7 Best Climbing Shoes in 2022

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
7 Best Climbing Shoes in 2022

Nowadays, thrill-seeking rock jocks have hundreds of choices when it comes to climbing shoes. While having a lot of options has its pros, this makes the task of picking the RIGHT one a nightmare.

Lucky you, RunRepeat has everything you need - from the list of best climbing shoes to the nitty-gritty climbing shoe basics.

We have reviewed over 100 pairs to seek out the top choices for you. No matter if you are a beginner or a more advanced climber going on some steep terrain, we’ve got a recommendation for you.

How we test climbing shoes

If you haven’t noticed yet, RunRepeat is an ad-free, pop-up-free site. Unlike others that promote shoes based on what gives them higher commissions, our list consists of top-rated shoes based on reviews from 600+ trusted experts and 3,000+ reliable users who have tested the shoes through the wringer.

As an added bonus, each shoe is given a CoreScore ranging from 0-100. Rather than rating it based on what the brand dictates, the scores reflect the combined opinions of both users and experts.

Best climbing shoes overall

Scarpa Instinct VS
Scarpa Instinct VS

Corescore

91
Superb!
4.7 / 5 from 1,139 users
85 / 100 from 23 experts

Pros

  • Secure fit
  • Very comfortable
  • Superior edging ability
  • Great for heel and toe hooking
  • Suitable for the gym or the crag
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not for smearing
  • Too painful for crack climbing
  • Not breathable

Verdict

Where do we begin on this one? Make no mistake, we ask this with purely positive intentions. We consider the Scarpa Instinct our overall top pick because it is just THAT excellent!

Its sticking prowess is through the roof. We took on this semi-advanced route indoors, and we were heel- and toe-hooking as if the shoe’s rubber was electromagnetic! Outdoors, same thing—we found ourselves ascending with zero slippage.

When it comes to edging, we were still in awe after climbing in the Instinct VS several times. Even on tiny ripples on rock, the shoe allowed us to ascend like champs. Indoors, micro nubbins were a cinch, too, in this bad boy.

Now get this: The Scarpa Instinct VS is amazingly comfy. Have you ever sent a difficult route before only to find yourself wanting to pluck off your shoe soon after? This isn’t the case with the Instinct VS. After masterfully completing a few semi-advanced boulder problems, we didn’t feel the need to free our feet from the Instinct VS.

The fit is also something to write home about. We didn’t encounter any dead spots anywhere in the Instinct VS. It does allow for some stretching, but this allowance we found to be purely for comfort purposes.

Mark our words—the Scarpa Instinct VS will blow your mind as it did ours. It is not the budget-friendliest climbing shoe out there, but, man oh man, this is the real deal!

See our full review and facts

Best climbing shoes for beginners

La Sportiva Mythos
La Sportiva Mythos

Corescore

90
Great!
4.6 / 5 from 582 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

We all need to start somewhere, right? Whether you wish to begin your climbing adventures indoors or outdoors, we highly recommend you do so in the Mythos.

We found this neutral wonder the perfect entry-level climbing shoe, and a huge part of that is thanks to its wear-all-day comfort. We didn’t feel the need to take it off after every short climb, even outdoors. Your tootsies will feel right at home in its unlined leather upper—that’s for sure!

Its all-around performance is sure to impress you. We link its versatility to its full randing and moderately stiff outsole. While it did us good on edges (the regular-size ones, in particular), the La Sportiva Mythos surprised us more in medium cracks.

Before we forget: The Mythos is also a force of nature in the grip department. We heel-hooked and smeared in it, and all we can say is that not once did we lost purchase.

As for longevity, the La Sportiva Mythos is among the best. While in photos, its flappy leather upper looks flimsy, in reality, it isn’t. Case in point: The shoe came out without major dents on its randing and outsole after our daily boulder grind outdoors!

It is moderately pricey, but everything the Mythos has in store is just irresistibly good, especially for beginners.

See our full review and facts

Best climbing shoes for trad climbing

La Sportiva TC Pro
La Sportiva TC Pro

Corescore

92
Superb!
4.7 / 5 from 208 users
90 / 100 from 28 experts

Pros

  • Trad champ
  • Crack scaler
  • Edging master
  • High comfort level
  • Supportive
  • Sticky

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Somewhat frail upper

Verdict

What’s the perfect climbing shoe for trad climbing, you ask? We answer resoundingly and without a single doubt—TC Pro!

Co-designed by professional climber Tommy Caldwell, the TC Pro (yes, TC stands for his name!) delights in edges. We mounted on micro edges and pointy nubbins alike, and we tiptoed on all of them like real pros!

The shoe’s skill in dealing with fissures is as spectacular as its prowess in handling edges. Despite its medium stiffness, the shoe got us inside irregular cracks (outdoors) and made us hold our bearings for longer. This is absolutely great when you need more time to place your cams in fissures safely.

Oh, and have we told you how comfy it is yet? Its lined leather upper plus sufficiently rigid sole unit pampered every inch of our feet as we dealt with ledges and smears on the more treacherous parts of the route.

Now, it would be a crime not to talk about the TC Pro’s mid-height collar here. While our ankles felt right at home inside it, its supportiveness was what made us believers. Extra collar support is a rarity in climbing shoes, so if you have wobbly ankles, the TC Pro is a must-have in your trad-specific quiver!

See our full review and facts

Best intermediate climbing shoes

La Sportiva Kubo
La Sportiva Kubo

Corescore

89
Great!
4.9 / 5 from 10 users
100 / 100 from 1 experts

Pros

  • Great for mounting on edges and similar features
  • Grippy heel
  • Smearing genius
  • Durable
  • Comfortable for all-day wear

Cons

Verdict

As far as climbing creativity is concerned, particularly on boulder-type ascents, the Kubo is a scene-stealer of a performer. Whether you need stronger forefoot-to-feature adhesion or a platform that will not give in wherever you place your toes on, this climbing shoe seems to do it all and is durable.
See our full review and facts

Best climbing shoes for steep terrain

La Sportiva Solution
La Sportiva Solution

Corescore

89
Great!
4.5 / 5 from 420 users
89 / 100 from 10 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Secure fit
  • Great for heel and toe hooking
  • Excellent on technical face climbing
  • Suitable for gym and crag
  • Durable
  • Can be resoled

Cons

  • Not for multi-pitch climbing
  • Less support for crack climbing
  • Break-in period
  • Not completely breathable
  • Expensive

Verdict

After testing 100+ top-quality climbing shoes, the Solution from La Sportiva has got to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to steep climbing performance.

On verticals, we found the Solution propelling us ever upwards. Its superiority in edging gave us blind confidence on the tiniest of nubbins, while its smearing prowess translated to remarkable purchase where no sag nor dimple was in sight.

In terms of heel-hooking and toeing, the La Sportiva Solution was a beast. As we zig-zagged our way through this one steep route, we were relying mostly on our heels and toes. The entire experience was a dream in that we gained purchase every single time!

We also want to give props to the Solution’s no-pop-off fit. While slipping into it was mildly tricky, once your tootsies are inside it, your feet will remain in place, even during the most daring of heel-hooks and toe-hooks.

In the area of comfort, we implore you to give it some time. After a few sends in it, the stiffness, while it didn’t really go away, worked for us instead of against us. It also gave us that kind of plushness as if we were one with the shoe after the honeymoon phase.

The Solution is our go-to shoe for anything steep, period!

See our full review and facts

Best value climbing shoes

Scarpa Origin
Scarpa Origin

Corescore

89
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 599 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

The Scarpa Origin is an absolute steal! When we saw its price tag, which read $95, for the first time, we couldn’t believe our eyes! But past its amazingness price-wise, the Origin has a lot to give.

Mountable features are its forte, if we’re being quite honest. In the gym, medium-size footholds were super-easy to get on. It’s the Origin’s combination of stiffness and responsiveness that made us feel connected and planted on every ledge we could land our feet on. And although it’s not a downturned kick, it provided us more than enough confidence on micro edges.

Part of the Origin’s impressive value is also found in its resplendent supply of comfort. We did several boulder problems, edging and smearing our way to the top, and we encountered no pain or pinching at all.

Glove-like is also a term that we would use to describe the Scarpa Origin. From the get-go, the shoe felt like it was made for our regular-to-moderately-bulky feet. Dead zone and heel lift were also not encountered in our stint with the Origin.

Durability-wise, the Origin rocks, too. A number of sends in, both indoors and outdoors, and it still looks quite new (minus a few smudges and surface-level scrapes).

See our full review and facts

3 smart tips to find the RIGHT climbing shoe

Ideally, your climbing shoe needs to match the type of rock formation in your next send. There is, however, no one definite rule to tell you which one would suit you best. Thankfully, there are a couple of tips worth keeping in mind to help jumpstart your hunt.

  • Shop for shoes late in the afternoon. Feet tend to swell late in the day.
  • Comfort is not necessarily the king
  • Try the climbing shoe in-store and on the wall

Prioritize performance over comfort

Hiking shoes, runners, and sneakers prioritize comfort over other things. Climbing shoes, on the other hand, are made to perform in the type of route you want to climb. 

If you are a tenderfoot in this sport, you will do well with flat-lasted, straight yet snug-fitting entry-level rock climbing shoes. This will allow you to focus more on learning the basics. Apart from this bit of advice, here are a few more pointers worth keeping in mind:

Forget about your standard street shoe size

The general advice is to start with a shoe that is at least a size smaller than your regular shoe size. 

Note: More often than not, when fitting climbing shoes, you’ll need to try on a range of sizes. Sizing systems also vary for each brand, so expect a size 5 shoe from Black Diamond to fit differently from a size 5 Boreal shoe.

Take your foot shape into account

Some would complain about pain simply because their shoes feel tight in the wrong areas. To avoid this, get to know your feet and make sure to find a shoe that matches its shape.

  • If you have skinny or slender feet or a small heel cup, look for low volume or women’s climbing shoes. Scarpa and La Sportiva are among the brands that offer the best climbing shoes for narrow feet.

When it comes to shape, there are 3 types: Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. Ocun makes it a point to include this helpful fact in their product description. 

Foot shape types.png

Dead space is a no-no

Climbing shoes are supposed to feel tight but NOT painful. This means that the heel, toe area, and forefoot area of your shoe should not have any empty space, nor any hot spots. Toes are also expected to be curled up and close to the shoes’ front edge. 

PRO TIPS:

  • A right-fitting shoe is able to support the toes’ curled up position without pain but expect some discomfort. 
  • Really aggressive shoes can feel painful when worn for walking but the pain goes away once they are used on the rock.

Try the climbing shoe in-store and on the wall

If you are a first-timer who has never tried on a climbing shoe, buying the same model that your friend is wearing isn’t actually a smart choice. What is best for your pal is not necessarily the best climbing shoe for you (unless you two have the same exact foot shape).

As mentioned earlier, climbing shoe designs differ from brand to brand. Each brand also uses different sizing systems, so sizing will vary a lot. Thus, the need to try on the shoe in-store. And while you’re at it, best to try it on the wall. 

This is especially needed if you’re trying on aggressive climbing shoes. This type of shoes may be painful while standing but once you’re on the wall, they are expected to hurt less.

3 types of climbing shoes

For a safe and successful send, it is best to find a rock climbing shoe that suits the difficulty of the crag. Cracks and overhangs would require different types of shoes, that is why it is common for one climber to own 2 or more rock shoes.

When it comes to climbing shoes, we can classify them into 3 types based on the amount of their downturn or how curved they are: Neutral, Moderate, and Aggressive

Climbing shoe types.png

NOTE: The ratings are based on how each climbing shoe type performs in general. It does not apply to every model that exists. Rating will vary depending on the shoes’ make and model.

When picking the right type of rock shoe for your next send, it is also important to consider the following:

Midsole flexibility

Regardless of type, a rock shoe's midsole flexibility can range from rigid or stiff to soft. Soft climbing shoes are known for their adaptability but offer minimal support. This makes this your ideal companion for smearing and climbing steep terrains and technical overhangs. Rigid-soled rok shoes, on the one hand, feel supportive but lacks flexibility, making it the go-to shoe for vertical routes and edging. 

Those that lie in the middle of the spectrum are shoes that have a medium-stiff sole. With the right shape, these type of shoes provides reliable performance for both crack and technical climbing thanks to its flexible and supportive sole.

Outsole thickness

The thickness of the sole dictates the shoe’s sensitivity, not to mention its durability. 

Thin-soled shoes, with a thickness of around 3-4mm, are the most sensitive. This feature lets your feet feel every nub or hold on the rock’s surface. Given its construction, expect this to wear out sooner than thick-soled climbing shoes.

On the other hand, rock shoes with a sole that is around 4-5.5mm thick lack sensitivity but are more durable and supportive. Beginners are often recommended to choose this type of shoe since it lasts longer.

Understanding your climbing shoe’s anatomy

As a newbie, thinking about the materials that make the best climbing shoes the best is not really necessary. However, it’s something worth mentioning and worth considering.

Upper material: Leather vs Synthetic vs Hybrid

Upper Material

tick.png cross.png

Leather (Unlined)

leather unlined.png

-naturally breathable

-custom fit overtime

-inhibits the growth of funk-causing microorganisms

-stretches up to a full size overtime

-painful break in period

-loses its original shape

Hybrid/Lined

(leather + synthetic)

hybrid lined.png

-stretch is minimized in high wear areas

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

-ground sensitivity is decreased for shoes with lined toe boxes

Synthetic

synthetic.png

-little to no stretch

-provides out-of-the-box performance

-retains its shape

-less painful break in

-can be vegan-friendly

-tends to stink unless it's antimicrobial

-less breathable if not made of mesh

Closure System: Lace-up vs Slip-on vs Velcro

Closure System

tick.png cross.png

Lace-up

lace-up.png

-versatile

-lets you customize the fit

-best used when climbing cracks

-hard to slip on and take off

-laces wear off over time

Velcro

(hook-and-loop/strap)

velcro.png

-easy to wear and take off

-great for sport climbing and bouldering

-comes undone in cracks and in overhanging routes

-limited ability to dial in the fit

-straps often wear out quicker than laces

Slip-on

(slipper)

slipon.png

-comfortable

-convenient wearing

-excellent choice for cracks and slabs

-tends to stretch over time

-can't be tightened

Note: Some rock shoes use a hybrid closure, which is often a mix of Velcro and slippers. This type is becoming more and more popular since comfort and convenience are achieved while having the ability to tighten the shoes up for a better fit.

What are the cheapest climbing shoes in 2022?

  1. Five Ten Hiangle Pro - from $90
  2. La Sportiva Zenit - from $99
  3. La Sportiva Katana Lace - from $143
  4. La Sportiva Kubo - from $150
  5. Five Ten NIAD Lace - from $150
  6. Five Ten Crawe - from $153
  7. Evolv Zenist - from $156
  8. Scarpa Quantic - from $169
  9. Scarpa Instinct S - from $199
  10. Scarpa Drago LV - from $209

See all climbing shoes sorted by lowest price

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.