The Best Types of Climbing Shoes for Rock Climbing: A Complete Guide

When it comes to rock climbing, having the right pair of climbing shoes is essential for performance, comfort, and safety. There are different types of climbing shoes designed for specific climbing disciplines and styles. Here are some common types of climbing shoes for rock climbing:

1. Neutral/Casual Shoes

Neutral or casual climbing shoes are the most versatile and beginner-friendly option. They provide a comfortable fit and moderate stiffness, making them suitable for all-day climbing, multi-pitch routes, or less technical climbs. They have a flat profile, providing a more natural foot shape and allowing for better comfort during long climbs.

2. All-Round Performance Shoes

All-round performance shoes strike a balance between comfort and performance. They are designed to handle a wide range of climbing styles, from moderate to challenging routes. These shoes typically have a slightly downturned shape and moderate to aggressive features, offering a good mix of sensitivity, edging power, and precision.

3. Aggressive/Bouldering Shoes

Aggressive or bouldering shoes are designed for steeper, more demanding climbs and overhanging routes. They have a highly downturned shape, which puts the foot in a more powerful and curved position. Aggressive shoes offer maximum precision, sensitivity, and grip on small holds. They are often favored by experienced climbers for bouldering, sport climbing, or technical routes.

4. Trad/Traditional Climbing Shoes

Trad climbing shoes are specifically designed for traditional or trad climbing, where climbers place their own protection on the rock. These shoes often have a stiffer sole for better support and durability. They provide a balance between comfort and performance, allowing climbers to endure longer routes and handle various types of cracks, edges, and features.

5. Slab Climbing Shoes

Slab climbing shoes are designed for climbing on slabs, which are low-angle, friction-dependent routes. These shoes typically have a flatter sole and softer rubber, providing better sensitivity and adherence to smooth rock surfaces. Slab climbing shoes prioritize smearing ability and edging stability over aggressive features.

6. Training/Hangboard Shoes

Training or hangboard shoes are not meant for climbing on rocks but are used specifically for training purposes. They are usually stiffer and provide extra support to the foot and ankle. Training shoes are commonly worn during hangboard sessions, campus board workouts, or indoor climbing training activities.

It’s important to note that choosing the right climbing shoe depends on factors such as climbing experience, personal preference, foot shape, and the specific type of climbing you intend to pursue. It’s recommended to try on different brands and models, and ideally, consult with experienced climbers or professionals at climbing gear stores to find the best fit and style for your climbing needs.