Men’s climbing shoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are shoes that are designed for a specific type of climbing. It could be bouldering, smearing, edging, crack climbing, and so on.
In order to buy the right pair of rock climbing shoes for yourself, you need to familiarize yourself with the terminology of climbing shoes. You need to know if the shoe you’re buying will serve the purpose you are after. There are a lot of technical details regarding climbing shoes; they range from beginner to expert level.
Furthermore, there are shoes with different fittings and toe volumes. You have to decide what type of climbing you are going to do and what shoe will work best for you.
In order to buy the right pair of climbing shoes for yourself, you need to keep in mind three things: the type, features, and fit. These are the most important factors that can help you choose the best shoe for yourself.
Ultimate Guide on How to choose Climbing Shoes
Here we will discuss some options for you to consider.
One of the most popular products from Italian company Scarpa, Helix is a beginner-friendly shoe that is comfortable yet does not compromise on performance. With a flat and symmetrical profile, adjustable lace-up construction, and padded tongue, Helix is an ideal shoe for long-lasting comfort.
Its heel cushioning really enhances the comfort and makes it really snug. The toe lacing makes it easier to adjust the shoe to your liking.Its primary material is leather while the outsole and sole are made from Vibram® XS Edge.
There is really no compromise on the quality of materials used in the making of this shoe. That’s part of the reason why this shoe has really been a popular choice over the years. It has won numerous awards for “Best Beginner Climbing Shoe” and “Best For All Day Comfort”.
If you’re new to climbing and you’re perplexed over which shoe to choose, Scarpa Helix may just be the shoe for you. They perform well but the main focus is comfort. If that’s your priority then you should go for these. It’s worth noting that comfort is not usually a feature of climbing shoes, which can be pretty aggressive and take a toll on your feet when worn long enough.
It has a flat sole and there is no aggressive curve which makes it a great choice for casual climbers. It serves on multi-pitch very well. Helix is a good all-around shoe. Its sole is rigid and supportive and the upside is that this shoe can be resoled. This factor alone greatly enhances its longevity. Its breathability is exceptional too.
It is safe to say that Helix is an excellent option for beginners while being a relaxed one for more experienced climbers when they are looking for comfort. After all, comfort is the main focus and selling point of Scarpa Helix.
They are also available for women with no considerable difference except in color.
Some users have reported that the shoe stains their feet blue due to excessive sweating. But it’s no big concern as the stain can be easily washed off.
Talking about performance, Helix is a good all rounder. It can prove helpful for a range of climbing activities. Decreasing the size can give you some edge in performance though.
Helix performs well in smearing although according to reviews it smears better on indoor walls than outdoors.
Its price is also attractive. In fact it is the cheapest shoe that Scarpa offers that sports a Vibram sole.
Scarpa offers great customer support as well including all kinds of repairs lest there should be any defect.
Men’s are available from sizes 39 to 50, with half sizes available from 39 to 46. You’ll perhaps need to downsize a bit while buying Scarpa shoes to find the optimum fit.
La Sportiva Tarantulace
Tarantula is a favorite among beginners. It is known for sheer comfort and fit which is great for most types of beginner’s climbing. Undoubtedly these are one of the most comfortable climbing shoes available.
It has a wide toe box which means you can wear it for longer periods of climbing without having to take it off. It has FriXion RS 4mm sole and tensioned heel rand which make it a great fit.
This is one of the best beginner’s climbing shoes and is the first choice among most newcomers. It is particularly good for gym climbing while also being good enough for outdoor climbing.
It is a little more aggressive than usual beginner’s shoes which makes it a good option for pro climbers looking for a second pair for some light climbing. Although you can’t expect a great deal on the technical front. After all, these are fairly basic shoes and they come at a fairly affordable price too.
Tarantulas generally provide greater flexibility in terms of adjustment and fitting than the Tarantula Velcro.
Since it is a beginner shoe, it has no down-turn and offers a flat sole with a slightly asymmetrical last. Tarantula is very stable and durable as well. If used carefully, it can hold out for a significant period of time. It has a great advantage over the rest of the competition if you’re looking for a shoe to do indoor climbing.
Another special feature is that the tongue is made from sweat-resistant material so you can wear it comfortably over longer durations.
In summary, Tarantula is a relatively affordable offering from La Sportiva. It nails all the basics of a beginner’s climbing shoe at a competitive price. It is comfortable and offers a great fit, especially in the lace-up version.
It is great for indoor wall climbing, as well as light outdoor climbing. It has plenty of color options to choose from. The durability is great too. It is well-suited for vertical terrain. It is one of the most comfortable climbing shoes you can buy, a factor which is essential for budding climbers.
As you gain more and more climbing experience and start exploring tricky terrains and boulders, you can go for other, high-performance options. But at the start, Tarantula does the job exceptionally well, giving you comfort while also not skimping too much on performance.
It is made from great materials which make sure of no weathering even after repeated use. There is no wrinkling on the tongue and other parts of the shoe as seen in some other beginner’s shoes, which don’t have such quality materials.
Tarantula is good for plain, easy and long routes and for warming up. Even if you’re not a beginner and you’re looking for a comfortable and reliable shoe to do casual climbing. Tarantula is the perfect choice for you. Its affordability makes it one of the top-selling shoes. It is beginner friendly and that’s why it is seen ubiquitously among beginners and at climbing gyms.
They come in a wide range of sizes ranging from 34 to 50. With sizes like 41.5 and 47.5 are also available. However, like Scarpa, you will need to downsize in order to find the right fit.
For those who like sensitivity in their climbing shoes, then Scarpa Drago is the shoe for you. It is a meticulously built and highly sensitive climbing shoe. It is highly asymmetrical with an aggressive downturn, which means it is fully equipped to deal with demanding boulders and steep climbing routes.
It has great features aplenty. It has a Vibram midsole with the extended rand and a very flexible heel cup which gives it a good grip while doing any kind of movement. For climbers with wide feet, this is a very popular choice.
Its striking feature lies in its comfort. It is extremely comfortable and soft, which also makes it a very sensitive shoe. It can provide you with a good balance between comfort and performance.
Scarpa Drago is, undoubtedly, one of the most iconic and popular performance shoes in the market.
However, we can’t really designate Drago an all-rounder status, because it does lag when it comes to crack climbing. As mentioned earlier, it is especially suited for boulders and steep climbing.
Its half sizes are available from 35 to 45 while regular ones are available all the way up to 50.
Black Diamond Aspect
Perhaps, the most popular climbing shoe offered by the company Black Diamond. This shoe looks great in its black and white color. Just like the La Sportiva TC Pro, it is best suited for trad climbing. It has a neutral sole with the minimal downturn.
Usually, in trad shoes, there is a problem of high ankle height which can make the achilles susceptible to pain. But this issue is resolved here. It is sufficiently comfortable.
You can get it for a very decent price. One thing to keep in mind though, Aspect is not suited for steep climbing. It does more than enough for trad climbing.
They are available from size 6 to 13 with sizes like 8.5, 9.5 7.5 also available.
A Better size means a better comfort.
Check size Conversion table to understand which size fits you well.
La Sportiva Katana Lace
Microfiber & Leather
This popular offering from La Sportiva is a magnificent all-rounder. It is rated highly for all types of roped climbing. Be it a steep climb or cracks, it does the job pretty well. Despite its downturned design, it is surprisingly comfortable. Its Vibram XS Edge sole is quite comfortable but doesn’t lag in performance.
You can climb in Katana all day without any issues. It does really well on slabs too. Its breathable tongue works in tandem with its lining for moisture management. Its tubular construction with P3 technology strikes a great balance between comfort and performance
It has a flatter toe profile but gives great edging performance.
If you are looking for a great all-round climbing shoe and aren’t worried about the budget, Katana Lace is an option worth considering.
They can be bought in a size range of 34 to 46..
La Sportiva Finale
Microfiber & Leather
One of the most affordable offerings from La Sportiva, Finale offers solid performance considering its budget. This entry-level climbing shoe has a LasoFlex midsole, tensioned rand and Vibram XS Edge outsole. It has only a slight downturn but you won’t be able to feel it much.
La Sportiva Finale is a very reliable climbing shoe if you don’t want to try one of their pricier options. It is also very durable. It can be a great choice for beginners and casual climbers, without making too much of a dent in their pocket.
Its neutral profile, however, is not suited for steep terrains. The sensitivity isn’t too great in this shoe as well. All in all, this is a great choice nevertheless, offering great performance at a modest price.
They are available in a size range of 34 to 48. With sizes like 41.5 and 47.5 also available.
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While buying climbing shoes, it’s easier to get confused regarding which shoe to buy. The reason being that when it comes to the world of rock climbing shoes there is no ‘one fits all’. There are various shoes available each suited for a particular purpose. You need to consider the below-mentioned factors in order to determine what type of climbing shoe is best for you.
Type of climbing:
There are different types of climbing, and different shoes are suited for them. There can be trad climbing (traditional climbing) or crack climbing. Special shoes are suited for this purpose.
Contrary to that, there are shoes that do well in bouldering. If you want to do light, casual climbing you may go for entry-level shoes.
You have to choose what shoe works well for you.
This is a deciding factor in choosing the appropriate climbing shoes. Sometimes you have to size down a bit from your usual number to choose the optimum fit. Sizes can vary brand to brand too.
Downturn plays a major role. If you want to do expert-level, aggressive climbing, like on steep rocks, shoes with a greater downturn can be a good choice for you. However, these shoes can be less comfortable for some people. La Sportiva Solution is a shoe with a lot of downturns.
Size of feet:
There are different shoes for wide footed people. Scarpa shoes are generally popular among climbers with wide feet. Narrow footed people may choose other options.
There are climbing shoes with either lace-up or velcro closure systems. Closure-less shoes are also available. Lace-ups can be a good choice when you want to have the luxury of adjusting the fit of your shoe.
However, it’s easier to take velcro shoes on and off quickly. Now it is totally up to you to take a decision on the basis of what meets your needs.
Climbing shoes, especially the ones where the primary material is rubber, are prone to stretching. If you bought a shoe that just fits right, then eventually the shoe can stretch and may feel a bit lose. This can occur especially in hot weather conditions. That is why it is important to downsize and lean in towards a bit tighter fit.
Choosing the right climbing shoes can be tricky, but with the right information and your priorities in mind you can make a good decision. You don’t have to rush into buying a pair of climbing shoes that later doesn’t serve your purpose. Try a lot of shoes to find what is best for you in terms of being fit and comfortable. You can easily choose the right climbing shoe by following the instructions we wrote and go climbing!