7 Best Climbing Shoes For Beginners, 60+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
7 Best Climbing Shoes For Beginners, 60+ Shoes Tested in 2022

If you are new to climbing—whether indoor or outdoor—you need a nice pair of entry-level climbing shoes. And it is best to have reliable gear that won’t let you down.

Many of the best beginner climbing shoes are all-around kicks. These types are capable of handling anything you throw at it. Their aim is to provide comfort, allowing you to focus on the task at hand while letting you enhance your climbing ability.

We have gathered and reviewed over 60 of these shoes to single out the truly best ones. Here are our top picks in five different categories.

How we test climbing shoes

RunRepeat aims to give you what you need (and not what you THINK you need). Thus, we are here to give you a list of top-rated beginner-friendly climbing kicks based on opinions from both would-be and skilled climbers. Not only that, but we made it a point as well to calculate and give each one a CoreScore. The scores are there to help you easily gauge the likeability of each shoe.

Best climbing shoes for beginners overall

La Sportiva Mythos
La Sportiva Mythos

CoreScore

90
Great!
4.6 / 5 from 604 users
87 / 100 from 11 experts

Pros

  • All-day pampering
  • Exemplary finish
  • Truly beginner-friendly
  • Handles cracks well
  • Fantastic lacing system
  • Kingly grip
  • Fantastic in pockets

Cons

  • Not suitable for edging
  • Stretches too much

Verdict

Newcomers of the climbing world, here is what we strongly recommend—the La Sportiva Mythos!

To address the elephant in the room, yes, this humble bad boy is mighty comfortable. Out of all the hundreds of beginner climbing shoes we’ve tested, it’s the Mythos that deserve the biggest cake in this area. We never felt any hotspots anywhere in it, and we liked (not had to) being in it in between sets!

Sticking to crooked features, whether by heel or by toe, was quite convincing in the Mythos. The rubber around its heel was exceptional, particularly on footholds where we had to stretch our legs a little bit just to reach.

On the edging front, the La Sportiva Mythos floored us, particularly on pointier footholds. The shoe’s versatility also made a big positive impression on us in that it allowed us to scale regular-size cracks safely!

We wouldn’t dare to forget mentioning here how the Mythos helped us smear quite effortlessly. The flexibility of its forefoot and the stickiness of its outsole allowed us to gain more than enough purchase where smearing on the wall was more advantageous.

But what about the Mythos’ durability, you might ask? Exceptional! After triumphing over the routes we set for ourselves across multiple sending days, we are truly excited to say that this La Sportiva climbing held its ground. It has a few shallow battle scars, but nothing noticeable or deeply worrying!

La Sportiva Mythos full review

Climbing shoes for beginners with best comfort

Scarpa Origin
Scarpa Origin

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 638 users
95 / 100 from 5 experts

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Impressive durability
  • True-to-size fit
  • Easy to put on and off
  • Supportive

Cons

  • Not very sticky outsole
  • Toe hooking issues

Verdict

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Scarpa Origin knocks it out of the park when it comes to plushness. After trying and testing hundreds of entry-level kicks, this homey piece beats everyone else comfort-wise.

But what is comfiness without a nice fit to match? Right from the start, the Scarpa Origin spoiled us in its glove-like confines. Its heel was particularly impressive in that dead zones were non-existent anywhere in it. Also, while its toe box gave us a snug fit, our toes didn’t get squished and squeezed dry in it!

We found the Origin a beast when it comes to mountable features, especially on indoor walls. It was sensitive yet rigid enough that negotiating a series of ledges and not-so-tiny nubbins was pure fun. We also tried it on micro edges, and while there are climbing shoes more suitable for them, the Origin did well and managed to impress us.

Another thing that impressed us about the Scarpa Origin was how admirably it took a lot of beating. We took it outside, tested it on granite multiple times, and it only developed some light scratches. It is one durable machine with a less-than-100-dollar price tag to match!

Scarpa Origin full review

Best La Sportiva beginner climbing shoes

La Sportiva Zenit
La Sportiva Zenit

CoreScore

68
Decent!
3.4 / 5 from 19 users
92 / 100 from 3 experts

Pros

  • Comfortable straight from the box
  • Grippy
  • Precise fit
  • Edges like a champ
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Too slippery

Verdict

For a semi-downturned climbing shoe, the Zenit favors easy to moderate routes. Armed with a sufficiently rigid sole unit, this La Sportiva piece provides more than enough footing security and exceptional comfort, whether in the gym or out in the wild. Past its rather demanding asking price, the Zenit is a boon for entry-level climbers and intermediate senders alike.
La Sportiva Zenit full review

Best climbing shoes for beginners for quick learners

La Sportiva Miura
La Sportiva Miura

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.5 / 5 from 293 users
84 / 100 from 10 experts

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Great for crack climbing
  • Very Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Stiff but sticky rubber
  • Stands the test of time
  • Good value

Cons

  • Not very breathable
  • Take a while to dry
  • Leather will eventually become uncomfortably stiff

Verdict

We have to say this: The La Sportiva Miura is the king of multiple disciplines! A jack of all trades, in other words, but with a strong inclination to shine on rock, a.k.a. outdoors.

Part of the Miura’s versatility is its amazing ability to deal with cracks. Jamming its mightily randed forefoot into a series of cracks felt natural. It was also surprisingly less painful doing so compared with other climbing shoes under this category.

The Miura has been around for years. With that, you should get a very good idea of how much it has been improved throughout. We back any claim that this bad boy can stand the test of time, for years of sends were not enough to knock out our pairs.

How much comfort does the Miura supply, you ask? We say “enough for multi-pitch ascents.” If you were used to taking out your pair in between climbs, you probably wouldn’t need to in the La Sportiva Miura.

You won’t be embarrassed by its sticking performance, either. We found its smearing prowess incredible, whether indoors or outdoors.

So, if you’re planning to transition to bolder climbing problems, this do-it-all climbing shoe is your best bud.

La Sportiva Miura full review

Best value climbing shoes for beginners

Black Diamond Momentum
Black Diamond Momentum

CoreScore

87
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 2,253 users
84 / 100 from 18 experts

Pros

  • Comfortable confines
  • Exceptional breathability
  • Phenomenal durability
  • Top-notch traction
  • Great beginner shoe
  • Reassuringly stiff
  • Grippy

Cons

  • Too narrow
  • Cramped feeling
  • Deforms quickly

Verdict

Simply astounding! The Momentum from Black Diamond intrigued us greatly with its affordability (its MSRP is $95!) and usability combo!

This downturn-less climbing shoe is a runaway hit on the comfort front. From our experience, two things worked in tandem in this regard: the Momentum’s super-soft confines and sweat-mitigating fabric construction. About the latter, we worked our way several routes, edging and toeing about, and our feet only produced negligible sweat.

Now, if you’re unsure about the Momentum’s performance, rest assured that it rocks! Well, underfoot at least, as we found its semi-flexible outsole exceptionally grippy as far as smearing is concerned. We tested the Momentum on both wall and rock (indoors and outdoors), and we experienced the same lizard-like prowess!

Will the Black Diamond Momentum stand the test of time, you ask? Our answer is a gong-busting and drum-smashing “yes!” It may not look it, but its knit upper wrapped in heavy-duty rubber rand stayed cut-free after ascending multiple times outdoors.

We also would like to give its easy-access construction major props here. Slipping in and out of the Momentum was not “momentum-breaking” by any stretch—quite the contrary, in fact.

Black Diamond Momentum full review

Best value climbing shoes for beginners

La Sportiva Tarantulace
La Sportiva Tarantulace

CoreScore

87
Great!
4.6 / 5 from 3,663 users
80 / 100 from 11 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Perfect fit
  • All-day comfort
  • Durable
  • Flat midsole
  • Value for money
  • Leather lining

Cons

  • Poor breathability
  • Thick sole

Verdict

Seekers of budget-priced climbing shoes will delight in the La Sportiva Tarantulace. With its 85-dollar MSRP, this brilliant piece blew our minds in every possible way!

We find the Tarantulace remarkably comfortable. Slipping into it was a cinch, and having our tootsies stay inside it for hours didn’t result in pain or hotspots. Underfoot, the integrated footbed felt quite premium. And its break-in period? Almost non-existent.

We’ve tested 100+ beginner climbing shoes, and we can confidently say that the Tarantulace performs incredibly on the wall. We tried it on easy-to-moderate boulder routes at the gym, and we aced it every time. What really impressed us about this bad boy during our runs was how it smeared—the rubber on its forefoot floored us!

Now, believe us when we say that the Tarantulace is one tough entry-level shoe. After several days of low-level bouldering both indoors and outdoors, it only developed a few minor scratches on the sides. We heel-hooked in it on this one rock a dozen times, too, and nothing peeled or got cut around it. Excellent!

And before we forget, its lacing system gave us a snug fit. We loved how much it hugged our toes just right, giving us great confidence during toe-hooks.

La Sportiva Tarantulace full review

5 things to consider when looking for the best beginner climbing shoe

A good pair of entry-level climbing shoes is a must, especially if you wish to ascend on vertical indoor environments or challenging outdoor pitches. Climbing shoes for newbies are easy to discern when out shopping because they are not as flashy as those meant for intermediate to advanced climbers. This section aims to discuss the things or characteristics you need to check when picking your first pair.

1. Materials

Climbing shoes are often made of leather or synthetic. Some are made of both. Their main difference?

Leather climbing shoes stretch while synthetic climbing shoes often maintain its shape. Synthetic shoes are often the shoe-of-choice of vegan climbers. Apart from stretchability, there are other things you ought to know to figure out which type of material will work best for you. Read on to find out. 

 

Upper Material

tick.png cross.png

Leather (Unlined)

leather unlined.png

-breathable

-personalized fit overtime

-inhibits the growth of stink-causing organisms

-stretches up to a full size after some time

-longer and painful break-in

-loses its shape in the long run

Hybrid/Lined

(leather + synthetic)

hybrid lined.png

-minimal stretch in high wear areas

-fits comfortably over time as the leather materials mold to the shape of the feet

-less ground sensitivity for kicks with lined toe boxes

Synthetic

synthetic.png

-zero to minimal stretch

-provides performance on the get-go

-keeps its original shape

-break-in is less painful

-some are vegan-friendly

-might stink except if it's antimicrobial

-less airy if not made of mesh

2. Closure system

When it comes to the closure system, rock shoes either use laces, Velcro or straps or hook-and-loop, and slip-on (also known as slippers).

 

Closure System

tick.png cross.png

Lace-up

lace-up.png

-all-rounder

-lets you personalize the fit

-best for climbing cracks

-hard to slip on and off

-laces tend to rip over time

Velcro

(hook-and-loop/strap)

velcro.png

-easy to slip on and take off

-great for bouldering and sport climbing

-tends to come undone in overhanging routes and cracks

-limited ability to customize the fit

-straps tend to wear out quicker than laces

Slip-on

(slipper)

slipon.png

-comfy

-easy-wearing

-best used in cracks and slabs

-stretches over time

-can't dial in the fit

3. Stiffness 

Beginner climbing shoes often come with a medium-to-stiff sole. Minus the discomfort from aggressive shoes, newbie climbers are able to focus on developing their footwork. As they improve their techniques, softer shoes become an option since these types of shoes provide increased ground sensitivity.

4. Outsole 

Thicker and firmer soles can be expected from entry-level shoes. This offers lasting durability. It also provides the support you need since you don't want to tire your feet quickly. Outsoles that are sticky and thin are great for intermediate to advanced climbers since they require enhanced ground sensitivity.

5. Price 

As a novice climber, enhancing your skills is your priority. With that said, picking an expensive shoe is not a wise move. You'll likely wear your shoes faster since you'd be working on improving your footwork and techniques. Once you're ready to amp up your climbing game, you can then transition to pricey, performance shoes.

Find the right fit with these 4 steps

While intermediate and advanced climbing shoes often sacrifice comfort for enhanced performance, entry-level rock shoes are known for their tight yet still cozy fit. As a newcomer, getting a shoe that offers just enough comfort is your best bet given that you don't have to climb extremely technical slabs yet. To help you find the perfect-fitting shoe, here are a couple of tips:

  • Every brand uses its own sizing system. Each model is also shaped differently. So, forget about your usual size and expect to try on a couple of sizes before getting the right one.
  • Researching helps. It saves you time if you're able to read the reviews about the shoe and take note of the comments about the sizing.
  • Try the rental climbing shoes you find in the gym on and see how it fits. If you like how it fits, consider it as one of the options for your beginner climbing shoe.
  • Men’s and women’s climbing shoes' fit and overall volume differ. Generally, women’s shoes have a slimmer profile and a narrower fit. Those for men come in wider constructions and stiffer styles. The majority, however, offer models in unisex sizing.
Author
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic

Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.