What makes the best beginner climbing shoes? Price, Durability, comfort? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We created this article for you where we will go into depth and detail on what beginner climbing shoes should have, what they should not have along with the required specifications.
There are certain features we look for in a beginner climbing shoe that we may not look for if we were fitting an intermediate or advanced climber, features that will make your first climbing experiences much better.
At the end of this article we’ll go through a detailed buyers guide telling what features to look for in climbing shoes for beginners. First, we’ve listed our four best beginners climbing shoes we could find!
The Best Beginner Climbing Shoes
If you are in a hurry, the table above gives you top picks for you to pick up, or shop for at your local store. If you’ve got a little more time, hang out and read our more in-depth reviews below!
If you’ve read our harness reviews, you’ll be well aware we like the Black Diamond Momentum series of products and the shoes are no different! The 4.3mm rubber on these shoes is thick and durable. The downside here is there are definitely sticker rubber compounds on the market.
The heel cup on the shoes are very supportive, but if you’re into heel-hooking hard you might want to look at a different model. Most beginners won’t be trying moves like that, but we wanted to mention it anyway.
This, like all of our recommendations for beginners, is a neutral shoe, giving it the flat, comfortable fit we like new climbers to start with. We also like the two hook and loop closure straps, which give a really good overall fit.
If you prefer lace up shoes the Momentum does come in a model that is slightly more expensive with that feature, but for beginners the straps are usually more than enough!
- Thick Rubber for comfort
- Flexible Midsole and straps help new climbers still ‘feel’ the wall
- Neutral, lightweight fit
- Completely Vegan Materials used
- Great Value
- Rubber is not as sticky as nicer shoes.
Our best budget beginners climbing shoe goes to the Mad Rock Drifter Climbing shoe! If you want to get into technique and clipping these shoes might not be for you, but if you just want a solid beginner shoe that will last well later down the line then this is your best bet.
These shoes give tons of support with the thicker rubber outsole and smooth toe rand. The heel cup on these shoes is also very supportive, not too soft either which is great for beginners.
The leather uppers on these shoes is a nice touch and will stretch to fit you well. The Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe also has two velcro straps to hold you in place and give lots of support.
Our biggest complaint with these shoes is the sole is only 3mm thick, which is quite thin for a beginner. You’ll be able to feel the rock better with these shoes than some of our other options, but you’ll want to keep your sessions short to start!
- Cheap, durable and supportive. Great for beginners
- Leather Uppers will stretch to fit
- Good Stick Rubber soles and Rand
- Asymmetric and neutral profile
- Thin outsole might be hard on a beginners foot.
The La Sportiva TarantuLace Performance Rock Climbing shoe was a close runner up to our top pick. It ‘s a little bit more expensive than the Black Diamond Momentum, but you’ll get more bang for your buck with these shoes.
These shoes have a great fit and structure to them, the rubber outsole on these shoes is a sticky FriXion RS rubber, which is a little softer than the other shoes on this list. Even the Mad Rock, which has a 3mm outsole.
Our favorite part of this shoe was outsole in fact. It has a 1.8mm midsole with a 5mm heel and toe, making this shoe tough where it needs to be, and flexible where you need some movement. The pull laces are a great intermediate between old fashion laces and straps.
Our big drawback on this shoe was comfort. The way it’s designed is with a borderline moderate shape and low-asymmetry. While an experienced climber might like this combo, most beginners are going to find it uncomfortable.
- Quick Lace System is extremely nice
- Rubber soles very grippy
- Indoor/Outdoor shoe with mix of leather and synthetic uppers
- Great outsole design
- Style of shoe might be uncomfortable for beginners
Last but not least, the Scarpa Force V combines a flat last with a compact construction to give this shoe very little cushion. If you are familiar with other Scarpa models, you know what to expect.
The good news is these shoes have a great rubber outsole made from the popular Vibram XS Edge rubber, which is thick and sticky. The problem we found with the Force V is it did not fit well right out of the box. The toe box on these shoes was quite small and narrow.
Like many beginner models, the dual strap construction guarantees a good fit throughout the day, and the padded tongue and heel cup added comfort without sacrificing fit.
As we already mentioned, the toe box on these seemed very narrow. The upper is made from suede, which won’t stretch nearly as much as leather would. If you have wider feet like me you may want to steer clear of these shoes.
- Vibram XS Edge Rubber Outsole
- Neutral, flat last for comfort and fit
- Padded tongue and heel cup are nicely cushioned
- Duel strap locations really allows for adjustment
- Narrow toe box might be an issue for wide feet
- Suede will not expand like leather would.
Beginner Climbing Shoe Buying Guide
If you want a full look at everything you could know about choosing a climbing shoe you’ll want to follow that link to our in-depth guide. We’ve added many of the key points for beginners here though to save you time!
For a beginner the outsole rubber should be durable and thicker. The thickness helps with not only the durability but also with protecting your feet against rock and holds. The “sticky rubber” also helps a lot for sending easy routes.
For new climbers always get a shoe that has a harder rubber than your more advanced shoes. Harder rubbers will offer a thicker layer of material between your foot and the wall until your feet get used to the rigors of climbing.
Soft rubber keeps you gripping the rock better with less slipping, but you will ‘feel’ the wall beneath your feet more and can be uncomfortable for climbers in the beginning phases.
When it comes to climbing shoes construction is very important. The climbing shoe last and shape determine many of the performance features of a shoe. The last refers to the shape or contour of the shoe and determines where the toe and heel are.
The last determines how a shoe fits to your feet, with less support in the toes it will be easier for your feet to flex inward when you push off on a climbing wall. A more supportive shape will create a harder edge for you foothold and also keeps your foot from moving forward slightly when you climbing.
The construction also determines the type. Most beginners will want to start with a neutral shoe, as opposed to a moderate or aggressive type. A neutral shoe will give you a little more room to grow and is usually the best choice for beginners that are still growing.
Construction does not only include last and shape, but also includes the upper of the shoe. The upper is the material that covers your foot and is usually made up from either leather or synthetic materials. Leather is a very popular material for rock climbing shoes because it is comfortable and durable. Synthetic materials offer durability, but they are less flexible and also take longer to break in.
The upper material is more preference than anything, but beginners will want to pay attention to which they are using for future reference!
The Final Pitch
The best climbing shoe for beginners should be something that is comfortable, durable, and has a neutral shape. As you progress you can experiment with more aggressive shoes that have vertical toed boxes and toe drags.
Always remember when shopping for your first pair of climbing shoes, that if they don’t fit right you aren’t going to wear them! Make sure to try a few different styles on and talk to the shop staff about the best ones for your level of climbing.