There is a great range of climbing shoes out there to pick from depending on a climber’s needs and key focuses. But if you are primarily using it for traditional climbing or big wall climbing and are not looking for versatile climbing shoes for other types of climbing like bouldering or sport climbing, then it’s important to note what are the most critical elements you need for your trad climbing shoe.
What are the Best Trad Climbing Shoes?
To find the list of absolute Best Trad Climbing Shoes, we have researched many Climbing Shoes for Trad Climbing and what people who bought and used them say about these products. Based on their experiences, we compiled for you the top 5 Trad Climbing Shoes.
Also, to make it easier for you to making the right choice, we also wrote a mini Climbing Shoes for Trad Climbing Buying Guide and frequently asked questions (FAQs). You will find it at the end of this article.
1. La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro Climbing Shoe
|Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)|
Weight: 1 pounds (0.45 kg)
The La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro Climbing Shoe is a streamlined big wall, trad and multi-pitch shoe, perfect for the likes of multi-day missions traversing vertical kilometres of hard granite rock. The shoe is not only optimised for long periods of use with its flexibility and malleability, but has been gently padded in key areas to protect your feet on common features of big wall climbing. The shoe retains enough sensitivity to feel for imperfections in the surface under your toes, while providing a generous coating of rubber to give you plenty of grip.
- Comfortable lace up design, remains malleable and flexible throughout the whole day without causing pain
- Developed in collaboration with Tommy Caldwell, a professional and seasoned multi-pitch and trad climber
- Padded above the toes to protect your toes in granite cracks
- Thin rubber, wears down quickly. Lacks definition and protection for steep boulder problems
- Take a long time to put on and take off
2. Evolv The General Climbing Shoe Men
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The Evolv General Climbing shoe aims to be a fantastic all around climbing shoe. When you are attempting a big wall climb, or even just a longer trad route, you should be prepared to encounter all styles of climbing across a multitude of different features on the wall. The robust, padded design ensures your feet are both protected and comfortable throughout long periods on the wall. The slight downturn should be sufficient to help guide you through trickier boulder problems or technical cruxes. The shoe is a great all-arounder, but may compromise those who are specialised in climbing on a particular type of rock or who want to train hard on indoor problems.
- Comfortable and flexible lace-up design
- Some downturned definition where comparable products tend to be more flat – great for technical footwork at the crux of a route. Eye popping, 80s colors
- High top shoe protects your ankles in deep cracks
- Shoes take a long time to put on and take off
- Shoes are made of a tough synthetic material, restricting breathability and air flow
3. Five Ten Men’s Anasazi Pro Moderate
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Sole Material: Stealth C4 Rubber
Closure Type: Velcro Straps
Shoe Material: Synthetic
The Anasazi from Five Ten is almost like a crossover between a trad climbing shoe and a modern sports climbing or bouldering shoe. The generous coating of rubber is great for protecting your toes when jamming them into pockets on overhanging routes or into cracks, and the stiff profile provides a little extra power through boulder problems, but this is not streamlined for sloping surfaces or slab routes, as often found on trad climbs. The shoe is quick to put on and take off due to the velcro design, and, after a tedious break-in period, is comfortable enough to wear for a full day of climbing.
- Easy-on velcro design
- Generous coating of rubber for toe protection
- Affordable, budget-friendly trad shoe
- A little stiff for slab routes
- Hard break-in period
4. Evolv Men’s Astroman Mens
|Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)|
The Evolv Astroman is a dedicated trad climbing shoe, complete with a soft flat profile for a comfortable fit and for obtaining maximum grip on long slabby routes and cracks. The high sides of the shoe are designed to cover your ankles and provide a little extra support for when you are squeezing them into crack lines or other tight spaces. The laced design allows you to make micro-adjustments to fit the shoe perfectly, and allows users with wider feet to feel comfortable and not constricted while climbing.
- Constructed from durable leather and rubber. High-topped shoe protects your ankles in cracks. Comfortable and adjustable fit, designerd for a full day of climbing
- Purchasing the correct size can be difficult
- Shoes are quite wide and are harder to fit into smaller cracks that comparable products.
5. Five Ten Asym VCS
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While Five Ten tend to make more expensive premium shoes, the Asym VCS is a fantastic all-around beginner shoe with a medium profile and comfortable velcro fit. While not curated specifrically for trad climbing, the profile comfort of the shoe make it suitable for wearing for extended periods of times and for working through technical slab sections and even cracks. The slightly harder sole and generous coating of rubber will also be beneficial to those working through tricky boulder problems and overhanging sections of their routes.
- Quick velco system for easy changing. Plenty of rubber to protect your toes from damage in cracks. Fantastic beginner shoe. BUDGET friendly option.
- Designed as a climbing shoe for all climbing situations – not specifically for trad climbing or long multipitches.
After all of our long research about the Best Trad Climbing Shoes, we found that La Sportiva Men’s TC Pro Climbing Shoe is the best Trad Climbing Shoe available today.
There’s also a Premium Option with all the best features and high-quality materials if you have more money to spend, namely Evolv The General Climbing Shoe Men.
However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the Five Ten Asym VCS as an affordable alternative.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying Trad Climbing Shoes
Trad climbing basics and overview
Trad climbing, or traditional climbing, is climbing that includes placing all of the protective gear during a pitch, and removing it afterwards. While there are often bolts on the routes, these are often few and far between, unlike a sports route, and so additional equipment is requires to ensure your safety. Trad climbing routes are typically long, multi-pitched, and follow aesthetic features of the rock face such as cracks or stalactities.
Basic Trad Climbing Equipment
While sport climbing and bouldering require significantly less equipment, the typical trad climber’s harness is weighed down with a multitude of extra devices. Unlike sports climbing which focusses very much on the pure movement, trad climbing also entails strategic thinking to effectively protect yourself against any situation that your chosen route might throw at you. As a result, on top of a standard sports climbing rack, you will require additional protection. This varies drastically depnding on the route, but you can certainly expect more slings, cams, monkey fists and nuts on your harness. Crack climbing gloves will also be useful to protect your palms against the sharp rocks. You will require everything you need to build a solid anchor and the knowledge to do so. You may also require aid climbing equipment such as a daisy chain or rope ascenders. Thoroughly research your route before committing, and plan out the equipment beforehand as carefully as possible.
Most Important Features for Trad Climbing Shoes
Trad climbing routes are usually long, multi-pitched, and varied in features. To begin with, you are likely to be wearing your shoes for a long period of time, and so they should be comfortable. Consider how uncomfortably you may be squeezing your toes into your aggresively downturned bouldering shoes for 30 seconds of action, and then try to imagine that pain over hours of trad climbing – it’s just not worth the pain. As a result, most trad climbers will wear soft, comfortable, lace up shoes. The profile tends to be quite flat for increasing grip on slab routes and slopers, as trad climbs often feature. The soles tend to be malleable so that the foot can bend into any position for any style of route, although this is not a good feature for short, overhanging boulders as it does reduce the power you can channel from your toes.
Laces for Trad Climbing Shoes
While not all trad climbing shoes are laced, the majority are. This is mostly a comfort thing, as laces tend to be less aggresive towards your feet, and you can make micro adjustments across the tongue of the shoe to ensure a comfortable fit for a long period of time. Some shoes, such as the La Sportia Miura, have an advanced lace-up system that allow users to take on and off the shoes as quickily as possible while still maintaining all of the benefits of a laced shoe. While laced shoes to take a long time to put on and lace up, considering how long you will be wearing the shoes for, it does make sense.
Shape of Trad Climbing Shoe for Performance
Trad climbing shoes are designed to be good all around, as you never know what a trad climbing route might throw at you. They tend to be soft and malleable to allow for maximum surface contact on sloping edges and slabs, and will often come with a generous amount of rubber on the sides to protect your feet when jamming them into cracks. Furthermore, another common feature is the high-top ankles which provide a little extra support, again, when jamming your feet into cracks. They are more comfortable than sports climbing shoes and bouldering shoes as nobody can perform well when they are in unbearable anguish.
The rubber on trad climbing shoes tends to be a little bit thinner. This allows for more flexibility of the foot and shoe, and more sensitivity to connect you with the wall and help you to make micro-adjustments to your footing. Do bear in mind that this does mean that they wear down a little quicker than shoes with thicker rubber.
Heel and Comfort
There is no real consistency to how the heels of trad climbing shoes are shaped. Many of them have shock-absorbant features, but mostly they are designed to fit your feet snugly and ensure that your shoes are as comfortable as possible while retaining their performance ability. Shoes often come with a high-top ankle to provide a little extra support for crack climbing.
Questions and Answers About Trad Climbing Shoes
Are trad climbing grades different from sport climbing grades?
Climbers have a habit of grading any single route in multiple climbing grades, depending on what the individual climber is most used to. There are specific climbing scales for sports routes, and specific climbing scales for trad routes – whether or not they are commonly applied depends on the country you are in and who you are asking. In the US, most people refer everything to the Yosemite Decimal scale, but will often write “trad” or “sport” after the grade. In the UK, there is a definitive trad climbing scale, and the French grading system is commonly used for sports routes.
What are trad climbing anchors?
Trad climbing anchors are points where climbers safely attach themselves to the wall in able to attach themselves to a wall or belay their partner while at height. They usually consist of multiple anchor points that all lead to a secure master point, and can be constructed in a variety of ways with an array of different climbing equipment.
What do they teach in a trad climbing course?
Trad climbing courses mostly focus on building secure anchors, placing equipment effectively, and learning to lead climb with both single and double rope systems. They will help you to build up confidence and to trust the safety gear that you place so that you can focus on your climbing.
What will make good trad climbing workouts?
The best workouts focus on your strengthening your weaknesses. Trad climbing requires a lot of endurance, focusses a lot on balance and footwork, and a lot of mental stability. Yoga is a great place to start. To become a great trad climber, make sure to train these things as often as possible.