Let’s face it – shoes can make or break a workout.
This is especially true when it comes to indoor rock climbing. Rain or shine – indoor rock climbing is one of those activities you can do whatever the weather. But it’s more than just a good workout. It focuses on strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning to improve your overall health. It’s an exciting sport that can be enjoyed by anyone – whether you’re a hardcore athlete or an absolute beginner.
And the right kind of shoes will help you get off the ground faster.
The Advantage Of Indoor Rock Climbing Shoes
If you’re a new climber, the biggest challenge is likely your footwork. Rock climbing shoes will help your foot stick to tiny footholds for better stability.
The best indoor rock climbing shoes come with a stopping short to cover and safeguard your ankles. This adds an extra layer of protection when you apply pressure or when climbing through rough hurdles.
Another main feature of indoor rock climbing shoes is their downturned toe. This forces your toes to always be pointed downwards, so you get more power from the inside edge of your toe as you climb.
But choosing a pair of shoes will take a lot of consideration. There are dozens of kinds to choose from, each with their own specific features.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a rundown of our picks for the best indoor rock climbing shoes on the market today.
1. La Sportiva Miura VS
Whether for bouldering or sport climbing, the La Sportiva Miura VS is the ultimate companion for every climber. They are one of the best edging shoes on the market and perform exceptionally well for both beginners and seasoned climbers.
What makes this shoe stand out is its stiff and flat design. It works best on tiny edges, as they absorb pressure and relieve your feet of too much force – giving you a stable foothold. Its slightly asymmetrical shape makes it bend towards the big toe for accurate placement on small holds.
But despite its flat appearance, the Miura VS is an aggressive climbing shoe. It features a P3 midsole (Permanent Power Platform) that maintains the shoe’s downturn for longer periods of time. The importance of this feature cannot be overemphasized: it keeps the toes downward along with heel tension, so feet remain in a sturdier and more powerful position, especially in overhanging climbs. It also helps the shoe maintain its shape even after months of intense climbing.
Similar to other best indoor rock climbing shoes from La Sportiva, the Miura VS is equipped with a Vibram rubber outsole that provides better durability and traction. The men’s version comes with a Vibram XS edge that is typically heavier and stiffer, while the women’s version features a softer XS Grip 2 which gives excellent friction for lighter climbs.
There’s a lot that can be said about this shoe when it comes to comfort. The upper is made of synthetic leather, so you can expect a lot of stretch as you use it over time. The sizing is also slightly larger than most shoes, making it a good choice for climbers with wide-set feet.
Unlike lace up climbing shoes, the Miura VS features a closure made of three Velcro straps. Aside from being convenient to put on, the straps also provide a snug fit around your foot – making sure there is very minimal movement.
- Versatile and high performance
- Ideal for vertical edging
- Stretchable synthetic leather upper
- Thick and durable rubber outsole
- Stiff and flat design for all kinds of climbing surfaces
- Not good at toe hooking
Best For Wide Feet
2. Evolv Shaman
The problem with most climbing shoes is that they’re narrow and uncomfortable. If you share the same struggle, then the Evolve Shaman is your best bet. It’s designed specifically for climbers with wide feet because it focuses on two main criteria: stretch and comfort.
This shoe’s performance speaks for itself – it won the 2012 Climbing Magazine Editor’s Choice award and was designed by Chris Sharma, one of the most famous climbers of all time.
The comfort of the Evolv Shaman pinpoints to one specific area: the toe box. It comes in a unique design that features both a “knuckle box” and a “love bump.” The “knuckle box” creates an edge on the upper that allows your big toe to rest naturally in a curled position so your toes remain downturned. The “love bump” is a physical bump under the ball of the foot that fills any dead space under your toes. These two features work together to put your toes in a position of power while remaining incredibly comfortable the entire time.
Another unique feature is that the Evolv Shaman is made from vegan-friendly materials, making it a good choice for both you and the environment. The tongue and upper are made from Synthratex VX – a synthetic suede that gives it the impression and feels of real leather. It may not be as stretchable as other materials, but it is impressively comfortable and breathable.
At first glance, you can already tell that the outsole of this shoe is incredibly thick. The Evolv Shaman uses 4.2mm of high friction TRAX XT rubber, supported by a 1.6mm midsole – this means it’s 15% thicker than most shoes on the market today. Aside from making it durable, this feature was intended to provide maximum stick and traction while climbing
- Comfortable and breathable
- Medium to wide fit
- Made of vegan-friendly materials
- Best for bouldering and rock climbing
- Asymmetrical, downturned design
- Too aggressive for beginners
Best For Bouldering
3. Scarpa Instinct VS
The Scarpa Instict VS is one of the most popular choices for competition climbers, and it’s easy to see why: this pair performs extremely well on steep sport routes and boulders, both inside and outside the gym.
When it comes to edging, the Scarpa Instict VS is top notch. It features 3 millimeters of Vibram’s XS Edge – a thick and hard rubber designed to provide maximum support for bouldering. This rubber delivers excellent grip and improved firmness to stand on small and razor sharp edges, while being extremely resistant to deformation even under intense pressure.
To balance out the thick rubber outsole, it features a thinner 2mm in the heel – giving this shoe a unique combination of both softness and rigidity.
Because it’s a bouldering-specific shoe, the Scarpa Instict VS is characterized by a moderately aggressive downturn and a slightly asymmetrical shape – making it the perfect choice for toe and heel hooking, and sticking to tiny incuts on overhanging walls.
This shoe features a midsole that is equipped with a Bi-tension system. This innovative design allows the midsole to support the arch and forefoot area in order to adapt snugly to the foot shape. It also helps distribute your body weight and pressure without sacrificing flexibility and sensitivity, making it one of the best indoor rock climbing shoes.
Don’t be fooled by its stiff build – the Scarpa Instict VS still remains comfortable and breathable enough to be used for long periods of time. This pair is constructed with a synthetic microsuede Lorice upper that is 100% stretch-resistant for a snug fit around the foot.
- Bouldering-specific design
- Moderately aggressive downturn
- Stretch-resistant microsuede upper
- Durable and high-quality build
- Non-slip heel for better traction
- Not recommended if you have narrow feet
Best For Beginners
4. La Sportiva Mythos
If you’re new to rock climbing – whether indoor or outdoor – you’ll need a reliable pair of shoes that won’t let you down. That’s where the La Sportiva Mythos comes in.
The best feature that the La Sportiva Mythos can offer to beginners is its focus on versatility. It’s one of the very few climbing shoes on the market that works exceptionally well on different kinds of terrain. This is an important factor to consider because since it’s your first time on the climb, you most likely won’t know if you prefer boulders, rope climbing or multi-pitch climbs. Whatever your choice, this pair can definitely handle whatever you throw at them.
The Mythos falls under the category of a neutral shoe – this means they have a relatively flat profile that allows your toes to lie flat inside. It’s a great choice for beginners because they offer a relaxed fit for all day comfort.
When it comes to entry-level shoes, the most important consideration is the proper fit – and the Mythos does not disappoint. It features Sportiva’s patented lacing system that wraps the laces around the back of the foot to keep in position, so you get the perfect fit for your foot.
It sports a traditional construction made of an unlined leather upper that’s designed to prevent feet from swelling, making it one of the best indoor rock climbing shoes. To give it an extra layer of comfort, it comes with a Vibram rubber rand that stretches while at the same time providing maximum edging support.
Another standout feature is its multizone lining system with an underlayer made of 100% hydrofoil nylon that does an excellent job of keeping the skin dry and cool, even after the most intense climbs. And here’s the good news for the eco-conscious climber: it comes in a Mythos Eco version that’s made of 95% recycled materials.
- Beginner-friendly features
- Easy lace-up closure for a better fit
- Moisture-resistant lining
- Compatible with all kinds of terrain
- Good for all-day use
- Too bendable in the toe box area
5. La Sportiva Tarantulace
With thousands of positive reviews praising its comfortable fit and minimalist design, the La Sportiva Tarantulace is a shoe that every person should own.
At the top of its many features is its unlined all-leather upper that’s both durable and soft – an excellent choice for long gym sessions. Because it’s made of real leather, this shoe has a lot of stretch and molds well around the feet.
If you’re wondering where this shoe gets its unique name, the answer is in its unique lace closure system. This closure features a quick-pull harness that allows for precise regulation of inner volumes and makes it extremely easy to adjust.
Aside from excellent support, this feature also allows the shoe to wrap around the foot snugly for a precise fit.
You won’t have to worry about sweat disturbing your climb because this shoe comes with a fully-lined tongue made of breathable synthetic material that wicks away moisture to keep your feet cool and dry throughout the day.
At first glance, the La Sportiva Tarantulace is fairly simple in design and shape. It’s a neutral climbing shoe that has a very minimal downturn with a flat sole – making it a good choice for beginners. Despite its simple design, this pair is actually a moderately aggressive shoe. The heel is just the right height to support the back and point the toe for tiny pockets.
It may not seem like it, but this shoe is very durable. The outsole features a 5mm thick FriXion RS rubber to offer a decent level of friction on both rock and hard plastic.
- Ultimate comfort shoe
- Secure and precise fit
- Stretchable leather upper
- Easy to adjust lace harness
- Thick rubber outsole for better friction
- Synthetic lining with breathable and moisture-resistant tongue
- Not recommended for crack climbing
6. Butora Acro
Butora may not be household name yet, but this new company has produced some of the most high-performance climbing shoes on the market in recent years – and the Butora Acro is at the top of that list.
Before listing its features, it’s important to mention that the Butora Acro is a budget-friendly shoe and comes in a relatively cheaper price compared to other climbing shoes in the same performance range. But make no mistake: this shoe does not sacrifice quality for price.
Despite its introductory price, this shoe is not recommended for beginners. The Butora Acro falls within the category of an aggressive rock climbing shoe, so it’s a better choice for intermediate to professional climbers. This is characterized by downturned toes and an asymmetric shape that helps focus the strength on the toe for accurate placement on strong holds. It’s designed to put feet in a sturdier and more powerful position – best for steep bouldering, sport climbing and intense gym routes.
What makes this pair standout is its brand-exclusive outsole called “Neo Fuse.” This is made of a rubber compound patented by Butora that is extremely sticky with a thickness of 4mm – delivering a good balance between durability and friction.
This shoe’s upper sports a combination of both synthetic and natural leather to provide enough stretch without deforming the shoe. The inner liner is made up entirely of microfiber that not only provides adequate support but keeps the shoe breathable and moisture free.
Designed specifically for on-and-off convenience, the closure features a triple-fork hook-and-loop system that is easy to adjust to your desired fit.
- Budget friendly price
- High performance spectrum
- Brand-exclusive rubber outsole
- Aggressive shoe for intermediate and professional climbers
- Best for steep bouldering and sport climbing
- Not very beginner-friendly
7. Black Diamond Momentum
Designed to meet the needs of the modern, eco-conscious climber, the Black Diamond Momentum prides itself in being 100% vegan – yes, it’s entirely free from all kinds of animal products.
The first thing you’ll notice about this shoe is its fabric upper. Unlike other climbing shoes that make use of either leather or synthetic suede, the Black Diamond Momentum features mesh knit which makes it look more like a regular athletic sneaker than a climbing shoe. This is actually Black Diamond’s patented Knit Technology that’s engineered to provide a perfect fit straight out of the box and extreme breathability to prevent moisture and odor build up during hot summer days.
To maximize comfort, the Black Diamond Momentum features a micro-fiber liner at the front of the shoe that not only cushions the feet but also helps minimize stretch to prevent deformation. Fit management is handled by the shoe’s closure system that consists of two Velcro straps on opposite ends.
The outsole is built from a proprietary rubber compound called Neofriction that’s molded to fit the shape of the shoe – rather than cut from a single sheet of rubber. This technique adds a lot of stiffness, so in order to balance it out, it features a soft-flex midsole for sensitivity.
It’s important to note that the Black Diamond Momentum is not an aggressive climbing shoe. It features a neutral to moderate downturn with a blunt symmetrical shape and not much point on the toes. Its build may not be the best choice for steep outdoor climbs, but it definitely shines on intense indoor gym routes.
Coupled with a very reasonable price point, the Black Diamond Momentum sports a nice balance between comfort and performance. It comes in both men’s and women’s specific versions, with a variety of different colors to choose from.
- Made entirely from vegan materials
- Breathable mesh knit upper maximizes comfort
- Neutral to moderate downturn
- Durable molded rubber sole
- Cushions feet well
- Best for indoor gym routes
- Lacks aggressiveness for steep, outdoor climbs
8. La Sportiva Genius
When the La Sportiva Genius came out a few years ago, positive reviews immediately tagged it as the “best edging shoe in the market.”
The reason why this shoe deserves a top spot on this list is because it embodies La Sportiva’s patented No-Edge Technology. This innovative design sets it apart from other conventional climbing shoes because of its toe box – instead of the usual crisp edge in the toe area, it has a rounded rubber patch.
The obvious benefit of this design is comfort. Forget about having to cram your toes into the shoe – the No-Edge technology allows it to fit snugly and retains your foot in a more natural and neutral position. Most users praised it as having an almost slipper-like profile, with a lot of extra room in the toe area.
Aside from comfort, the more rounded shape of the toe box allows your feet to get closer to the holds in order to increase leverage and sensitivity, while the neutral position also helps provide a more evenly distributed contact with the wall – whether you’re standing or preparing for the next move.
Being one of the best indoor rock climbing shoes, upper features a combination of suede leather and microfiber, at par with most climbing shoes from the La Sportiva brand. This shoe is unlined, but compensates by adding a LaspoFlex midsole with a very aggressive downturned rand that bends extremely well on moderate footholds.
- Innovative no-edge design for better comfort and molding
- On-and-off convenience lace closure
- Unlined but bendable midsole
- Slightly thick rubber outsole
- Lightweight and breathable combination upper
- Best for moderate footholds
- High price point
9. Evolv Defy
The Evolv Defy is one of best choices for beginners because it ticks off the three C’s – comfortable, cheap priced and compatible with a lot of different climbing environments.
The best feature this entry-level shoe has to offer is reliability. The outsole sports a 4.2mm Trax SAS rubber – a thick build intended to provide better friction along with maximum durability. You can bet on this shoe to last for years without deforming or cracking
Another innovative feature worth mentioning is its Variable Thickness Rand (VTR) system. This design uses a combination of both thick and thin rubber rands – a thicker front toe area with thinner portions on other parts of the food. This works to reduce pressure points on certain hot spots while at the same time, increases longevity in the high wear zones that are usually near the toes.
Fit management and on-and-off convenience is handled by its opposing Velcro closure and dual heel straps that make them easier to take off after long climbing sessions.
Because it’s designed as an entry-level shoe, the Evolv Defy has a wider and higher volume shape coupled with a neutral to moderate profile. It may lack the aggressiveness of other climbing shoes, but it stays firm on the holds and doesn’t wear down quickly.
- Durable and long lasting
- Variable rand system to reduce pressure
- Dual straps and opposing closure for easy adjustment
- Neutral profile for longer usage
- Thick rubber sole for better friction
- Lacks proper edging
10. Tenaya Masai
Looking for the perfect blend of sensitivity and stiffness? Then the Tenaya Masai is your best bet.
This mid-range climbing shoe is all about balance. On more challenging routes, shallow pockets and micro edges often require you to change movements frequently. This is where the Tenaya Masai comes in. It provides the proper support to take on all the pressure at the tip while at the same time keeping enough precision and sensitivity for maximum grip.
Instead of the typical leather upper, the Tenaya Masai is made from breathable microfiber fabric. It doesn’t stretch as much, but it does provide proper cushioning around the foot to prevent blisters. As an added layer of comfort, the lining is equipped with TXT treated cotton that is both ultra-soft and vegan-friendly.
Like most shoes coming from this brand, the Tenaya Masai is characterized by a moderately asymmetrical shape and subtle downturn. This design focuses primarily on delivering power to the toes for edging without compromising sensitivity.
Another standout feature is its outsole. Equipped with 4mm Vibram XS Grip rubber that’s very sticky, you can expect that this shoe has an extremely good grip, especially on marginal foot holds – landing a spot as one of the best indoor rock climbing shoes.
At approximately 6 oz, this shoe is very lightweight and not too bulky. They shine best on long technical routes.
- Great edging and grip on slabs
- Slightly stretchable microfiber upper
- Good balance between sensitivity and stiffness
- True to size fit
- Sticky rubber grip
- Not the best shoe for bouldering
11. Five Ten Anazasi VCS
The Five Ten Anazasi VCS is tagged as an all-around shoe, but because of its compatibility on long multipitch routes, it would be better classified as a high-performance shoe for extreme sport climbing.
At the top of its many features is its unique outsole. This shoe is equipped with a 5 to 6mm thick Stealthy Onyxx – easily one of the thickest in the market to date. It’s extremely hard and durable, which is exactly what you need for edging.
Built to last for years, the Anazasi VCS credits its longevity to its durable Cordura upper – a high tenacity filament fiber fabric that can withstand the toughest climbing environments. Aside from having excellent resistance to abrasion and tearing, it sports a laminated coat that repels moisture and odor.
Fit management is done by its double Velcro closure, a typical feature in most climbing shoes. To keep the shoe snug around the feet, it comes with a high heel tension for easy adjustment.
The midsole of the Anazasi VCS is stiff and not as bendable as other high-performance shoes, but the asymmetrical shape and subtle downturn make it a great choice for technical face climbing.
- Extremely thick rubber outsole
- Durable build
- Flat and stiff midsole
- Abrasion and moisture repellant fabric upper
- Best for technical face climbing
- Lacks stretch on some areas
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