10 Factors Of How To Choose Climbing Shoes Of 2023

Authored By Trekking Expert
10 Factors Of How To Choose Climbing Shoes Of 2023

When you first start climbing, the gear can seem like one of the trickiest things to get right. You’ll want shoes that fit well and offer support without being restrictive or too baggy.

Left unsupervised, a friend might come back with something resembling split-toe wrestling shoes.

But by following this helpful guide, you can avoid such fashion fails and find the perfect pair for your feet.

An effective climbing shoe should be lightweight, have a snug but comfortable fit, and have a sticky synthetic outer to keep you from sliding off in those slippery moments.

The best climbing shoes will also have roof sensitivity, so you know what terrain they are suited for.

With so many options, knowing where to begin when searching for new climbing shoes can be challenging. To help make things a little easier, I’ve compiled everything you need to know about buying climbing shoes

Factors Of How To Choose Climbing Shoes



As with most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to climbing shoe materials. The most common materials are synthetic leather, fabric, and synthetic materials.

A typical pair of climbing shoes will be a mix of synthetic fabric, synthetic leather, and synthetic materials.

Some materials will be more suited to different types of climbing, so it’s important to know what kind of shoe you should be looking for.

Synthetic leather is strong, durable, and water-resistant. It is often used in high-performance and aggressive shoes.

This material is excellent for edging and allows for a more snug and secure fit.

However, it is heavier than synthetic fabrics. Synthetic fabrics are lightweight and breathable.

They offer a decent amount of support and have a stretchy, comfortable fit. They are also cost-effective and tend to last longer than leather due to their durability.

Synthetic materials, such as rubber and plastic, are the cheapest materials to make climbing shoes.

This means they are not as durable and will wear out quicker as other materials. They usually have less grip and durability than leather, but some exceptions exist.


Fit And Feel

When trying climbing shoes, it’s important to remember that you want them to be snug but not too tight.

Fit And Feel

If they feel like they’re pinching your foot, that’s a sign that they’re too small. They’re too loose if you can easily fit more than one finger between your foot and the shoe.

When you try on a climbing shoe, you want to ensure that it is comfortable and doesn’t have any pinch points or pressure points.

You want the shoe to feel snug on your foot, but not too tight. You wale to wiggle your toes inside the shoe and feel like you have enough room to move around without feeling cramped.

It’s also vital to ensure no areas of the shoe are rubbing against your foot in a way that is too uncomfortable.


Sensitivity And Edging

Sensitivity occurs when your climbing shoe has a softer, more flexible sole that allows for greater precision.

A more sensitive shoe is an excellent choice if you enjoy feeling every single hold and movement as you climb. Your climbing shoe’s edging ability will determine how well it can stand on smaller holds.

For example, if you want to climb more vertical routes and boulder problems, you’ll want a more sensitive shoe for more intricate climbing.

A more edgy climbing shoe will have a firmer and stiffer sole that helps you stand on smaller holds.

Edging shoes are designed for more overhanging routes and sport climbing. An edging climbing shoe is an excellent option if you want a firm sole that can stand on smaller holds while still being sensitive enough to feel your feet on the rock.


Stiffness And Drop

The stiffer the sole of your climbing shoe, the more support it will provide and the more difficult it will be to break them in. If you like wearing your climbing shoes for all types of climbing, you may want a pair with a stiffer sole.

Sensitivity And Edging

If you are unsure what type of climbing you may be doing, you can get a more flexible pair. These will be less supportive and will be easier to break in.

The drop, or heel-to-toe drop, refers to the difference in height between the heel and toe of a climbing shoe.

A climbing shoe with a higher heel-to-toe drop makes it easier for a new climber to stand on flat-soled climbing shoes.

Drop is calculated by measuring the difference between the heel and toe in millimeters. So a 32-millimeter drop is one inch shorter from heel to toe.


Traction And Grip

When shopping for a new climbing shoe, you’ll want to look for one that is sticky.

Traction And Grip

A sticky climbing shoe will have a synthetic outer that is meant to grip well on various rocks. You’ll want a shoe that can stay on the wall even in the slippiest situations.

A sticky climbing shoe will have a synthetic upper or rubber sole.

Some shoes will even have rubber soles with a sticky synthetic coating. For a shoe advertised as moist, the synthetic should be thick and dense enough to provide a solid grip.

The best way to test a climbing shoe’s grip is to try it on a wall. You can also learn more about the shoe’s durability by reading reviews online to see how people find the shoe to hold up over time.



Climbing shoes are made from synthetic materials that need to be broken in. They will become looser and more comfortable as you use them.


The best way to break in a new pair of climbing shoes is to wear them while climbing.

Although they may not feel as secure initially, you’ll be wearing them the right way and rewarded with a pair of broken-in climbing shoes that fit like a glove. It’s important to keep your climbing shoes in good condition.

Be sure to clean them after every climbing session and apply conditioner and oil to extend their life span.


Price Point

Climbing shoes can vary in price, depending on the material and design used. You can find climbing shoes priced from $50 to $200.

Price Point

If you’re starting, you may want to purchase a cheaper pair of shoes to see if climbing is something you’d like to continue with.

If you end up falling in love with the sport and progressing quickly, you’ll likely want to invest in a more excellent pair of climbing shoes that will last longer and perform better.

With a bigger budget, you can get great features like a Velcro strap, slingshot rand, and high-end rubber. You can find all colors and designs, so you can pick something that suits your personality.


Best Uses: What’s Your Style of Climbing?

Slacklining – Slackliners need a pair of shoes that are super comfortable and lightweight, which are both features that are great for all-around climbing. You’ll also want something that has excellent traction to avoid slipping on the line.

Best Uses: What's Your Style of Climbing?

Sport Climbing – When sport climbs, it’s important to have super edgy shoes that can stick to pockets very well. You’ll also want something rigid, supporting the long reaches and intense crimping.

Bouldering – If bouldering is your thing, you’ll want a pair of shoes that are sensitive and comfortable for climbing short, intense routes.

Traditional Climbing – Traditional climbers will want a pair of supportive, durable, and comfortable shoes for climbing long routes. You’ll want something stiff, with a wide platform and a low heel-to-toe drop.


Men’s and Women’s Climbing Shoes

Both men’s and women’s climbing shoes come in various sizes, so it is essential to choose the correct size for your feet.

Men's and Women's Climbing Shoes

If the shoes are too small, they will be uncomfortable and challenging to fit into properly, and if they are too large, they will be unstable and likely to slip off your feet.

One difference between men’s and women’s climbing shoes is that women’s climbing shoes tend to be designed with a narrower fit, which can be more comfortable for female climbers with smaller feet.

Another difference is that men’s climbing shoes tend to have a wider toe box, which can provide additional toe room and comfort for male climbers who have larger feet.

Another similarity between men’s and women’s climbing shoes is that they come in various styles and designs, so there are many options for both men and women.

Choosing the right shoe style for the climbing you will be doing is essential, as some techniques are better suited for either bouldering or outdoor climbing.

It is also essential to make sure that your shoes fit correctly before climbing in them, as it can be dangerous to wear shoes that are too small or too large.

How do I choose bouldering shoes?

Many factors determine how a shoe will fit, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, some general guidelines exist when choosing a pair of bouldering shoes.

How do I choose bouldering shoes?

First, it’s important to choose the correct size. This may seem obvious, but you may be surprised how many people order the wrong shoe size. Bouldering shoes run pretty small—typically one or two sizes smaller than your street shoe. While it can be challenging to know exactly what size you need, there are two ways to figure it out:

Find your foot size and subtract two or three sizes. This will give you a rough idea of what size you should order.
Try on different sizes and see which one feels most comfortable. It’s better to have a shoe that’s slightly too big than too small; it’s easier to stretch out a shoe than to make it smaller!

Second, choose a shoe that is well-suited for the type of climbing you’ll be doing. Different shoes are designed for different purposes, so choose one that meets your needs. Here are some common types of shoes:

Friction slippers—These are the most basic type of bouldering shoes and are typically used by beginners and kids. They have no rubber on the bottom and rely entirely on the rubber on the toes and heels for traction and grip. These shoes are great for climbing trips where weight is a concern, but they don’t offer as much support or durability as other styles. Examples of friction slippers include Evolv Defy and Butora Sol – Lady Gaia V2 (custom).
All-around—These shoes combine the best qualities of friction slippers and downturned shoes, making them perfect for beginning climbers who aren’t sure which type they prefer yet. All-around typically has soft rubber on the bottom with plastic cups attached to the toes and heels for improved traction and durability. Examples include Scimitar (Butora), Flash (Mad Rock), and Acrobolix Shark II (Butora).
Downturned—Downturned shoes have plastic cups attached directly to the bottom of the shoe, creating a pointed-toe shape that provides extra grip in difficult situations. They tend to run small in size, so it’s important to buy them slightly bigger than normal if you prefer this style. Downturned shoes provide incredible support for over

Final Words

I hope this article has helped clear up any confusion you might have had about climbing shoes.

I believe that no matter what type of climbing you’re doing, the best climbing shoes are the ones that feel great on your feet.

That being said, we also believe that you should know what to look for in a pair of climbing shoes to find the pair that fits your climbing style best.

Keep in mind that climbing shoes can be expensive, so it’s essential to take care of them so they last as long as possible. These shoes take


Is there a difference between bouldering shoes and rock climbing shoes?

There are some subtle differences between bouldering shoes and rock climbing shoes:
Bouldering shoes tend to have curved toes, which help you maintain your foot placement on small rock features. Rock climbing shoes tend to have straight toes, which provide more toe-to-rock contact for better traction.
Bouldering shoes can be designed to fit either the front or the back of your foot. Rock climbing shoes are designed to fit only the front of your foot.
Bouldering shoes are usually more flexible and lightweight than rock climbing shoes. These features help you stay balanced on small and unstable footholds. Rock climbing shoes are designed to provide support and durability for intense footwork on steep walls.

Should my toes be bent in climbing shoes?

Your toes should never be bent in climbing shoes. This is because climbing shoes are designed to fit your foot perfectly without any extra space, providing you with the best possible fit and support.
If your toes are bent in your shoes, it means that the shoes are too small for you. The best way to find out what size shoe you need is to try different pairs and keep the ones that feel comfortable. If you’re having difficulty finding the right fit, a knowledgeable salesperson can help you find the right size.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to wiggle your entire foot in the shoe without any extra space. If it’s too loose, it won’t provide the support and performance you need while 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.