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Last updated: January 21, 2023
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Climbing is an exciting indoor and outdoor activity that a lot of people are crazy about. The obvious reason why so many people are interested in it is obviously due to the thrill and excitement it offers. For a second, imagine yourself climbing a rock with your friends, overcoming the challenges and hurdles that come your way and eventually reaching the top. Think about the beautiful and inspiring view from the top of the rock. Now snap out of it. As an amateur climber, if you want your climbing experience to be all sunshine and rainbows, it is important that you buy one of the best beginner climbing shoes in the market. Keep in mind that without a good climbing shoe and gear, the odds of your sustaining an injury will be high. Also, your feet and toes are going be beat up and sore.
To establish which climbing shoes are the best, we need to know which features are most important. Features like upper, sole and midsole weight all play a part in the quality of a climbing shoe. The sole and midsole of a climbing shoe often determine how comfortable and efficient it will be. The weight of a climbing shoe is a very important feature since you are going to be wearing it for long hours.
This comprehensive guide is a result of our deep, extensive, and profound research. We spent tens of hours scouring through reputable sites and reviews from actual buyers to put this guide together. It starts with a comparison table which is followed by an in-depth description of each product and a detailed buying guide that will help you choose a good climbing shoe that will suit your unique needs. We are confident that this article will help you narrow down the best climbing shoe for beginners.
The Black Diamond Momentum is a no-nonsense yet stylish and durable shoe that is perfect for newbies and experienced climbers and also for those looking for a rugged all-purpose workhorse. This excellent climbing shoe features a flexible, flat, soft and cushioned upper for an all-day breathability and comfort.
Since the BD momentum is an all-purpose climbing shoe, you can use it in a multi-pitched route, at the gym without fear of it going bad. Using this bad boy at the gym is certainly going to improve your performance. And this is because it offers good sensitivity and traction on large and medium footholds.
The moderately flexible midsole and asymmetry in the toe box of the shoe make it more of a comfortable all day shoe, rather than a high-performance shoe.
One key thing that makes the Momentum stand out is its 4.3mm Neo Fuse rubber sole. This is the same rubber found in high-performance shoes. The sole extends about an inch around the shoe for added protection, durability, and traction. For a beginner’s shoe, the superior quality of its rubber sole is a huge selling point.
No doubt, the Black Diamond Momentum is an excellent entry level shoe, but it has a few issues. First, it is not a good edger. Also, it is slightly uncomfortable for people with wide feet. Of course, these take nothing from the performance of this excellent climbing shoe.
So if you are looking for a comfortable, durable, all-purpose, and affordable climbing shoe, the Black Diamond Momentum will be good for you.
More features: straps, SCARPA Vision™ rubber, flat
The SCARPA Origin is a popular, high quality and ultra cool beginner climbing shoe that is suitable for climbing rocks and boulders and for working out in the gym. This low cast beginner’s climber shoe is suitable for greenhorn climbers and seasoned pros that have been climbing for years.
SCARPA, the reputable Italian company that manufactured this shoe has made a name for itself in the climbing shoe industry. They designed the SCARPA Origin to meet up with the needs of intermediate and beginner climbers.
The flat profile of this shoe makes it a comfortable, all-day climbing shoe. Since it is super comfortable, you can be sure that your feet won’t beat up or sore after climbing.
Unlike other climbing shoes with complicated lacing, the SCARPA Origin has a dual power strap that offers flexibility and comfort.
As a beginner, this would be a great shoe for you, as it will help you in learning advanced movement and techniques while climbing. The loop and Hook closures will keep your foot well positioned and secured at all times.
The flexan midsole of the SCARPA Origin will give you the edge you need to climb faster and overcome the challenges that are inevitably going to come your way.
The only downside of this remarkable climbing shoe is that it isn’t great for edging and for climbing very steep rocks.
The bottom line is that the SCARPA Origin is an excellent choice for beginners and intermediate climbers.
What makes it special?
It is lightweight
It is made from durable materials
It has good sensitivity
It is versatile
What cons did we find?
It is not good for edging and climbing very steep rocks
More features: flat, split neoprene tongue, 3D molded heel, Hook-and-loop closure
The mad rock drifter is a lightweight, durable and comfortable climbing shoe made by Mad Rock, a giant in the climbing shoe industry. Since their establishment in 2002, they have made different models of shoes. But one has stood out from the crowd and has been lauded as one of the best climbing shoes for intermediates and beginners alike. It is the Mad Rock Drifter.
If you are new to climbing and you are looking forward to buying your first climbing shoe or an intermediate climber who wants to replace your beat up climbing shoe, the Mad Rock Drifter will be perfect for you.
One thing that makes this shoe stands out from others out there is its Velcro straps, these straps are designed to aid you when climbing steep and edgy rocks. The straps will also keep your feet tight and secured to your shoes.
Another remarkable thing about the Mad Rock Drifter is its versatility; this means that it can be used in the gym, to climb rocks, boulders and so on. Since the whole body of the shoe is taped with seam excluding the sole, you have the freedom to use it in all kind of weather without fear of it getting damaged or ruined.
Unlike other climbing shoes, the Mad Rock Drifter is made from premium quality leather that is definitely going to last for a very long time.
Granted, the Mad Rock is a great shoe for newbies, but it has only one issue. The Velcro strap that is designed to make the shoe fit you better may leave marks on your foot
The La Sportiva Kids’ Stickit is sleek, stylish and comfortable climbing shoe that is made for kids who are new to climbing. Its eye-catching, functional and simple design sets it apart from others out there.
Unlike other kids’ climbing shoes that have elaborate lacing system, the La Sportiva Kids’ Stickit is very easy to put on. It has a special stickit that will help kids have a firm grip without getting too tight.
The impressive and straight forward design of the shoe provides convenience and comfort. Since it is versatile, it can be used by kids to climb advanced route faster without the risk of falling off.
One striking thing about this shoe is its rugged, breathable upper that is surely going to keep your feet super comfortable all day.
Since it is a versatile climbing shoe, it can be used in the outdoors for bouldering or at the climbing gym.
Another notable feature of this impressive climbing shoe is its grippy rubber sole made from FriXion rubber that is perfect for edging and for climbing steep rocks.
The only issue with this shoe is its sizing. Many buyers found it difficult to find their size because it doesn’t have the same sizing as other footwear. To select one that will suit you perfectly, you have to carefully study the La Sportiva size chat.
To ensure that your foot is comfortable, it is best you go for a tight fit, but it shouldn’t be too tight, painful or with pressure points
More features: 3D molded heel, odorless organic hemp footbed, padded ankle cuff
The Red Point is an all-around high performance and budget-friendly climbing shoe that is perfect for beginners and experts alike.
The versatility of this excellent climbing shoe is what makes it stand out. Unlike other climbing shoes that are suitable for climbing a specific type of rock, the Red Point is perfect for climbing any type of rock.
The comfort that the Red Point offers is next to none. Its sophisticated design, padded ankle cuff, and sticky heel make it a comfortable all-day climbing shoe.
The excellent climbing shoe also features a power strop upper addition, natural premium leather, 3-D molded heel cup, superior X-factor rubber, easy entry dual offset heel tabs, super comfortable contour straps, integral, and a breathable padded tongue.
The odorless organic foot bed removes the problem of smelly or sweaty climbing shoe. Also, the contour ach of this shoe is going to make it fit you better and ultimately take your climbing experience to the next level.
As you would agree, the Red Point is a top-notch climbing shoe but it has a few issues. For starters, they are not suitable for those with narrow feet. Also, it is difficult to find one that will suit you well, as its sizing is irregular.
So if you are looking for a high performance, durable, versatile and rugged climbing shoe but on a tight budget, the Red Point will be perfect for you.
What are its best features?
It is affordable
It is very comfortable
It is versatile
It is made from high-quality materials
What could be improved?
It is not an ideal choice for those with narrow feet.
Things to Consider
Now that you are abreast with some of the best beginners climbing shoes on the market, you are likely going to be met with the challenge of narrowing down the one that will suit your needs. To help you make an informed decision, here is our detailed buying guide that contains some features you need to keep in mind before making a purchase.
Step up – why do you need beginner climbing shoes
As a newbie climber, it is important that you invest in high quality, but budget-friendly climbing shoe like the Black Diamond Momentum or the SCARPA Origin so that you can learn quicker. Using a regular shoe to climb is going to do more harm than good. And this is because they aren’t designed for climbing.
Climbing shoes, on the other hand, are made with thick soles, breathable and comfortable materials that will protect your feet and improve your climbing experience. To ensure that you have excellent climbing experience, it is wise that you buy a climbing shoe that isn’t overly tight, but one that is comfortable and fits you well.
Fitting tips for beginner climbers
Irrespective of the type of climbing shoe you want to buy, it is wise that you try it out to see if it fits you well.
Below are some fitting tips that can help you in finding a good climbing shoe;
Try them on
Buying a climbing shoe without first trying it out to see if it fits is a dumb move. To ensure that you pick a climbing shoe that won’t keep your feet screaming all day, it wise that you try on multiple sizes and pick the one that suits you best.
Shop in the afternoon
Do you know that your foot swells up to full size during the day? Since that is the case, it is best that you go shopping in the afternoon. Alternatively, you can go for a run, climb or engage in some physical activity before you shop. Since most climbing shoes on the market are designed to be worn sockless, it is best you pick one that fits you very well to reduce slippage.
Learn the climbing etiquette
Whether you are new to climbing and still learning the basics or you have been climbing for a while and looking for ways to take your game to the next level, it is important that you give your time and focus to some timeless tips and hacks that have transformed many greenhorn climbers into seasoned pros. Below are a few of them.
Chalk your arm
As you probably know, the importance of chalk in climbing cannot be overemphasized. If you sweat a lot, the chalk in your hands is likely going to dissolve halfway up the climb. If you don’t want to carry large chalk bags, you can put some extra chalk on your forearm and transfer them to your hands later on.
Invest in a good climbing shoe
To ensure that you climb faster without any discomfort, it is best you invest in high quality but affordable climbing shoes like the Black Diamond Momentum, Climb X Gear Red Point or the SCARPA Origin. A good climbing shoe will not only improve your climbing experience but will also help you learn quicker.
Shower in your climbing shoe
If your climbing shoe is a little too tight or is uncomfortable, then you should consider showering with it. The lukewarm water from the shower will stretch the shoe and make them fit you better.
Consider following features to choose the best beginner climbing shoes
Are you in the market looking for a comfortable climbing shoe that will suit your unique needs perfectly? If yes, there are some important things you must give thoughts to first. Of course, it is easy to splash a lot of cash on a flashy, high-end climbing shoe that may not suit you. Much worse, you may end up with one that is overly tight and is uncomfortable to use for long. To increase the odds of you choosing the right climbing shoe, there are some important features you must be on the lookout for. Below are a few of them;
How it fit
One of the most important qualities of a good climbing shoe is the fit. As you probably know, all climbing shoes are not made the same; some brands are known for certain shapes.
Before making a purchase online, it is important that you study the sizing guide carefully. If you are buying the shoe in a shop, it is wise that you test it to see if it fits you well. Don’t limit yourself; try out different models and brands of climbing shoe until you find one that suits you.
While you are looking for one that fits you well, it is wise you avoid those that are very tight and uncomfortable or that is a pain to put on.
The type of material that is used to make the upper of a climbing shoe is often going to determine how well it fits and how comfortable it will be. Below are some materials used in making the upper of climbing shoes;
Knit is a thin but strong layer of fabric. It is more breathable than synthetic or leather. An example of a climbing shoe with a knit upper is the Black Diamond Momentum.
The leather is a common material used in making climbing shoes. It usually stretches to it full size during its break period. Since it stretches, you may not need to buy one that is overly tight and hope it stretches. An excellent example of a climbing shoe that has a leather upper is the Mad Rock Drifter.
Unlike leather, synthetic materials don’t stretch. The main reason why many people prefer other materials to this is that it is not breathable.
Some of the climbing shoes reviewed in this article have an upper that is made from two materials -synthetic and leather or synthetic and suede. The SCARPA Origin and the Climb X Gear Red Point are top-notch climbing shoes with a hybrid upper.
It’s no news that the stickiness of the rubber sole of a climbing shoe is the secret to a climber’s success, as it protects his feet and gives him the edge he needs to scale through the challenges he is inevitably going to face.
The thicker the sole of a climbing shoe, the less sensitive and durable it will be. Most beginners climbing shoes on the market are fitted with thick durable soles.
The SCARPA Origin is made with 5mm soles. Soles this thick are best suited for stiffer platforms and are perfect for those who value durability over sensitivity.
The Black Diamond Momentum has a slightly thicker sole of 4.3mm. Climbing shoes with soles this thick are durable and a little bit more sensitive than the 5mm soles.
The last of a climbing shoe is what give its height, volume, toe and heel dimension and width. Most climbing shoes on the market are slip-lasted. Only a handful of them are board-lasted.
Board lasted climbing shoes are not very sensitive and a little bit stiff especially when compared to a slip-lasted shoe, but are super comfortable.
Unlike Broad-lasted climbing shoe, slip last shoes are very sensitive and flexible. They normally do not have an insole. They get their stiffness from the midsole located above the outsole.
Downturned which is also known as cambered is made to bend downward toward to toes. It is commonly found in aggressive shoes designed for heels and toes hooking. They are most appropriate in challenging routes when maximum performance and control is needed.
Climbing shoes built around straight last are usually very comfortable and are ideal for all-day climbing.
Lace or no lace?
This is a very important factor you must consider when buying a climbing shoe. And this is because it is going to determine to a large extent how easy it will be for you to put and take off your shoe.
The two sides of a lace-up shoe are separated and can be cinched according to the preference of the user. While they offer a firm fit, they are difficult to put on and take off. A good example of a lace-up climbing shoe is the Black Diamond Momentum.
These are very easy to take off and put on. However, they are less customizable and its upper may fold or overlap when the shoe is cinched down. This may affect the feel and fit of the shoe.
This type of shoe is made with a stretchy fabric that allows a slip-on fit.
Male and female type
While male and female climbing shoe looks very similar, there is a striking difference between them. Male climbing shoes tend to have wider feet. Female climbing shoes, on the other hand, are narrow.
As a novice climber, you need to keep it at the back of your mind that climbing is a gender-neutral sport. So you have the freedom to wear men climbing shoes like the Mad Rock Drifter or women climbing shoe like the SCARPA Origin.
If you have a wide foot a man’s model will be good for you. If your foot is narrow, a woman’s model will be perfect for you.
The flexibility of a climbing shoe is determined by the stiffness of its midsole. If you are new to climbing, it wise you stick to climbing shoes with stiff midsoles as they offer more support to the ligaments and foot muscles. They are good for edging and for climbing challenging routes.
As a beginner, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a high end climbing shoe. Rather, invest in a climbing shoe that is comfortable and budget-friendly like the Climb X Gear Red Point. As you get better, you can invest in top-notch climbing shoes like the Black Diamond Momentum or the SCARPA Origin.
Feel free to add something you think is important and relevant, and please mention some of the products reviewed as examples in the buying guide, where appropriate.
While you have the freedom to rent climbing shoes for your kid at your local climbing gym, it best for your kids to have their own climbing shoes and gears.
While all the climbing shoes reviewed in this article are great. We believe that there is one specifically suited for you. Our top picks are the Black Diamond Momentum, the SCARPA Origin and the Climb X Gear Red Point. We opt for these on their versatility, convenience, and positive reviews. Best yet, they are made from premium quality materials and would last for a long time.
The comfort, performance, 4.3mm sole, cushioned upper, and modern design of the ack Diamond Mome, our Editor’s choice is certainly going to impress you.
The SCARPA Origin, which is our best woman beginner climbing shoe, features an impressive 5mm sole, dual power strap that offers comfort and flexibility and a flaxen midsole.
The Climb X Gear Red Point is a budget-friendly climbing shoe that is fitted with a lot of impressive features like a padded ankle cuff, 3d moulded heel, and odourless organic hemp foot bed.
We hope that this guide helps you find one of the best beginners climbing shoes that will suit your needs.