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Climbing shoes

How to choose climbing shoes

Whether you’re scaling escarpments or hanging out at your local climbing gym, climbing shoes from brands like Scarpa, La Sportiva, Evolv and Black Diamond boost your climbing experience with the right fit.

You’ll want them to fit snugly, not painful, just like a firm hug. A tight fit helps you maneuver over small edges and feel the terrain beneath you.

It’s all in the shape

A neutral climbing shoe is completely flat on the bottom, letting your toes relax and making it comfier for new climbers or those who enjoy long multi-pitch outdoor climbs. In contrast, aggressive downturned climbing shoes keep your foot in a strong position for precise placement on small holds and difficult overhangs – best for gym climbing and single-pitch sport climbs.

Let’s talk material

Climbing shoes made from unlined leather can stretch up to a full size, so size down to get a snug fit even after they’re broken in. The reward for breaking them in is a custom-like fit and material that breathes better for hot and humid days. Synthetic climbing shoes don’t stretch, so you know exactly how they fit when you try them on.

Check out our article on how to choose climbing shoes for more info on shape and material to lead you in the right direction. Once you’ve checked climbing shoes off your list, pick up some more chalk and maybe a harness and you’re all set for wherever your climbing takes you.