Climb Gear Reviews

Top 10 Best Climbing Shoes for Bouldering – Beginner Friendly

Bouldering is a fun hobby to pursue, yet can be of high intensity and counted as a more aggressive style of climbing. Because of this, rock climbing shoes for boulderers whether they are beginners or intermediate climbers, tend to differ from normal climbing shoes slightly and focus more on performance.

We’ve taken a look at some of the best bouldering shoes on the market for beginners and to share them with you.

What You Should Know Before Buying Climbing Shoe For Bouldering

Top Features

Bouldering shoes are flashy, cramped, and focus on performance, which is slightly different from what trad climbing shoes offer. This also means you have to consider a few features that you won’t see in other climbing shoes.

Bouldering shoes’ most prominent feature is the “Downturned” sole. The shoe profile is noticeably curved down… they almost resemble a banana. The downturned profile is there to give you the maximum power on tiny edges without slipping. They also tend to have more rubber around the toe box and heel cup.

Bouldering requires aggressive moves like toe/heel hooks, so the extra rubber gives you more grip.

Rock climbing shoes vs bouldering shoes

There’s a big difference between climbing shoes and bouldering shoes. We’ve already mentioned the shoe’s shape, so we go into that.

One of the most significant differences between the shoes is the comfort level. Traditional rock climbing shoes tend to be more comfortable due to the climbs being longer. Bouldering requires maximum performance over short distances, which means you don’t have to wear them for long periods.

You’ll also notice that bouldering shoes generally have stiffer soles, making them better for edging, jamming into cracks or toe hooks.

Pricing

Because of the high-performance nature of bouldering shoes, you’ll generally be looking at a higher price tag.

The best bouldering shoes provide you with excellent assistance on more challenging climbs. In the end, this means you can climb more complex grades with a suitable investment. On average, you could be looking at between $100-$200 for the best climbing shoes for boulderers.

Precautions

Okay, before committing to your purchase, there are a few things you should take into account. The best bouldering shoes provide you with excellent assistance on more brutal climbs.

The most important thing to consider is comfort. All rock climbing shoes have a different fit. Some bouldering shoes can feel pretty painful, especially when you first get them. The easiest way to see if the shoe fits is by trying it first. You’re looking for a snug fit, so it doesn’t roll, but not so tight you feel in physical pain.

Another thing you should consider is durability. Bouldering shoes take a hammering due to the aggressive nature of the climbing. Bouldering shoes with poor durability won’t make it past a year. To avoid this problem, check out user reviews on amazon.

Velcro Or Laces

It’s an age-old debate between climbers, and not many people can agree. So, let’s try to explain the benefits of either style. Velcro shoes are easier to take off and put on, which is a massive benefit with bouldering shoes. You see, it’s hard to keep bouldering shoes on for long durations. In general, laces provide a better and more customizable fit. For example, you can have the toe fitting loose while the heel is tight. You’ll also experience less roll in the shoe, which is essential when you’re edging.

The downside is it takes a lot longer to take on and off. At the end of the day, the choice always comes down to personal preference.

What’s the Top 10 Best Climbing Shoes For Bouldering?

As mentioned earlier, finding the right rock climbing shoes for boulderers can be challenging. We decided to make your life easier and provide you with a list of the ten best bouldering shoes.

We’ve taken a deep look into the best features bouldering shoes have to offer. We also looked closely at what real-life customers had to say about the shoes.

And as a bonus, below, we have all answers to people’s burning questions about bouldering shoes, so make sure you keep reading.

1. BUTORA Unisex Acro Rock/Indoor Climbing Shoes

PROS

ABS injected midsole

High tension rand

Great toe box

CONS

Heel digs into the Achilles

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If you haven’t got wide feet, don’t worry, they also provide a slim fit option. One of the best features is the large thin layer of rubber on the toe box. This gives more grip for toe hooks, which is vital for bouldering. The rubber layer’s problem is it inhibits the climbing shoe’s breathability. So, if you’re not a fan of sweaty feet, you might want to look elsewhere. The most significant difference with the BUTORA model is the massive rubber piece on the toe box. However, this does limit the amount of ventilation

2. La Sportiva Futura Climbing Shoe

PROS

Extra rubber around the toe box

Fast lacing system

No edge technology

CONS

Hard to resole

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One of the key features of the La Sportiva Futura climbing shoe is the no-edge technology. It sounds pretty counterintuitive to have a feature called “no edge.”

Surprisingly the no-edge technology creates an excellent platform to stand up. You see, you don’t have to rely on an artificial edge that can slip or bend.

Another feature you’ll find beneficial is the quick lace system. It uses three “laces” connected to velcro. If you’re looking for a secure fit without having to tie laces, these shoes are a great buy. People mentioned how comfortable these climbing shoes were out of the box… there was hardly any break-in period. The downside was how fragile the build quality was. It’s probably the most fragile shoe, so you won’t get a long life span if you climb hard. To make it worse, they are tough to re-sole.

3. Tenaya Tanta Rock Climbing Shoe

PROS

Two velcro straps

M4 technology

100% vegan

CONS

Not very stiff

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They are probably the least aggressive looking shoe on our list. But that doesn’t take anything away from their performance. They’re created with the new M4 technology for comfort and performance. The climbing shoe is more aimed towards beginners, hence the lower price and comfortable design. To make sure you get a good fit, they made sure the shoes were adaptable for different width feet.

Considering they’re aimed at beginners, they have a fantastic rubber toe box and heel. It helps beginners perform more complicated moves like heel hooks. The sole is made with 4mm rubber, so it withstands abrasion for a long time before failing. Another feature worth mentioning is the shoe is 100% vegan, so no animals were hurt in the manufacturing of the product. It’s one of the cheaper bouldering shoes, but it doesn’t lack in performance. It’s slightly less aggressive, but this just means it’s somewhat more versatile.

4. La Sportiva SKWAMA Women’s Climbing Shoes

PROS

Ultra sticky toe box

S-Heel construction

Super sensitive

CONS

Stretchy leather

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La Sportiva designed the SKWAMA climbing shoe with an S-heel. The feature helps remove the dead space from the heel for a better fit. Some people said it felt too tight when they first used the climbing shoe, but they broke in after a while. Most people loved the shoes’ sensitivity to the rock and the ability to climb cracks. They felt comfortable at all times, which is rare to find in climbing shoes.

The P3 technology worked well, but they were still pretty soft, limiting how well you could edge. One of the best features is the toe box; it was great for toe hooks. The problem was it made the shoe feel pretty hot. After a while of climbing and breaking in the shoe, its versatility comes to life. They become more comfortable, so you should be able to take on small multi-pitch climbs. One of the most noticeable differences is the rubber toe box pattern, which is excellent hooks.

5. Scarpa Women’s Vapor V

PROS

Well-padded for comfort

Breathable

Vibram sole

CONS

Not great at edging

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Scarpa’s Vapor V is a great all-rounder for people of any ability. The shoe is slightly downturned and feels padded under your foot. It’s aimed at climbers with slim feet, so beware. A significant downside of this shoe is the lack of sensitivity; you can’t feel the rock under your feet. This is an issue if you’re climbing tiny edges. If you’re looking to improve your footwork, this might not be the best bouldering shoe for you.

What the shoe lacks in edging, it makes up for in crack climbing. The softness of the rubber meant it didn’t hurt. The bouldering shoe uses two velcro straps to secure it to your foot. This made it a lot easier to take the shoe on and off. If you’re looking for an all-rounder climbing shoe, and you’re not going to edge much, this is a fantastic choice. It slightly lacks in edging ability, but it’s a great all-rounder for beginner climbers.

< Beginner to Intermediate Range >

6. La Sportiva Katana Lace Climbing Shoe

PROS

Vibram XS Edge

P3 patented technology

Two heel hoops

CONS

Loose sides even when laced tight

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La Sportiva has made a name for themselves as some of the best bouldering shoes on the market. They’re known for their aggressive PD75 shape, which makes them great for boosting power on tiny footholds. To help you edge on tiny footholds, the shoe uses a Vibram XS Edge compound throughout the whole sole.

People were surprised by the overall comfort, especially considering the aggressive nature of the bouldering shoe.To secure the shoe to your foot, they use a lace system. This made the rock climbing shoes more adjustable when compared to velcro.One of the best features of the La Sportiva climbing shoe is its ability to switch from edging to smearing. Because of this, it makes them excellent for any style of climbing.

7. Five Ten Hiangle Men’s Climbing Shoes

PROS

Stealth C4 Rubber

100% split grain leather

Stiff toe box

CONS

Rubber wears easily

The color transfers to your foot

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Five Ten climbing has always been considered one of the stickiest shoes on the market. They use Stealth C4 rubber which is 4.2mm thick, to account for general wear and tear. To keep the climbing shoe securely on your foot, it uses a single strand closure system. The aggressive shoe has a split sole to help you feel what’s going on under the rubber. It’s also known for being one of the most comfortable bouldering shoes on the market.

Although being focused on high-performance climbing, the shoe is very versatile. You’ll have no problems using the shoe for technical footwork, slabs, or smears. One of the shoe’s downsides is the dye from the blue leather transfers to your sweaty climbing foot. Some people refer to this as getting “smurf foot”. Five Ten’s have always focused on grip, but with the Hiangle, they now bring some aggression.

8. SCARPA Arpia Climbing Shoe

PROS

V-Tension system

Vibram XS Grip rubber

Lace styled velcro system

CONS

Heel cup dislodges easily

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Scarpa designed their shoe to have all the benefits of an aggressive shoe without the pain. This is due to the moderate downturn; it doesn’t bend the arch of your foot too much. The climbing shoe is excellent for boulderers; it uses a velcro system that replicates laces. This feature makes it easier to put on but gives you a lace-like fit around the foot. It’s constructed using Vibram XS Grip rubber, which makes the shoes extra sticky.

If you’re looking for a bouldering shoe that can handle smears, these shoes do the job straight out the box. We found that users didn’t have much joy when crack climbing. The lack of rubber around the toe made it quite uncomfortable when jamming your foot. This shoe is excellent for technical climbing; the large toe box helps with hooks. And the rubber which connects the two parts of the shoe helps to transfer power into your toe.

9. Evolv Oracle Climbing Shoe

PROS

Quick close laces

Trax SAS rubber

Comfortable downturn

CONS

Softer rubber

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Evolv Oracle uses a split heel outsole, which means the rubber on the toe and heel are separated. The middle of the shoe is connected with a red rubber arch which helps reduce the strain on your foot. Downturned shoes are notoriously unforgiving, but Evolv tries to break the mold. The main feature is the “Knuckle Box”; it provides more room for your curled toes.

Another noticeable feature is the quick close laces. Laces give you a better fit with less movement, but it takes time to take them on and off. The quick close system gives you velcro speed but with a laces’ style fit. The Trax SAS rubber is 4.2mm thick, which is slightly more than other technical shoes. This feature made things a little more challenging as you there isn’t much sensitivity between your feet and the rock. It’s a super aggressive bouldering shoe and uses Trax SAS rubber to provide a soft sole with extra grip.

10. Five Ten Quantum VCS

PROS

4.2mm Stealth C4 rubber

100% Synthetic Clarino

Breathable tongue

CONS

Not very stiff

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Five Ten wanted to provide climbing shoes that were comfortable yet aggressive. And that’s how FIve Ten created the Quantum VCS bouldering shoes; they offer the perfect balance between comfort and aggression.Considering the sole isn’t the stiffest on the market, they perform very well at edging on steep terrain.

The most significant feature is the Stealth C4 rubber, which is among the market’s stickiest soles. If your climber that loves smearing yourself up climbs then, Five Tens will do the job. One problem a user found was in the breaking-in period. They found there was a minimal amount of stretch. If you’re looking for a more aggressive fit, you may have to go half a size down. It’s super breathable, making it great for people who hate sweaty feet. It’s also up there as one of the most comfortable climbing shoes on the market.

When it comes down to the crunch, there was one clear winner. The best climbing shoe for boulderers is the La Sportiva Katana; it performed excellently in areas.

One downside might be the laces, but that’s a very personal choice between boulderers. The bouldering shoe had a super aggressive style which performed great at edging tiny footholds. To make things better: The rubber sole was super-advanced when smearing. If you’re looking for a solid performance from your bouldering shoe without causing yourself too much pain wearing them, don’t look any further. Check out here for more suggestions for female rock climbing shoes.

Questions and Answers About Climbing Shoe For Bouldering

How curled should toes be in climbing shoes?

There’s a lot of misconception here, so let us explain. Your toes shouldn’t be overly curled to the point it’s causing pain. But yes, if you’re using aggressive bouldering shoes, your toes will bend slightly.

Should climbing shoes hurt?

Your climbing shoes shouldn’t hurt… too much. When you first get them there going to stiff, but they start to feel better after a while. Again, aggressive shoes will hurt after long periods; it’s just the way it is.

How can I make my climbing shoes more comfortable?

Having a new pair of climbing shoes is a great experience, but getting them to be more comfortable can be tricky. My favorite tip is to soak them in warm water to soften them. Then wear the shoes for 10 minutes, and then take them off to dry. This helps them stretch and mold them to the size of your feet a little quicker. Here are a couple more tips to make your climbing shoes more comfortable.

How long does it take to break into climbing shoes?

There’s no specific amount of time to break in shoes, some take 2 weeks others 3 months. But if you follow the steps above or wear thick socks to stretch them out, the time can be significantly shorter.

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