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10 Best Bouldering Shoes in 2020

Choosing the best bouldering shoes can seriously mean the difference between life and death. Rock climbing is a very popular extreme sport. While ropes and harnesses are critical, your climbing shoes are equally as important. Being able to maintain an excellent foot placement means you will have a more comfortable and safer climb.

Not all rock climbing shoes are created equal. You need to pay attention to the design and structure of them. Some will offer a much better grip. Grip and fit are going to be your primary concerns when looking at bouldering shoes.

A great pair of bouldering shoes will help you keep your footholds while using any part of your foot. Additionally, they are going to flex and move exactly as you need them to. Soul material, construction of the upper, closure system, and upper material will all play a role in how your bouldering shoes fit and need to be considered.

View The Best Bouldering Shoes Below

1. Five Ten Hiangle Climbing Shoes

Five Ten Hiangle Climbing Shoes

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These aggressive bouldering shoes are made for both men and women. The upper is made from genuine leather, and there is no lining. This construction is going to allow for about a half size of stretch. There is a velcro hook-and-loop closure paired with an elastic closure that makes these comfortable and easy to put on and take off.

Five Ten uses a thermoplastic midsole. This midsole is great when edging. During steep climbing, the downturned lasts are going to support the effort. The outsole of this shoe is made of stealth rubber that wraps around the outside.

Pros:
+ Can Be Resoled
+ 4mm of Rubber
+ Good For Indoor & Outdoor Use

Why We Liked It – The design of these bouldering shoes is excellent. They offer sturdy grip all the way around the shoe. This enables more security in your footing while climbing inside or outside.


2. La Sportiva Miura VS

La Sportiva Miura VS

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Tiny edges and pockets won’t be a problem with this bouldering shoe. They use three different straps to secure them to your feet. These straps help ensure you have a great and secure fit. Your bouldering shoes won’t be sliding while in use with this structured fit. They have a leather upper and are slip-lasted.

The upper has a lining made of Dentex which improves performance, flexibility, and helps stop stretching. Soles are made from Vibram XS Edge rubber. This rubber will provide good friction in all temperatures and it is supportive so you can stay focused on your climb, not your feet.

Pros:
+ Can Be Resoled
+ Helps Stop Foot Fatigue
+ Precise Fit Control
+ Velcro has Strong Sticking Power

Why We Liked It – The midsole supports of these climbing shoes are very impressive. They improve your power for edging and keep your feet from becoming fatigued. This makes longer climbs possible and more comfortable.


3. Mad Rock Flash 2.0 Climbing

Mad Rock Flash 2.0 Climbing

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These climbing shoes are durable and lightweight. They have gel in the heel which helps to reduce impact and stress on your heels. Additionally, the heel is 3D molded to improve grip. You will have a secure fit with the hook-and-loop velcro straps. The sole is a mixture of leather and rubber.

This combination offers good flexibility and grip. It also improves your comfort as you start climbing your way to relaxation. Consumers are impressed with the ease they have when putting these on and the fit that they offer.

Pros:
+ Trusted Brand
+ Affordable
+ Slipper-Like Comfort

Why We Liked It – The Mad Rock brand has been around for quite some time and they make great bouldering shoes. Mad Rock continues to improve their shoes with the latest technologies and provide performance quality options for affordable prices.


4. La Sportiva Tarantulace

La Sportiva Tarantulace

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These bouldering shoes have a mixture of leather and synthetic leather that forms the upper. They use a quick-pull lacing system that is easy to deal with and provides a secure and comfortable fit. The only piece of this climbing shoe that is lined is the tongue.

This is found to be comfortable against your skin and it helps to wick away moisture. The outsole is constructed with 5mm of FriXion RS rubber. This type of rubber is very durable and provides the user with an excellent grip.

Pros:
+ Can be Resoled
+ Very Durable Design
+ Good for Indoor & Outdoor Climbing Sessions
+ Unisex Style

Why We Liked It – Bouldering shoes can wear out very quickly whether you are using them indoors or outdoors. These shoes are better constructed than many other climbing shoe options. You will get a ton of use out of them before you need to worry about replacing them.


5. Scarpa Instinct VS Climbing Shoe

Scarpa Instinct VS Climbing Shoe

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With the upper of these climbing shoes, Scarpa chose synthetic leather. This material is not going to stretch as much as genuine leather would. The use a tension rand design which will help keep your toes in the correct position while working with tiny toe holds.

The rubber over the toe makes toe hooking more secure. The design features a split sole allowing the front of your foot and the back to function as they need to, unimpeded. This makes tough climbs easier while you maneuver.

Pros:
+ Good Durability
+ Simple Velcro Strap
+ Heel Loop = Easy On & Off
+ Vibram XS Rubber

Why We Liked It – The split sole design in theses Scarpa climbing shoes is really impressive. Your feet will be able to move naturally and this design will provide you with better control during your climbing session.


6. La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

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The La Sportiva Solution Climbing shoe is exceptionally versatile. They are going to work well whether you are bouldering, gym climbing, tackling overhead sport routes, or facing a technical climb. The downturned shape of this bouldering shoe is one of the best because it is supported by P3 Power Platforms. The performance fit is enhanced because of the heel cup and the lock-harness system. The lacing system is also very adjustable so finding the perfect secure fit is a breeze.

Pros:
+ Power Focused Over Toes
+ LapsoFlex Midsoles (Toe Only)
+ Hook-and-Loop Closure

Why We Liked It – This climbing shoe offers exceptional versatility. The fit and form are going to offer excellent performance no matter the climbing situation you find yourself in. You can make the investment in this bouldering shoe and wear them on all your adventures.


7. Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

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The Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe is great for performance and most find them to be very comfortable. Toe hooking is improved with added rubber in the toe area. Additionally, they have added a front velcro strap to improve medial scumming.

The toe box is also roomier than many others which is going to make keeping your big toe bent much easier. The high-wear sections of a climbing shoe are fortified to resist breakdown. The upper is a synthetic suede leather which will keep its shape over time and it dries very quickly.

Pros:
+ High-Friction Rubber Soles
+ Full-Length Midsole
+ Excellent Fit Through Arches
+ Good For Face Routes & Smearing

Why We Liked It – The Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe is one of the best bouldering options because they offer a nice balance of stiffness and flexibility. The velcro straps allow you to cinch them to your arches which provide a solid fit that won’t slide around while you are climbing.


8. La Sportiva Skwama Rock Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Skwama Rock Climbing Shoe

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The La Sportiva Skwama bouldering shoes feature patented S-Heel construction. This construction is going to improve heel hooking maneuverability. Edge deformation is reduced because of the split sole design. They also sport sticky rubber patches at the toe.

This makes hooking your toes and scumming much easier. Consumers are pleased with the overall fit that these La Sportiva bouldering shoes offer. The fit is adjustable with these shoes because of the velcro strap located on the upper.

Pros:
+ Comfortable Heel Cup
+ Unlined
+ Can Be Resoled
+ Excellent for Aggressive Adventures

Why We Liked It – The split sole in these La Sportiva climbing shoes is a major win. Your feet will be able to move and maneuver better in tricky climbing situations.


9. Butora Acro Climbing Shoes

Butora Acro Climbing Shoes

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The performance of these bouldering shoes is one of the best because of the NEO Fuse sticky rubber on the outside. Toe hooking will also be improved because of the large, thin, sticky toe patch. The fit of these climbing shoes is one of the best because of their signature triple-forked closure. It makes putting them on and taking them off extremely easy. Additionally, this closure allows you to find the perfect fit. It also has a high-tension heel closure that will help improve power.

Pros:
+ Excellent Adjustability
+ ABS Injected Midsole
+ Wide Width Option

Why We Liked It – The ABS injected midsole is one of the best features of this bouldering shoe. It ensures the downturned structure will be maintained the entire time you use these shoes.


10. Five Ten Team 5.10 Climbing Shoe

Five Ten Team 5.10 Climbing Shoe

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Some of the best bouldering shoes are made by Five Ten. The synthetic lined upper is resistant to stretching and offers durable wear. The fit is secure with an elastic and velcro strap. The Stealthy HF rubber outsole provides an awesome grip whether you are in the gym, at a competition, or outside. They are also one of the best when it comes to sensitivity. You will easily be able to feel the rock under your feet for better accuracy and a safer more secure performance.

Pros:
+ Vegan-Friendly Materials
+ Medium Stiffness
+ Comfortable Toe Box

Why We Liked It – The feel of these Five Ten climbing shoes is similar to wearing a slipper. They mold to your feet and support the proper shape. They are quite durable and will maintain their structure even with extended use.


Bouldering Shoes Buyer’s Guide

The structure and design of your bouldering shoes will determine the success of your climb. Taking difficulty into consideration will also help steer you in the right direction when on the hunt for this type of shoe. This specialized shoe comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Let’s discuss the important pieces of a bouldering shoe.

Last

Detail close up photo of climbing shoes on the wooden background

When we talk about the last of a bouldering shoe we are talking about how the shoes lateral and vertical shape is designed. There are a variety of different lasts and it really comes down to choosing the one that is going to go the best with the shape of your foot. Remember that these shoes are also going to affect the shape of your feet, so finding one that supports your foot for your climbing style also plays a role.

There can be lateral and vertical changes. The lateral shape is seen when looking at the bottom of the shoe and imagining a line from the toebox to the heel. Looking at the asymmetry of the shoe will you to see how it will fit laterally and help shape your feet. If you have square feet you will likely use a shoe with medium or low asymmetry. The vertical shape will determine how downturned the toe box is. Additionally, it will affect how the knuckles in your toes sit. This positioning of the knuckles helps to improve the strength of your toes, which will help keep outward toe flexing to a minimum.

Structure

The structure of your bouldering shoes will definitely play a role in your performance. The shoe you choose can make or break your climb. When we talk about the structure we are talking about the stiffness or flexibility of the shoe. The structure is composed of the upper material, type of rubber being used, including the thickness and design, and additions for improving stiffness or flexibility in the shoe. These elements also play a role in how well you will be able to feel the ground under your feet.

Low-section of woman practicing rock climbing in fitness studio

The stiffness and support of the shoe are mainly determined by the upper material and construction. Unlined genuine leather shoes provide excellent groud feel or sensitivity. They are soft and mold to the wearer’s feet easily. The downside to this type of shoe is the fact that they do stretch out fairly easily. Sometimes liners are added to them to try and stop this from happening. You should understand that liners are found to be restricting and uncomfortable to some climbers.

However, shoes have come a long way and the design of most with liners will only put it in places that will support your feet. You will also find synthetic leather and microfiber shoe options. These can be a bit stiffer and they have less tendency to stretch out. Most climbers prefer genuine leather shoe but you should try both before deciding for yourself.

The rigidity of your shoe is going to help you when it comes to ridging. There was a time that wooden planks were used to make these shoes stiff. The problem with that is you sacrifice sensitivity and feel. In today’s world of bouldering shoes, there are a variety of different technologies and designs being used to add tension to certain areas of the shoe to support edging without sacrificing feel. The way the rubber is structured on the shoe is going to play a part in this.

Next, there is the heel. Basic shoes will use a strap on the back of the shoe that is called a heel rand. This helps to keep the heel in place which matters when heel hooking. In performance shoes, you will find something called an Active Randing System. It is a tension system that makes the rubber heel of your shoe act like a spring. It adds to the shape of the shoe but also allows it to flex out when trying to get more rubber on the rock wall. This system also helps your shoes to keep their shape longer which improves your performance longer.

Closure

Cropped climber fastening professional footwear while preparing for bouldering workout in gym

Most climbing shoes will use some sort of velcro closure. The most solid options are also going to include elastic. The stretch helps you achieve the correct fit for your comfort and security. Basic shoes are going to use a single strap. These will give you some support and control over the fit and feel of your shoes. Other options will use two or more velcro straps.

These straps can be in different spots on the shoe and this will determine which part of the foot they are going to support. More often than not the velcro that this used is high-quality and will maintain its ability to stick solidly for a long time. Forked velcro closures are preferred by many climbers. They are durable and offer good adjustability, as well as, support.

Some shoe options use a lacing system. This is not going to be your typical shoelaces. They tend to be quick-tighten laces that will simply require you to pull on them to tighten the fit. Typically, even when a climbing shoe has quick-tighten laces they also have a velcro closure. The combination is solid as long as the elastic lacing system is of good quality.

Some people find that lacing systems are not as secure. Additionally, they may not give you the customized fit that you are expecting when sliding your feet into your bouldering shoes. Some people have great success with this type of closure. This is another one of those areas that personal preference is going to come into play. It is also another sign that having a couple of pairs of bouldering shoes is advantageous.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if bouldering recently became your passion or you have been at it for years, finding the best bouldering shoes for your journey is imperative. Not only do your shoes promote safety, but they also keep you comfortable, and ensure you can face your most difficult climbs with confidence. Finding the best option for your bouldering shoes means you need to think about where you are going to use them and what type of climbing you are going to do. Once you make that decision you will be able to easily understand what shoe will be the best fit.

Editor’s Note

The bouldering shoes in this guide are for aggressive climbers. There are many other styles and options available for less aggressive situations. If you are unsure about what you are looking for, talk to a climbing center, and they will be able to help guide you, so you get the best shoes for your situation.

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