Best Crack Climbing Shoes

Crack Climbing Shoes - Reviews & Guides For 2024

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Crack Climbing buying guide

Love climbing enormous cracks? Do you enjoy the feeling of adrenaline pumping in your veins? Crack climbing offers you to experience every bit of thrill and adventure. The sport is definitely not for light-hearted people.

The most vital piece of equipment in the sport is shoes. You have to thrust your feet in the cracks to make a firm grip and climb the towering heights. If you think that your regular shoes will keep your feet safe while climbing, you are totally wrong. The regular shoes are not adequate for the sport.

On the other hand, crack climbing shoes offer proper support and comfort to your feet to enjoy the sport's thrill and adventure.

Let us know the difference between both the shoes.

What are Crack Climbing Shoes? Why should you choose them over rock climbing shoes?

Crack climbing is a sport with adventure and risk. If you have found a new hobby in this adrenaline-rushing sport, you need to equip yourself with the appropriate gear, especially shoes. If you have tried other types of climbings like rock climbing, you may wonder if rock climbing shoes would be enough for you to carry on with crack climbing too. The answer is a big fat NO.

No other shoes, but crack climbing shoes are designed explicitly for withstanding toes, hammering them into rocks so that you do not injure yourself. They have pads in specific areas so that your climb is as smooth and comfortable as it can be made. They are robust and sturdy against the various conditions of crack climbing.

The chief merits of crack climbing shoes that should convince you to research and purchase the best pair are:

  1. Protection

The hurdles that crack climbing entail are enough to hurt you if you are not aptly prepared and equipped. Crack climbing shoes have paddings that will protect the feet from these hurdles to the farthest extent. They are also designed to help prevent ankle twists.

  1. Warmth

The weather conditions of the area in which you plan to crack climb might not always be fair. The shoes can help with this as it has inbuilt insulators to retain the feet's heat. It lets you climb to elevated heights without worrying about the cold.

  1. Stability

The continuous climbing and hovering are tiring, and the stability that cracks climbing shoes provide helps with the matter. They are padded and layered to give your feet extra comfort and stability to keep them from tiring quickly.

Types of Crack Climbing Shoes

  1. Neutral

These shoes have a comfortable and relaxed fitting. They are recommended for beginners who are entry-level climbers because of this comfort. The toes are flat inside the shoes, and the thick rubber soles provide extra stability. They are in high demand by experienced climbers too who look for comfort.

Despite the significant upside of all-day comfort and stability, these shoes are not apt for difficult terrains of climbing. They are less sensitive than shoes with thinner soles, which makes them less efficient in challenging situations.

  1. Moderate

These shoes have a slight downward shape in contrast to the straight profile of the neutral shoes. These help in technical climbing as the shape facilitates jamming the feet in cracks while climbing. They give you a more powerful and strong stance while climbing to overcome challenging terrains too.

The soles of these shoes are sticky for better traction. The slight downturned shape is relatively less comfortable than neutral shoes but much more comfortable than aggressive shoes. They are slightly more accessible than neutral shoes to wear off because of thin soles.

They are challenging to walk in and yet not the best shoes for intense performance.

  1. Aggressive

With an extremely downturned shape, aggressive shoes are made primarily for technical climbing. Mainly used by avid and professional climbers, they help you gain powerful control over extreme terrains. They are curved for precise placement of the toes in cracks.

They have thin soles for better grip, but they wear quite comfortably. The down-curved shape is not made for comfort, but overhanging sport climbs. They are quite uncomfortable and can be worn only for climbing.

Why should you read the buying guide before selecting a pair of shoes?

In crack climbing, safety is a critical factor. You need to ensure that all pieces of equipment are of high quality. Owning the right pair of shoes can let you enjoy the sport and keep your feet safe from several injuries.

The buying guide provides you all the information about the different characteristics of the product. This will allow you to select the best product according to your requirements.

Let us learn in detail about the characteristics of the product.

Things to Consider When Selecting the Appropriate Crack Climbing Shoes

Fit and Size

Like all types of shoes that require proper fitting for optimum performance, crack climbing shoes are no exception. You need to find the perfect fit so that you are appropriately equipped to handle the challenges coming your way.

The right fitting crack climbing shoes are not too tight around your feet that they obstruct mobility of any sort. At the same time, you do not want very roomy shoes as they increase the chances of twisting your ankle or inadequate traction. So it is quite essential that you strike the middle ground.

These shoes are relatively more symmetrical than other climbing shoes, so finding the right fit may not be too tricky. Your toes will have room to breathe better in these type of shoes than in rock climbing shoes. High top shoes are the right choice, but only if you ensure that they do not pinch your ankle and are comfortable enough.


For the shoes to be tough, sturdy, and damage withstanding, you need to look into the material used in its making. It will determine how long-lasting and protective the shoes are. The material-type also determines the efforts required in the maintenance of the crack climbing shoes.

The most commonly used material for the manufacturing of the shoe uppers is leather or synthetic. The two differ in maintenance, price, performance levels, etc. The leather shoes are relatively more comfortable to maintain, whereas performance is much more enhanced in synthetic crack climbing shoes.

  1. Unlined Leather

This type of material makes shoes that become loose, with only a few wears. So, you must opt for a tighter shoe as it will give way to the perfect comfortable size after you wear it a couple of times and break it in. They are easy to maintain, but they bleed color when your feet sweat.

  1. Lined Leather

When a shoe upper is made of leather, which is lined, the stretchable quality is minimized. So you need to ensure that you buy the right size for these types of shoes. Lined leather is costlier, so many manufacturers only line the toes. It works by controlling stretch where it occurs the most while keeping the shoes in an affordable range.

  1. Synthetic Material

These shoes are the least stretchable of all materials, so the shoes do not change size even when worn for long. They do soften up a little bit as a consequence of wear and tear. Some synthetic materials are very high in demand because of their sweat-wick features and breathability. Solid fabric is much stiffer than perforated materials, so the latter is more preferred.


Neither of the extremes, too stiff or too soft, is preferable when looking for the appropriate crack climbing shoes. You need to choose one which is durable and tough and yet breathable.

If the shoes are too soft, the cracks will poke your feet and make the experience uncomfortable. Very thick and very stiff shoes will be no good either as they will not allow you to feel the edges on which you are standing, which can prove to be dangerous.

A perfect middle ground where the shoes allow you to be sensitive to the climbing edges while still being padded enough for protection will lead you to the ideal pair of crack climbing shoes.


Footwear closure is how you tie up the shoes, and it dramatically affects the adjustability, comfort, and convenience. While the traditional systems of closure include laces, new systems that make use of straps, and even shoes that require no closure like slip-ons have come into place. It is often a personal preference that guides this choice.

  1. Laces

The traditional and most versatile system of footwear closure is laces. They can help you adjust the shoes around your feet even if they are swollen up upon getting hot. They can be easily loosened for non-climbing activities for comfort. If you are not bothered by tying strings, laces remain your best option.

  1. Straps

These closures make use of hooks and loops. They are a great choice if convenience is your priority because they do not need tying up or manual adjustments. They are quite easy to remove and wear again while ensuring a minimum level of the fitting.

  1. Slip-Ons

These are extremely easy to wear as they do not require any closure system. The shoes make use of elastic to cup around your feet. However, this elastic can loosen with time and use, and so you need to ensure that they do not allow the shoes to slip off. They provide great sensitivity and are great for training but are not the best choice for high-performance climbs.


The sole of the shoes is the soul of the shoes. They need to be gripping for traction, thick enough to withstand the tough terrains, and yet provide you with sensitivity to ensure that you know where your feet are at all points of time. The sole of crack climbing shoes must be examined as an extremely important factor for the shoes being an appropriate pair.

The type of rubber that the sole is made of will determine its sensitivity as well as durability. Some specific rubbers are more sticky than others for better grip while others are softer. Firm rubber soles provide you with stability and support along with extra traction. However, they wear out quite easily.

When it comes to the thickness of the soles, both thick and thin soles come with their advantages and disadvantages. They determine the overall performance of the shoes. Based on your experience, comfort requirements, personal preferences, etc., you can choose the type of sole that seems most befitting.

Thicker soles, usually found in neutral shoes, are about 4-5 mms thick. They are very durable as they do not wear out easily, and the thick helps with stability and protection of the feet. However, these are less sensitive.

Thicker soles are preferably for beginners. The increased stability helps with confidence enhancement, and the durability prevents early diminishing of the sole as you work on your stance and technique of the footwork.

Thinner soles range from 3 to 4 mm and are mostly used by more experienced climbers. These soles provide adequate sensitivity, and the decreased stability and padding do not affect experienced climbers much.


It determines the instep height of the shoe, its volume, and the heel and toe dimensions. There are two types of crack climbing shoes last which are as follows:

  1. Slip Lasted

This type of shoe design is made for sensitivity. These are not stiff but rather soft in flex. The bare minimum stiffness that makes the shoe sturdy is from the midsole, located above the outsole. These types of shoes do not usually have an insole and it contributes to extra stiffness.

  1. Board Lasted

These shoes are on the stiffer side as compared to the soft slip-lasted shoes. They are much more comfortable as they withstand the rough cracks of the terrain without poking the feet. The all-day comfort is traded off for sensitivity, but they are ideal for full-day climbs.

Based on the shape that the last provides the shoes, there are three types:

  1. Straight

These shoes have a flat profile. The significant upside to this is comfort. They allow you to walk as well as climb, and the comfortable toe positions permit all-day comfort. They are usually found in neutral shoes that are apt for beginners.

  1. Asymmetric

These shoes are built in the manner that the shoe's inner edge is longest, allowing only a single point of contact with the climbing terrain. It means that placement is ensured to be precise by the big toe. These shoes are moderate or aggressive and designed for advanced climbers.

  1. Downturned

The downturned or cambered last shape is a version of asymmetrical shoes. They are curved downwards so that the climber has maximum control and performance in challenging terrains.

Low Profile

Crack climbers prefer their shoes to be as low profile as possible. It makes lace-up shoes and slip-on shoes most preferred. The slim built and sleek design makes the shoe lightweight and more comfortable than thicker shoes. The strap closure shoes do not have this attribute, and so, they are less in demand.


Crack climbing is a strenuous activity, and the shoes that are apt for it must withstand damage from wear and tear as well as the tough terrain encounters. Durability and long-lasting attributes of crack climbing shoes are determined by the material used, type of sole, and closure system.

Lace-up shoes, with thicker and less sticky soles, with synthetic makeup are the most durable. However, other options are not lagging far behind, so your preferences can also come into play.


The main aim of crack climbing shoes is to provide your feet with protection against challenging terrains. Your toes and your ankles are the most vulnerable to injuries in such activities, so you need to ensure that the shoes you choose provide apt padding for protection.

The uppers that cover your ankle bones can prevent ankle twisting, and toe boxes help prevent toe-related injuries.


Crack climbing by itself is a risky and quite uncomfortable activity. The rough terrains, the constant toe hammering, the exhaustion are unavoidable, but the comfort that can be taken care of is that of the feet. By choosing the right pair of crack climbing shoes, you can ensure that you remain as comfortable and tireless.

Extra toe paddings, flatter lasts contribute to all-day comfort. Breathability and sweat-wick features also help your feet remain comfortable. With heat and activity, your feet may swell up. Some shoes accommodate this with stretchy material.

Gender and Shoe Volume

Often, crack climbing shoes are labeled according to genders, but to find the right fitting shoes, these labels can be ignored. The feet shapes differ on a wide array, and you can find the shoes that fit you perfectly in the opposite gender labels. You should base your decision on the size, fitting, comfort, and performance rather than gender labels.

The shoe volumes differ based on gender in that men's shoes have higher volumes with higher arches. Women's shoes have flatter arches and less capacity. Depending on your feet size being large/wide or small, look for shoes in the gender labels that fit your feet's description.

Fitting Tips to Follow

To look for and end up with the perfect fitting crack climbing shoes, the following tips will serve you well:

  1. Try Them On

Buying shoes online is not wise because manufacturers often miss out on mentioning relevant and specific details. Different brands may have different measurements for 'average' or 'narrow' or 'low volume.' Even if you do choose to buy online, order multiple sizes, and then return the ones that are not suitable.

  1. Know What You Want

The type of fit you want, be it snug or roomy, downturned or flat, do your research and search accordingly. Keep in mind what works best for you in terms of comfort and performance so that you are not stuck with the shoes that are painful or hindering your technique.

  1. Shop in the Afternoon

At noon, your feet are possibly at their maximum size. With heat or activity, they may swell up, so before going shopping, make sure to take a brisk walk or even climb to find the size that fits you in these conditions. Shop socks-less.

  1. Be Flexible to Sizing

Everybody has differently shaped feet, and it is not quite possible that you find the same shape, size, fit, volume, and last that are perfect for you.

Sizes in different brands often differ by a margin and so choose wisely and accordingly. It is best to opt for lace-up shoes as they are the most versatile and easy to adjust.

  1. Extra Tips

  • The shoes should have no room between the toes. There should be adequate padding for your toes to be kept intact.
  • The boots should fit snugly around your heel area.
  • Tighter fit ensures higher performance.
  • Your toes should either be flat or comfortable curved. Your knuckles should not be pushed into the toe as it can be quite painful and uncomfortable.


What is the right fit for crack climbing shoes?

Generally, crack climbing shoes need to be tight-fitting. That means your toes should be curled inward from the top a little to provide the best fit for your feet. Also, you will surely have to test your feet by trying different sizes to get the right match.

What is the apt stiffness required in crack climbing shoes?

These climbing shoes must have medium stiffness, i.e., they should not be too stiff or too soft. If they are too rigid, your feet will feel very uncomfortable, especially if it's your first time. In the same way, if you opt for too soft shoes, your feet will have a painful experience as each end of the crack will be felt deeply.

What is the primary difference between sports and crack climbing?

In crack climbing, the climber attaches the removable safety side by side as they climb up. However, in sports climbing, the climber is connected to an anchor that is fixed throughout the climbing trek.

Why is protection to anklebones important while buying these shoes?

It is always recommended to buy crack climbing shoes that offer a shield to your anklebones. Thus, your feet will be guarded whenever you will climb through the wide cracks. As your anklebone may get scratches if not appropriately covered.

Summing Up

During crack climbing, you need to keep your feet safe and comfortable if you want to clamber up colossal heights. In this comprehensive buying guide, we have mentioned all the vital points to check before choosing a particular product.

Select a fantastic pair of crack climbing shoes for yourself and enjoy this cut-throat thrilling sport. / - © Copyright 2020