Are you new to Rock Climbing and looking for the best climbing shoe for a beginner? Well, you’re in luck.
Most newbie’s climb in rental shoes for the first couple of weeks. Rental shoes are nice for a bit but investing in a solid shoe for yourself is an invaluable acquisition for your climbing career.
There are so many options out there when it comes to Rock Climbing Shoes. It is very hard to pick between all the different variations.
The main things a novice climber should be concerned about when choosing their first pair of shoes are:
A shoe that will get you the best performance, while still being comfortable and not break the bank is a tough thing to find. Fortunately, we have all the beta you need to get your first pair today.
Keep reading to find out what the top 5 shoes are today. Make sure to check out our Rock Climbing Beginners Guide after to pick up a fresh pair of kicks.
Beginners Rock Climbing Shoes – Comfort
Let’s face it, climbing shoes are not very comfortable. Long gym sessions with your feet shoved into tight down-turning shoes is a recipe for disaster. If you have uncomfortable shoes it will most likely cause you to stop climbing or develop a foot problem.
To avoid having any adverse effects from climbing shoes you want to pick a shoe fits your foot well. Your first pair of shoes should be snug but not tight.
Be careful not to listen to others talking in the gym about shoving their feet in the shoes that are 4 sizes too small. You will get there one day but for now, you want a comfortable fit that will let you climb all day without pain.
Getting the fit of your first pair of shoes can be a bit tricky, especially when buying them online. Gyms usually only have 1 or 2 options for beginner friendly shoes so you might not have another option. Amazon is really good about letting you return shoes that do not fit for free.
Note: Most climbing shoes will stretch at least 1/2 size after a week or two of wearing. If the shoe feels just a touch too tight at first it will probably feel just right have the shoe is broken in.
Beginners Rock Climbing Shoes – Performance
Typically, performance is lacking in most beginner shoe models. This is especially true when the shoe is comfortable and/or cheap.
That being said, you can still get a high-performance shoe that is suitable for a beginner. Usually, this means that the rubber on the sole will be of higher quality. It could also mean that the closure system is better quality or the edge is more defined.
Generally, a good beginners shoe will be suited for all types of climbing. This makes the shoe ideal to test out all aspects of Rock climbing such as Bouldering, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, and Top Roping.
Warning: Do not be tempted to purchase a super aggressive bouldering shoe as your first shoe. Just because you are wearing a $200 pair of shoes with paper thin rubber and a toe curling down turn does not mean you will climb better. This will only run out your bank account and most likely mess up your toes.
Beginners Rock Climbing Shoes – Price (high value)
Budget is one of the biggest factors when it comes to purchasing your first pair of shoes. If you are a poor college student you might be looking for whatever is cheapest. On the other hand, if you are working full time and have money to blow it might not matter to you.
The old saying “you get what you pay for” is true for Rock Climbing shoes, with a few exceptions. The most expensive shoe is not always the best for what you want/need. That being said, if you get a pair of shoes for $20 bucks then don’t expect much.
A few words of wisdom. The climbing shoe game is ruled by a few big time manufacturer. These include La Sportiva, Scarpa, 5.10, Evolv, Mad Rock, and a few other high-end companies. Venturing outside of these strong brands is risky and will most likely end in the rubber peeling off your shoes (aka don’t buy a pair of Climb X…).
5 Best Rock Climbing Shoes for Beginners
Note: Shoes are ranked for the criteria listed above out of 5 stars. Price is not based on the absolute price but on the relative value for the given price (aka the best bang for your buck).
#5 Evolv Defy Climbing Shoe
The Evolv Defy is a good starter shoe. Comfort and Performace are lacking compared to some of the following shoes. It has TRAX high friction rubber soles and Synthetic Upper. The rubber on this model is decent but it is not the best stuff out there. This shoe will not stretch during use due to the material being Synthetic instead of leather. The price is good on these shoes as they will last you a long time.
#4 La Sportiva TarantuLace Rock Climbing Shoe
La Sportiva is arguably the best climbing manufacturer in the world. Starting off with the TarantuLace Shoes is a great starting point for anyone’s climbing career. These shoes feature a comfortable leather upper that has added breathability technology. The TarantuLace’s have FriXion RS rubber soles with is an excellent starter rubber. It provides excellent smearing and edging capabilities.
#3 Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe
The Mad Rock Drifter Climbing Shoe is the perfect no frills shoe. It offers a leather upper with a synthetic insole for all day comfort and breathability. The closure system is simple yet effective and you won’t be slipping off anything with the Science Friction Rubber.
#2 Five Ten Rogue VCS Climbing Shoe
The Five Ten Rogue VCS Climbing Shoes blend the categories of beginner shoes and mid-ranged all-around shoes. These shoes feature the extremely high performing Stealth C4 rubber. This stuff will stick to anything. The Rogue’s have a leather upper and a solid sole that is ideal for newer climbers. Comfort is suburb with these 5.10’s and the price is hard to beat.
#1 Scarpa Force V Climbing Shoe
The Scarpa Force V Climbing Shoes are the best beginner shoes. They offer Vibram XS rubber with a super crisp edge for maximum hold. The Technical flat-lasted construction makes them ideal to wear during long training sessions. These shoes have some of the same features that you will find in high-end $200+ shoes. Make sure to get a pair of these beautiful Italian leather kick!
Best (Stickiest) Rubber
The Five Ten Rouges features Stealth C4 rubber. This stuff with stick on anything and boost your performance immediately.
All Around Best
You really can’t go wrong with these Scarpa’s. They offer the best performance and comfort for a beginner shoe.