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Review: Our Top New Climbing Shoes for 2016

Eight climbing shoes for all types of adventures.

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Oct 2016 Shoe Review Promo

The Trad Master

Five Ten Quantum review

Review: Five Ten Quantum
A high-performance lace-up for every climbing excursion, but especially long days and trad. Primo comfort and a fully lined interior make them perfect for lengthy multi-pitches. Read the full review.

The Soft Superstar

Scarpa drago shoe review

Review: Scarpa Drago
A multipurpose all-star slipper offering both comfort and performance for intermediate to advanced climbers. Excels at high-end boulder, sport, and gym, but comfort adds versatility for slab and multi-pitch. Read the full review.

The Moderate Slipper

Red Chili Amp Review

Review: Red Chili Amp
They’re the “sweet spot” between an aggressive shoe’s performance and a slipper’s comfort. A powerful, technical slipper that lets you stand on small edges and pockets for a long time with help from a stiff, rubber-wrapped toe. Read the full review.

The All-Arounder

Scarpa instinct lace up review

Review: Scarpa Instinct
The Instincts are ultra-sticky, quite stiff, and aggressive, with a perfect heel. Single-pitch sporties and boulderers look no further for a favorite shoe. Read the full review.

For Technical Comfort

La Sportiva Skwama review

Review: La Sportiva Skwama
“With unbeatable performance, quality construction, and top-notch fit, I expected a price much higher than $140.” Consider this your next shoe for any bouldering, sport, or gym project. Read the full review.

For Slabby Mileage

Mad Rock Remora Review

Review: Mad Rock Remora
The Remoras offer an affordable option for beginner climbers seeking a first slipper, or intermediate climbers who want an all-day shoe that’s easy to wear. Also perfect as mileage kicks in the gym. Read the full review.

The Performance Slipper

Red Chili Atomyc review

Review: Red Chili Atomyc
“Super-impressed with all the places I can wear these slippers.” Rubber covers the toe, heel, entire sole, and Achilles but doesn’t prohibit sensitivity, and an aggressive shape and toe help the foot find holds. Read the full review.

The Edge Machine

Evolv Shaman shoe review

Review: Evolv Shaman
The same superior performance as the old version, with an aggressive downturn, increased sensitivity, and relocated bottom strap for toe hooking/scumming. Read the full review.

How Shoes are Made

Because of a complex design and intricate construction, climbing shoes are almost entirely built by hand (and a few fancy machines). Each begins with a “last,” which is a polyurethane model foot around which manufacturers build the shoe. Lasts come in various shapes and sizes, and they provide the initial shape, allowing cobblers to pull materials tight without the whole thing collapsing. An aggressive shoe, for example, will use a pointier, high-arched last. Shoes are then either slip-lasted or board-lasted. All the shoes in this review are slip-lasted, as board-lasting is reserved for burlier, flatter shoes. Slip-lasting “slips” a sort of sewn-together sock onto the last, then lots of heat, rubber, glue, stitching, and sorcery are used to attach the the additional pieces.