by Brad

April 7, 2021

Do You Need Climbing Shoes for Bouldering

Bouldering is a style of rock climbing done close to the ground. You do not require to use any harnesses or ropes

All you need for protection is crash pads for climbing those large boulders. Bouldering is done for sports or practice.

Do You Need Climbing Shoes for Bouldering?

A common question asked by beginners in bouldering is, do you need climbing shoes for bouldering? It is essential to know that climbing shoes are not a necessity for bouldering. Rock climbers use bouldering to work on their climbing moves and problem-solving skills when moving up a wall.

Do You Need Rock Climbing Shoes for Bouldering

Although bouldering requires you to get climbing shoes, it is still a good idea to get a pair if you are a beginner. Climbing shoes make bouldering more fun and higher points more accessible. The best climbing shoes should be:

  • Either tight to improve your performance or lose if you value comfort;
  • Sticky rubber soles stick better to the wall but wear quickly, while firm rubber soles are better at smearing and last longer.

What Shoes are Best for Climbing?

For beginners, a tight pair of climbing shoes is better for performance. Get a pair that is smaller than your regular street sneakers. Make sure you do not have any dead space around or on your heel. 

The shoes should be snug and comfortable but not too painful. As a beginner, please do not buy expensive shoes because they may not last long as you learn. Experts can get little tighter climbing shoes for more support on small holds and edges. 

However, it may be challenging to climb slabs where you need more rubber on the wall, and these slab rock climbing shoes are ideal. Beginners should get climbing shoes for comfort, as advanced climbers get a pair to enhance performance. If you are more experienced climber and you are looking for more aggressive bouldering shoes, read our full Five Ten Dragon review and our Five Ten Team review.

You can also check our review about Ocun Ozone, one of the best and most affordable bouldering shoes. In case you are wondering what is the difference between bouldering and climbing, you can read our dedicated article about bouldering vs. rock climbing. Enjoy it!

What Else Do You Need for Bouldering?

Even though bouldering is a minimalistic sport, there are other items that you need to have a pleasant time. Performance and safety should be a priority in bouldering. Apart from crash pads and climbing, you may also need some of the following items.


Magnesium carbonate or referred to as chalk absorbs sweat from your hands as you climb. You can sweat because of physical activity or fear, especially for beginners.

Pro climbers religiously reach into their chalk bags when working on complicated routines. Chalk doesn’t increase friction. Instead, it improves your hand’s grip on the rock. 

Too much chalk is not recommended since it can cause damage to your skin’s upper layer. Remember always to wash your hands after bouldering and apply a moisturizer to regenerate your skin moisture.


It depends if you are climbing near your car, indoors, or hike a distance before bouldering. Do not forget to carry the following for either cold or hot conditions:

  • A warm hat that covers your ears;
  • A pair of gloves since rocks can make your fingers feel numb after a few minutes;
  • A short is great for warm weather but doesn’t protect you from insect bites;
  • Breathable base layer fitted with long sleeves which you can roll up once you get too hot;
  • Wool jumpers to keep you warm.
Climbing Shoes for Bouldering


Brushes are essential for cleaning boulders and excess chalk as you climb. You get to pick any color, size, or shape of the brush. However, plastic or wooden brushes are preferable.

Avoid using metal bristles as they destroy the rock. Damaged rocks are hard to climb. There is a telescopic brush that reaches holds that are high up. 

Crash Pad

Boulder crash pads prevent injury if you fall. Boulder crash pads are a recent invention, only appearing in the 1990s. Before crash pads, even minor falls were potentially fatal. Now, greater boulder problems are accessible. 

The question, do you really need climbing shoes, is a secondary thought for pro climbers with boulder crash pads. Boulder crash pads are made of two or more layers of foam covered by stiff rubber fabric. Get a good crash pad that is strong and durable.

Skin Care Products

Always bring zinc oxide tape to protect your fingers and pumice from minimizing blisters and calluses. Never forget your lotion or skin moisturizer to prevent your skin from drying up. Do not forget climbing tape since it helps with taping blisters.

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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