Rock Climbing Shoes For Beginners – Best 2016 Options

The Best Rock Climbing Shoes For Beginners Guide & Recommendations

rock climbing shoes for beginners

So you’ve chosen rock climbing as your latest adventure sport and you’re looking on-line for the all the gear you might need. When choosing rock climbing shoes for beginners, there are a lot of options available to you and a lot of conflicting information regarding those options. There are few fundamental things to consider when going through the different brands and styles, but the most important thing to think about is whether you will be climbing on indoor walls or scaling unpredictable cliff faces in the wild. Beginners need to consider whether they will be looking for support, comfort and durability, whereas outdoor climber might need to sacrifice some of that comfort in order to get more grip and strength when tackling difficult obstacles.

If you are looking to buy climbing shoes for the first time, it’s probable that you have been climbing for at least a little while already, even if that means you only tried it because some of your friends were doing it. If that enticed you and got you aiming for bigger and bigger walls, you’re probably making the transition from rented climbing shoes to your very own pair. There is a great deal to think about when selecting and you shouldn’t rush into it because you want a pair that will stay with you whilst you start developing within the sport. You also want a pair that you can trust to maintain your grip and not slip up on you.

Important Things To Consider When Buying Your First Pair Of Rock Climbing Shoes

Choosing rock climbing shoes for beginners might seem like an obstacle but if you chose rock climbing as a sport then you must like a big challenge. First consider what type of climbing you want to do and match your climbing needs with the type of shoe you are looking for. A downturned shaped shoe has been created with difficult obstacles and boulders in mind and this won’t help you so much on friendlier climbing routes. Downturned shoes will force your feet into a different position that makes the force you apply with your legs transfer into the toes. It can be helpful on boulders and difficult obstacles but the shoes aren’t comfortable.

Flatter shoes are advisable if you aren’t going straight into the tough stuff. If you are looking for climbing shoes for beginners, you should probably look for a flat profiled shoe that is comfortable and tight enough. Some shoes come in between the downturned and flat profile shoes, and these are obviously meant for the medium, novice and unexpected terrain.

The Best Rock Climbing Shoes For Beginners – 3 Recommendations For Men and Women


1. Mad Rock Nomad Climbing Shoe

Finding the perfect balance for your climbing needs is important when selecting rock climbing shoes. The Mad Rock Nomad is perfectly in between the downturned and flat profile shoes as they give great grip on harsh terrain whilst maintaining comfort on the less difficult features. Whilst they might not be the perfect shoe to use if you intend to tackle some intense climbs, they will do you will on even medium difficulty terrain. When using a mid-range shoe, comfort can be extremely important to a climber and these shoes are always very comfortable to use. The manufacturer claims they perform admirably on cracks, multi-pitches, and trad routes. They have an ergonomic design and look extremely professional, despite not costing a fortune. They are certainly one of the best climbing shoes on the market for those making the move from rental shoes to their own pair of climbing shoes.

2. La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoe

These shoes use lace instead of Velcro to give extra snugness when climbing. Shoes should always be extremely tight and the cross laced harness on the front of this shoes allows for exactly that. They are great to look at because they certainly look professional, whilst being aimed at the beginner level. The sole is made from a special rubber compound called FriXion RS rubber, which claims to add extreme durability on harsh terrain. They are neither downturned nor very flat, instead being aimed somewhere in the middle to give the climber a great all-round experience on a wide variety of different climbs. The price is middle of the road but extremely worth it for the shoe you get and they last for quite some time.

3. La Sportiva Nago Shoe

This shoe has a flat base and is designed with performance and comfort in mind. At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking this was a sneaker, but if you take a closer look you will notice the air vents for moisture management and the durable rubber sole that helps you to grip to any surface. It has a leather exterior on top which both thin and lightweight, but strong and long-lasting. They lace up extremely tight and slipping is not a word in the vocabulary of these shoes, if they had a vocabulary. These shoes will certainly be suitable wherever you intend to take them, and they will always make the journey home with you as well.


1. La Sportiva Oxygym Shoe

Featuring breathable fabric and a complex locking mechanism for extra tightness, these climbing shoes really look the part and will turn heads in any climbing arena. They are perfect for indoor climbing locations, and work just as well if you take them for climbing adventures in the big wild world. The closure system is Velcro, allowing for extra comfort and grip that laces sometimes cannot give. To top it all off, they are completely washable to keep them looking perfect. These rock climbing shoes are some of the best on the market and whilst they might not be for rock climbing on Mount Everest, they will certainly be shoes you can rely on when you do your thing at the local climbing centre.

2. Scarpa Women’s Force X WMN Climbing Shoe

Scarpa have been creating climbing equipment since 1938 and they originate in the mountainous area of Northern Italy. They sell a full range of products, from expert survival gear to the basic climber’s rigs. The family tradition of fantastic climbing products continues with these downward facing shoes that are at the higher end of climbing shoes for beginners, because novices and even experienced climbers would also choose these as their shoe of choice. They are suitable for use on both small, indoor climbing obstacles but if you felt confident in yourself, you could also take them outside and use them on more challenging terrain. The downward pointing front is designed for power over comfort, so you might be sacrificing a little on the comfort side with these, but what you lose there, you make up for in the power that you can transfer from your leg to the shoe. They have a Velcro closure system at the front to make them snug and they look like a truly professional pair for any budding climber looking to get their own climbing shoes.

3. evolv Women’s Elektra Lace Climbing Shoe

If you feel like you need comfort when you climb then these climbing shoes might be the best bet for you. They aren’t going to get you up sheer rock-faces in a hurry but they won’t give you blisters and they will give you confidence as you grow as a climber. Some shoes are built for the professional climber and a beginner might not feel confident in wearing them but these allow everyone to get involved. They feature a lace-up front which allows you to get them extra tight or looser if you want them that way. They look very professional and they will last as long as you need them to; a great buy for the beginner who wants their own climbing equipment instead of having to rent someone else’s. They come in a pleasing colour and the price is fairly reasonable.

Lace-up VS Velcro Rock Climbing Shoes, Which Are Better?

A big debate amongst climbers is whether to use boots with lace-up fronts or actual real laces and the answer is far from conclusive. Whilst one might be easier to take on and off, it might not give you the tightness you were looking for. The answer lies in both the shape of your foot and personal preference. In reality, there are 3 types of closing system on a climbing shoe. You can have Velcro, lace-ups, and slippers. Lace-up shoes tend to be the most adjustable, which is good for breaking in new shoes as you often want to adjust them when the fabric stretches.

Lace-up shoes can be a little slower to take off and put back on, which causes many people to turn to Velcro or slippers because you stick them straight on and start climbing. Velcro shoes will usually tighten as well as lace-ups and they are especially great for people who are travelling around and constantly changing between hiking or sports trainers and then climbing shoes. Slippers are the least professional but they are easy to get on. They might allow you to use the full potential of your feet but they aren’t made for big climbs or great comfort.
Like any shoes, laces will get worn out and frayed sometimes so it is especially important in climbing shoes to replace them when you start to see damage. If you are out on a climbing adventure then take some spare laces with you or you might end up having to use string to keep them together! Velcro gets worn out after time but cleaning often after they get dirty should extend the shelf life.

What Size Shoe Should I Get For My First Pair?

When it comes to choosing sizes you will more than likely find that each brand is a little different. You should head down to your local climbing shop and try on different shoes from different brands to get an idea about how well that companies’ shoes will fit you. The brands Evolv and Five Ten will often come up a little small so you might like to get the size above your usual size. La Sportiva and Scarpa are often fairly accurate when it comes to sizing and what they say is often fairly accurate. You can get an idea of what the company sizing policy is by checking the reviews on Amazon as customers often reveal their own experiences.

Whilst sizing is very important, you should also keep in mind that tightness of the shoes is one of the most valuable lessons to learn. There is a lot of conflicting information online about how tight your shoes should be and whether you should use Velcro or lace-up front. The truth is that it often depends on the type of climbing you will be taking part in. For sports climbing and bouldering, there is a link between the shoe size and the grade of difficulty in the climb. Some shoes that are designed for the biggest climbs have an extremely tight fit, even to the point where they feel uncomfortable, but you tend to stay off the rock more than you are on it.

When using other climbs, you might like to have your shoes a little looser a little flatter for comfort. You can choose a larger size which will give you a bigger sole as you will be standing more. Using tight, uncomfortable shoes on mixed climbs and in the gym might cause unnecessary harm to your feet. Remember that half sizes are important in rock climbing shoes and just a half bigger might mean a great deal of difference in terms of comfort. Experience will dictate what shoes are right for you but before you have that experience, you can learn a lot by doing some research online and finding out what other climbers have done in the past when choosing rock climbing shoes for beginners.

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