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6 Best Bouldering Shoes for Intermediate Climbers

What is the Best Bouldering Shoes for Intermediate Climbers in 2024? Here's a list of the Top 6 bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers based on our experiences and expertise.

Understanding the unique needs of every climber is key when it comes to shoe performance, and this time, our focus is on those with narrower feet. As regular climbers who have changed multiple pairs of climbing shoes over the years, we know firsthand how important the right shoe is to a comfortable and enjoyable climb. Everyone’s feet are different, so finding the right shape can be tough.

Below, we’ve curated a list of the best climbing and bouldering shoes specifically designed for climbers with narrow feet. Following our previous piece on climbing shoes for wide feet, this article is dedicated to presenting options that ensure our fellow climbers at the other end of the foot shape spectrum are equally well catered to.

Whats the Best bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers
Whats the Best bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers

What are the Best Bouldering Shoes for Intermediate Climbers?

Below, you’ll find our list of the top 6 best bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers. We compiled this list based on shoes we have personally used, recommendations from fellow climbers, and extensive research. With many years of bouldering experience, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide to help you find the perfect shoe for your needs.

We also wrote a buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of this article.

1. Evolv Shaman

Evolv Shaman
Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Sole Material: Trax Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Synthetic
Shape: Aggressive

The Sharman is a high performance bouldering shoe with downward toe and an asymmetric design. The upper is made from synthetic material, that can stretch up to half a size. The sole is comprised of two separate pieces of rubber, which makes it a little more snug, and provides added flexibility. The sole excels at everything, except small edges. While it is an advanced shoe, due to its comfort, even a beginner could do well in a pair of Sharman’s.

Pros

  • Aggressive shape
  • 3 velcro straps for comfortable fit
  • Excellent heel cup
  • Double layered rubber heel
  • Can stretch up to half a size

Cons

  • Not suitable for narrow feet

2. La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe Men’s

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe Men's
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Sole Material: Vibram Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Leather
Shape: Large Downturn

The La Spotiva Solution is an aggressive high performance bouldering shoe designed for climbers looking for maximal performance when bouldering. It also comes in a women’s model that has added sensitivity in the midsole. Note: male climbers also go for the women’s model when they after a shoe that performs better at smearing

It has a ‘P3 platform’, which brand jargon aside, ensures the aggressive shape of the shoe maintains in the long term. It has a leather upper that comes from a ranch which is wire free, that ensures the leather doesn’t have any weak spots. A long lasting upper is a great design feature of La Sportiva shoes, as the sole of the shoe can be replaced multiple times, which ensures the longevity of the shoe and save you money in the long run.

Pros

  • Velcro straps
  • Aggressive fit
  • Super sticky rubber sole
  • Great for smearing
  • Durable leather upper

Cons

  • Premium pricing
  • Runs small

3. Mad Rock Lotus Women

Mad Rock Lotus Women
Specs
Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Sole Material: Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Synthetic
Shape: Morderate Downturn

The Mad Rocks Lotus’ are designed for the mid-level to advanced climber. They have an aggressive shape and provide relative sensitivity for climbers finding themselves on smaller and smaller holds. As it is a women’s shoe, it is low volume, which provides a tighter fit around the heel and mid foot. While it lands in the advanced climber territory, they remain a comfortable shoe that can be used either bouldering or on multi pitch sport climbs. In sum, the Lotus is a great option for all women looking for a diverse shoe with an affordable price tag.

Pros

  • Affordable and durable sole
  • Beautiful design
  • Snug yet comfortable fit
  • Aggressive shape

Cons

  • Not suitable for wide feet
  • May not be sensitive enough for some

4. Tenaya Oasi

Tenaya Oasi
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Sole Material: Vibram rubber sole
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Microfibre
Shape: Aggressive

The Tenaya Oasi is at the cross roads of performance and comfort. It is a higher volume bouldering shoe that has an aggressive down turned toe. It uses synthetic uppers, cotton lining and a Vibram XS sole. It has patented “Draxtor” lacing system that creates a fine tuned fit, for various foot-shapes. We also like, that if the velcro strap blows, Tenaya will replace it for free.

It has a sensitive sole, that is semi-split which allows added flexibility. However, the downside is, this shoe is not easy to replace the sole.

Pros

  • Odor reducing materials Durable build
  • Affordable price point
  • Fit works across many foot shapes
  • Comes with a warranty

Cons

  • Not easy to replace the sole

5. Five Ten Blackwings Women

Five Ten Blackwings Women
Specs
Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Sole Material: Stealth Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Synthetic
Shape: Agressive

The Five Ten Blackwings are for amazing female climbers looking for a bouldering specific shoe. They have a gentle downward toe turn and have a super sticky rubber making it a climbing performance shoe heavy weight. Yet the design provides comfort, with a padded tongue and a super plush fleeced microfiber interior. Despite the aggressive style, it still has a stiff rubber sole, which is what makes it a killer indoor bouldering shoe. This is known to be Five Ten‘s most aggressive female shoe model.

Pros

  • Vegan friendly
  • Dual velcro straps
  • Odor resistant Comfortable

Cons

  • Aggressive shape may be too intense for some intermediate climbers

6. Black Diamond Shadow

Black Diamond Shadow
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Sole Material: Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Knitted microfibreM
Shape: Agressive

The Black Diamond Shadow’s are a newly released aggressive bouldering shoe that are aimed at the mid-level to advanced climber. The Shadow’s excel on steep climbs, while also performing well on slabs, and technical small holds. They have a sticky midsole and toe box that really helps you feel your toe on small holds and jibs. The heel cup is a medium to small size, though a low volume, women’s size is in the works and will be released soon. The Black Diamond Shadow is a great all round shoe, with a medium to hard level of stiffness.

Pros

  • Sticky midsole and toe box
  • Attractive design
  • Works well on slabs
  • Sensitive heel

Cons

  • Longer break-in period

Verdict

Based on all of our experience with bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers, we found that Evolv Shaman is the best intermediate bouldering shoe available today.

Our Premium Option is La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe Men’s with all the best features and high-quality materials, but that’s only if you have more money to spend.

However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the Mad Rock Lotus Women as an affordable alternative.

Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:

What You Should Know Before Buying intermediate bouldering shoes

Most Important Feature for Intermediate Shoes

When buying intermediate climbing shoes, there are several critical features to consider. Finding the best bouldering shoes can feel like a mix of science and art due to the nuanced differences between various models. Intermediate and advanced climbers need shoes that excel in multiple areas: edging, smearing, toe hooks, and heel hooks. Durability is also crucial since bouldering often involves intense, repeated use.

High-performance bouldering shoes typically have a more aggressive shape compared to traditional climbing shoes. This aggressive, banana-shaped downward toe turn provides better friction and precision on steep, overhung climbs. However, not all bouldering shoes need to be aggressively downturned. It’s essential to find a shoe that matches your specific climbing needs and preferences. If you are planning to use it for an outdoor bouldering trip at El Capitan Yosemite versus using it in your usual bouldering gym.

Consider bouldering shoes like a tradesman would their tools – you need the right one for the job. While a novice climber might prefer a bouldering shoe with a stiff, flat sole for comfort, an intermediate climber benefits more from a sensitive sole that enhances their ability to feel and react to the rock or gym holds.

Laces, Velcro Straps, or Slip-Ons

The choice between laces, velcro, or slip-on can be challenging. For bouldering, we generally recommend velcro straps or slippers because they are easy to take off and put on between climbs. This convenience can be particularly valuable during long sessions where frequent shoe removal is needed to let your feet rest.

However, don’t discount laces entirely. If you find a shoe that fits perfectly with laces, prioritize fit over closure type. The fit is always the first priority for any climbing shoe, as it directly impacts your performance and comfort. My very first beginner climbing shoe pair was a laced pair from Five Ten, and it was lovely for ladies with narrow feet. But I subsequently switched to velcro climbing shoes given the convenience.

Whats the Best bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers
Whats the Best bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers

Bouldering Indoors or Outdoors

Bouldering can be done both indoors and outdoors, and while there is significant overlap in shoe requirements, the primary difference lies in durability. Indoor climbing in a gym generally involves man-made climbing holds, which can be abrasive on shoes, so a shoe that edges well and can withstand frequent use on synthetic holds is essential. For outdoor bouldering in nature, shoes need to be durable enough to handle rough, natural surfaces.

Indoor or gym use-specific shoes often feature softer rubber for better grip on plastic holds, while outdoor shoes might prioritize tougher materials to withstand the elements. When choosing a bouldering shoe, consider where you’ll be climbing most often to select a shoe that meets those specific demands.

Conclusion

Upgrading your bouldering shoes is a significant step in your climbing journey. We hope this article on the best bouldering shoes for intermediate climbers have helped you with some first steps. With the right pair, you’ll enhance your performance, comfort, and overall climbing experience. Whether you choose the versatile Evolv Shaman, the high-performance La Sportiva Solution, or the budget-friendly Mad Rock Lotus, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle new challenges on the bouldering wall.

Questions and Answers About intermediate bouldering shoes

What’s the difference between bouldering shoes and climbing shoes?

There are a few small differences between bouldering shoes and climbing shoes. Bouldering shoes are made for performance. They have an aggressive shape, sensitive sole and a flexible shoe. Whereas Trad climbing shoes emphasise comfort, and have a stiff sole as they are made for people climbing hours at a time.

How do I know if my bouldering climbing shoes are the right size?

The best way to find the right size climbing shoes is to trial a variety of shoes. Take note of each brand, model and make each time you rent shoes at your climbing gym.

Should I get aggressive climbing shoes if I am a beginner?

No, we don’t recommend getting aggressive climbing shoes if you’re a beginner. A neutral shoe with a stiff sole will provide you with the support you need. Only when you advance into steep, overhung routes will a more aggressive shoe be useful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbnJJN0DJkY

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang is a Singaporean city girl who decided to ditch her high heels for hiking boots and become a full-time traveller and digital nomad. She has been to almost 60 countries to date! She has a knack for adventure travel, especially rock climbing, and always hunts down the best climbing spots around the world. Check out her expert advice on the best outdoor crags to climb at or what workouts to improve your climbing performance.

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