How to Choose the Best Rock Climbing Shoes

When rock climbing, the right shoes can make all the difference. Read on to learn how to choose the best rock climbing shoes.

4.6 million people rock climbed, bouldered or climbed indoors in America.

Are you thinking of starting rock climbing but are a little hesitant? Have you heard horror stories about people's feet getting torn apart during climbing? Don't worry, we have you covered.

This article will go over the basics of how to choose the right climbing shoe for your specific needs.

Keep reading to make the right choice when it comes to rock climbing shoes.

Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Shoes

Picking the right climbing shoe that fits well will impact how you feel after a long hike. You could have a painful and miserable experience or an enjoyable climbing experience. Rock climbing is a form of exercise that has many health benefits.

Choosing the right footwear is crucial.

You want to have shoes that are snug and fit. Your toes should bend at the knuckles. This will allow you to have a high level of performance and power when you stand and push off at the edges.

Your heel picket should conform and fit your heel snug. The rand wrapping around your heel should push your toes forward for that extra bit of control and power.

Tips on Getting a Proper Fit

Making sure the shoe fits is your primary concern. This depends on the construction and materials of the shoe as well as your foot shape.

You're going to want to try on many shoes. Walk, stand, and -- if possible -- climb in them to see how they feel.

Your street size is a starting point when looking for your shoe. Sometimes your street size could be larger compared to a well-fitted climbing shoe.

Try to avoid extra space in front of your toes. It can reduce your toe box and affect your ability to stay on footholds.

An interesting tip is to try and shop at the end of your day. Your feet will be swollen because you've been on them all day. Your feet will be their truer size compared to when you are climbing. Climbing shoes use European shoe sizes.

Once you have an idea of fit, now its time to think about the type of climbing you will partake in. You will want to have specific shapes and makes of shoes depending on what you will be climbing.

Construction and Shape

The shape and stiffness of a climbing shoe will change depending on the type of climbing you partake in. If you are slab climbing, you may want a flat-lasted shoe compared to an aggressive hooked-toe shoe.

Let's break down the options for profile and shoe stiffness.


The stiffness of a climbing shoe affects what kind of climbing it will do best at. Soft shoes tend to be sensitive. These are great for appropriate foot placements on tricky boulders or dimples on a slab area.

They do not offer great support so jamming and edging can be painful.

Stiff climbing shoes are great for toeing cracks and dime edges throughout the day. Their support is great. Thick rubber on these shoes makes them durable. They are less sensitive than soft shoes.

Choosing a shape is imperative. Let's look at some types you can consider.

Outline of the Climbing Shoe

The shape of a climbing shoe will help you determine what kind of land it's suited for. You can separate climbing shoe profiles into three groups:

Flat-lasted: these don't need to fit too snug and are the most comfortable. They are best for all day to use face terrain, low-angle cracks, and slabs. Flat-lasted shoes are the most popular due to their snug fit.

Cambered-last: those who do higher performance climbing may want these shoes. They should fit snug. They're used for face terrain, steep cracks, and overhanging terrain.

Hooked toe: these shoes are best for sustained overhanging terrain and high-performance climbing. The hook design allows you to get more power through your foot because of the arched position of the shoe.

Climbing Shoe Materials

Climbing shoes are made of various materials. You will want to carefully consider each type and think about what you will prefer. Let's look at the different types you can buy.


This is a low breathable shoe option. Your feet will be stinky, sweaty, and hot because the shoe doesn't breathe great. The benefit of synthetics is it stretches the least. It's less than half the shoe size.


Compared to a synthetic or leather lined shoe, a leather climbing shoe is going to breathe a lot better. Your feet will be drier and less sweaty. Over time, your shoes won't hold onto foot odor, and they will be easier to maintain.

Something to consider is they stretch quite a bit, almost an entire size. Wearing a leather shoe can be uncomfortable at first because you need to consider that it's going to stretch a lot.

Lined Leather

Lined leather shoes aren't as breathable, but they are better than synthetic shoes. They will pick up some foot odors.

The lining can reduce the stretching down to one half the shoe size. Specific climbing shoes have leather placed in areas to help limit the stretching.

There are many health benefits of rock climbing. Choose the right shoe and have a blast!

Outsole Rubber Types

A stickier, softer rubber outsole will give you a better sensitivity and grip. This is good for bouldering and friction slab climbing. Soft rubber can wear down quicker compared to harder rubber. This can lead to foot fatigue on long routes.

Dense rubber outsoles are best suited for crack climbing and longer routes. Firm rubber can give you better support and last longer.

Contact Us Today

We hope you found this guide on rock climbing shoes helpful. Choosing the right footwear for those interested in rock climbing is crucial.

Before choosing a shoe, think about where you would like to climb. You'll want a different shoe depending on if you're climbing indoors or outdoors.

If you are looking for more information or want to join a rock-climbing gym, contact us today! We would love to chat further with you.

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