The Best Beginner Climbing Shoes of 2021

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The most critical piece of climbing equipment is arguably climbing shoes. Others might differ and contend that safety equipment is more vital. However, only climbing shoes are necessary for every type of climbing, from bouldering to multi-pitch. For a beginner, choosing the right and best beginner climbing shoes is especially important as the shoes will delineate the climbing experience. For this reason, it is especially important that the shoes be comfortable, durable, and offer sufficient support.

As a new climber, you will need to explore the various types of climbing to find the right ones or one for you. As you progress and discover the various needs for each type of climbing, your climbing shoe needs will change. However, as a beginning climber, your shoes should be geared towards easing you into the expansive world of climbing. As such, beginning climbing, shoes are not built to be high-performance shoes. Instead, their function is to facilitate learning the basics on the journey to more advanced climbing.

Most of the big climbing brands have shoes specifically designed for beginners. While this results in a plethora of choices, it can also cause decision paralysis and anxiety. In this article, we took the advice of experts, but more importantly, the consensus of the climbing community, to find the best beginner climbing shoes.

Still need other climbing gear like a harness or chalk bucket? Check out our other comprehensive climbing gear guides here.

Our Top Favorite
La Sportiva Men's TarantuLace Rock Climbing Shoe, Flame, 42
Our Top Runner Up
SCARPA Men's Force V Rock Climbing Shoes for Gym and Sport Climbing - Mangrove/Papaya - 9
Our Top Value Pick
Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe - Red 12
Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Tarantulace
Scarpa Force V
Mad Rock Drifter
Prime Eligible?
-
-
-
Our Top Favorite
La Sportiva Men's TarantuLace Rock Climbing Shoe, Flame, 42
Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Tarantulace
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
SCARPA Men's Force V Rock Climbing Shoes for Gym and Sport Climbing - Mangrove/Papaya - 9
Climbing Shoes
Scarpa Force V
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe - Red 12
Climbing Shoes
Mad Rock Drifter
Prime Eligible?
-

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Favorites for the Best Beginner Climbing ShoesOur Favorites for the Best Beginner Climbing Shoes

Despite the profusion of choices by the various manufacturers, beginners climbing shoes are basically the same. While the material may differ, they aim to provide comfort, durability, and support.

Comfort allows new feet and muscles unused to climbing to get used to new movements without excessive pain. Durability ensures that new shoes last a reasonable amount of time as new climbers are prone to smearing or rubbing their shoes against the climbing surface, resulting in abrasion and wear. Finally, support ensures that beginning climbers who lack the muscles built by long hours on the wall can climb without excessive difficulty.

While these critical characteristics are present in all beginner climbing shoes to one degree, our favorites have won the admiration of both experts and the climbing community as the best rock climbing shoes for beginners.

La Sportiva Tarantulace

This offering from one of the most prominent climbing equipment manufacturers makes the top of the list of many experts as well as being the favorite by a large margin by the climbing community as a whole. Built as a beginners shoe, this shoe excels in comfort. However, it also offers excellent performance, making it a shoe that will carry you from a beginner through intermediate climbing.

At 5 millimeters, the La Sportiva Tarantulace feature one of the thickest soles of any climbing shoe on the market. The rubber, La Sportivas proprietary FriXion RS, provides substantial durability. However, the trade-off is reduced sensitivity, and according to some climbers, less grip when smearing. The thick sole provides plenty of support for the foot easing beginning climbers into the sport and helping develop the foot muscles. In addition, the soles feature a hefty heel and toe rand enabling, heel hooks, edging, and smearing. The fit of the shoe is wide, flat, and rounded, a primary example of their design toward comfort rather than performance.

The shoe upper is made of unlined leather allowing the shoe to conform to your foot. What’s more, with use the leather continues to stretch accentuating the fit, increasing comfort. A side benefit of their leather construction (as opposed to synthetic material), is the reduction in the smell that inevitably accompanies sweaty feet. On a side note, it is worth mentioning that to accommodate the leather stretching, it is essential to get a size smaller so as not to end up with a loose shoe.

On top of the comfort offered by the leather construction, the Tarantulace’s feature a synthetic leather overlay lacing harness that allows for quick adjustment of the fit of the shoe. This lacing system helps to accommodate the stretch while allowing for pinpoint adjustment.

For those who prefer velcro closures, La Sportiva offers Tarantulas, which are the same in all regards except the closure. While these are much easier put on and take off the velcro lacks the precise adjustability of the lace-ups. The Tarantulace’s are so comfortable that wearing them for extended periods makes velcro closures a moot point.

An extra trait of these climbing shoes is the lined tongue that increases moisture control in addition to comfort.

These versatile and dependable beginners rock-climbing shoes are great for indoor climbing but are just as at home bouldering or out on the crag. These features are what make the Tarantulaces a top choice for use by climbing gyms all over.

While not the cheapest shoes on the market, they are not the most expensive, falling somewhere in the middle. Moreover, like many of the shoes on this list, they are often discounted at many retailers and online stores.

What makes La Sportiva Tarantulace Unique:

  • The 5-millimeter thick proprietary FriXion RS rubber sole is among the thickest on the market, providing substantial durability and support.
  • The synthetic leather overlay lacing harness allows for quick adjustment and precise fit.
  • The unlined leather construction allows the shoes to conform to your foot, further enhancing comfort.
  • The lined tongue enhances moisture control.
  • Available in kiwi (green) and flame (orange) for men and turquoise for women.

Why you Should Choose These Shoes:

  • The most comfortable beginners climbing shoe on the market, these leather constructed shoes fit most feet.
  • The thick sole and durable rubber ensure the longevity of the shoes. At least on the bottoms where most wear occurs.
  • The lace-up design provides for increased adjustability, consequently increased comfort and support.
  • Excellent for climbing at the gym or on the crag, their comfort means not having to take them off for hours.

La Sportiva Men's TarantuLace Rock Climbing Shoe, Flame, 42
  • FAST LACING SYSTEM - Quick-pull lacing harness allows for precise regulation of inner volumes; Wrapping the foot snugly for excellent support, fit, and comfort
  • ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE - Designed to help intermediate climbers smear, hook, and edge like pros; The aggressive rubber heel rand, sticky FriXion RS rubber soles, and low-asymmetry RN45 build let climbers find purchase on edges with great sensitivity and without pain or cramping
  • CLIMB IN COMFORT - From the gym to the crags, the classic unlined leather upper is soft and comfortable; Lined tongue controls moisture and enhances breathability; Synthetic leather overlay adds just the right level of support

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Evolv Defy

The Evolve Defy (and Evolve Elektra for women) can boast of being one of the most popular models around, with impressive track history and record of consistently being rated the best rock climbing shoes for beginners. This simple climbing shoe has been a favorite of gyms due to their standard fit, predictability, and reliability. The Defy’s simplicity makes it an obvious choice for beginner climbers as it offers everything you need and nothing you don’t. While the shoe is designed for comfort, it also provides ample traction to help you perform your best. For these reasons, the Defy is a popular choice for intermediate and advanced climbers as a back-up pair of shoes for days when comfort is paramount, or for long routes where support trumps technicality.

The sole of the shoe is constructed of a full-length midsole and full-length 4.2-millimeter outsole. The rubber is made of Trax SAS rubber, providing durability as well as “sticky” traction that helps the shoe adhere to the climbing surface. This traction is due to the fact that the rubber is slightly softer than other shoes, which makes it great for smearing on vertical surfaces and sticking heel and toe hooks. However, it makes edging on small footholds difficult. Moreover, the soft rubber allows for increased sensitivity in the sole and the toe-box, helping foot placement. The Evolve Defy sports a molded VTR or Variable Thickness Rand that puts thinner rand rubber in areas with less abrasion and thicker rand rubber in areas in high wear zones. This distribution of rubber allows for reduced pressure points in some areas whole reinforcing others such as the toe and heel for increased longevity, durability, and performance.

The shoe itself is slightly asymmetrical, with a flat sole, slight toe, and a large rounded toe box. This gives the feeling of a slipper rather than a climbing shoe, promoting comfort over performance. Performance-oriented shoes tend to have a prominent point that smashes toes together, providing stability and precision at one point, while being aggressively bent to provide precise foot placement. While the Defy’s may promote comfort, they perform well enough for beginner climbers and those that do not need performance shoes.

Unlike La Sportiva Tarantulace’s, the Evolve Defy’s are entirely synthetic. The uppers of this shoe are constructed of two layers. The inner layer is an Agion antimicrobial lining designed to fight odor while providing comfort. The outer layer is composed of Synthrax VX synthetic material that is both durable and porous to promote longevity and help dissipate sweat. Despite the precautions taken to reduce odor, many climbers report that the shoes become malodorous after use. However, by thoroughly drying them after use, this is avoided. Wholly composed of synthetic materials, the shoes will not stretch much. Therefore it is vital to make sure the shoes fit correctly before purchase.

The Defy features an opposing dual velcro closure ensuring a tight fit with maximum tension. This system allows for the shoes to be worn and removed quickly, however unnecessary it may be due to their comfort. The shoes further feature a split tongue, increasing the ease of wearability. Additionally, the shoes feature a loop on the back that helps put them one easily while providing a convenient place to hook the shoes to your bag or harness.

These wildly popular shoes offer comfort and durability to meet the requirements of rock climbing shoes for beginners. Ideal for bouldering, indoor climbing, cragging, even long multi-pitch routes, these shoes will take you where you want to go. In fact, many crack climbers recommend these shoes specifically for their profile and a flat sole.

Although these shoes can retail at a price similar to many midrange shoes on the market, are frequently found at steep discounts. Nonetheless, even at full price, the shoes are well worth their retail price.

What makes Evolv Defy Unique:

  • An asymmetrical shoe with a flat sole and rounded toe-box.
  • A full-length mid and outer sole made of Trax SAS rubber provides stability and support while being sensitive and sticky to enable smearing, while still remaining durable.
  • The Variable Thickness Rand (VTR) distributes the thickness of the rubber, remaining thin in areas where abrasion is low while reinforcing areas that work the most such as the toe and toe box.
  • The synthetic upper composed of two distinct layers:
    • Inner Agion antimicrobial lining designed to fight odor while providing comfort.
    • Outer Synthrax VX layer that is both durable and permeable to promote longevity and help dissipate sweat
  • Features opposed dual velcro closures to ensure a swift and tight fit.
  • The lined full-length split tongue enhances moisture control and wearability.
  • A loop on the back of the shoe helps to put the shoe on while providing a convenient place from which to hook the shoes to your harness or bag.

Why you Should Choose These Shoes:

  • Comfortable beginners climbing shoe, these synthetic shoes have a long history of the top-performing beginner climbing shoe.
  • The thick sole and durable rubber ensure the longevity of the shoes while being sensitive and flexible.
  • The opposing dual velcro design, split tongue, and loop provide adjustability and ease of wearability.
  • Excellent for bouldering, climbing at the gym, or on the crag, their comfort and versatility allows you to focus on what’s important…the climb.

Evolv Defy Climbing Shoe - Black/Sulphur 12
  • A major upgrade to Evolv's all time best selling shoe
  • Improved fit
  • New upper material, Synthratek VX, for a soft feel and secure fit

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Runner Ups for the Best Beginner Climbing ShoesOur Runner Ups for the Best Beginner Climbing Shoes

While these shoes didn’t quite make the cut into the favorite’s position, they are still recommended by many climbers as well as experts. While they are high-grade shoes and have many positive features, they are not our first recommendation.

Scarpa Force V

Feeling more love from the climbing community than expert reviews, the Scarpa Force V is a modified version of the popular Scarpa Force X. The main difference between the two models is a rounder toe box, a more flexible and sensitive sole, and new colors.

Another shoe designed for entry-level climbing and bouldering, the Scarpa Force V are designed for comfort while still retaining some similarities to a performance shoe. For this reason, the Force V’s have been adopted by advanced climbers for comfortable all-day shoes that perform well on multiple terrain and moderate routes.

With a midsole of Flexan rubber and an outsole of Vibram XS Edge rubber, the Scarpa Force V climbing shoes combine flexibility with durability. This combination enables the shoes to hold their shape on sharp points while clinging securely to small features.

The shoe uppers are constructed of leather, giving them the characteristic stretch of leather climbing shoes. This stretch molds the already comfortable shoes to your feet even closer, adding to the overall comfort.

Sporting an opposing dual velcro closure similar to the Evolve Defy, the Force V ensure a tight fit while allowing you to put on and take off the shoes easily. The addition of two loops—a back loop and a side loop—further facilitate the ease of wearability plus provide a convenient way to hook your shoes to your bag or harness.

While the Force V features a rounded toe box and comfortable interior padded lining, the slightly asymmetrical shape, and slight downturn make this shoe more than a comfortable entry-level shoe, but one with which you can push your limit. This combination of comfort and performance make it an excellent shoe for climbing, from the gym to long multi-pitch routes.

A great shoe for beginners and an excellent option for advanced climbers who want a comfortable backup shoe, the Force V are not the cheapest shoes on this list. While they are occasionally found on sale, they are still pricier than other models, but for the value given, they are worth the price.

What makes Scarpa Force V Unique:

  • An asymmetrical shoe with a slight downturn and rounded toe-box.
  • A midsole of Flexan rubber and outer-sole made of Vibram XS Edge rubber provides flexibility and support. Sticky texture enables them to hold their shape on sharp points while clinging securely to small features while still remaining durable.
  • Leather upper with an inner padded lining provides maximum comfort.
  • Features opposed dual velcro closures to ensure a swift and tight fit.
  • Two loops on the back of the shoe enhance wearability while providing a convenient place from which to hook the shoes to your harness or bag.

Why you Should Choose These Shoes:

  • Comfortable beginners climbing shoe, they are slightly more performance-oriented compared to similar climbing shoes.
  • The durable rubber ensures the longevity of the shoes while being flexible and sticky.
  • The opposing dual velcro design and loops provide adjustability and ease of wearability.
  • Excellent for bouldering, climbing at the gym or on the crag. Noted by advanced climbers for their performance in crack climbing as well as long multi-pitch routes.

SCARPA Men's Force V Rock Climbing Shoes for Gym and Sport Climbing - Mangrove/Papaya - 9
  • All-Day Comfort | A flat profile and passive last make the Force V the perfect climbing shoe for beginner climbers who don’t want to sacrifice comfort for performance.
  • Relaxed Heel Construction | Relieving pressure on your Achilles tendon, the relaxed heel design lets you climb all day without having to remove your shoes after every climb.
  • Vibram XS Edge Rubber | Offering superb support, the XS Edge rubber is stiff, consistent, and durable — ideal for climbers learning the nuances of foot placements.

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


La Sportiva Finale

With their unlined leather upper and straightforward lace closure, the Finale is La Sportiva’s take on a traditional climbing shoe but built for beginners. But don’t let the simple design fool you. The Finale exhibit certain features that make them more technical than other entry-level climbing shoes.

With a midsole constructed of LaspoFlex rubber and showcasing La Sportivas proprietary P3 technology—Permanent Power Platform—the shoes provide stability and maintain their shape throughout their lifetime. The outer sole is made of La Sportivas frequently used Vibram XS Edge sole, a durable and tactile rubber that allows you to stick when you need to.

The unlined leather upper allows the shoe to stretch and mold to your foot while maintaining breathability. The shoe will stretch one to one-and-a-half times its size, so remember to get a size smaller.

Like the Tarantulace’s, the Finale has a lace-up design, although unlike the Tarantulace’s the Finale closure is a traditional lace-up. This allows for precise adjustability and ensures security while remaining comfortable.

The performance aspect comes into play in the P3 technology which enables the shoe to hold its slight downturned profile, a power hinge, and tensioned heel rand. In combination with a slightly asymmetrical profile and the VibramXS Edge rubber, the shoe performs well and gives a beginning climber a glimpse at what a performance shoe is all about.

Impressively, the Finale is an incredibly versatile climbing shoe that is great for the gym, bouldering, and multi-pitches. It proves its worth on most terrain and can easily be worn all day without fatigue.

Matching the increased performance of the shoe, the Finale comes with a higher price tag. Whether the higher cost is worth it, is up to the individual climber.

What makes La Sportiva Finale Unique:

  • An asymmetrical shoe featuring:
    • P3 technology ensures that the slight downturn maintains its shape.
    • A tensioned heel rand and power hinge enables high-edging performance.
  • A midsole of LaspoFLex rubber and outer-sole made of Vibram XS Edge rubber provides flexibility and support. Sticky texture enables them to hold their shape on sharp points while clinging securely to small features while still remaining durable.
  • Unlined leather upper remains comfortable while molding to your feet.
  • Traditional lace closure ensures fit and pin-point adjustibility.

Why you Should Choose These Shoes:

  • A comfortable beginners climbing shoe similar to traditional climbing shoes. More performance-oriented compared to similar climbing shoes.
  • The durable rubber ensures the longevity of the shoes while being flexible and sticky.
  • Excellent for bouldering, climbing at the gym or on the crag. Noted by advanced climbers for their performance in crack climbing as well as long multi-pitch routes.

La Sportiva Finale Climbing Shoe, Brown/Orange, 44.5
  • Excellent for all-day comfort and reliable performance, the Finale is a lace-up rock shoe that is equally at home in the gym or the crag.
  • Unlined leather upper for a soft, comfortable fit
  • Tensioned heel rand and powerhinge for high-end edging performance

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Value Picks for the Best Beginner Climbing ShoesOur Value Picks for the Best Beginner Climbing Shoes

While the rock climbing shoes so far have been the best in terms of quality and performance, they all cost more-or-less the same. However, many of these shoes are found at steep discounts making them incredible value for money. Here we include climbing shoes that are always affordable for those who feel cheaper is always better.

Mad Rock Drifter

An all-around versatile climbing shoe, the Mad Rock Drifter, is the cheapest climbing shoe on the list. A simple no-muss-no-fuss climbing shoe, they are the perfect beginner climbing shoe for those who are not sure what type of climbing or how much they will do.

Made with a moderate stiffness Science Friction 3.0 rubber sole, the Drifter’s are more sensitive than many other entry-level climbing shoes while still remaining durable with impressive friction. A 3D molded heel with EVA cushioning ensures a superb fit helping stick heel hooks.

All leather uppers are soft and will stretch over time, giving a molded custom fit. Unlike other leather shoes, in most cases, these climbing shoes are purchased in your standard shoe size to provide the best fit.

The shoes feature standard hook and loop closure that while effective, is less so than the Evolve Defy. With a split neoprene tongue and two loops, the shoes are easy to put on and remove. Moreover, the loops serve as a fastening point to attach your shoes to your gear.

With a flat sole and slightly asymmetric profile the, shoes are comfortable while performing well as a basic climbing shoe.

While it is not the most comfortable or best-performing shoe, the Mad Rock Drifter is an inexpensive option for a first-time climber.

What makes Mad Rock Drifter Unique:

  • An asymmetrical shoe with a flat sole.
  • A sole made from Science Friction 3.0 rubber provides stability and support while being sensitive and sticky to enable smearing, while still remaining durable.
  • Features a 3D molded rubber heel with EVA cushioning for a close fit.
  • The unlined leather upper remains comfortable while molding to your feet.
  • Features dual velcro closures to ensure a swift and tight fit.
  • The neoprene full-length split tongue enhances moisture control and wearability.
  • Two loops on the back of the shoe help to put the shoe on while providing a convenient place from which to hook the shoes to your harness or bag.

Why you Should Choose These Shoes:

  • Comfortable beginners climbing shoe, the Mad Rock Drifter’0s are an inexpensive option for a beginner climbing shoe.
  • The thick sole and durable rubber ensure the longevity of the shoes while being sensitive and flexible.
  • The dual velcro design, split tongue, and loop provide adjustability and ease of wearability.
  • Simple sizing system makes choosing the correct fit easy.
  • Excellent for bouldering, climbing at the gym or on the crag.

Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe - Red 12
  • Versatile climbing shoe ideal for climbers looking for all-around performance
  • Slightly asymmetric last and flat profile for comfort
  • Full grain leather uppers stretch out over time for a custom fit

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


How to Choose the Best Climbing Shoe for You When You’re a Beginner

With so many beginner climbing shoes to choose from, it is difficult to know what to look for. With our recommendations, the search for the right shoe for you is much easier. That being said, how do you choose the best beginner climbing shoe for you?

  1. Price: the first thing to keep in mind is price. It may seem logical to invest a lot of money in such an essential piece of gear. The straight fact is that climbing is a tough sport with a steep learning curve. Your shoes are going to be subjected to a lot of abuse before you get better. Invest in a pricer pair when you have the skills to really put them to work.
  2. Durability: as mentioned above, your shoes will suffer a lot of abuse. Between shoddy footwork, smearing, and everything else they have to take, a shoe with a sturdy rubber sole and durable upper will last much longer than a thinner soled shoe. This is especially important on the toe, which does most of the work and sustains constant abrasion.
  3. Fit: of paramount importance, a good fit doesn’t mean your feet have to be in constant pain. In a beginner shoe, it is much more important to have a shoe that accommodates the toes easily and a heel that doesn’t cause blisters or slip off. The shoes should be tight to the feet, without extra room. Remember that leather shoes will stretch.
  4. Comfort: hand in hand with and directly related to the fit, the comfort of the shoe should be your primary consideration. Especially crucial with beginner climbers, a comfortable shoe will allow the feet to develop the appropriate muscles and get used to the stresses of climbing. Moreover, focusing on technique is much easier if you’re not constantly in pain waiting till you can remove your shoes.

Armed with these rules, the next step is to head to a brick and mortar store to try on the shoes for yourself. Even if you are planning on buying them online, nothing beats the hands-on—or in this case feet on—experience of slipping the shoes on and giving them a test run. Additionally, many retailers frequently have steep discounts on gear in-store and offer their expertise in selecting the right shoe.

Key Differentiators for Beginner Climbing Shoes vs. Intermediate and Advanced Shoes

There are a few key differences that stand out between beginner climbing shoes and advanced options.

First, advanced shoes tend to have a much more aggressive shape, meaning they have a noticeable downturn (like a banana), that facilitates precise movement and placement of the shoe. Beginner climbing shoes, on the other hand, are largely flat-soled and stiff, providing comfort and support, facilitating the development of skill and climbing muscles.

Secondly, advanced climbing shoes have a pronounced toe that enables precise placement of the toes in addition to focusing power onto a single point. Entry-level shoes, on the whole, are slightly asymmetrical with a rounded toe box that follows the natural shape of the foot and accommodates the toes providing maximum comfort.

Thirdly, the soles of advanced shoes are often thinner designed to allow maximum sensitivity and flexibility, whereas beginner shoes rely on thick, stiff soles to provide support, durability, and in no short measure, protection.

Finally, advanced climbing shoes often come with specific features that are specific to a particular type of climbing.

Keep in mind that some advanced climbing shoes are tools intended for a specific job. While they are useful and sometimes necessary, often a simpler, more comfortable shoe will work the same or better. It is for this reason that many advanced climbers have an arsenal of shoes to choose from, although once again, it is their simple shoes that bear the brunt of the work.

Other Important Things to Consider When Buying Climbing Shoes

While climbing shoes seem to be somewhat similar in construction and materials, there are key differences one should be aware of when buying climbing shoes.

Upper Material

  • Leather: the most traditional material, it has the most stretch and will often increase a full size or more. Leather uppers can be lined or unlined while some are partially lined with lining help minimize stretch. Some dyed leather will occasionally leach dye onto sweaty feet, staining skin. In general, leather shoes should be bought in a smaller size. After what can be a painful breaking-in period, the inherent stretch allows the shoe to mold to your feet, ultimately providing superior comfort.
  • Synthetic: resistant to stretch, synthetic uppers ordinarily remain the same size as when they are first worn, although some models may stretch a small amount. These materials tend to be less breathable than leather and often feature moisture control to compensate. Less durable than leather and more susceptible to abrasion.
  • Leather/Synthetic: generally made of leather with synthetic reinforcements, they stretch slightly while remaining breathable. More durable than synthetics.
  • Knit: a new style of upper on the market, this material is featured on the new Black Diamond shoe, Momentum. Designed with “Engineered Knit Technology,” this fabric similar to Nike knit shoes, is both breathable and durable while remaining extremely lightweight.

While it may seem that a non-stretchy material is the better choice, we recommend leather as the tradeoff between inconvenience in the breaking-in period and the ultimate fit achieved is justified. The knit material being new is untried but appears to be a solid choice.

Closure System

  • Laces: this system allows for a more precise and secure fit of the shoe. On laced shoes, the laces lie in closer proximity to the toe box enabling a better fit in some models compared to velcro closures. The trade-off lies in the amount of time required to put on and take off the shoes.
  • Velcro: also called a hook and loop closure, velcro allows for easy adjustability and wearability. Models such as the Evolve Defy feature an opposed closure system, utilizing tension to ensure a tight fit. On other models, the velcro closures close from the same side. The trade-off lies in the inability to precisely adjust the fit of the shoe, especially near the toe box.
  • Slip-on: much like slippers, these shoes rely on stretchy fabric to slip the foot in. While easy to slip on and off, they may become loose after some time. Not as secure as other closures, these shoes are best for the gym.

The trade-off between the adjustability of a lace-up and the convenience of velcro is a personal preference. While a velcro closure is more convenient, a comfortable shoe that can be worn indefinitely makes this a moot point. Therefore we recommend the precision provided by lace-ups. Slip-on shoes are best left as gym shoes or for specific projects.

Rubber

  • Thickness: the thicker the rubber, the more durable the shoe. However, the sensitivity of the shoe is reduced.
  • Grip: this trait determines the shoes ability to adhere to a surface.
  • Hardness: Harder rubber imparts more resistance to abrasion and increased protection. However, it lacks the stickiness of a softer rubber.

In general, the more durable a shoe, the harder the material and therefore the less sticky. It is important to judge for yourself what balance you find suits you best. Each shoe manufacturer utilizes preferred brands of rubber, employing different rubber with each shoes’ intended purpose.

Indoor VS Outdoor

In general, any shoe should work for both indoor and outdoor climbing. However, if you know you will be spending the majority of your time either indoors or outdoors, a few differences should be taken into account.

When climbing indoors, the shoe should be more comfort-oriented as it is comparatively more relaxed and less frightening compared to climbing outdoors. Moreover, you will progress to more complex climbs involving more technique quicker, requiring a softer shoe.

Outdoors it is a good idea to select a more performance-oriented shoe that will give you the confidence to ascend without fear. A shoe with greater abrasion resistance will considerably increase the longevity of your shoes. Furthermore, most beginner outdoor climbs are likely to be vertical and slabby where a sticky shoe capable of smearing and edging will assist considerably.

Summary of the Best Beginner Climbing Shoes

Here’s a table of what beginner climbing shoes we evaluated:

Our Top Favorite
La Sportiva Men's TarantuLace Rock Climbing Shoe, Flame, 42
Our Top Runner Up
SCARPA Men's Force V Rock Climbing Shoes for Gym and Sport Climbing - Mangrove/Papaya - 9
Our Top Value Pick
Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe - Red 12
Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Tarantulace
Scarpa Force V
Mad Rock Drifter
Prime Eligible?
-
-
-
Our Top Favorite
La Sportiva Men's TarantuLace Rock Climbing Shoe, Flame, 42
Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Tarantulace
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Runner Up
SCARPA Men's Force V Rock Climbing Shoes for Gym and Sport Climbing - Mangrove/Papaya - 9
Climbing Shoes
Scarpa Force V
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe - Red 12
Climbing Shoes
Mad Rock Drifter
Prime Eligible?
-

Last update: 2021-09-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Choosing the right pair of shoes for a new climber is hugely important. That doesn’t mean that the shoes have to last you for your whole climbing career. On the contrary, the purpose of a beginner climbing shoe is to enable you to master the basics of climbing, while providing the comfort and durability for extended sessions.

While you may be tempted to purchase the shoe with the greatest performance, it is by far more critical to focus on a comfortable shoe that fits well. If you can get that shoe for cheap, all well and good. Just remember to always try on the shoes before you buy, as not all shoes fit all feet.

With that thought, our recommendation for the best beginner climbing shoes, backed by reviews and the consensus of the climbing community, is the La Sportiva Taranulace. These excellent shoes offer all that a pair of beginner climbing shoes should, with ample comfort and performance. As they can often be bought at severe discounts, they are also a great value pick. The Evolve Defy is also a notable choice, coming in second by a slim margin.

Need the best climbing harness? Check out our comprehensive guide to harnesses here.

Or if you’re looking for more general gear reviews, go here.

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