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Top 8 Best Beginner Climbing Shoes in 2022

Getting your first pair of climbing shoes is one of the best investments you will make on your climbing journey. It is that all important transition point where you go from weekend warrior to full blown cult member.

So, welcome to the gang!

This article offers some tips on what to look out for and what to avoid so you can get yourself the best climbing shoes. A word of warning, after you have bought your first shoes, there is no backing out, you have so much fun that you also start getting your first harness, rope and just climbing on up!

What You Should Know Before Buying Beginner Climbing Shoes

Most Important Features

The most important feature to look for in beginner climbing shoes is comfort. An uncomfortable shoe isn’t going to entice you to climb more!

The second feature you should look for is the overall stiffness of the sole. By having a stiff sole, the muscles in your feet will be supported during your early stages of rock climbing.

Once you are a more advanced climber, you may opt for a shoe with a slip lasted sole which provides sensitivity, as this will allow you to push your climbing grades.

Downsizing

All climbing shoes fit a lot tighter than your normal street shoes. In a properly fitted climbing shoe, your toes will be slightly curled and touch the edge of the toe box. A general guideline is to size down 0.5 to 1 US shoe size. You want to aim for a shoe that is comfortably snug, not painfully tight.

Difference Between Shoes for Bouldering vs Rock Climbing

In reality, you can use your bouldering shoes outdoors and your outdoor shoes indoors. However, there are nuanced differences in the type of shoe you may select for the style of climbing you do.

If you are climbing multi-pitch climbs, you will prioritise comfort as you will need to keep your shoes on for an extended amount of time. I

If you are bouldering, you will only need to wear your shoes for a short amount of time. In this case, you may opt to size down for a tighter, performance fit.

Having said this, for beginners, you will want shoes that are made for comfort. There is no need to suffer in a tight shoe if you aren’t pushing the grades.

Price

Anywhere between $60 and $140 is the beginner shoe market. There is no need to go beyond that price range. You don’t want to be that climber with $300 shoes and $20 arms. You just need to hang on in (pun intended), and keep climbing. Your biggest investment as a new climber is time on the wall.

What are the Best Beginner Climbing Shoes?

To know what makes the best beginner shoes, we will give a quick run down of the main elements.

  • Beginner climbing shoes should have a flat sole, with very little downward toe turn. This provides maximal comfort.
  • Beginner climbing shoes also have a stiff and durable sole. The stiffness supports your feet, and the durable sole provides longevity to your climbing shoes, which is exactly what you need as a beginner.
  • The final element of a great beginner climbing shoe is the price tag. For a beginner climber, spending more won’t necessarily result in better climbing performance. You will likely end up with an advancer climbing shoe that won’t suit your needs.

If you need more guidance, check our crash course on how to pick the best types of rock climbing shoes suitable for you and assess the budget.

An FAQ is provided at the end.

1. Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoes

PROS

Affordable price,

Velcro straps makes for easy removal between climbs,

Stiff soles supports new climbers

CONS

Sizing runs small. If buying online, check return shipping options

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Affordable price, Velcro straps makes for easy removal between climbs, Stiff soles supports new climbers

The Mad Rock Drifter is a great all-rounder shoe that gains praise from beginners to advanced alike. It has a neutral shoe shape, with a leather upper that creates a comfortable climbing shoe. It is slightly asymmetric in shape, yet not too aggressive for a beginner climber.

2. Five Ten Men’s Anasazi Moccasym Shoes for Climbing

PROS

Slipper style shoes make for great convenience for gym climbing,

Rubber topsole allows advanced climbers to take advantage of toe hooks,

Durable rubber

CONS

These shoes do stretch over time, so it is important to size down and account for shoe stretch after the breaking in period

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Slipper style shoes make for great convenience for gym climbing, Rubber topsole allows advanced climbers to take advantage of toe hooks, Durable rubber

The Anasazi Moccasym are a neutral climbing shoe model that has built a solid following in the climbing community. They are a good all round shoe, and provide a good level of comfort for climbers building their strength in the gym.

The break in period for the shoes are also relatively quick. While a great shoe, they are more expensive than the Mad Rock Drifter’s, so we didn’t give them the number one spot on our list.

3. BUTORA Unisex Acro Rock/Indoor Climbing Shoes

PROS

Excels at edging,

Rubber topsole performs great for toe hooks,

Comfortable for an aggressive shoe,

Velcro straps allows quick removal between climbs

CONS

The heal on the shoe may not be the best fit for people with narrow feet

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Excels at edging, Rubber topsole performs great for toe hooks, Comfortable for an aggressive shoe, Velcro straps allows quick removal between climbs

The Butora Acro is a unisex shoe designed for bouldering and sport climbing. It has a stiff sole that provides ample support, yet provides some sensitivity for the climber to feel the rock beneath their feet.

We like that it comes in both in narrow and wide feet options, meaning most climbers will find this shoe a good fit.

With it’s slightly downturned toe, we recommend this shoe for people who have at least 6 months and are considering a more aggressive shoe.

4. Ocun Crest LU Climbing Shoes

PROS

Comfortable,

Affordable,

Vegan option available

CONS

Old-school design may not appeal visually to some people (though we like it)

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Comfortable, Affordable, Vegan option available

The Ocun Crest Lace Up’s (LU) are a great beginner shoe that hits all the marks. It is very reminiscent of the design of the no frills, get the job done La Sportiva’s. It has a relatively stiff and neutral sole.

We would recommend this shoe for people looking to get their first climbing shoe for the gym and are on a budget.

5. Black Diamond Momentum Lace Climbing Shoe – Men’s

PROS

Breathable,

Long lasting sole,

Beautiful design

CONS

They can take a bit longer than usual to break in,

Narrow shape – not great for people with wider feet

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Breathable, Long lasting sole, Beautiful design

Black Diamond’s Momentum Lace Climbing Shoes are designed to be a good quality beginner shoe. These shoes are also very reminiscent of the La Sportiva design. The use of a lace system provides the climber with the additional ability to adjust the shoes to the perfect snug fit.

Made from a durable rubber, and a breathable upper, these shoes are a good option for a climber that values comfort.

6. Five Ten Women’s Anasazi LV Climbing Shoes

PROS

Toe box works well for gripping small holds,

Great traction,

Comfortable

CONS

They run small, so you may need to go a half or full size up

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Toe box works well for gripping small holds, Great traction, Comfortable

The Five Ten Women’s Anasazi LV is a good all-rounder. The sole has a flat profile, which is ideal for a beginner’s first climbing shoe. It has a particularly sticky sole, which is great for smearing.

It also has a precise toe box which works well on small footings. Overall, it is a versatile shoe that works as well in the gym, as it does outdoors on cracks.

7. Scarpa Origin Beginner Climbing Shoes

PROS

Flat profile,

Sticky and durable rubber,

Velcro straps

CONS

Not great on overhangs

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Flat profile, Sticky and durable rubber, Velcro straps

The Scarpa Origin is a great unisex beginner climbing shoes that is designed for all day comfort. It is a neutral shoe with a stiff sole that provides ample support for beginner climbers.

We like the addition of velcro straps, which makes it easy for slipping on and off at the gym. The durable sole means that when you start to venture outdoors, they will be a great go to option for all day trad climbs.

8. La Sportiva Tarantulace Performance Climbing Shoes

PROS

Durable rubber,

Comfortable,

Eye catching design

CONS

La Sportiva typically suit people with narrower feet

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Durable rubber, Comfortable, Eye catching design

The La Sportiva Tarantulace are a very popular beginner shoe, and with good reason. It has a relatively flat profile and a stiff sole, yet provides enough flexibility for the beginner to mid-level climber.

While it is a lace up shoe, the system in place is quick to put on-and-off and provides a snug fit. It has a competitive price point, nice aesthetics, and is built for comfort.

In our opinion, you can’t go past the Mad Rock Drifter. It is a great all round beginner shoe that ticks all the boxes. It is a comfortable shoe, which means you will be able to spend more time on the wall.

It is made from a stiff and durable sole, which will withstand hours of climbing at the gym. It edges really well, and performs in cracks, should you take it outdoors.

And finally, the affordable price point is right where we like to see it for a beginner shoe. This is why the Mad Rock Driver gets our vote as the best beginner climbing shoe.

If you want to see more good quality climbing shoes and good price point, check our Top 5 Cheap Climbing Shoes.

Questions and Answers About Beginner Climbing Shoes

How should beginner climbing shoes fit?

We recommend getting climbing shoes that are comfortably snug, not painfully tight. Your toes should be slightly curled and be able to touch the end of the toe box. The heel of the shoe should comfortably cradle your foot. This will ensure an ideal fit with minimum movement.

Should you size down in climbing shoes?

In general you will need to size down for climbing shoes. For a beginner, this should be about .05 to a full size. If you are buying your first set of shoes, take note of the climbing shoes you have been renting at the climbing gym.

How much should I spend on climbing shoes?

Anywhere between the $60 and $140 is the beginner climbing shoe market. Much of the design that goes into the higher priced shoes aren’t what a beginner needs. You need a simple stiff soled shoe.

How long does it take to break in climbing shoes?

The answer to this age old climbing proverb is – it depends. For some models of shoes, the break-in period can take far longer than others.
If you are climbing in a bouldering gym, you will break your shoes in much quicker than if you have a pair of shoes used only outdoors.

What are the best shoes for bouldering?

For bouldering shoes, we suggest going with climbing shoes with either velcro straps, or the simple slippers. This will allow you to have a more performance fit for your shoes, with the ability to easily take them off and rest your toes between climbs.

Should you be able to walk in climbing shoes?

Walking in climbing shoes generally involves a bit of a hobbled step. But no need to be self conscious, all climbers look like they are from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

ministry of silly walksministry of silly walks

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