Best Bouldering Shoes

Bouldering is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of climbing. If you don’t know the difference between Bouldering and Rock Climbing give this page a quick peek Bouldering vs Rock Climbing.

In short, Bouldering shoes need to be more aggressive than your average climbing shoe. This is due to the fact that Bouldering problems pack an extreme amount of difficulty into one or two moves. This gymnastic style of climbing requires very precise footwork.

When it comes to picking out the perfect bouldering shoe there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Edging
  • Smearing
  • Heel Hooks
  • Toe Hooks
  • Shoe Rubber

Using these 5 ranking factors we have determined the best bouldering shoes to date. For this review, we will be discussing the Top 10 Bouldering Shoes of 2017.

 EdgingSmearingHeel HookToe HookShoe RubberOverall Rank
La Sportiva Solutions544541
Scarpa Instinct VS544442
La Sportiva Miura544343
Butora Acro534534
Five Ten Team344355
Evolv Agro333336
Scarpa Drago343437
La Sportiva Futura 142348
Five Ten Hiangle232349
Evolv Shaman3322210

Note: All ranking are out of 5. Details in following sections.

Bouldering Shoes – Edging

Let’s be real, most Bouldering Shoes look more like a raptor talon (trademarking this name if it’s not taken..) than actual shoes. The reason for this is to make the shoe be capable of edging on micro flakes. It’s also useful when digging into a pocket on a roof and trying to prevent your feet from cutting.

If you are a slab climber, a good pair of edging shoes will definitely be your friend. You don’t want your edge to fail on a tiny flake when you’re 20 feet up.

Bouldering Shoes – Smearing

If you didn’t know already, smearing is when you place your foot on a blank section of the wall and use only friction to stick. This is a technique that comes into play on certain types of rock and features.

This is often the most overlooked feature when it comes to picking out shoes. This reason for this is because usually a good edging shoe does not perform well smearing. This means you will often have to pick between a good edge or a sticky smear.

Although most footholds do not require a smear, it should still be considered when bouldering. Most serious climbers have a special smearing shoe in their arsenal that they only use when they need them. This is surely something to consider.

Bouldering Shoes – Heel Hook

One thing that is consistently different when Bouldering, as opposed to Lead Climbing, is the excessive use of heel hooks. This is due to the nature of a bouldering and density of difficulty in problems.

If your Bouldering shoe cannot heel hook then it’s not a Bouldering shoe. Sure you can get away with using a mild slipper style shoe for most things but you will struggle to climb things that require heels close to your limit.

Another thing to consider is that the more flexible a shoe is the easier it will be to position your heel in the correct position.

Bouldering Shoes – Toe Hook

A toe hook is when you use the rubber above your toe to “hook” onto a hold (usually an undercling). This is more of a specialty move that doesn’t happen near as often as a heel hook.

Even though it is not extremely common, having a good toe hook comes in handy on some problems. It’s can be the make or break thing that makes you send your project.

Note: Toe Hook will not be considered as strongly as some of the other factors in the rankings.

Bouldering Shoes – Rubber

The rubber is possibly the most important factor for a climbing shoe. Without quality rubber, your shoe will not be able to perform well.

If you took the best shoe and put bad rubber on it, all its other features will suffer. Don’t believe it? Try to smear with your street shoes the next time you’re at the gym.

Top 10 Bouldering Shoes

Here are the best of the best Bouldering Shoes. Each quality will to ranked using 🏆 with a max of 5 🏆.

10. Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆

The Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe is a great contender for the best Bouldering shoe. That being said, the competition edges them out (pun intended). The rubber and edge have improved since the last edition of this shoe but it is still not as good as some of the shoes to follow. It was designed by the great Chris Sharma so it’s unquestionably a powerhouse shoe.

9. Five Ten Men’s Hiangle Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

The Five Ten Hiangle shoes are not the fanciest shoes out there. They offer proven technology and the best rubber on the market (stealth). Although you will most likely suffer from the infamous “Smurf feet” you will also be able to crush anything!

8. La Sportiva Futura Shoe

Edging: 🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

It didn’t take very long for La Sportiva to make the list. They offer some of the best selection of shoes on the market. The Futura’s are unique in the fact that they have a no edge technology, making them ideal for smearing and not as good for edging. If you get used to the no edge these can take some of the error out of poor footwork and help with flash attempts.

7. Scarpa Drago Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆

Yet another Italian masterpiece! The Scarpa Drago is an underrated shoe that offers superb smearing and fit. It is a slipper style shoe and carries Scarpa’s grip rubber. The toe on this thing is massive! Make sure to check them out!

6. Evolv Agro Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆

Evolv’s newest offering is the Agro. This shoe offers a good design when it comes to Bouldering. If you are looking for an aggressive shoe without an all round good performance give the Agro’s a try.

5. Five Ten Team 5.10 Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

The Five Ten Team shoes are the most flexible shoe on the list. They feature 5.10 Stealth rubber which is the stickiest stuff you can get. It has a slitted rubber toe for extra comfort. If you are looking for comfort and friction try the Teams.

4. Butora Acro Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆

Butora is a relatively new brand to the climbing shoe scene. This company is taking the industry by storm with their flagship shoe, the Acro. This has one of those talon-like toes and enough toe hook rubber to sink a ship. If you want to try something new get a pair of Butora’s, you won’t be sorry.

3. La Sportiva Miura Lace Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

How could we not mention the La Sportiva Miura’s. These are possibly the most successful climbing shoes in history. The design has been proven for longer than most shoe companies have been in business. The Miura’s are the all around best shoe by any standard. For specific bouldering, there are still some that beat it out.

2. Scarpa Instinct VS Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

The Scarpa Instincts are a favorite among boulderers. They have everything you could want. A strong edge, good rubber, a solid heel, and a nice toe hook pad. A simple yet effective design will get you climbing at your limit in no time!

1. La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

Edging: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Smearing: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Heel Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

Toe Hook: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Rubber: 🏆🏆🏆🏆

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the La Sportiva Solutions are the #1 Bouldering Shoe. These shoes are capable of winning comps and sending V16. The technology on these shoes is cutting edge and nothing is excessive. You absolutely cannot go wrong with a pair of Solutions!

Final Thoughts

If you are new to climbing make sure to read the Beginners Shoe guide.

Let us know in the comments below what your favorite Bouldering Shoes are and why.

Happy sending!

 

Owner and Operator of Every Last Rock. He is dedicated to spreading the Stoke about all things climbing. Often found Bouldering around the US and obsessively training.

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