by Jullie

May 18, 2021

Best Intermediate Climbing Shoes

So, you've tried out beginner climbing shoes, but you don't want to buy another pair since they won't be able to keep up with your already improved skills. Again, you don't want aggressive footwear that offers an extremely tight fit. You are willing to upgrade to a shoe that performs better but also offers versatility and comfort. And it's probably why you're here. 

In this review, we have compiled a list of the best intermediate climbing shoes. These are, according to our testers, the best ones in the market currently. They are the ideal blend of performance, comfort, and flexibility, which is what an intermediate-level climbing shoe should offer. 

These climbing shoes will let you hook and edge your way from one level to the next without the discomfort that comes with aggressive and snug-fitting climbing shoes. So, without further ado, let's see the best intermediate climbing shoes.

List of the 10 Best Intermediate Climbing Shoes

#1 Scarpa Vapor V

Out of all the climbing shoes we tested, Scarpa Vapor V was our favorite pair of climbing shoes. This climbing shoe is incredibly versatile and offers excellent performance for an intermediate climbing shoe. When we sized them tight, they edged through almost any crack and were perfect for sport climbing and bouldering.

Again, when we sized them a bit large, they were the ideal partner for all-day multi-pitch climbing with generous support and rigidity that lasted the whole day. In addition, the roomy size allows for EI Cap in light missions. 

It also features bi-tension rand, which contributes to performance, like the one offered by the La Sportiva Katana Lace, but with a narrower fit, precisely around the heel cup. Overall, this is a performance shoe offering versatility and is ideal for numerous uses depending on how you size it. 

What we liked:

  • Excellent performance in small cracks;
  • Supportive;
  • Versatile.

What we didn't like:

  • Reduced sensitivity.

#2 La Sportiva TC Pro Climbing Shoe

This list would not be complete without a shoe from La Sportiva. They are infamous for manufacturing reliable, performance climbing shoes, and the TC Pro is no exception. They are performance shoes that give you the confidence to climb on almost any surface you'd like. They offer the incredible edging ability and ample ankle protection. 

Besides, they are supportive and have a medium-stiffed sole, and offer above-average smearing ability. All these features combined will keep your feet comfy and strong throughout your adventure. 

For these reasons, the La Sportiva TC Pro has made its way into this list. On the other hand, the TC Pro is not as good as professional-level shoes when it comes to bouldering and sport climbing, though it is a good choice for almost all kinds of trad climbing. 

What we liked:

  • Excels at edging;
  • Impressive at crack climbing;
  • Decent all-around climbing shoe.

What we didn't like:

  • A bit expensive, but they are worth it.

#3 Five Ten Anasazi VCS Shoes

Five Ten Men's Anasazi is an extremely precise all-rounder that is a bit uncomfortable, though not too much that you want to leave it at home. It's rather comfortable and doesn't give up precision, and is designed to be relatively rigid yet sensitive.

Nevertheless, it gives up a bit of the edging ability due to its sensitivity and impressively tacky rubber. This climbing shoe lets the climber feel everything under their feet, making even the small features feel like niches. 

They provide similar sensitivity to your sock but with ample rigidity to stand even on the smallest cracks.

What we liked:

  • Incredibly sensitive;
  • Tacky rubber;
  • Decent all-around intermediate climbing shoe.

What we didn't like:

  • Velcro straps can be uncomfortable on thin cracks.

#4 Tenaya Masai Unisex Rock Climbing Shoe

Tenaya Masai climbing shoe offers a lot more than its good looks. It is built with a midsole that blends sensitivity and rigidity, making it feel more like your foot's extension. Besides, it features a cotton lining, meaning that you'll no longer stress about this footwear overstretching and becoming baggy. 

The asymmetrical toe front and semi downturned toe box make you feel confident on small edges whether you're going trad climbing or sport climbing.

Also, Tenaya Masai climbing shoes offer you additional power on steeper routes. Constructed with a narrower profile, this climbing shoe will offer you a snug fit without giving up comfort. 

What we liked:

  • Ideal for trad and sport climbing;
  • Comfortable;
  • Catchy design.

What we didn't like:

  • Not great at bouldering.

#5 Mad Rock Remora Climbing Shoe

Mad Rock Remora is a performance intermediate climbing shoe with an almost flat profile. It also features a soft sole, and it comes with an affordable price tag. While it is not very good at edging, it excels at smearing, jamming, and slabbing. The squishy footwear sucks onto the feet though they are still easy to slip on and off. 

The spacious, high-volume construction precisely in the toe box is ideal for wide feet. Due to their being soft and relatively flexible, the small holds were a bit tricky to locate and grip properly, but the additional surface area on the tip makes edging and smearing easy.

As mentioned above, Mad Rock Remora are affordable shoes for intermediate climbers who need an all-day climbing shoe. Additionally, they are excellent as mileage partners in the gym. 

What we liked:

  • Durable;
  • Synthetic upper;
  • Versatile.

What we didn't like:

  • It takes some time to break in.

#6 La Sportiva Katana Lace Climbing Shoe

There are multiple reasons why La Sportiva Katana Lace climbing shoe is trendy and loved among climbers. It has a rather downturned toe, and slight asymmetry guarantees you can hook confidently and maneuver the smallest edges. 

Regardless of the downturn, this climbing shoe has your feet in a pretty flat placement ideal for cracks and comfort. The heel offers a snug fit and is blended with the medium-stiff P3 midsole, which focuses all your body weight on the toes. It is included in our ranking of the best crack climbing shoes.

The Vibram XS Edge rubber compound is tacky enough to hold on to almost any surface. It does not feature complex styling, but it offers impressive performance through various climbing styles, which is among the many reasons why it is on our list.

What we liked:

  • Rigid;
  • Durable;
  • Versatile.

What we didn't like:

  • Restricted sensitivity.

#7 Boreal Climbing Shoes Mens Diabolo

If you require unmatched surface traction, you can be sure that Boreal Diablo are the intermediate climbing shoes to go for. In addition, it offers impressive precision, particularly on small edges, which gives you more confidence in yourself as you climb.

That being said, this climbing shoe might not be the ideal choice for climbers on a tight budget. However, the Boreal Diabolo is a reliable and flexible intermediate rock climbing shoe in which the climber can go through difficult terrain with poise. 

What we liked:

  • Excellent surface grip;
  • Very comfortable;
  • Excels at edging.

What we didn't like:

  • Expensive.

#8 Red Chili Voltage LV Climbing Shoe

This is a comfortable performance climbing shoe, regardless of its downturn. Also, it is an extremely versatile rock climbing shoe with an excellent and fitting heel cup for booting. Nonetheless, this excellent lightweight rock climbing shoe is quite expensive and might not be the go-to footwear for climbers on a budget.

In short, the Voltage LV climbing shoe is an excellent climbing partner, whether you're going on rocky terrain or wall climbing. The Red Chili Voltage is an aggressive shoe; it is downturned heavily and offers a mixture of precision and confidence over small holds. However, because it provides the front part of the foot with a significant squeeze, you can only experience the comfort this shoe offers on single pitches. 

Typically, most heavily downturned rock climbing shoes are designed precisely for sport climbing and bouldering, either outdoors or indoors, which is the case with Red Chili Voltage LV. It is constructed with features that make it easy to scale 90-degree faces and overhang routes. 

What we liked:

  • Impressive plushness;
  • It's incredibly versatile;
  • Extremely lightweight. 

What we didn't like:

  • A bit expensive.

#9 La Sportiva Miura VS Climbing Shoe

Here is yet another climbing shoe from La Sportiva, the Miura VS. This climbing shoe is well-designed for tough climbing, where they are tricky edges. Also, it has an asymmetric shape which allows the climber to power down on small rock features.

Compared to the lace version, this Velcro straps model is designed for overhang routes and boulders. But, for you to achieve the best results in these situations, you must size it tightly, which typically translates to pain. On the other hand, to ensure that they are not too painful, try them before making a purchase. 

What we liked:

  • Great at edging;
  • Rigid;
  • Impressive in pockets.

What we didn't like:

  • Not quite sensitive.

#10 SCARPA Maestro Mid Climbing Shoes

Nothing can interfere with the fun of climbing like an unreliable shoe that's too tight to wear. Typically, too tight means too painful. The Maestro mid-Eco is built to be a reliable climbing shoe that prevents any pain from your foot.

The rigid sole offers plenty of support, and the dense leather upper provides lots of padding and ankle shielding. Our testers found it to be an extremely comfy and effective climbing shoe for crack and trad climbing.

On the other hand, the Maestro Mid Eco shoes are quite pricey, and some customers have complained about their fitting. Thus, considering their price tag, it would be best if you tried them on before buying. However, if they fit properly, you will be amazed by their impressive performance.

What we liked:

  • Robust construction;
  • Comfy;
  • Supportive.

What we didn't like:

  • Reduced sensitivity.

What to Consider when Purchasing Intermediate Climbing Shoes?

Now that you know the best intermediate climbing shoes, we will delve into what to consider before buying them. So far, you have already decided whether you're going to be a traditional or sport climber, boulderer, or simply a gym climber. Whichever style you prefer, finding the best climbing shoe for your foot type and type of climbing will be handy in achieving your climbing objectives. 

Besides, climbing gear, including shoes, is relatively expensive, and it would be best if you bought the best to make your adventure that much fun. So here are some of the features and considerations to look for when looking for the ideal pair to get you going during your adventure effortlessly. 

1. Cost 

Most of the climbing shoes in this list are affordable; therefore, you don't need to spend all your saving to purchase them. Also, all of them are ideal for all climbing styles, outdoors and indoors, and they can be worn by novice and intermediate climbers. Of course, the cost of the climbing shoes varies depending on the level you are practicing the sport.

Similar to most climbing gear, pricier climbing shoes typically translate to improved quality. On the other hand, if you're new to climbing, you should try out cheaper shoes, instead of using rental shoes. In the end, you must remember that at some point you may need to buy a new, maybe more expensive pair, once you get better. 

2. Shape/profile 

Generally, the shape of the shoe is known as the profile. As you get better at climbing, your climbing shoe's shape becomes more crucial. A neutral profile is enough for beginners, and it can also be a decent all-day shoe for better climbers. More aggressive climbing shoes typically feature downturned toes and have a snug fit. 

If you want to tackle more challenging boulder or overhang terrain problems, this climbing shoe is a perfect choice, though it is not the climbing shoe you want to wear the whole day. The curvature is another variable to consider when searching for a climbing shoe profile dedicated to your style of climbing. 

Best Intermediate Climbing Shoes

3. Fit 

Like all footwear, you don't want a shoe with a heel that slips out when you are climbing, whether indoors or outdoors. Begin with your normal shoe size and either downsize or size a bit higher from it. A climbing shoe is supposed to fit snugly rather than comfortably. 

It should be tight, leaving no room for your toes to move around to optimize your grip on the surface. This snug fit is essential, especially on vertical routes, and is handy in improving your performance. 

Trad climbers will search for a comfier shoe that will offer impressive performance in cracks and one that can be worn throughout the multi-pitch routes. As you begin climbing vertical terrain, you can go for a more aggressive climbing shoe, similar to sport climbing and bouldering shoes, as you will require a tighter fit. 

All climbing shoes come in half sizes, which could be the difference between a painfully tight shoe and a comfy snug-fitting shoe. Most shoes come in UK sizes; therefore, ensure you have the correct conversions before buying. 

Try out various sizes and brands as they are usually different. For example, Five Ten and Evolv have started producing climbing shoes the same size as street shoes. On the other hand, Scarpa and La Sportiva are constant but frequently need to be tried out before getting the correct size. 

4. Stretch and stiffness 

Most new climbing shoes need some time to break-in, and they typically stretch after some time. Shoes made of leather uppers usually stretch; thus, consider this when buying. 

Meanwhile, shoes made of synthetic uppers stretch minimally, so make sure you get a close fit. Also, leather shoes are unlined, which gives room for them to stretch than synthetic linings. 

5. Rubber 

When it comes to climbing shoes, rubber plays a critical role, and all rubber compounds are not equal. Tacky rubber is typically less durable but soft, while tougher rubber lasts for a long time. For beginners or multi-pitch traditional climbers, a tougher, sturdier rubber would be the ideal choice. 

Also, you should check whether the climbing shoe you chose can be resoled. This will save you cash and time eventually since you don't have to keep buying new climbing shoes and wait to break into them. 

6. Closure 

There are three types of closing mechanisms for climbing shoes; laces vs Velcro straps, and slippers. Climbing shoes with laces give the climber more adjustment options, but they take some time to wear and take off than their slippers and Velcro straps counterparts. However, they are ideal for all-day multi-pitch adventures. 

Velcro straps can be adjusted as well, though not as much as laces. Again, though, they are easy to put on and take off or even change. They are perfect for sport or gym climbing since you will regularly be removing them between climbs.

Climbing shoes with this closure system can be handy in multi-pitch climbs because you can effortlessly open the straps to provide some aeration for your feet and not have to stress about removing or dropping them when climbing. 

Among the three closure mechanisms, slippers are the simplest to wear and take off. Also, they are the comfiest of the three. But, since they are usually unlined and rather basic, they are typically utilized in specific areas such as crack climbing. 

7. Weight 

When climbing, the weight of your footwear is something you should consider. The upper and rubber's thickness usually contribute to the shoe's weight, and it varies from lighter climbing shoes to bulkier ones. 

Intermediate Climbing Shoes Features Explained 

1. Outsole 

This is the outer part at the shoe's bottom that touches the surface.

2. Insole 

The insole is typically where you place your foot inside the shoe.

3. Rand 

The bed of rubber that wraps from the toe box to the side of the climbing shoe is known as the rand.

4. Toe box 

This is the whole front portion of the climbing shoe.

5. Heel cup

The heel cup is the part that the heel is placed.

6. Board-lasted 

A board-lasted climbing shoe is less sensitive and more rigid, providing additional comfort for long adventures.

7. Slip-lasted 

This is the level of rubber covering the shoes from the sides to the toes. 

8. Asymmetrical 

An asymmetrical climbing shoe has a long point over the first toe, translating to better edging ability. 

9. Downturned 

This is when the shoe's shape curves down towards the front part for a tighter and more aggressive fit. 

10. Neutral 

A neutral climbing shoe has a flat bottom which offers extra comfort. Well, there you have it, the best intermediate climbing shoes, followed by a buying guide and definition of terms. 

We hope this guide has helped you find the best intermediate climbing shoes that meet your needs. 

Our #1 Product Recommendation in the Best Intermediate Climbing Shoes Category

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Jullie

Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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