Best Climbing Shoes
My best buy climbing shoes to buy in the UK (May 2021).
#1 Pick: Overall Score = 97%
#2: Top Quality Alternative
#3: Best For User Feedback
Climbing Shoes: A Buyer’s Guide
Millions of us love to climb and scale the heights. For as long as humans have been around, the allure of scaling peaks and mountains has always proved difficult to avoid! Therefore, the equipment and clothing we wear has evolved along with us. While our feet are perfect for walking and running on flat ground, we need a little more support when it comes to gripping and climbing walls and rock faces alike. That, of course, is where climbing shoes come in.
However, there are always going to be more than a few things you should keep in mind when buying climbing shoes. It is not as simple as finding the right fit for trainers or everyday footwear! You’ll need to think about material, durability, grip, and which shoes are likely to serve your needs the most. Therefore, it’s always going to be a good idea to shop around.
In this buyer’s guide, we are going to take a look at what you should keep in mind when it comes to finding the perfect fit for climbing shoes. Unsure which materials and looks will suit your needs the best? Don’t worry! Even the most experienced of mountaineers had to start somewhere. Keep reading and you’ll soon be kitted out like Sir Edmund Hillary, ready to climb the world around you in no time at all.
Why Buy Climbing Shoes?
If you need to ask this, you may not be that ready to start climbing! Shoes should be the first item you invest in when it comes to mountaineering. It’s also the first item of clothing you should consider when taking on indoor walls, too.
Climbing shoes should not only have good grips to tackle a variety of surfaces but should also bind tightly to your feet. Yes – shoes need to be comfortable, but unlike everyday footwear, there should be an emphasis here on tight fitting. That’s because, ultimately, if you’re going to be scaling large rocks and mountain faces, you’re going to need shoes to stay on at all times.
What’s more, you need climbing shoes to be flexible and durable. Ultimately, shoes which are only going to weather a few months of use or everyday walking are not going to cut it. Good climbing shoes, especially for beginners, should be heavy on the rubber manufacture. This is super-durable and will also work wonders with a variety of different surfaces, inside and out.
Ultimately, buying climbing shoes for indoor bouldering or rock faces means is a matter of health and safety. There are other pieces of clothing and equipment you should use for scaling and climbing, however, for the purpose of this article, we will solely – pun intended – be comparing shoes.
Things to Consider
There are no catch-all solutions when it comes to climbing shoes. Naturally, you will find brands and options which claim they are the best at what they do. However, each climber’s comfort and movement needs are going to be a little bit different. Therefore, it makes sense to look at several factors and features while shopping around. Otherwise, you are going to risk buying shoes that are uncomfortable, or worse, those which are simply unsafe for your purposes. Here are the main factors you should keep in mind before you buy.
Climbing shoes largely differ when it comes to materials used in their manufacture. Therefore, you should look closely at the benefits of various lines and brands. It will be worth looking for shoes with expandable linings, for example with leather inners, which can morph to your feet as you climb. However, sometimes, expandable shoe material can end up increasing shoe size by a fair amount as you go!
Therefore, you may wish to look for something a little stiffer in terms of material and manufacture. The choice is yours. Many people choose hybrid manufacturing, which means that while some elements of a shoe will expand and stretch, others won’t. It’s worth trying plenty on wherever possible.
When buying climbing shoes, the best fit for you may not be the fit that works for you in terms of casual footwear. Most beginners will probably do best to look for slightly bigger shoes than their foot size, however, tight shoes are a must once you really start getting into climbing. This, again, is as a result of safety and as a result of grip.
Don’t be too afraid to try shoes which feel tighter than that which you’d walk around in normally. Tight shoes are less likely to slip off. They will also give you plenty of control. Comfort, of course, is always key. However, when it comes to climbing, you will need to err on the side of tightness, purely because you’re going to need that support the higher you climb.
The way your climbing shoes fasten is going to be important, too. Some, naturally, will tie up with laces. Others will be more convenient with Velcro strapping and hooks and loops. Others may just slip on and off. The best choice for you will depend on what you find comfortable and convenient. Therefore, there really are no right or wrong choices. Velcro and hook/loop systems, however, may be more convenient on the go, on the whole.
Durability and Endurance
A key element to perfect climbing shoes is, of course, endurance and longevity. This isn’t always easy to tell from afar, or even when you try shoes on. However, a good indicator for long-lasting climbing shoes is slip lasting technology. These shoes are more sensitive to a wide variety of surfaces and will therefore grip more for longer. Generally, the less you pay, the less chance you’ll get of buying shoes that genuinely last the years to come. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bargain.
Do also look to invest in shoes which are weatherproof and waterproof. You’ll likely swear by them when you come to climb in heavy rain or worse!
Frequently Asked Questions
As always, we like to see what buyers online have to say about shoes while shopping around. Therefore, we’ve set up some frequently asked questions for you to pore over before you buy. Take a look and certainly don’t put any money down until you’ve thought carefully about what you’re in the market for.
How Much Should You Pay for Climbing Shoes?
This is the million-pound question. Ultimately, you should be willing to pay a little more for better shoes if you are going to be using them for long climbs and on a regular basis. Prices will really vary dependent on technology and style, as well as fittings and fastenings. You can buy climbing shoes for as little as £30-£40, but it’s worth paying double, or more, for the best grips and fits. Safety first!
How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?
This will depend on the type of shoe you buy, and how often you use the pairs you invest in. Softer shoes will likely only last a few months through regular use. Beginner climbers may also find that they burn through shoes quicker than they expect! However, it’s always worth trying a few pairs on and checking out the opinions of verified buyers and seasoned climbers. Otherwise, you really are going to be buying blind. That’s never a good thing!
Why Do Climbing Shoes Need to Be So Tight?
Think about your safety when climbing. With or without harnesses, you’re going to need all the grip you can get. That means investing in a pair of shoes which will stay rigid to your feet for the best chance of stability. Otherwise, indoors or outdoors, you are likely to slip and go flying. What’s more, your shoes may break or fall off altogether! You need to consider comfort, but when it comes to climbing stability, go for tight over loose at all times.
Which Shoes Work Best for Indoor or Outdoor Climbing?
Surfaces indoors and outdoors are always going to vary in terms of complexity and material. If you’re likely to climb outside a lot, you should be looking for softer shoes on the whole. When climbing indoors, with synthetic or artificial walls, you may wish to invest in tougher, harder shoes on the whole. This is all about friction and stability. If you’re in any doubt of what may or may not work best for you, try asking for advice or opinions from climbers and mountaineers! You will likely find plenty of help at local climbing clubs.
Climbing and mountaineering is a lot of fun, but it can be very dangerous. That’s why it’s crucial to start shopping around for the perfect climbing shoes as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to pay a little extra for the shoes that are likely to give your comfort and grip. What’s more, make sure to ask other people’s opinions – and to try on as many different brands and lines as you can! Your own experiences are likely going to vary in line with other people’s!