For trad climbers, you want flat, stiff shoes. Of course, you’re going to have to place removable protection as you go up those slabs, and such shoes shouldn’t disappoint.
Also, because you’re going to be jamming in cracks, you need comfortable shoes for optimum performance. A flat downturn should do the trick, for that matter, unless the terrain is more technical.
Among the features you should be looking in the best climbing shoes include a relaxed fit, sturdy ankle protection, and solid platform.
If the trad route is steep, grab shoes with laces and a moderate-to-aggressive downturn.
Now, let’s jump to sport climbing: If you’re doing vertical terrain, you want a stiff midsole with a moderate downturn for precise edging. You should be fine with laces or Velcro closure, too, as is a tight heel cup.
And for those looking to climb steep and technical rocks, soft shoes with an aggressive downturn could be a good fit. We prefer rubber around the toe area as well.
When it comes
to bouldering, you want to think no further than soft shoes with an aggressive downturn. You need to feel those footholds as you toe your way up. And your toes need to move freely so they can stick to those incuts on overhanging walls.
In other words, ensure you have generous rubber in the toe and heel areas. A round heel cap should come in handy, too, as is a hybrid closure (slipper closure with a Velcro strap).
Note: You don’t want to be going all-in when you’re just getting started bouldering. If you’re taking training classes, for instance, we recommend wearing stiff shoes with a flat downturn. That’s until your feet are strong enough to be housed in a soft, aggressively downturned footwear.