Climbing Shoe Reviews

Whether you're looking for soft climbing slippers or stiff-soled shoes for wide cracks, Climbing's gear testers will guide you to the best climbing shoes. Our many field testers wear out dozens of pairs of climbing shoes each year in the search for the best new climbing shoes. We also provide in-depth articles on how to choose, maintain, and resole your favorite shoes.
  • Climbing Gear Guide 2015: Editors' Choice Awards

    Climbing Gear Guide 2015: Editors' Choice Awards

    As editors of a climbing magazine, part of our job description includes traveling to cool climbing areas with the latest and greatest gear and putting it through its paces—all in the name of “testing.” Yeah, we’re pretty lucky. Of course, it’s not all peaches and cream. We eventually have to decide which products are worthy of a mention, and which are better left on the shelf. Every year there are several items that shine brightest, proving themselves to be absolutely must-have pieces of gear. We bestow those top picks with the gear world’s premier prize: Editors’ Choice. This year, we winnowed a field of hundreds of products to select these 15 coolest, best-performing, and most drool-worthy gear picks.

  • HPECAlpine

    Gear Guide 2014: Alpine

    Rock, ice, or snow, these 12 tester-approved toys will get you to the top.

  • HPECTrad

    Gear Guide 2014: Trad Climbing

    From cams to carabiners to shoes, here are 18 of the best new products for plug-and-chuggers.

  • ECSport

    Gear Guide 2014: Sport Climbing

  • HPEC

    Gear Guide 2014: Editors' Choice Awards

    Innovative, smart, lust-worthy, and just plain cool: 10 new must-have products that topped our testers’ lists.

  • Scarpa-Stix-Shoe

    Scarpa Stix

    Instant-classic alert! Cobbler genius Heinz Mariacher (the man behind some of the sport’s most notable shoes like La Sportiva’s Mythos and Testarossa and the Scarpa Boostic) has struck gold again. The Stix packs top-end performance in a surprisingly easy-to-wear synthetic-leather slipper.

  • Five-Ten-Team-Shoe-660

    Five Killer Rock Shoes

    Before any epic alpine rock route, redpoint burn, or warm-up boulder, there sits the climber: slipping on, lacing up, or strapping down a pair of rock shoes. We know the bond between a climber and sticky rubber is nothing to make light of, so we called in 12 pairs of brand-new kicks for this fall to find the top models for every kind of adventure.

  • Millet-Hybrid

    Millet Hybrid

    Comfort is king for shoes on alpine rock routes, especially if the climbing involves multiple standing belays, jamming wet cracks, or even some unroped scrambling. The new Hybrid (not to be confused with Millet’s old Hybrid shoe) is designed for comfort without sacrificing performance, with a padded tongue and collar and a cushioned heel that offers extra protection (it looks like the heel of a sneaker from the outside) on gravelly belay ledges or walk-offs in your climbing shoes.

  • Boreal-Diabolo-Shoe

    Boreal Diablo

    The Diabolos feel precise but versatile with just enough comfort to keep sport and trad climbers happy all day on long granite routes or pumpy, overhanging limestone. “On Hot Dog (5.11b) in Clear Creek Canyon, I needed to pinpoint tiny nubs, heel-hook, and edge multiple times on each burn, and these were the perfect shoe,” one female tester said.

  • Scarpa-Force

    Scarpa Force X

    With a flat-lasted sole, suede leather uppers, and padded mesh lining for the heel cup and tongue, this shoe is super comfortable for full days of climbing. And the unlined toe box, tensioned rand, and 4mm Vibram XS Edge sole rubber create sensitivity and power on pockets and edges.

  • La-Sportiva-Jeckyl-VS

    La Sportiva Jeckyl VS

    Instead of trying to add performance to a pure comfort shoe, La Sportiva took a top-of-the-line shoe and dialed back the aggressiveness by loosening the tensioning in the heel rand and flattening out the downturn. The result? A shoe that’s easy to wear all day, but still has enough high-end features (rigid forefoot for toeing in and edging, asymmetric toe for precision, and sticky Vibram XS Edge rubber) for performance on hard routes.

  • Five-Ten-Stonelands-Lace-up

    Sacrifice Nothing

    “Comfort-performance” seems like an oxymoron when talking about climbing shoes. Dime-edging and precision pocketing mean dealing with the features of purely performance shoes: a tight, toe-crunching fit and an aggressive downturn. Wearing purely comfort kicks can feel clunky or sloppy on hard routes. What about somewhere in between? Five companies have filled the void with their version of a “comfort-performance” shoe, meaning you won’t have to compromise.

  • Tenaya-Ra-Tested

    Tenaya Ra

    “I’m in love,” said our longtime shoe tester of the Tenaya Ra ($140; trango.com). “I’ve worn them on everything from slab to dead-vertical to slightly overhanging to roofs, and they perform perfectly everywhere.” Whether you’re running a few dozen endurance laps or trying to redpoint your hardest boulder problem in the gym, you’ll find high-performance edging, hooking, and smearing.

  • Tenaya-Ra-660

    Fall Foot Frenzy

    When it comes down to it, rock shoes are the most important piece of climbing gear, whether you’re picking a path through a 5.5 or making magic on your first 5.14. So we rounded up the best new shoes available this fall and put them to the test. After more than a dozen testers sent routes from Rifle’s steep limestone to the 1,000-foot granite walls of Squamish to plastic paradises across the country, we narrowed the field to eight top performers.

  • 2010 Shoe Review

    New for 2010 are 19 models (plus two time-tested Mammut shoes) that will make you reconsider the perfect rock climbing shoe. Climbing magazine tested more than 20 new rock shoes; here are the testers' top picks.

  • Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009

    Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009

    The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is madness this time of year—the reason is the summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, a massive gathering (over 20,000 people, I've been told) of outdoor gear and apparel companies, retailers, media, and athletes.

  • Anatomy-Rock-Shoe-GG_35397.jpg

    2012 Gear Guide: How to Buy - Rock Shoes

    Of all the things climbers accumulate, the rock shoe is one of the few that actually improves performance. Nearly everything else is designed primarily to keep you alive and relatively comfortable. When you find a perfect match for your feet, climbing shoes will encourage good footwork and make you a better climber. Wouldn’t it be great if every piece of gear could do that? Dozens of well-made shoes line the shelves of climbing stores, divided into categories such as beginner, high-performance, all-day, and crack climbing.

  • La Sportiva Futura

    2012 Gear Guide: Rock Shoes

    La Sportiva Futura: This downturned slipper-cum-Velcro is La Sportiva’s latest high-performance kick. Testers lauded the comfort and easy on-off (elastic ankle cuff with one Velcro strap), which make the Futuras perfect for bouldering and indoor training. The Futura received high marks for sensitivity, thanks to a 3mm Vibram XS Grip2 outsole. They also hook really well, with a heel that vacuum-fits a variety of foot shapes and sufficient toe-top rubber and forefoot flex.

  • 510-Supermocc_33178.jpg

    Twist and Shout

    Eleven shoes for the brutal joys of crack climbing - Trad veterans swear by their favorite crack shoe like it’s their momma’s secret fried chicken recipe. Whether they’re roomy high-tops (worn with tube socks), toe-crushing downturned sport shoes, or paper-thin slippers, every crack master has a favorite pair to don. The truth is that any rock boot can jam. But unless you value pain over pleasure, you’d best learn a few things about crack shoes—and try a bunch on—before next season’s stint at the Creek.

  • GG-Boreal-Krypto_31558.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide: Rock Shoes

    Not so long ago, you either bought trad shoes (comfy) or sport shoes (painful). Nowadays, the way people wear rock shoes has changed dramatically. What used to be a clear line between trad and sport shoes is all but obsolete, because the most important criterion for shoe selection—whether torquing toes in cracks or front-pointing limestone pockets—is fit. Alex Honnold, for example, wears the same pair of “sport shoes” (tight, heavily downturned, asymmetric) on everything from 5.13 cracks and Yosemite big walls to short, steep clip-ups. Most of us still prefer specialized shoes for various vertical genres, but fit should trump whatever the manufacturers (and magazines) recommend for a specific shoe.

  • EC-Singing-Rock-Crux_31219.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide Editors' Choice

    After months of testing on hundreds of routes, we offer up our picks for the most innovative, useful, and just damn good gear of the year. The Singing Rock Crux, Mammut Smart Alpine, Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate, Petzl Grigri 2, Five Ten Arrowhead, Arc'Teryx Squamish Hoody, Beal Joker 9.1, North Face Verto, and Salewa Rapace GTX all won our high praises and took home the Editors' Choice Award.

  • New and Notable: Scarpa Instinct - 2010 Gear Guide

    New and Notable: Scarpa Instinct - 2010 Gear Guide

    The Italian boot and shoemaker SCARPA has a long tradition of making quality footwear. In recent years, they’ve been stocking their line with top rock performers like the Booster, the Feroce, and the Techno. For spring 2010 they’ve continued the trend with six new models, among them the hard-cranking, well-balanced Instinct.

  • Photo by andrew Burr / AndrewBurr.com

    2009 Shoe Review - August 2009

    A bumper crop of sport, trad, and approach rigs - Shoe designers still find ways to tempt those of us who need the perfect shoe for a specific climb. So, as with last year, we asked them to send us their flagship high-performance sport/bouldering model and then a traddie version of the same. We recruited 15 testers with as many different foot shapes and ability levels, showing no mercy to our kicks on rock (and plastic) from coast to coast.

  • The Tribal from Boreal

    2009 SUMMER O.R. INSIDER - ROCK SHOES

    By Justin Roth - July 28, 2009 - The truth is, there just wasn't enough time to see all the companies I wanted to see on this trip. Three eight hour days looking at gear might seem like a lot, but with so many companies and products, it's just enough to explore the tip of the iceberg. Anyway, here are some of the rock-shoe highlights from my second and third days at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show 2009, in very hot and sunny Salt Lake City. 

  • sportiva.com

    LA SPORTIVA TC PRO - 2009 Gear Guide

    Using skills and knowledge honed on El Cap’s burliest free walls, Tommy Caldwell helped design the new La Sportiva TC Pro . Made to shine on such mega-endeavors (or any trad line requiring comfort and high performance), the TC Pro combines advanced edging and crack capability with all-day wearability. Click here to buy now from MountainGear.com

  • Photo By Andrew Burr

    2008 Rock-Shoe Review

    By Chris Weidner - Not long ago, you either bought a trad shoe (stiff) or a sport shoe (painful). But nowadays, the way people wear shoes has changed — high-end tradsters will often wear the same model (sized up for comfort) on El Cap free routes they’d use on Rifle sport climbs. Still, with that in mind, it’s hard to know which shoes work best for you until you try them.

  • 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    2005 Rock Shoe Review

    The shoe train keeps on rolling: Last year 38 new models debuted; this year another 28 models are entering the market. Whatever your climbing bliss might be, you’re sure to find a shoe that fits it, and you.

  • Rock Shoe Review: Part 1 - No 231 - June 2004

    Rock Shoe Review: Part 1 - No 231 - June 2004

    It’s a golden time to be in the market for shoes. In the past few years, innovative new companies have burst onto the scene, and established manufacturers have stepped up their R&D in response.

  • Rock Shoe Review: Part 2 - No 232 - July 2004

    Rock Shoe Review: Part 2 - No 232 - July 2004

    Act II of the 2004 shoe review has two line-ups for your viewing pleasure: women's shoes and mid-level sport shoes.

  • Rock Shoe Review - No 222 - June 2003

    Rock Shoe Review - No 222 - June 2003

    We tested edging, jamming, and smearing on limestone, granite, sandstone, and basalt from Joshua Tree to Red Rocks to Indian Creek to Eldorado Canyon to our humble, local chosspile.

  • Montrail 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Montrail 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    The Method, Montrail’s new unlined leather slipper, is a radical and innovative design. Cambered to mimic the structure of an active, pointed foot, the Method features strategically placed thermo-moldable foam pads over the tops of your toes and in the heel cup for a precise, customizable fit.

  • Red Chili 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Red Chili Spirit Rock Shoe Review

    Rock shoes with EVA-foam padded heels are now widespread throughout the market. Designed to up the comfort factor for all-day climbing, these models have gained a dedicated following, but many people are turned off by their funky, chunky appearance.

  • Mammut 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Mammut Tabu Rock Shoe Review

    Mammut’s Tabu, an unlined leather Velcro slipper, is definitely eye-catching — mostly because you notice right away what’s not there.

  • Mad Rock 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Mad Rock Maniac Rock Shoe Review

    Built on the same last as Mad Rock’s popular Flash, the unlined synthetic Maniac is a good shoe for entry-level climbers looking for a model that will take them from their first days in the gym to pushing themselves on harder routes and problems outside.

  • Evolv 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Evolv Predator Rock Shoe Review

    Devotees of radically steep bouldering and sport climbing fall into two categories: those who like to smear and paste on whatever feature is nearby, and those whose technique involves precise edging and frontpointing.

  • La Sportiva 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    La Sportiva Barracuda Rock Shoe Review

    La Sportiva’s unlined leather lace-up Barracuda was a universal favorite with testers. While Velcros and slippers are all the rage these days, lace-ups still rule for dialed-in fit.

  • Boreal 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Boreal Crux Rock Shoe Review

    Boreal’s Crux, an unlined leather Velcro slipper, is an edging and frontpointing machine. We found it to be very effective on small holds, both indoors and out.

  • EMS 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    EMS Underdog Rock Shoe Review

    Outdoor-retailing chain Eastern Mountain Sports is jumping into the rock-shoe market this year with their Underdog, an unlined leather Velcro model meant for moderate all-around performance.

  • Five Ten 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Five Ten Galileo Rock Shoe Review

    Five Ten’s Anasazi Velcro slipper has a large, loyal following, but many who use it find themselves wishing it were just a little more comfortable for all-day use. Enter the Galileo, built on a similar last and with the same construction, but a bit stiffer and a little more relaxed.

  • Acopa 2005 Rock Shoe Review

    Acopa Chameleon Rock Shoe Review

    The Acopa Chameleon is an unlined leather Velcro slipper capable of adapting quite well to just about any kind of rock.

  • 2004 Mid-level sport performance shoes

    Many climbers find themselves stuck in a gray area as they progress into the 5.10 level. Going from board-lasted and supportive entry-level shoes to soft, high-end performance models can be an abrupt transition.

  • 2004 Women's Rock Shoes

    The “women’s” category has been growing for several years, and unlike the other shoe categories, it does not revolve around performance or climbing type, but rather fit.

  • 2004 High-performance edging shoes

    It’s a golden time to be in the market for shoes. In the past few years, innovative new companies have burst onto the scene, and established manufacturers have stepped up their R&D in response. We now have an unprecedented array of shoes from which to choose, with over 125 models on the market.

  • 2004 High-performance sport slippers

    It’s a golden time to be in the market for shoes. In the past few years, innovative new companies have burst onto the scene, and established manufacturers have stepped up their R&D in response. We now have an unprecedented array of shoes from which to choose, with over 125 models on the market.

  • 2004 High-performance sport Velcro

    It’s a golden time to be in the market for shoes. In the past few years, innovative new companies have burst onto the scene, and established manufacturers have stepped up their R&D in response. We now have an unprecedented array of shoes from which to choose, with over 125 models on the market.

  • 2004 High-performance sport lace-ups

    It’s a golden time to be in the market for shoes. In the past few years, innovative new companies have burst onto the scene, and established manufacturers have stepped up their R&D in response. We now have an unprecedented array of shoes from which to choose, with over 125 models on the market.

  • Triop Rock Shoe Review

    Triop Rock Shoe Review

    The Orca is a well-constructed, comfortable, intermediate face/sport shoe. The heel pocket, which some might find too high, sucks you in for a form-fitting yet cushy fit.

  • Scarpa Rock Shoe Review

    Scarpa Rock Shoe Review

    The Marathon almost caused a few same-size-foot folks in the office to come to blows over who would use these comfortable, all-around high-performance beauties.

  • Saltic Rock Shoe Review

    Saltic Rock Shoe Review

    The Guru is a well-built, high-performing yet comfortable shoe, well suited to intermediate sport climbing.

  • Rock Pillars Rock Shoe Review

    Rock Pillars Rock Shoe Review

    The Wall is an all-around, canvas-lined entry-level shoe with an edging bent.