Climbing gyms are the perfect place to hone your craft. No weather, no loose holds, just you and the wall. Why would you want anything but the best indoor climbing shoes for such an environment!?
I haven’t always had access to outdoor climbing, so climbing gyms have been the place for me to hone my climbing skills for much of the time I’ve been climbing. I’ve tested more shoes that I can count, and hopefully you can benefit from my knowledge!
We’ll cover four great shoes, each good for a different climber, and then go through a indoor climbing shoe buying guide so you can make an educated choice yourself!
Best Indoor Climbing Shoes
Use the table above for links to buy our top picks right now! For more detailed reviews of each shoe, scroll down for our opinions of each. Lastly, the buyers guide is down below for details on our criteria for selection these shoes!
My favorite indoor climbing shoe, and the pick for the best indoor climbing shoe, goes to the La Sportiva Miura.
The Miura’s high performance shoe is made of 100% leather and offers a super snug fit. The all-around shoes are ideal for overhanging routes, bouldering, gym climbing, and technical face climbing. I’ve worn them outdoors, but they really shine indoors.
They are also perfect for bouldering and indoor climbing, where the Vibram XS Edge provides the grippier of the two soles. Using it with negative edges on overhanging routes will make you feel more in control while avoiding your hands on holds.
I personally haven’t seen it, but there a few people have mentioned durability issues that La Sportiva have run into in the last few years which is a big reason I’ve keep these in the gym rather than taking them outdoors.
- Full Leather Upper Build
- Vibram XS 4mm Rubber Sole
- Great Heel Cup Shape and Depth
- Velcro strap for quick in and of shoe during gym sessions
- Possible durability issues
The Black Diamond Momentum is RedPointClimb’s pick for the best budget indoor climbing shoe. Built for durability, with a soft flex midsole, and available in a vegan construction, this shoe is durable enough to last through your toughest sessions on the wall.
The rubber on these shoes is the NeoFuse, from Butora. This rubber has been built for grip and performance so you can climb confidently knowing that your foot will stick where you put it! 2 velcro straps adjust to different sizes comfortably so every climber can have an affordable shoe that fits them perfectly.
The Momentum has a flat last and a slight asymmetry, making it one of the best indoor climbing shoes for beginners and intermediate climbers who want to stay comfortable while learning to climb.
We prefer a more aggressive shape to our shoes than the momentum has, and the knit upper gives a little, but for the beginners or those on a budget, there isn’t a better shoe one the market!
- Perfect shape and fit for beginners/intermediate climbers
- NeoFuse rubber is grippy and durable
- Velcro straps for comfortable fit
- Soft Midsole makes shoe comfortable
- Unmatched value
- Flat Last is not for Aggressive/Advanced climbers
It was REALLY hard to choose between the La Sportiva Miura and the Scarpa Drago climbing shoes for our best overall. In the end, we went with the Miura for the XS rubber, which we prefer a bit over the Grip 2 that comes on the Drago. That being said, the Grip 2 is a favorite of a LOT of climbers.
The Drago is an ultra sensitive and aggressive design of the Drago is perfect for those who want a shoe that can take them from bouldering to steep sport climbing as well. It’s a shoe that can handle all kinds of climbing and overhanging terrain, and because it’s so lightweight and breathable, you’ll get through your shorter gym days without worrying about an ankle injury.
Dura-Flex has been SCARPA’s performance key factor for more than a decade, and it features in virtually every climbing shoe that the brand offers. The fibers are woven into a sophisticated structure that allows flexibility without compromising structural integrity.
Scarpa does tend to run small, so you likely will need to go a half size down. In addition to that, these shoes are narrow on most people!
- Vibram XS Grip 2 Leather is super sticky on walls
- Lightweight and breathable
- Dura-Flex for great fit and structure
- Ultra aggressive shape
- Sizing runs small and shoe is very narrow
Our list rounds out with the Five Ten HiAngle climbing shoe, as comfortable a performance shoe as you are likely to find. The Stealth C4 rubber sole provides exceptional traction on a wide range of footings.
This shoe does have an aggressive downturn shape that will keep you attached to the steep terrain or vertical wall you’re climbing. We really see it excel on hard bouldering problems indoors, where the shape and stickiness of the sole are at their best.
The hook-and-loop strap secures your foot for maximum performance in unstable conditions, while the minimal midsole toe area allows for sensitive movements under the toes.
While these shoes are great for indoor routes and bouldering, they are too soft for multi pitch routes that require a lot of edging. You’ll want the Muira or Drago for those climbs.
- Stealth C4 Rubber is extremely soft
- Aggressively shaped performance shoe
- Traditional Hiangle shape with addition of seamless outsole wrapping
- Great Fit and Easy on/off straps
- Too soft for multi-pitch routes and hard edging
Indoor Shoe Buying Guide
While the four shoes we’ve included are all great options, you might be at a local store without these shoes, or simply wanting to know more about them. Our indoor climbing shoe buying guide details the important feature of an indoor shoe!
Most indoor climbing shoes use either a velcro strap or a slipper like design. Velcro straps are usually found at the base of the ankle and around the midsole, while slipper designs stretch to slide on and off.
Both of these shoes are designed for quick on and off, a nice feature for gym climbs where most people will take off their shoes in between routes.
The third option, found more often on outdoor shoes, are laces. Laces give you the ability to tighten the shoe a bit better, and keep the shoe tighter over a longer period of time. This is perfect for outdoor multi-pitch routes, but tends to be less comfortable and harder to get on and off than the indoor styles.
Thanks to the controlled environment indoors, you can often get away with a less durable, but stickier rubber compound on the sole of a climbing shoe than on an outdoor or bouldering shoe. Many of the most aggressive shoes we’ve listed above use the Five Ten Stealth C4 or Vibram Grip 2 compound, both of which are super sticky. The drawback to most sticky rubbers is they are soft, meaning they aren’t as durable.
These shoes may not last long on the hard rock and variable conditions outdoors, but can survive a great number of indoor sessions.
The fit of a climbing shoe, indoor or outdoor, is of paramount importance. If your foot doesn’t fit perfectly in the shoe, you’ll have to constantly adjust the tightness of the laces or velcro straps, which can lead to irritations and blisters.
Once you have a good fit, you should have good control over your foot on the wall. A big issue indoor rock climbing is that too often people are wearing shoes that are too tight. They squeeze the toes into an unnatural position that cramps them over time.
On the flip side, a shoe that is too loose will allow your foot to slide around, which can easily lead to you slipping off a wall during a challenging move or problem.
The perfect fit on a climbing shoe might be the most important factor of all, and is individual thanks to the different shapes of the human foot.
Climbing Skill Level
Beginners generally want a flat last which leads to a very moderate shaped shoe. More advanced climbers almost always want a shaped last, leading to the banana shape you see with many climbing shoes.
Should I have a Different Pair of Indoor and Outdoor Climbing Shoes?
Yes, you should have two different pairs of climbing shoes for indoor and outdoors. Even if they are the same brand/model, you should have two separate pairs to account for the differences in the environment.
Outdoors, your shoes will be subject to constant abrasion on features of the wall. The softer the rubber the easier the rock will wear it down, so you’ll be replacing your shoes sooner than if you were climbing indoors.
On the other hand, many gyms are filled with dust and grit that gets inside your shoe over time. The controlled atmosphere tends to help even the softest rubber last indoors though.
Most people also climb a bit differently indoors vs outdoors, so the wear on the shoe will be different. By having shoes for both you can have shoes that are ‘broken in’ and will perform better for the different styles of climbing that indoor and outdoor present.
The Final Pitch
When you are setting out to buy a new pair of climbing shoes, it is essential that you consider the environment where you will be using them. If it is purely indoor, make sure to get a nice tight fit with a good sticky rubber compound.
I’ve given you four great options to pick from here, but with the buyers guide you also have a great bit of knowledge to choose your own. Want even more information? Check out our article on how to choose climbing shoes!