The Best Climbing Shoes of 2018 and 2019

REI customers and staff weigh in on their top picks
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Editor’s note on January 4, 2019: As new styles hit the market, we scoured customer reviews to refresh our recommendations for the best climbing shoes of 2018 and 2019. Some picks—like the La Sportiva Mythos—remain tried-and-true favorites, while other styles—like the evolv Shaman Climbing Shoes—have been added to the list.


When the first sticky-rubber climbing shoe hit the market back in the '80s, climbing shoe shopping was simple—you chose one that stuck. Decades later, your shoes still make the difference between sending and slipping, but a wide variety of lasts, uppers, rubbers and closure systems makes finding the right climbing shoe a bit more complicated.

To help you wade through the options and find your rock-ready glass slipper, we interviewed climbing experts at REI and checked out customer favorites to round up some of the best climbing shoes of 2018.

A note on fit: Within each category, we’ve provided shoe options for climbers with low-volume feet (narrower forefoot, smaller heel) and high-volume feet (wider forefoot, larger heel), but keep in mind that rock shoe fit will vary wildly from shoe to shoe and brand to brand. If you can, head to your nearest REI store to try before buying.

Want a little more detail? Check out our Expert Advice guide on How to Choose Rock Climbing Shoes.

Black Diamond Momentum Climbing Shoes

Best for Beginners

Versions: Women's, Men's

Black Diamond Momentum Climbing Shoes

MSRP: $94.95
Best fit: High- and low-volume feet

This is my go-to shoe when climbing routes that require a lot of smearing. I can see these being great beginner shoes as well. The material is very comfy and breathable and the Velcro makes it great for the gym. Mine stretched maybe 1/4 of a size and they fit perfect when I ordered my street shoe size.” — Mt Roraima, verified REI customer

Introduced to the market last year, the Momentum gives beginner climbers everything they need to get started at the gym or crag: a comfortable, easy on/off design, sticky rubber and a lower price point. As an added bonus, the Momentum features engineered knit uppers—the knit is tight where you need support, and loose where your feet need to breathe—so new-to-climbing toes don’t get too sweaty or uncomfortable. Because of their comfort and reliable stickiness, even more advanced climbers throw the Momentums on for longer, hotter days on the rock.

Features we love:

  • Flat last (the foot-shaped model around which a shoe is built) lets feet sit in a neutral position
  • Synthetic uppers with hemp and microfiber liners won’t stretch much, but their engineered knit does flex and breathe where you need it the most
  • Two hook-and-loop tabs make for easy on/off, ideal for gym climbing and bouldering
  • Soft midsoles let the shoes flex with your feet, great for smearing and bouldering
  • 4.3mm Neofriction rubber outsoles provide a sticky, sensitive feel

La Sportiva Mythos Eco Climbing Shoes

Best for All-Day Comfort

Versions: Women's, Men's

La Sportiva Mythos Eco Climbing Shoes

MSRP: $155
Best fit: High- and low-volume feet

I love my Mythos. Somehow La Sportiva made a climbing shoe (the most uncomfortable shoes to wear) feel like a moccasin.” — Joseph Nields, REI staff member since 2017

The Mythos have been on the market for more than 25 years, and for good reason. Built on a flat last, they keep your feet in a relaxed position, plus their unlined uppers stretch and mold to your feet for lasting comfort. Even though they may feel like casual shoes, they mean business on the wall thanks to stiff, edge-ready midsoles, smear-friendly sticky rubber and laces that allow a dialed fit for most foot shapes.

New in the La Sportiva line, the Mythos Eco shoes are 95 percent recycled, as if you needed another reason to bring them on your next climbing trip.

Features we love:

  • Unlined suede leather uppers allow a contoured fit after just a few wears
  • Low toe profile slips into cracks easily
  • 4mm recycled rubber outsoles are soft and sticky, great for smearing on sandstone
  • Stiff midsoles reduce flex in the foot for all-day comfort and support
  • 95 percent of the shoes come from recycled materials (soles, laces, webbing, tongue padding); shoes offer reduced impact (metal-free tanning, biodegradable leather, water-based adhesives)

La Sportiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes

Best for Multi-Pitch, Crack and Face Climbing

La Sportiva TC Pro Climbing Shoes

MSRP: $190
Best fit: High- and low-volume feet

The TC Pros are my go-to multi-pitch shoes. They love granite and their edge-holding capability is amazing. The extra ankle padding is a lifesaver for crack systems.” — Jay Smith, REI staff member since 2013

Designed with help from pro climber Tommy Caldwell, the TC Pros are dialed to crush big wall projects, but they’ve been all-around REI customer and staff favorites since they hit the market. From toe jamming to snagging purchase on tiny dime edges, their stiff rubber and midsoles deliver—plus their high-top design and stiff, flat last help keep feet from screaming on long multi-pitch missions.

Features we love:

  • Leather uppers stretch to conform to your foot shape
  • Mid-height cuffs with foam padding at the ankles and above the toes help protect your feet
  • 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber outsoles snag edges and smear on barely there crystals
  • Vented tongues and perforations around the rands (the layers of rubber that wrap over the toes) let air flow when you’re sweating it out on pitch five
  • Stiff midsoles reduce foot fatigue on long climbs and stay stable on small edges

evolv Shaman Climbing Shoes

Best for Steep Sport Climbing

Version: Men's

evolv shaman climbing shoes

MSRP: $160
Best fit: High-volume feet

“The new Shaman feels like a perfect balance and is now the go-to shoe for ALL of my climbing! Significantly lighter and still supportive in the front, ‘love bump’ definitely puts the toe in direct pulling position, and the change in the toe-patch and front strap make this great for hard toe-hooks.

Could go down a 1/2 size if you like your performance shoes to feel tight, but I think they perform great when sized comfortably!”  — climbmike, verified REI customer

The Shamans are the recently redesigned anchor of Evolv’s Chris Sharma Signature Series. They have an improved fit and the same aggressive, downturned shape that’s well-suited to taking on steep routes. One noteworthy change to the fit that climbers with high-volume feet will appreciate is the so-called “Knuckle Box,” which gives room for your big-toe knuckle in a curled position without pressing against the fabric of the shoe. A split outsole adds flexibility through the arch so you can really work those toe holds.

Features we love:

  • Aggressive downturned shape balances a comfortable, roomy toe box with a powerful, toe-hooking position
  • “Love bump”—extra rubber that fills the space under your toes to direct more energy toward the edging surface
  • Synthetic suede uppers resist stretching
  • 2mm TRAX XT-5 high-friction rubber soles stick tenaciously to rock
  • Three hook-and-loop straps provide easy on-off and a supportive fit that pulls the arch of the shoe up to your foot
  • Medium stiffness midsoles are flexible enough for smearing but still have edging power

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoes

Best for Overhung Bouldering

Versions: Women's, Men's 

La Sportiva Climbing Shoes

MSRP: $180
Best fit: High- and low-volume feet

“I bought these for the aggressive downturn and they do work well on overhangs. For edging, they are ok.” — Myles, verified REI customer

The iconic Solutions, long a go-to for hard bouldering projects with tricky overhangs, were redesigned in 2018 and continue to earn their place as a customer favorite. These downturned shoes excel when things get beyond vertical, thanks to features like sticky rubber over the toe and a 3D-molded heel cup that won’t deform during powerful heel hooks. With a leather/synthetic upper blend and a rand that wraps tightly around the shoe, they won’t lose their aggressive shape over time. Climbers with a low-volume foot should consider the women’s version, which is built on a slightly lower volume last.

Features we love:

  • Lock Harness System® combines an adjustable strap with a hook-and-loop closure for a perfect fit and easy on/off
  • Asymmetry focuses power over toes for precise placement
  • Split 4mm Vibram XS Grip2 sole ends behind the toe so you can flex your foot for maximum performance and control
  • Women’s version is built on a slightly lower volume last with a thinner midsole (toe only) for lighter weight climbers

La Sportiva Miura VS Climbing Shoes

Best for Overhung Bouldering

Versions: Women's, Men's 

La Sportiva Miura VS Climbing Shoe

MSRP: $185
Best fit: Low-volume feet, but the men’s shoes are slightly wider

The La Sportiva Miura VS are the best all-around climbing shoes I've ever owned ... just aggressive enough to get me bouldering and edging on tiny ledges, durable enough rubber to handle getting banged up outdoors, comfortable enough to wear for hours in the gym.” — Ryan Storment, REI staff member since 2016

Oldies but goodies, the Miura VS shoes give boulderers a little bit of everything. They’re built on an aggressive, asymmetrical last to target power into the toes so you can snag tiny edges and itty-bitty pockets, even if you’re horizontal. They also have pretty stiff midsoles, offering a little more foot support should you decide to take them on longer, bouldery sport climbs. Apart from fit differences, the men’s Miura VS feature stiffer rubber than the women’s, so keep in mind that they’ll perform differently on the rock.

Features we love:

  • Leather uppers mold to your feet, while synthetic wicking liners help maintain shoe shape over time
  • Stiff midsoles support your feet on tiny edges
  • Women’s: 4mm Vibram XS Grip2 rubber outsoles provide impressive friction in all temperatures
  • Men’s: 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber is stiffer than the Grip2, so it’s slightly better at edging but has less sensitivity
  • Asymmetric last helps target power to the big toes for precise performance
  • Three hook-and-loop straps allow a dialed fit and make the shoes easy to pull off between problems
  • La Sportiva’s Powerhinge technology wraps the entire foot in rubber and connects to a tensioned Slingshot rand, so when you weight small edges, the back of the shoe stretches and the toe stays stable

evolv Nighthawk Climbing Shoes

Best All-Around Under $100

Version: Men's

evolv Nighthawk Climbing Shoes

MSRP: $79
Best fit: High-volume feet

“This is my 5th pair of climbing shoes, and the first one to keep for a long time. I needed a shoe that is comfortable 2 hours climbing/belaying daily! This one is. Plenty of space for toes, too. It climbs very well, good edging and the colors do not make you look like a parrot.” — Ben14, verified REI customer

Unless you’re buying used, you can’t get much better than a $79 price point on climbing shoes. New to the evolv line, the Nighthawk shoes sweeten the deal by providing solid all-around performance for beginner to intermediate climbers. They’re not the most advanced shoes, but their sticky-rubber, rigid midsoles and lace-closure system provide fit and grip that’s a level up from basic beginner shoes so you can push your progress.

Features we love:

  • All-leather uppers with synthetic closures blend the custom fit of leather with shape-holding synthetic materials
  • 4.2mm Trax SAS rubber outsoles are sensitive yet strong, great for aggressive gym use
  • Rigid midsoles stay solid during long days on the wall
  • Slightly roomier shape with adjustable lacing fits high-volume feet well

La Sportiva Finale Climbing Shoes

Best All-Around Under $100

Versions: Women's, Men's 

La Sportiva Finale Climbing Shoes

MSRP: $109
Made for: Low-volume feet

I'm recently a really big fan of the La Sportiva Finales. I have been really impressed with their comfort and performance for the price. At $99 I bought them to save my nicer shoes from being blown out at the gym, but they are great!” — Brad McKnight, REI staff member since 2007

Whether you’re a newer climber looking to dial your footwork or a well-seasoned sender on the hunt for an affordable do-it-all gym/crag shoe, the Finales are worth a look. They’re comfortable, sensitive and wrapped in edge-catching rubber to help you move your climbing to the next level. They are pretty narrow in the toe box, though, so keep that in mind if you have higher volume feet.

Features we love:

  • Unlined leather uppers mold to your feet
  • 5mm Vibram XS Edge rubber outsoles grip edges on the wall, and hold up to heavy gym/crag use
  • Neutral, slightly narrow last fits low-volume feet well, plus lacing system allows a more custom fit
  • La Sportiva’s Powerhinge technology wraps the entire foot in rubber and connects to a tensioned Slingshot rand, so when you weight small edges, the back of the shoe stretches and the toe stays stable

Shop All Women's Climbing Shoes

Shop All Men's Climbing Shoes

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