5 Best Sport Climbing Shoes of 2017

Essence of Sport Climbing

Sport climbing offers the freedom to move away from places where gear must be placed. This results in more straight forward routes that emphasize strength, endurance, and climbing technique over technicalities of placing proper gear for protection.

Sport Climbing is about how much fun your having, how hard you can push yourself, and what are the coolest moves possible.

Leading a Sport Climbing Route

Selecting the Best Sport Climbing Shoes

Since sport climbing route difficulty increases on steeper terrain, the best sport climbing shoes are going to be aggressive while also being supportive. Preference in climbing shoe sensitivity will vary among climbers and can benefit some sport route types.

Sensitivity is the variable feature for choosing a sport climbing shoe.

Sport routes that will best favor a stiffer, less sensitive shoe are going to have sustained difficult sequences. You can take note to Adam Ondras ascent of Chachirach 9b in the video at the end of the post, where he preferred a stiffer shoe like the La Sportiva Miura.

Although sensitive shoes give climbers better feedback for precision foot placement, they can be taxing on the toes for sport routes that are just really hard.Climbing Shoe Aggressiveness

Aggressive Climbing Shoe Performance

A more downturned shoe will offer the best performance for concentrating power to your toes. But at a certain point, there is a trade off between comfort and performance.

More often, sport climbing routes are going to be a single pitch which means that climbing shoes will not have to be worn for a long period of time. This benefits wearing aggressive shoes because they won’t have to be worn for too long.

You must be comfortable in your shoes to perform well, a painful shoe will most likely deter proper footwork. Balancing comfort will give you the best performance especially on longer sport climbs where you have to keep your shoes on for more time.

Benefits of Supportive Climbing Shoes

Although more malleable climbing shoes can benefit certain footwork, it can be difficult to repeatedly execute movements with out a supportive climbing shoe.

A supportive shoe will help alleviate the stress on the hundreds of foot muscles because the shoe will hold its form better.

Top Picks for Sport Climbing Shoes

Profile view of La Sportiva Genius

La Sportiva Genius : Sensitive

  • Lace Closure System
  • No Edge Technology
  • Suede Leather/Micro Fiber Upper
  • 3mm Vibram XS Grip2 Rubber Outsole
  • Sizes: 32-46 EU

The Genius is a sensitive but supportive climbing shoe. It features the La Sportiva No Edge Technology which puts your toes closer to the rock surface. This responsive foot placement gives you a better feel or more feedback from your foot position.

It also has the patented P3® Power Platform which maintains the downturned shape of the shoe and increases shoe support. The outsole toe box area has a 1.1mm LaspoFlex insert; a synthetic fiber-laminate that reduces twisting to also increase lateral stability.


Profile view of the Five Ten Dragon

Five Ten Dragon : Sensitive

  • Lace Closure System
  • Extremely Lightweight
  • Synthetic Cowdura Upper
  • 3.5mm Stealth HF Rubber Outsole
  • Sizes: 2-13 US Men’s

The Dragon is an ultra lightweight bouldering shoe designed by Fred Nicole and Dave Graham. Although it was designed with intention for bouldering, the performance of this shoe has been taken advantage of across the sport climbing discipline. Especially since the harder sport climbing grades have become stacked boulder problems.

It is a sensitive, aggressive, and a highly asymmetrical shoe that excels on the steepest of climbs.

Check out our review of the Five Ten Dragon.

Profile of Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

Evolv Shaman : Stiff

  • Velcro Closure System
  • Synthetic (Synthratek VX) Upper
  • Variable Thickness Rand (VTR)
  • 4.2mm TRAX SAS Rubber Outsole
  • Sizes: 4-13.5 US Men’s

The Shaman is Chris Sharma’s signature shoe, and has been redesigned for an improved fit and increasing sensitivity. They have the most rubber of any shoe in the lineup which increases their lifespan but decreases their sensitivity. Sometimes a hyper sensitive shoe isn’t always the answer, for climbs that are stressful on your toes it could be better to not feel everything through a thinner rubber.

It is well protected with toe rubber for all the fancy maneuvers and uses a variable thickness rand to only concentrate rubber in the places you need it.

Bottom of Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe

Although it does not boast having fancy names for support systems, it has a 1.0mm midsole that sits under the toe box to provide extra support. This midsole is molded to have a “Love Bumb”, which is a raised area that supports the proximal phalanges (the space between your toes and foot). The bumb helps keep your toes in the front of the shoe so their is no slipping around inside the shoe when you are pulling hard.

Profile view of Scarpa Chimera

Scarpa Chimera : Sensitive

  • Lace Closure System
  • Microfiber Upper
  • 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip2 Rubber Outsole
  • Sizes: 34-45 EU

The Chimera features a TPS (Toe Power Support) and a PCB (Power Connection Band) system which increases its ability to support the foot of the climber efficiently. The TPS is an insert that is placed under the forefoot that offers support when toeing in and pulling. It is flexible enough to not hinder smearing capabilities. The PCB is a tension system that connects power from the toe to the heel by tensioning the arch of the shoe.

La Sportiva Miura : Stiff

  • Lace Closure System
  • Leather Upper
  • Dentex Lining
  • 4mm Vibram XS Edge Rubber Outsole
  • Sizes: 32-46 EU

The Miura has been around since 1997 and is the go-to all around sport climbing shoe. It is versatile enough to edge and smear on vertical or slab routes. And it works exceptionally well for edging on steeper terrain, especially when sized smaller for an aggressive fit.

It has a 1.1mm LasoFlex midsole inserted into the forefoot area of the shoe to provide additional support for your toes. The insert complimented by 4mm of hard XS Edge rubber creates a stable platform for edging easily and comfortably.

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