As season climbers for the past 10 years, we know first hand how a good fit of climbing shoes feels. The right pair is snug like a glove and allows us to focus on scaling those walls, pushing our limits, and building strength, all while feeling comfortable and secure. Similarly, an uncomfortable pair of shoes annoys and obstructs our performance. So, in this review we’re sharing our thoughts on climbing shoes that offer the perfect blend of comfort, fit, and support for all your indoor climbing pursuits. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced indoor climber, there’s a pair on this list for you.
What are the Best Indoor Rock Climbing Shoes?
Below you’ll find the list of the top 5 Best Indoor Rock Climbing Shoes. We compiled this list from indoor rock climbing shoes we have used, asked others about, and researched further to give you the best possible roundup. With many years of experience with rock climbing shoes for indoors you can be assured that this article will give you what you’re looking for.
We also wrote a buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of this article.
1. Evolv Ashima
|Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)|
Sole Material: Synthetic, Vegan
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Vegan synthetic leather
Shape: Aggressive downturn
The Evolv Ashimas are made for the beginner to mid-level climber looking to get a little more performance out of their shoe. They have a more sensitive sole, than our top two picks, which will suit the climber that is pushing the grades and finding themselves on smaller, and smaller holds. The shoe also has a good level of downward toe turn, which makes them a great option for anyone looking to up their overhang game. Last but not least, this is also a vegan shoe and no animal testing is done in order to produce it.
- Odor reducing materials,
- Durable build,
- Affordable price point,
- Sensitive soles,
- Fully vegan with no animal testing
- Not suitable for people with narrow feet,
- Some reviews say the sizing is off
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Sole Material: Vibram Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap
Shoe Material: Leather
The Scarpa Instincts are streamlined bouldering shoes, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Designed to perform well on steep, overhanging roofs, the generous coating of rubber and downturned design ensure that your delicate toes are protected when jamming them into small pockets and when toe-hooking and that you retain power when pushing upwards in these angles. They are quick to put on and take off with their one strap velcro-design, and the thickness of the strap ensures that the product is durable. The shoes are very rigid and strong, which is great specifically for overhangs, but they will not perform so well on slabs, although the flexible center does help a little to get grip on sloping surfaces.
- Generously coated in rubber on the top,
- Aggressive downturn, perfect for overhangs,
- Easy-on velcro design,
- Flexible center
- Extremely reinforced,
- Performs well on overhangs but not so well on slabs
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Sole Material: Stealth C4 Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Straps
Shoe Material: Synthetic
The Five Ten Anasazi shoes are a great all round indoor rock climbing shoe. The velcro straps, and durable rubber sole make it a great climbing shoe for the gym.
They have a relatively neutral sole which will suit beginner to intermediate climbers. We also love that despite being made by a top quality brand, they come with an affordable price tag.
- Velcro straps,
- Great for heel hooks,
- Neutral sole
- Wide toe box may only suit some climbers
|Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)|
Sole Material: Vibram Sole, Suede Leather Upper
Closure Type: Velcro
Shoe Material: Leather, Suede
Shape: Moderate-large downturn
Skwamas are a fantastic choice for the modern and seasoned boulderer, and those passionate about both indoor and outdoor bouldering will find it quite difficult to fault these shoes. When putting them on for the first time, you may well experience a world of pain, but this is a sensation that most in the sport are accustomed to, and besides this, the benefits are huge. The shoes come equipped with a sharp edge on the inside of the foot which is great for confidently gaining traction on those tiny ledges. The front of the shoe is absolutely coated in rubber which protects your toes in all of those pretentious toe-hooks that competition climbing demands of you. The shock-absorbing heel protects your feet a little when coming down off the routes. They have an aggressive downturn to help you squeeze your toes and retain power on steep overhangs, however, the middle of the shoe is quite malleable and, while not adapted for slab climbing, can allow enough grip when standing on sloping volumes when used well. They are, however, a little expensive, as are most La Sportiva shoes, and do take some time to break in.
- Sharp edges help with climbing small holds,
- Minimalistic and lightweight,
- Good coating of rubber for toe hooks,
- Quick and easy to take on and off,
- Great after a resole
- Long break-in period,
- May have uneven texture
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Sole Material: Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Strap on
Shoe Material: Leather
Black Diamond’s Momentum’s are designed to be a good quality beginner shoe. These shoes are reminiscent of the hand crafted classic La Sportiva design. However, the addition of the velcro system makes it a great gym shoe. Made from a durable rubber, and a breathable upper, these Black Diamond shoes are a good option for a climber that values comfort.
- Durable rubber sole,
- Beautiful design,
- Breathable upper,
- Perfect for beginners
- They can take a bit longer than usual to break in
- May run small
Based on all of our experience with rock climbing shoes for indoors, we found that Evolv Ashima is the best indoor rock climbing shoe available today.
Our Premium Option is Scarpa Instinct 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 Five Ten Anasazi VCS Climbing Shoes as an affordable alternative.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying indoor rock climbing shoes
Most Important Features for Indoor Climbing
There are a few important features to look for in indoor climbing shoes. Firstly, indoor climbing shoes are worn for performance. The downside of a performance fit is they are rather tight (Ok, understatement of the year). That’s why we suggest you go for shoes with velcro straps or slip-ons. The next thing you want to consider is how aggressive a shoe you realistically need. Are you going for a banana, aubergine, or carrot shaped shoe?
If you are smashing overhangs on a regular basis, go for a banana shaped shoe with the aggressive downward toe turn. If you are intermediate, a moderate shoe with a slight downward toe, or to continue the fruit and veg analogy, an aubergine curvature shall do the trick. If you are a beginner, you need a beginner rock climbing shoe that is stiff to support your feet. In this case, your shoe should be as straight as a carrot. If you want further information on selecting you dream shoes we have you covered: How to Pick the Best Rock Climbing Shoes.
Difference between shoes for bouldering vs rock climbing
There are only some slight differences between shoes for bouldering and 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.
Maintenance of your gym climbing shoes
Maintaining your climbing shoes will extend their lifespan, so it is important for all climbers to follow a few basic rules. Only wear your shoes when climbing – every step off the wall wears the rubber out. Wipe your rubber soles down with a cloth after use. This is particularly important should you take them outdoors and they get covered in mud.
Take them out of your pack when you get home, so they can dry out and don’t develop mould.
Store them in place that avoids direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes. This avoids the glue cracking and the fabrics fraying. Don’t wear them as part of a costume at fancy dress party. Again, rule 1 – they will wear out.
Questions and Answers About indoor rock climbing shoes
Can I use lace-up shoes indoors?
Yes, you can use lace up shoes indoors, they are well fitted for those with narrower feet. However they will just take longer to tie and untie. Velcro or slip-ons are a faster option for indoor climbing.
How do I know if my indoor climbing shoes are the right size?
The best way to find the right size climbing shoes is to try out a variety of shoes. Tip Take note of each brand, model and make each time you rent shoes at your climbing gym.
Do I need durable rubber for an indoor climbing shoe?
Generally, yes, all climbing shoes have some level of rubber sole. If you want a tough, long-lasting climbing shoe, then go for a shoe with durable rubber. These will last a long time, but will be less flexible and take longer to break in. If you want a true performance shoe, choose a shoe that has a sensitive, sticky sole as this will assist you pushing your climbing grades. These will be more flexible but may wear thin sooner than others.