Choosing the right clothing and equipment for rock climbing is essential for both comfort and safety. One of the most important pieces of gear you will need to buy is a pair of decent climbing shoes. Having appropriate footwear is necessary so that you can comfortably tackle trickier terrain without slipping. Your shoes should also support and protect your feet while you are enjoying your rock climbing. If you are a beginner to this activity, the choice of beginner climbing shoes available may seem baffling. This guide highlights the factors you need to consider when buying shoes for rock climbing to help you find the right pair for you. This is followed by reviews of some of the best climbing shoes for beginners, including options for men, women, and children.
- Reviews of the Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners- Men
- Reviews of the Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners- Women
- Reviews of the Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners- Kids
- Things to Consider When Buying Climbing Shoes for Beginners
- The Final Verdict
Reviews of the Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners- Men
These are some of the best beginner rock climbing shoes on the market now. La Sportiva manufactures climbing shoes for both men and women, which are very similar and share many of the same key features. La Sportiva shoes are popular amongst both experienced and beginner rock climbers. These shoes have a fast lacing system that features a quick-pull harness so that climbers can fit their shoes precisely for the best fit, support, and comfort. These are a great shoe for smears, hooks, and edges thanks to the aggressive rubber heels and soles. These comfortable shoes are also the great for indoor climbing, so it is a versatile option. They are built to last as they are made from high-quality materials that can withstand the natural wear and tear you would expect from strenuous outdoor activities. The brand provides a sizing chart to make sure that customers get the best fitting and most comfortable shoes.
- Quality materials
- Made to last
- Aggressive soles and heels
- Quick-pull lacing system
- All-round performance
- Sizing chart available
If you prefer leather shoes to those made using synthetic materials, then these shoes are a good option for you as the uppers are made from 100% high-quality leather. The soles of the shoes are made from a durable rubber that gives good grip and can withstand the wear and tear of constant rubbing against hard surfaces, such as rock. Other important features of these shoes are the Vibram xs edge that offers good durability and incredible grip and the passive randing that gives the shoes a classic performance. The shoes have a float lasted construction that contributes to the overall performance of the shoes and improves the all-day comfort of the shoes. Another element of the shoes that increases comfort is the cushioned light heel cup. The shoes have to-the-toe lacing, so you can adjust the shoes to fit your feet perfectly so that they are completely secure and offer a good level of support.
- To-the-toe lacing
- Excellent grip
- Good performance
- High-quality materials
- Comfortable for all-day wear
As the uppers of these shoes are made from synthetic materials, they are lightweight and this makes movement easier. They are also breathable, so you won’t suffer from sweaty feet while out on a climb. The breathability is enhanced by the use of engineered knit technology and this also has advantages in terms of the comfort of the shoes. The soles are made from a 4.3-millimeter NeoFriction rubber that is designed to give good grip and improve performance. This durable material can withstand rough activities and is molded for optimum consistency. The midsoles have a medium flex, which adds support without sacrificing the sensitivity that you need to feel what lies underfoot. There is a lace-up fastening on these shoes and this allows you to adjust the fit of the shoes to suit your feet. They have a neutral, flat last that is ideal for vertical climbing and great for all-day comfort.
- Comfortable fit
- Adjustable lacing
- Molded rubber soles for grip and consistency
- Engineered knit technology for breathability
Evolv Men’s Defy rock climbing shoes are another synthetic option. One of the greatest advantages of using synthetic materials in this instance is that they are some of the cheapest climbing shoes for beginners on the market with prices starting at around the $30 mark. These shoes have an asymmetrical profile and a synthetic high-friction rubber sole that allows for sensitivity while also giving great grip. The midsole is a one-millimeter sensitive half-length. A combination of materials is used in the uppers of these climbing shoes. The outer is a perforated Synthratek that is very breathable, and the lining is made from nylon for comfort. They have a VTR rand with a thick front toe area and easy to fasten Velcro strap fastenings. The heel of the shoe is fitted with a loop so that you can slide the shoes on quickly. If you opt for these shoes, you will probably need to buy a size smaller as the sizing runs small.
- Easy to put on and fasten
- Breathable and comfortable materials
- Rubber soles for excellent grip
- Best within budget
- Velcro fastenings
Despite having 100% leather uppers, these climbing shoes are an affordable option. They are also surprisingly lightweight considering they are made from leather. There are three color options from which you can choose to suit your style and personal preferences. They are classed as an all-around climbing shoe, with a stiffness level of three, and an asymmetric shape. They are easy to put on and have a two-strap Velcro closure that holds the shoes securely in place while climbing to make sure the shoes are offering you the support you need during strenuous activities. One of the reasons why these are great for beginners is that they do not have a complicated sizing system. In most cases, the size you normally wear in your day-to-day life is the same size as the climbing shoes you should buy. This takes away one of the biggest complications of choosing a decent pair of climbing shoes.
- 2-strap Velcro closure
- Easy to understand the sizing
- Leather uppers
- Affordable climbing shoes option
Another affordable option if you want climbing shoes under $100 is the Five Ten Men’s Rogue VCS Climbing Shoe. The uppers of these shoes are made from 100% leather that is durable and can withstand tough wear and tear. These climbing shoes for beginners have 3.5-millimeter stealth C4 rubber soles that are comfortable and give good grip over most terrains, even when the surfaces are wet. There is a reinforced arch for extra comfort and a heel slingshot rand. They have a good fit thanks to the dual hook-and-loop strap closure system that allows you to adjust the fit to maximize both support and comfort. The design of these shoes means that they are a flexible choice that allows you to have more precise footing and improves your overall performance while climbing. There are two color options of these shoes available, including neon blue or neon blue and charcoal.
- Color options
- Quality leather uppers
- Rubber soles with excellent grip
- Hook-and-loop closure
- Comfortable and flexible
This is another good option if you find the climbing shoes sizing systems confusing as the fit is as expected. These are an extremely comfortable pair of climbing shoes as the uppers combine fabric and leather. This means they are breathable, durable, waterproof, and flexible. They have a padded ankle cuff and a sticky 3D molded heel cup for extra comfort in the places where you need it the most. There is an odorless organic hemp footbed that removes the problem of sweaty and smelly climbing shoes. The contoured arch gives a better fit and improved performance, so they are considered an excellent all-around climbing shoe. Another reason to opt for these shoes is the soles as these give a good level of grip over even the most challenging terrains. Furthermore, the black, blue, and red design of these rock climbing shoes means they are a visually appealing option.
- Leather and fabric combination
- Comfortable and flexible
- Padded ankle cup and molded heel cup
- Odorless organic hemp footbed
These shoes use both leather and synthetic materials to take advantage of the benefits of both. The main part of the upper is leather with some of the features made from synthetic materials, while the soles are made from both leather and rubber. These shoes are classified as all-around performance shoes that perform well for almost all activities, in a variety of situations, and over varied terrain. The uppers are comfortable, breathable, flexible, and will stretch with your feet. The soles have good grip and offer enough flexibility for you to mold your feet around rock shapes. They have a two-strap Velcro closure that allows you to adjust the shoes to give the best fit. This improves the security and comfort of the shoes while giving adequate support for rock climbing activities. These lightweight and comfortable shoes have a stiffness rating of three and an asymmetric design.
- A combination of leather and synthetic materials
- Good grip
- Comfortable and flexible
- 2-strap closure
- Secure and supportive
Reviews of the Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners- Women
There are also many fantastic options for women’s climbing shoes. Some of these are very similar to the men’s shoes manufactured by the same brand. Amongst the best women’s climbing shoes for beginners are the following options.
Similar to The Men’s Version
La Sportiva Women’s TarantuLace Performance & Scarpa Women’s Helix are almost the same as the men’s, with slight adjustments that take into account the different shape and size of women’s feet. Overall, they have the same features that will appeal to many female climbers.
Black Diamond Momentum Women’s are also very similar to the men’s climbing shoes from the same brand and have the same appealing features. The biggest difference is that the women’s shoes come with a free cooling towel, which is a useful accessory for climbers.
For women, these are some of the best climbing shoes. There was a previous version of this model from Evolv, but the brand has now improved the model to make it even better than before. Areas on which the improvements have focused include the fit and a better-quality material in the uppers. A further advancement is that the mesh has been treated with a new anti-microbial substance that eliminates odors. These are a great all-rounder that is suitable for climbers at all levels, from beginners to advanced. The quality materials and innovative design mean that these are a comfortable and flexible shoe that is durable enough to withstand rough activity over all terrains and in most conditions. The manufacturers recommend choosing a size 1.5 to two sizes up from your regular size.
- Comfortable and durable
- Anti-microbial treatment to eliminate odor
- Improved fit and design
- High-quality materials
These synthetic climbing shoes are a great option for both those who are rock climbing novices and those who are experts in this sport. They have maximum power because of the V-tension active randing system that focuses the energy. These shoes also have a proven fit of the performance-oriented ff last. The interior of the shoes has a partial lining and a suede footbed for an improved fit and greater comfort. These features also make the shoes more breathable. Another comfort feature is the padded mesh tongue. The climbing shoes have a dual power strap closure that improves the fit of the shoe to make them more secure during movement. The rubber soles deliver great traction, even on challenging terrain and in wet conditions. The manufacturers take pride in the performance of these and say they are even great on grassy smears and dime edges.
- Unique and innovative design
- Focuses energy for maximum power
- Excellent fit for comfort
- Suede footbed and partially lined
Another great option for women, especially for those having wide feet. A stylish looking pair of climbing shoes, they have a brushed leather upper and a split-leather footbed that is moisture-wicking. This means they are comfortable and adapt to the shape of your toes. They have 3D injection molded full lengths with variable thickness polyurethane midsoles for added rigidity, torsion, and precision edging. The soles of the shoes are super sticky 100% Butora F5 rubber soles that offer superior grip. The manufacturers recommend sizing up half a size if you prefer a tighter fit or a full size for a comfortable fit. This comes down to both your personal preference and the type of rock climbing you are planning to enjoy.
- Molded full lengths
- Wide fitting
- Great grip on the soles
- Good rigidity and torsion
- Stylish appearance
- Split-leather footbed
These are another great style of climbing shoes from one of the leading brands in the climbing clothing and equipment industry. The uppers are made from high-quality, unlined leather that is sourced in the United States. This means they are strong, durable, and flexible.The 3D midsoles are full-length with arched support for greater comfort and better performance. Another comfort feature is the cushy and airy tongue, which is a new improvement to this shoe model. These shoes have durable soles with an excellent grip that won’t let you down, even while climbing in challenging environments. They fasten with an easy lace-up system with speed eyelets. This allows you to tighten the shoes to fit your feet better and this gives greater comfort, support, and security. The sizing of these shoes runs small, so most people need to select a shoe that is one size smaller than their regular shoes.
- Quality leather uppers
- Arched support
- Full-length midsoles
- Cushy tongue
- Lacing with speed eyelets
- Fantastic grip
These shoes are an upgraded version of the Scarpa Helix model that is available in variations for both men and women. While the upper of these shoes is leather, the sole is made from synthetic materials. The passive randing offers classic performance while the Vibram xs edge improves the durability of the shoes and gives them an incredible grip. The design of these shoes is a flat lasted construction, and this means they are extremely comfortable and give great performance. They remain comfortable even in all-day wear because of the light heel cup. The shoes have to-the-toe lacing that allows the wearer to adjust the fit at different points along the foot. This improves stability, comfort, performance, and security. Overall, these are a comfortable and high-performing pair of climbing shoes.
- Durable and comfortable
- Light heel cup
- Quality materials
- Passive randing
- Flat lasted construction
Reviews of the Best Climbing Shoes for Beginners- Kids
Many families enjoy a range of outdoor activities together, including rock climbing. It is just as important that the kids are wearing the appropriate footwear as the adults. Here is some of the best beginner climbing shoes for kids.
For kids, La Sportiva Kids’ Stickit are one of the best choices. The simple and functional design is created specifically for children, so it is not too tight or technical. They simply provide the comfort, security, and adaptability that children need from their shoes to enjoy their climbing activities. The shoes are easy to put on and pull off because of their shape and the loop on the heel that they can use for pulling. There is also a simple lacing system that is convenient and speeds up the process of getting ready for a day of family rock climbing. These shoes have a durable leather upper and a rubber sole that offers excellent grip, even on slippery surfaces. They have a light and comfortable structure that is less rigid, and this makes them versatile as kids can wear them as all-purpose climbing shoes.
- Less rigidity
- Easy to put on and pull off
- Simple lacing
- Flexible and comfortable
- All-purpose climbing shoes
- Quality materials
In many respects, the children’s version of the EvolvVenga is much the same as the adults’ versions. They are made from synthetic materials, including a .22-millimeter TRAX XT-5 high-friction rubber sole. These shoes have an asymmetrical toe profile and they fit small, so you should allow your child to try these on in person before ordering the correct size online. They have easy fastenings and are adjustable around the heels and ankles to give a comfortable and secure fit.
- Quality materials
- Adjustable points
- Easy to get on and off
- Rubber sole with good grip
- Comfortable fit
These climbing shoes have a fun and colorful design that will appeal to children. The uppers are made from high-quality brushed leather that is both durable and breathable. They feature a removable heel cup that allows the shoes to grow up to half a size as your children’s feet grow. The shoes have externally built-in pull tabs for comfort and X-factor rubber rands. They are easy for your kids to take on and off as they have easy Velcro closures and a loop on the heel to help them pull them up and slide them off. You can adjust the tightness of the Velcro straps so that they fit your kid’s feet securely and comfortably. These shoes have a rubber sole that gives them good grip, which is important to the safety of your child when they are rock climbing or enjoying any other outdoor pursuits.
- Free Sickle M-16 climbing brush included
- Fun and colorful design
- Removable heel cup
- Good grip
- Adjustable Velcro fastenings
These are some of the best climbing shoes for kids and they are a great option for indoor climbing as this is their recommended use. For kids, they are a good choice for in the gym and they are also great for bouldering, crack climbing and many other activities. The uppers of these rock climbing shoes are 100% brushed leather. This means they are breathable, flexible, and have some stretch. The rubber soles are durable and offer excellent grip for the safety of your child while they are participating in challenging and potentially hazardous activities. They are visually appealing and the bright yellow and blue will appeal to children of all ages. Children can easily get these shoes on and off, thanks to the easy fastening system and the loop on the heel. There is also a strap on the ankle so that you can easily adjust the shoes for the best fit.
- Visually appealing to children
- Easy fastening system
- Quality materials
- Good grip
Although there are many similarities between the kids’ shoes manufactured by this brand and the adult versions, there are also some key features that are specific to the children’s climbing shoes. This material is also soft and comfortable for children to wear without rubbing. The uppers are made from 100% brushed bovine leather that is flexible, breathable, water-resistant, and durable. The soles of the shoes are made from Stealth C4 rubber, so these climbing shoes have an excellent grip over all terrains and even in wet conditions. Another advantage of these shoes is that they are so easy to take on and off. They have a simple fold-over fastening that children can easily manage themselves without the need for assistance from their parents. This makes getting ready for a climb quicker and more convenient. The sizing of these shoes is a little different from other brands. Therefore, it is important to check the sizing carefully before buying.
- Soft and comfortable
- Easy to take off and put on
- Simple fold-over fastening
- Excellent grip
- Durable leather uppers
For those who are looking for a pair of budget climbing shoes for their child, this is a fantastic option as they are some of the cheapest climbing shoes for children on the market now. These are similar to the adult shoes sold by the same brand in terms of their features, including the odor-reducing hemp footbed and the quality materials from which the shoes are made. The biggest difference between the adult’s and kid’s shoes is that the kid’s shoes have a removable heel cup. This means that you can adjust the size of the shoes as your child grows. They have a funky design that will appeal to children.
- Odor-reducing hemp footbed
- Removable heel cup
- Funky design
- Affordable climbing shoes
- Strong and durable materials
Things to Consider When Buying Climbing Shoes for Beginners
There are many variations of climbing shoes, so you need to understand the different features to help you make your buying decision. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing climbing shoes for beginners.
In terms of materials, there are two main options available and each has both pros and cons. These are:
- Synthetics- In most cases, synthetics are a cheaper option than leather and it is the more stable material, meaning the fit will remain the same for longer. The disadvantage of synthetic shoes is that they are less breathable, so sweaty feet are common amongst synthetic climbing shoe wearers.
- Leather- Shoes that are made from leather adjust themselves to your feet better than synthetic shoes and they are also more breathable, which means your feet will sweat less. On the downside, they are more expensive and less stable.
The type of fastenings you choose is relevant to the comfort and safety. Each of the different types of fastenings has its own advantages.
- Laces- The advantage of laces is that you can fasten the shoes precisely to fit your foot comfortably at different pints. ON the downside, they take longer to put on and this is inconvenient.
- Hook-and-loop- These fasten faster than shoes with laces but the hoop-and-loop systems are prone to breaking quickly.
- Velcro strap- This is one of the simplest types of fastenings. They usually appear on slipper style climbing shoes.
- Slippers- These are worn like socks and fit snugly on your feet with no fastenings. They are extremely tight, especially when you first start wearing them. They are not a good option for beginners.
Getting strength into the right areas of shoes is important for climbers. Consider the following points:
- Pre-tensioning is when you build up tension in the sole through the heel.
- You can also build up tension in the sole by sculpting it to give it downturn and to put the strength in the big toe.
- A shoe is more aggressive if it has more tension.
- You will need aggressive shoes for trickier climbs that involve overhangs and small ledges.
- Om the downside, aggressive shoes are less comfortable.
- Flat shoes with no pre-tensioning or downturn are the best beginner climbing shoes.
- Some shoes have an additional plate in their soles. These are to distribute your weight over a greater surface area and will help you to stand.
- Shoes with no plate are softer so that you can mold your foot to the rock better. If you are an experienced climber, you can feel how your foot will hold. However, standing in these shoes is trickier.
The heel area is only important if you are going bouldering, so it is not that important for rock climbing beginners as they will generally stick to climbing with ropes. However, if you are transitioning from rock climbing to bouldering, the heel area is important for finding beginner bouldering shoes. In terms of the heel area, you should think about the following:
- The heel should not press on the Achille’s tendon.
- Testing the shoe before buying is important to check if there is pressure in the heel.
- Comfort in the heel is important for moves called ‘hooks’ in bouldering. For this, you need a tight-fitting heel.
Size and Fit
Buying shoes that are the right size and that fit well is essential. Otherwise, you will soon have painful feet, and this will hinder your enjoyment of a day out climbing.
- The sizing of climbing shoes is a little complicated as there are variations in brands.
- While some brands manufacture climbing shoes that are the same size that a person would wear with their day-to-day shoes, there are others that have larger or smaller sizing.
- If you are buying Five Ten or Evolv climbing shoes, you should choose your regular size.
- Buy climbing shoes that are 1.5 to two sizes larger than your regular size if you want La Sportiva climbing shoes.
- Choose climbing shoes that are between one and two sizes smaller than your regular shoes if you are buying a pair of Scarpa climbing shoes.
- People have feet of different sizes and shapes. This means that some brands and styles will fit you well, while other brands and styles are a poor fit.
- Even if you are buying your shoes online, you should visit a bricks-and-mortar store first to try on the different brands and styles to find out which suits you best.
- Walk around in them to see if you feel pain in your toes or heels.
- Make sure the shoes are wide enough as feet naturally widen throughout the day. Therefore, you should avoid buying very tight-fitting shoes.
As with most products, the price of a pair of climbing shoes is a relevant consideration when choosing which to buy. In relation to the price of climbing shoes, consider the following points:
- The price of climbing shoes for beginners depends on the brand, the style, and the materials.
- The price does not always reflect the quality. So, you can often buy a good-quality pair of climbing shoes at a low price.
- You can save money when buying climbing shoes for beginners by shopping online instead of at a bricks-and-mortar store.
The Final Verdict
If you have decided to take up rock climbing in your spare time, a decent pair of climbing shoes is one of the first things you should buy as this is an important element of your gear. There are some excellent options available, each with its own features.
Overall, the best climbing shoes for beginners are the La Sportiva Performance and these are available in variations for men, women, and children. They deliver an all-around performance and are made from quality materials. These shoes are also easy to put on and comfortable to wear.
Another great men’s option for those on a budget is the Evolv Men’s Defy. Despite the affordable price, they are made from good quality materials, they are comfortable to wear, and they give you plenty of support while climbing.
For women, the best option as a first pair is the Scarpa Women’s Force X. The unique and innovative design of these shoes focuses the energy for maximum power while also having a comfortable fit.
There are also some great choices for kids with some of the best options being the Climb X Kinder Kids (Assorted). The fun and colourful design of these shoes will appeal to children while the specifications of these climbing shoes have many of the quality features you would expect to find in adult rock climbing shoes.