How to Choose the Perfect Climbing Shoes

Are you in the market for some new climbing shoes, but aren’t sure what to look for? We can help.

Choosing climbing shoes can be exciting, yet nerve-wracking, as a lot rides on them. They’re the most crucial component of climbing gear and if you don’t have the right comfortable shoe insert on, then climbing can become painful and dangerous in a hurry.

In this post, we’re going to help you avoid any mishaps by telling you how to choose the perfect climbing shoes for your feet and climbing style. Don’t go into this process blind. Keep reading and you’ll be equipped to go into the store and get the shoes you need.

Getting the Right Fit

You may go into this process, especially if this is your first climbing shoe, thinking that you should just stick with your street shoe size. While your normal shoe size is a great starting point, it should only be used as just that. Don’t be stubborn on this point because the last thing you want is an ill-fitting climbing shoe.

A tight fit is the best way to go here; you don’t want any space in front of your toes because it’ll make it harder to stay on footholds. One of the best hacks is to shop near the end of the day when your feet are at their most swollen. This will give you the best chance to find the perfect size.

Different Climbing Shoes

There are three styles or “shapes” to climbing shoes; flat-lasted, cambered-last, and hooked toe. Flats are the most comfortable shoe and feel the most like normal shoes, but they’re better for low-angle cracks and face terrain. If this is your first climbing shoe and you’re a beginner, then this is probably the best way to go.

Cambered-last shoes are slightly angled, allowing you to have more power on smaller footholds. They should fit quite snugly and are best for high-performance climbing on steep cracks and some overhanging terrain.

Hooked-toe climbing shoes are as high-performance as it gets and a great addition to your rappelling gear kit, allowing the climber to gain traction on the smallest and steepest footholds. Comfortable, they are not, as your foot is forced into an arched position, which is the best for advanced climbing.


The other things to consider are the materials and closure systems. You can buy leather, lined leather, synthetic, and outsole rubber climbing shoes, and the style you choose will depend on the type of climbing you’re doing. A leather shoe is more breathable and easier to keep clean for longer, for instance.

Lined leather shoes limit stretching, but are slightly less breathable. Synthetic shoes aren’t breathable at all, which will result in a lot of sweat and odor over longer climbs. That being said, they stretch the least and last the longest.

Outsole rubber shoes have an amazing grip, which is best for bouldering and vertical faces. There are many different types of outsole rubber shoes.

As far as closure systems, you’ll be able to choose between lace-up, velcro, and slip-on. This decision will depend on personal preference.

Choosing the Best Climbing Shoes for Your Next Climbing Trip

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an advanced climber, choosing the best shoes can seem complicated. Over time, you’ll develop a preference for a certain style, material, and fit, but it’s good to have a guide like this to get you started. Now that you know more about the different styles, you can confidently purchase your next pair of climbing shoes.

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