May 18, 2021

Best Sport Climbing Shoes

by Kevin

When tackling any sports climbing obstacle, your shoes are your number one resource. You want a shoe that you can tackle any project in without worrying about pain, sensitivity, hooking ability, and its smearing qualities. 

The best sport climbing shoes allow you to trust your foot and tackle any obstacle with confidence. It improves your ability and safety, furthering your adventures. It is not easy picking the best professional sports climbing shoes given the myriad of options in the market, all geared to serve different purposes. 

We understand this dilemma, and we did the research and testing and found these to be the best intermediate sort climbing shoes. They are the shoes you should consider when you want to make the step up to something more performance-oriented. 

List of the 10 Best Sport Climbing Shoes

#1 La Sportiva KATAKI Climbing Shoe

The La Sportiva Kataki is the best sport climbing shoe for intermediate sport climbers looking for a versatile shoe. It will perform well on a range of terrain thanks to its rich features. The toe box, for example, is narrow, allowing you to handle small holds with precision.

It has a special lacing system with front and rear laces that ensure a secure fit. If you are tackling steep climbs, the stiff and sticky rubber works with an aggressive downturn to provide all the power you will need. Since it comes with a leather upper, it will stretch comfortably, so be sure to have a very snug fit straight from the box. 


  • Uses lace-up closure;
  • The upper section is made of suede leather and microfiber;
  • It has an aggressive downturn. 


  • It uses stiff rubber for support and durability; 
  • It has tight heel cups for extra power in heel hooks;
  • A specialized lacing system ensures a precise fit. 

#2 La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

The La Sportiva Solution is the shoe for anyone looking for power blended with precision. It is an excellent choice for projects that call for powering through overhands and maintaining a safe standing on small holds. 

It is not the most comfortable shoe on this list, but its stiff toe rubber and a soft midsole offer extra control during climbs. Further, it comes with a design to match your feet as much as possible. Read our full La Sportiva Solution review.


  • It uses Velcro straps for closure; 
  • The upper section is made of synthetic leather; 
  • It has an aggressive downturn.


  • It has a special closure system that enables better foot adjustment; 
  • It has an asymmetrical downturn that provides power and precision; 
  • It has 3D-molded heel cups to prevent the heels from slips.

#3 Scarpa Vapor V Climbing Shoe

The Scarpa Vapor V is the choice for anyone who is looking for sport climbing shoes that one can spend n the whole day without discomfort. The moderate downturn is significantly responsible for that, and then there is the mesh tongue that is padded. 

It keeps your feet cool and dry by allowing them to breathe. The microsuede upper section is also soft, further adding to the comfort. The Vapor V also delivers performance-wise with its powerful toe hooking and the precision from the specialized rand and the Vibram XS Ege rubber. 


  • It uses Velcro straps for its closure;
  • The upper section is made of microsuede;
  • It has a moderate downturn. 


  • The microsuede upper section is soft and stretches easily;
  • The rubber toe patch enhances your toe hooking;
  • It comes with a padded mesh tongue. 

#4 La Sportiva Unisex Genius Climbing Shoe

If you are out for sports climbing shoe that is all about performance for a taste of what awaits at the advanced level, this is it. The La Sportiva Genius comes with the proprietary No-Edge rubber design, which improves your footwork even with poor technique.

It can mold to terrains and let you gain secure holds that are almost non-existent. The highly sticky rubber adds to this with the top smearing capability. The shoes require a little break-in period and should fit you well straight from the box. Read our full review about La Sportiva Genius climbing shoes.


  • It uses laces for closure; 
  • It has a suede upper section;
  • It features an aggressive downturn. 


  • It uses trademarked No Edge tech for more stability;
  • Highly sticky rubber provides excellent smearing ability;
  • The midsole maintains the aggressive downturn for the shoe's lifespan.

#5 Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

The Evolv Shaman stays true to its inspiration by being the best sport climbing shoe for intermediate climbers on steep climbs. Its aggressive downturn design takes you through the overhangs, and you do not lack power, thanks to the love bump design that eliminates dead space.

The shoes balance durability and sensitivity by having more rubber on high wear spots while using thin rubber in the soles. Read our entire review about Evolv Shaman shoes.


  • Uses Velcro straps for closure; 
  • The upper section is made of synthetic suede;
  • It has an aggressive downturn.


  • The spacious toe box provides comfort to your toes;
  • Ingenious location for the toe straps for better toe hooking;
  • It is highly durable thanks to the extra rubber. 

#6 La Sportiva Miura VS Climbing Shoe

If your climbing activity involves fining and securing small holds, you may enjoy what the La Sportiva Miura offers. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is extra stiff and, along with the aggressive downturn, ensures the shoe performs in this regard. 

The midsole is also flexible, which enhances the shoe's smearing ability on the slab. The shoe should fit on the first wear, and the fast-lacing system is an excellent addition.


  • Uses laces for closure;
  • The upper section is made from leather;
  • It has an aggressive downturn. 


  • It has a fast-lacing system; 
  • The rubber on the toe is extra stiff for durability and better grip; 
  • The synthetic lining limits the stretching allowance.

#7 Five Ten Hiangle Climbing Shoes

The Five Ten Hiangle provides the necessary aggression for a sport climber without being intimidating. The rubber is sticky enough to help you get traction on those holds, while the stiff midsole offers the necessary support when dealing with overhands.

The biggest selling point, though, is the shoe's durability, thanks to the extra thick C4 rubber. Read our entire Five Ten Hiangle climbing shoes review.


  • It uses elastic and Velcro straps for closure; 
  • The upper section is made of leather; 
  • It has an aggressive downturn.


  • The upper section enables stretching, which molds the shoe to your foot shape; 
  • The closure design makes it easy to wear and remove the shoes;
  • The thick rubber adds durability.

#8 So iLL The Street Climbing Shoe

The SO ILL STREET climbing shoe looks to be more style than performance with its standout bi-color rubber. Yet, the look can be deceiving. It uses Dark Matter rubber which was originally for Navy SEALs, and thus it has excellent sticking properties.

The moderate downturn and the flexible midsole further add to the performance nous of the shoe, bringing sensitivity and precision. For comfort, you get a padded tongue and a soft upper section. The shoe does not stretch much, so ensure you get the right fit at the first wear.


  • It uses Velcro straps for closure; 
  • The upper section is made with synthetic leather; 
  • It has a moderate downturn.


  • Its midsoles are flexible enhancing sensitivity; 
  • It has a unique bi-color rubber; 
  • Comes with a padded tongue for comfort.

#9 Tenaya Mundaka Rock Climbing Shoes

For intermediate sports climbing shoes, the Tenaya Mundaka achieves the rare feat of matching performance and comfort. The Vibram rubber the brand uses is sticky enough to provide sufficient control and also add to the shoe's durability. 

The split-sole construction gives you all the foot flexibility you need. It also aids your precision. For comfort and convenience, you get their Draxor closure mechanism, a patented system that makes it easier to wear and remove the shoe.

The shoe is quite big by climbing shoe standards, especially the heel cup, so consult size charts. Where possible, try it out in the gym first before purchase.


  • It uses Velcro straps for closure;
  • The upper section is made from leather microfiber;
  • It has an aggressive downturn.


  • It offers foot flexibility through split-sole construction; 
  • Has a rigid toe box that offers support;
  • Uses precision laces.

#10 Five Ten Anasazi Pro

If you are looking for the best sport climbing shoes for your gym climbing, then you have to consider the Five Ten Anasazi Pro. Even with its moderate downturn, it is still an aggressive shoe, thanks to the extra tension from the heel. 

The brand uses Stealth C4 rubber to create a rigid sole that enhances your toe hooking in small holds. On the toe, patches use molded and highly sticky Stealth Mi6 rubber, which increases friction from any angle and adds power to your toe hooking. All these aspects make the shoe excellent for lead climbing on plastic or for competitions.


  • It uses Velcro straps for closure; 
  • The upper section is synthetic; 
  • It has a moderate downturn.


  • It has a rigid sole that offers precision; 
  • It comes with a mesh tongue to keep your feet cool; 
  • It has molded rubber patches on the toe to enhance friction.

Things to Consider Before Buying Sport Climbing Shoes 

Finding the best sport climbing shoes requires you to consider a couple of essential aspects, which are; fit, comfort, and durability. The right fit is the most important aspect when choosing sport climbing shoes. Also, learning what is sport climbing is another important aspect when choosing sport climbing shoes.

You also want to be comfortable, especially for the long climbs, and you obviously do not want to be spending on shoes every season. Here is what to consider under each aspect.

1. Sport Climbing Shoes Fit

Climbing shoes are usually a size under your street shoes. The manufacturers often advise you how far low you can go, which helps online customers. Manufacturers make these shoes fit tightly on your feet to offer you more control on your climb. 

Therefore, when you wear them for the first time, they will feel a tad too tight. This is a normal occurrence, and with a break-in period usually about two weeks, they will soon feel right. How much a shoe stretches depends on its material and design. 

For instance, shoes whose upper surface consists of synthetic materials and has a lining will stretch the least. For this reason, you want them to be more comfortable on your first wear as they will not stretch much, and small size will be extremely painful to use. 

On the other hand, sport climbing shoes with natural leather and no lining on the upper surface will stretch the most, almost half a size extra. For these, you want those that snug tightly on your feet to mitigate the extra stretching. 

2. Sport Climbing Shoes Comfort

The bottom line for sport climbing shoes as far as comfort is concerned is that they will never be the most comfortable pair you own. You need to understand and accept this fact. The focus manufacturers place on dexterity means most designs will lose out on the comfort perks. 

However, you do not want to have shoes that will make your climb painful as that again beats the purpose. When it comes to the best sport climbing shoes, comfort-wise, consider the following. First, the toe box should not place too much pressure on your toes. 

Also, the heel should not brush against your ankle. These two parts are covered with rubber, so they will not stretch with the rest of the shoe. It is why you need to find a good fitting shoe. 

Best Sport Climbing Shoes

3. Sport Climbing Shoes Durability

When it comes to sports climbing shoes, durability is often balanced against sensitivity. The best sports climbing shoes should provide significant levels of sensitivity. However, this is not always possible where thick soles which are more durable are present.

Thinner and soft rubber, on the other hand, wear out quickly despite the incredible sensitivity levels. You have to find a shoe that manages to balance both these factors. Some shoe models, for example, limit the use of thicker rubber on the high wear areas alone to achieve both sensitivity and durability. 

Another aspect of durability is the design of the downturn in aggressive shoes. It should not degrade before the shoe's life; otherwise, the whole shoe would then be unusable even with the other parts in good condition. 

Sport Climbing Shoes Features Explained

Having an idea of what features to look for when evaluating a climbing shoe goes a long way in ensuring you pick the best sport climbing shoes. Here are the key features you should know about. 

1. Closure

This feature refers to the mechanism of getting the shoe on and off your foot and how you secure it for the right fit. The main options are Velcro straps or lace-up, and slip-on rock climbing shoes.

2. Upper

This feature refers to the construction of the upper part of the shoe. Common materials are natural leather and synthetic material. You could also have padded, lined, and unlined designs. 

3. Outsole

This is the bottom section of the shoe. It is made of rubber though the kind of rubber used varies by the brand, with each type having unique properties. 

4. Last

This feature refers to the model around which a shoe was formed. There are two types of lasts; slip-lasted and broad-lasted. Broad-lasted climbing shoes offer more comfort, while slip-lasted shoes have more sensitivity. 

5. Downturn

This feature describes how a shoe curves downwards at the toe. The more the curve, the more aggressive a shoe gets. Highly aggressive shoes provide more technical ability and power. Less aggressive shoes may lack these aspects, but they are more comfortable.

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

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About the author 


Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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