Choose rock climbing shoes based on the type of climbing, with beginners opting for all-around shoes. Shoes should fit snugly but comfortably, and be bought from a reputable retailer. Bouldering shoes should have curled soles for hooking onto holds.
The best rock climbing shoes vary based on the type of climbing you will be doing. If you are a beginner, choose an all-around shoe that will be suitable for all types of climbing; this shoe will feature a stiff sole with a comfortable toe cap, and most often a high-top leather upper. Rock climbing shoes should fit tightly but comfortably; If your toes feel stuck in your toe or start to curl up when you put the shoe on, it’s probably not the best fit. It’s important to remember that rock climbing shoes will stretch after use, so choose a snug pair to start with.
The two common types of rock climbing shoes are slip-on shoes and board-mounted shoes. Board-mounted shoes have a stiff sole that does not bend easily. This is a good choice for indoor climbing, all-around climbing as an all-purpose shoe, and easy to moderate ascents. Slip-on shoes are flexible, usually have pointed toes, and the shape of the sole can vary significantly depending on the purpose of the shoe. Non-slip shoes are suitable for extremely difficult climbs, climbs with overhangs or roofs, and climbs that require a significant amount of foot flexion. Most climbers won’t need such a shoe; beginners and intermediate climbers are usually better off with a multi-purpose shoe fitted to the board.
Buying your climbing shoes from a reputable retailer is a good idea for several reasons, the most important of which is how easily you’ll be able to educate yourself on different shoes. Some retailers even have small climbing walls you can test your shoes on. Look for a dealer with competitive pricing and knowledgeable staff, and if possible find a dealer who has some of last year’s models for sale at a discounted price. Buying last year’s models will save you money without sacrificing performance.
If bouldering is your main focus, choose rock climbing shoes with curled soles that allow you to hook your foot into holds that are hung from a roof or ceiling. These shoes are usually slip-waisted and may feature laces, hook-and-loop straps, or a slipper design that features no method of fastening other than holding the shoe. Lightweight shoes are best, and durable upper materials like leather will be a good choice. Look for lined leather, which will limit the elasticity of the shoe after use.