to buy
+ Thick soles + Stiff for support 
Reasons to avoid
- Sizing is a little off  

On a hike/climb, your options are to change shoes between stages, or go for something like these. With this pair of neutral climbing shoes, you can transition smoothly between walking and climbing. 

Users found these shoes to be very comfy and supportive, but do say the sizing is a little off so try to go for half a size up if you want a natural fit, or half a size down if you like them to be super-tight. The thick soles make them more durable for longer trips, and compensate for less of a curve on steeper climbs.

La Sportiva Tarantula Velcro-closure shoes in dark grey and green abstract print

4. La Sportiva Tarantula

A moderate curve for those that are trying climbing for the first time

Specifications
Best for: Beginners
Shape: Moderate
Closure: Velcro
Sole: 5mm FriXion RS
Reasons to buy
+ Sticky friction + Easy to get on and off 
Reasons to avoid
- Not for advanced climbing 

Beginner climbers have said that these shoes are great for practising both indoors and outdoors on smaller climbs. They have an adjustable closure system which makes them great for all foot types and this makes them easy to get on and off when needed. 

The soles are some of the thickest on this list, and are made of extra sticky rubber which provides long-lasting grip. You’ll be able to try all different terrains in these shoes and the moderate curve will prepare your feet for when you move to more advanced ascents. 

Tenaya Tarifa shoes in grey, black and white with punched details and yellow accent

5. Tenaya Tarifa

An aggressive curve for more advanced climbers

Specifications
Best for: Aggressive but comfortable
Shape: Agressive
Closure: Lace
Sole: Vibram XS Grip
Reasons to buy
+ Very grippy + Surprisingly comfortable 
Reasons to avoid
- Recommended to go a size smaller 

Advanced climbers will want to get their hands on these precision shoes. The narrow toe and aggressive curve help you to get into small crevices yet when walking on flat terrain they remain surprisingly comfortable. 

Customers have recommended opting for a size smaller to get that really tight fit that will make these shoes ideal for bouldering. The sole is great for smearing, giving you lots of feedback from the surface below, and they are spongy and supportive on the toes, with no rubbing.

Evolv Defy shoes in blue, black and orange

6. Evolv Defy

A great indoor climbing shoe

Specifications
Best for: Indoor climbing/beginners
Shape: Neutral
Closure: Velcro
Sole: 4.2mm TRAX
Reasons to buy
+ Rubber toe  + Breathable  
Reasons to avoid
- Not for advanced climbs 

These Evolv Defy shoes are a great place for newbies to start. They have thick, sticky soles for extra grip, making them perfect for indoor use. 

The rubber toe makes it easier to grip onto trickier rocks and help you perfect your technique. The material is breathable which will help your feet get used to the different angles and shapes needed when climbing.