Can Women Wear Mens Climbing Shoes – Expert Advice 2023

Authored By Trekking Expert
Can Women Wear Mens Climbing Shoes – Expert Advice 2023

Climbing shoes are designed to stand out and be noticed.

But it can be tricky to find climbing shoes that fit you properly if you’re a woman with small feet or have an unusual sense of style.

When browsing your options, you’ll quickly notice that most climbing shoe manufacturers cater their products primarily to men.

A lot of brands won’t even sell women’s versions of their shoes; instead, they create unisex models that tend to come up small on women’s feet.

Even when you find a pair of men’s climbing shoes in your size and width, they might still not be the ideal option for your style and sensibilities.

But don’t worry: there are plenty of ways you can rock those thick-soled trainer-inspired kicks regardless of your gender!

Here are some tips on how women can wear mens climbing shoes confidently and in style…


Make sure you get the right size and width

Make sure you get the right size and width

If you’re going to get prolonged climbing shoes designed primarily for men, you’ll want to ensure you get the right fit.

If you have smaller feet, this can be a bit tricky. If you try on a pair of men’s shoes that are a little too big, they’ll probably still fit. But if you try on a couple of women’s shoes too big for your feet, you’ll find swimming in them.

Getting the correct width is also important. You should feel a snug fit around your foot, but not so tight that you can’t wiggle your toes.

Make sure you try on shoes with the climbing shoe that you’ll be using them for.

If you’re hoping to use them for bouldering and try them on in a pair of gym climbing shoes, you might want to consider a different model.


Combine men’s and women’s shoes

Combine men's and women's shoes

If you can’t find climbing shoes in your size and width, or even if you want to wear a different style, you can always look for shoes that are designed for men but just have a women’s-specific fit.

There are plenty of brands that craft their unisex climbing shoes in this way. The La Sportiva Tarantulas and the Five Ten Quantum are a few examples.

Many of these shoes come in wider widths and may be a better fit than the more standard unisex models.

And if you can’t find the right shoe from one of these brands, you can always look for a climbing shoe that uses a single-last, a term used to describe shoes without a women’s version.

These shoes may be more comprehensive, but they should still fit pretty well.


Find shoes with a heel hooking edge

Find shoes with a heel hooking edge

Some climbing shoes are designed purely for sport climbing and bouldering, while others are made for all forms of climbing.

If you’re getting into climbing, you may want to start with one of the more multi-purpose shoes.

It’s essential to keep in mind that shoes designed for edging and friction climbing have a heel-hooking edge, while shoes intended for more aggressive activities like boulder problems have a more aggressive edge.

For women who want to try heel hooking, you may want to find a pair of shoes with a heel-hooking edge.

It’s important to note, however, that most brands make men’s and unisex shoes with an aggressive edge, while their women’s models have a heel-hooking advantage.


Find shoes with a narrow-toe box

Find shoes with a narrow-toe box

If you have wide feet, you may have difficulty finding a pair of shoes in your size that feels good.

Try searching for shoes that come wide, or look for shoes designed for someone with a wide foot.
It’s important to note that most climbing shoe manufacturers make their shoes on a European last that’s wider than the average American foot.

Even when climbing shoes come in wide widths, they may not fit as well as those made just for a broad foot.


Find shoes with an asymmetric shape

If you have a wide forefoot and a narrow heel, you may have difficulty finding a pair of shoes that fits you properly.

Find shoes with an asymmetric shape

Try to find a pair that has an asymmetric shape. This typically means that the shoe is wider in the toe box than in the heel. You can also try to find this fit in a wider width.

How men’s climbing shoes differ from women’s climbing shoes

While climbing shoes are similar in general design, men’s climbing shoes differ from women’s.

They’re often made with thicker materials and a more prominent toe box for added comfort and support; and are often unisex, meaning men and women can wear them.

They’re often designed to be more durable and last longer than women’s climbing shoes, which aren’t as heavily padded.

How men's climbing shoes differ from women's climbing shoes

Men’s climbing shoes also tend to be more expensive than women’s since they use higher-quality materials.

But while they’re designed to fit men, they’re also excellent to wear if you have smaller feet.


Different last

The last of the shoe refers to the shape of the shoe. Traditionally, climbing shoes were made in a standard last.

Different last

But as the sport has evolved and the disciplines within it have become more specialized, climbers realized they needed shoes that matched their unique needs.

Today, climbing shoes are made in different lasts, which can be used to target different foot types and climbing styles.

The medium last is the most traditional climbing shoe last. It’s a generalist last with a wide fit and low volume. Traditionally, this was the only last offered, and it was called the last. It best fits wide, high arches and low or moderate-volume feet.
The low last is a specialist last aimed at people with low arches, narrow feet, and higher volume feet. It’s also an excellent fit for people with wider calves. This last is best suited for edging and smearing, as it’s not as aggressive as other lasts.
The high last is a specialist last that’s best for wide, high arches and low-volume feet. It’s also a good fit for people with wider calves. This last is the most aggressive and is suited for advanced climbers. It’s best for all-around climbing.

Different material

What kind of material your climbing shoes are made from impacts their durability, water resistance, and comfort. Traditionally, most climbing shoes were made from leather.

Different material

Today, many climbing shoes are made from synthetic materials like canvas, leather-synthetic hybrids, neoprene, and full-blown neoprene.

Climbers looking for a more breathable shoe that dries out quickly should consider a synthetic model.

Those who prefer a more durable material that holds up well against water may want to stick to the leather.


Different sizes

Most climbing shoe manufacturers make their shoes in European sizes. This may seem like a hassle, but it makes things relatively simple.

Different sizes

All you need to do is find your European size and convert it to American.

The conversion is easy: take your European size in centimeters and add two. For example, if you have a size 36 foot in Europe, you’ll have a size 38 in the United States.


Different color palette

If you’re dying to rock those thick-soled trainer-inspired kicks, but you’re not sure you can pull off a pair of men’s climbing shoes, you can always find a couple in a color palette that suits your sensibilities.

Climbing shoe manufacturers often make their shoes in more feminine or unisex colors, so you can find a pair that works for you.

Different color palette

There are several differences between women’s and men’s climbing shoes. Women’s climbing shoes are often made with thinner and less supportive materials and are often made with a slimmer fit.

Men’s climbing shoes are often made with thicker and more supportive materials and are often made with a wider fit.

Should I size up or down for climbing shoes?

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to climbing shoes, the same way there’s no one shoe perfect for every climber.

There are a few factors to consider when sizing climbing shoes, varying from brand to brand and shoe to shoe.

You’ll want to start with a rough idea of your climbing foot size, which you can find by measuring both feet (length and width) and comparing them to sizing charts.

Some brands size their shoes according to European or US sizes, while others use a numbered system. Once you have a general idea of your foot size, you can try different shoe models and brands to find the one that feels best.

While some prefer a snug fit in their shoes (to help with foot positioning), others like a little extra wiggle room.

You may also want to keep in mind whether you plan on using toe pads, as these can add additional space to the shoe. If you try on a pair of shoes and discover they’re too small, don’t panic! There are several ways you can stretch out a couple of climbing shoes.


Can women use men’s climbing shoes?

If a woman purchases the climbing shoe for her, she can wear men’s climbing shoes. But if the climbing shoe is meant for a man, he should buy it.
Both men and women can wear men’s Climbing Shoes. It depends on the size and fit of the shoe that is being purchased.
Some brands produce unisex climbing shoes. So brand selection is up to the buyer based on their requirement and fit.

Can women climb as well as men?

Despite many common misconceptions, women can climb just as well as men. Like men, women can excel at climbing by being strong and flexible, balancing upper and lower body strength, staying calm under pressure, and having the endurance to climb long routes. Additionally, women can excel in spacial awareness, route reading, and understanding the sequence of moves. With the proper training and effort, women can be just as strong as men in rock climbing.

Uttam Kapri
Uttam Kapri is a highly experienced trekking guide with over 10 years of experience in the tourism industry. He holds a Master's degree in Sociology and a Bachelor's degree in various fields, including English Literature and Travel and Tourism Development. Uttam is passionate about welcoming people from all over the world for trekking trips in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.