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Best Rock Climbing Shoes

Rock shoes allow the climber to stand on smaller holds with more security and are a crucial part of all climber's equipment. Choosing your first pair of shoes can be confusing because fitting them goes against everything you have been told about sizing footwear. The shoes need to be a snug fit - twist the tightened shoe and your foot should move with it without any slippage - and your toes need to be at the end of the boot. It helps to remember when sizing shoes that they will all stretch to some degree.

Rock shoe design is now very sophisticated and shoes are designed for specific types of routes or styles of climbing. It is tempting to choose an advanced, performance shoe, but their asymmetric shape and down-turned soles will make then uncomfortable and difficult to use effectively until you have more experience.

The five rock shoes listed below are ideal for those new to rock climbing looking for comfortable, all round shoes that are well built and don't compromise on performance.

All of these shoes are potentially great, but getting one that fits your foot well is crucial - go to a climbing store with a good selection of shoes and try them on with help from store staff who climb.

LA Sportiva Nago Rock Shoe

The La Sportiva Nago is a perfect shoe for those starting to climb that does not compromise in any area. They are comfortable and very well built. The potential to perform way beyond its beginners tag, making this shoe a perfect first choice for our list.

It is built on a symmetrical last that beginners will find comfortable. This is complimented by suede upper with a perforated synthetic leather insert that both molds to the foot. It allows air to flow into the shoe. The full length lacing system allows a precise fit to be obtained even when the shoe has stretched.

Boreal Joker Lace-Up Climbing Shoe

Boreal Joker Lace-Up Climbing Shoe

The Joker is a very comfortable shoe that performs very well across the whole spectrum of climbing styles. It does this by using a slip lasted sole to improve feel. Also included is a half-length sole stiffener to help provide support on small edges.

It is ideally suited to those who like long days in the hills. The suede uppers are lined with a padded nylon mesh that adds comfort and allows for good ventilation. The cushioned heels adds protection on steep descents or when climbing outcrops of boulders.

Five Ten Spire Climbing Shoe

A great shoe built on classic principles that performs really well. The unlined leather uppers use a lacing system that extends all the way to the toe. This allows the shoe to both feel comfortable and also be precisely adjusted. Cinch it really tight for hard, edging routes or slacken it off on easier mountain routes.

Five Ten has added some performance characteristics to the shoe such as a slightly asymmetrical toe. The tensioned heel was added to ensure that the shoe does not let you down on harder moves. These additions have not compromised comfort, or the ability to grip tightly when needed.

Evolv Quest-AF Rock Climbing Shoes

The Quest AF is a great shoe that that has been designed and built with the needs of beginners clearly in mind, and they are a great fit for this list because of their features.
The uppers are built from lined, synthetic leather that is both comfortable and will not stretch. This allows you to get a good long term fit is as easy as possible. The Trax rubber is very good and this has been backed up with a tough durable rand that will resist scuffing. This helps the shoes last longer.

La Sportiva Mythos Climbing Shoe

The Mythos has been around for a long time and for good reason. It is a supremely comfortable shoe that performs very well on any hike or rock climb. The comfort comes from the use of a soft sole and soft, unlined suede uppers that makes the shoe feel more like a slipper. This allows the shoe to be easily worn all day long. The shoe does stretch quite a lot. Sportiva counters this by using an innovative lacing system that runs the full length of the shoe. That lacing system allows you to really cinch the shoe tight for harder routes.

La Sportiva Miura VS Climbing Shoe

The La Sportiva Miura VS Men's Climbing Shoes are a great choice for our number one spot because of their features. The shoe uses a Velcro strap lacing system that feels secure even on really powerful heel. It feels as if there is a touch more camber on the sole compared to the original Miura. This allows you to pull in on small holds on steep ground.

Crucially the camber is not so much that it restricts use on longer routes or vertical ground and the sole has a well chosen stiffness that provides good support on small edges. The asymmetric toe box pushes weight over the powerful big toe very effectively and fits into small pockets and thin cracks very securely.

FiveTen Men's Galileo Climbing Shoe

FiveTen Men's Galileo Climbing Shoe is a great second choice for our list, because of its construction and durability. Five Ten uses a lined, synthetic leather to limit stretch and a high tension heel cup that drives your toes forward into the front of the shoe. This combined with a relatively stiff sole and superb Stealth C4 rubber create an extremely stable and precise platform for your feet. These shoes edge brilliantly and also smear really well once broken in a bit. They are brilliant on all but the very steepest of climbs.

Mad Rock Men's Demon 2.0 Climbing Shoe

The Mad Rock's Demon 2.0 climbing shoe is a step above the rest and it deserves the number three spot here. The key to its success is that it performs so well across a wide range of climbing styles. The uppers are made from a material called Power Flex. This makes the show fit your foot like a glove.

These shoes work best with the toes slightly bunched forward. The result is amazing support when standing on small edges and yet enough sensitivity to smear securely. The Velcro lacing system is typically very good, adjusting quickly and locking down securely to give a very precise fit.

Evolv Pontas Lace-Up Rock Shoe

The Pontas Lace-Up is probably the least aggressive shoe here. It still happily meets the criteria of being well built and performing really well across a wide range of climbing styles. This earns it the fourth place on our list. The shoe stands out from the crowd for the way it combines high performance with comfort. 

The shoe is an evolution of the acclaimed Pontas Velcro and uses the same last, but has a stiffer midsole for better edging. The asymmetrical last is fairly flat and this adds to its edging performance, while the toe box is well designed with a nicely pointed toe that allows accurate and precise placements on all types of holds.

Men's Katana Lace Rock Shoe

The Katana Lace Rock Climbing shoe is a great choice for our fifth position. La Sportiva created this yellow and black shoe with soft suede leather uppers. The slip resistant sole is Vibram Xs Edge 4. This shoe gives great control when both inside and outside when edging. Non slip rubber sole grips will keep your feet in place, safe and secure. These shoes do stretch a bit and do soften up, but that is a relatively minor complaint for such good shoes. This is a serious contender as best all-round performance rock shoe.

Amy Browne
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