Best Gym Climbing Shoes

Gym Climbing Shoes - Reviews & Guides For 2024

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Gym climbing shoes buying guide

Want to enjoy the thrill of rock climbing in indoor settings. Gym climbing allows you to experience the thrill without traveling far to any terrain. For the activity, you require good gym climbing shoes to protect your feet and provide proper support while climbing.

The shoes provide proper traction over the plastic and rock surface and keep your feet safe from several injuries. All you need is to select the best shoes for your feet. You have to study every element to sort out the best fit.

A comprehensive buying guide presents all the information under one roof in a well-structured manner. You can quickly go through them and analyze the requirements to funnel down the best pair of shoes. You can also find answers to various common questions and queries.

So, without any further ado, let us go through the introduction and then move further with the guide.

What is Gym Climbing?

Imagine a sport which makes you climb walls like Spiderman? Interesting right? Well, if you adore Spiderman, then you should try Gym Climbing. It has been quite popular in recent years as it piques up your fun time too. It is an adventurous sport that will leave your fingers numb for sure!

Nowadays, you do not have to go outside for rock climbing, as gym climbing is just an indoor version. It started back in the 1900s with wooden contraptions as climbers wanted something to train with on winter days or wet seasons.

It has become quite famous, as it also has its Olympic competition named World Cup Circuit. All you need to do is ascend to the top of the wall without falling. However, you will be all strapped or padded so that you do not fall on the ground.

Did we ignite the Spiderman spirit inside you? Then you should give this sport a try. However, if you are an amateur, make sure to go through this guide to have some basic knowledge about it before starting.

Types of Gym Climbing

Before you decide on Gym Climbing, you have to know about its types. There are three types of gym climbing. After you read about them, you can easily choose the one that you want to prefer.

  1. Bouldering

If you want to stick close to the ground, you can try for the Bouldering style. This has routes that are close to the ground. It does not require any rope or harness. A thick padded mat is spread below to protect you when you fall. Some climbers prefer spotters with them.

Spotters are the people who help in preventing you from hurting your neck or head, in case you fall.

If you are a beginner, then you should opt for this style as it helps you in building your skill. It entirely focuses on your strength and helps you in balancing on the wall. Beginners prefer this for its simplicity.

  1. Top-Rope Climbing

Welcome to the world of harness and ropes! In top-rope climbing, the rope is bonded to an anchor that is present on top of the gym. All you have to do is get yourself tied on one end of the rope, and a belayer manages the other end. This person manages the rope to catch you in case you fall.

Anyone can be a belayer- a trained staff, your friend with a belay certification, or even an auto belay device.

  1. Lead Climbing

Lead climbing is when you have mastered the other two styles. In this type of climbing, you will be tied on one end of the rope, and then clip it onto the quickdraws that are already present on the gym's walls. They are attached to the bolts on the wall. As usual, a belayer is there for you.

This style is very similar to the sport climbing that takes place outside, and however, in this, the quickdraws are already in place.

Lead climbing is very challenging as once you miss your step and fall, then you will fall for a short distance, and that is to the previous quickdraw point. Well, at times, you may even encounter more difficult falls, but do not dampen your spirit!

Things to deem about while selecting appropriate gym climbing shoes

Gym Climbing requires a lot of types of equipment. However, the basic equipment that you need is gym climbing shoes. These shoes are designed in a way that will help you in overcoming any hurdles while you climb.

However, there are certain features that you have to consider while purchasing them. Do not worry as we will guide you so that you can get your perfect gym climbing shoes.


There are three types of gym climbing shoes- neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Let us have an insight into all three, as it will be useful for you while purchasing.


This shoe will provide you with comfort throughout the day. Your toes will be in a flat position when you wear it. Whether you are an amateur or professional, you can surely prefer these gym climbing shoes for its comfort.

  1. It will keep you comfortable for the whole day
  2. For excellent support, it has stiff soles and thick rubber soles
  3. Flat soles make it useful for slotting in cracks
  1. Since the soles are thicker and stiffer, they are less sensitive
  2. You cannot use them for challenging overhanging routes


These gym climbing shoes are distinctive because of their shape that is slightly downturned. This feature makes them better for technical climbing. It is an all-rounder shoe that is useful for slab routes, crack climbs, and even long multi-pitch climbs.

  1. The downturn shape gives more power and strength to your feet and helps you in climbing the routes that are more peril.
  2. The sticky soles beneath give you a better grip
  3. Comfortable in comparison to aggressive shoes
  1. It is not efficient in performance as aggressive shoes, which makes them less suitable for challenging boulder and overhanging routes.
  2. The comfort level is less in comparison to neutral shoes
  3. The soles wear faster as they are sticky and thin


These particular gym climbing shoes are designed with extreme downturn toes and very high tension heels to make your feet compatible with any challenging climbs. Most of the shoes have an asymmetric shape near the big toe that helps in focusing the power over the places of small holds.

  1. The downturned shape helps you in overcoming challenging boulder climbs at the gym.
  2. The soles are thinner and stickier than moderate ones, for better grip.
  1. It is not as comfortable as the other two types
  2. It does not fit well in cracks or smears
  3. The soles wear faster in comparison to moderate shoes

Shoe Material

The material of the gym climbing shoes is mostly made of three materials. The upper part is either leather or synthetic in nature. For the most accessible care, you can choose the leather ones and even for deodorizing. However, high-performance shoes are mostly synthetic.

  1. Unlined leather

These shoes can stretch up according to your size. You have to size them up so that your toe touches the end, but your knuckles must not push against the leather. Well, you must be aware that a shoe made of all leather often bleeds shoe color.

  1. Lined Leather

The stretch of the shoe gets reduced if the lining is only half leather. Manufacturers often just tend to line the toes, as it costs less and also reduces the stretch.

  1. Synthetic Materials

The shoes made of synthetic materials do not stretch much and get soft when you use it. Perforated synthetic is better than the solid fabric. However, some materials do not suffocate the feet and allow it to breathe.


For comfortable gym climbing shoes, make sure to look for breathable features, have linings that can wick moisture, have minimal sweat and odor, and have extra padding. However, you might lose sensitivity due to extra padding.

When you purchase the shoe, prioritize your comfort zone as what is comfortable for you may not be for others. The malleable fabric may result in breaking the upper part of the shoe.

However, it won't take time to get adjusted to your foot as the toes, and the heel part is covered with rubber.

In case, your toe is not fitting, then try a different shoe. Try finding the shoe that fits you perfectly, just like the glass sandal fit Cinderella!


The flexibility for gym climbing shoes is based on what climbing style you prefer. Shoes that are too flexible are considered for indoor training and climbs that are easier.

However, if you are into climbs that are tricky and peril, you might prefer the stiffer ones. They provide you with a better hold on cracks and creaks.


The tightness adds efficiency to your performance in rock climbing. The tightness of your gym climbing shoes is compatible with your bouldering and any style of rock climbing.

However, even if tightness increases the performance of the climber, if you are not comfortable with your tight shoe, then you might not progress much. Consider your comfort zone above the tightness of your shoes.

Shoes that fit loose are better for climbing cracks and pitches. They have a flat toe that makes them more beneficial for fitting your feet into these cracks.

Well, if you are a climber for peril routes, then opt for a stiffer shoe that will help you in overcoming the obstacles that you face regarding the climb.

Shoe Last

Last is the model of the foot shape, around which the shoe gets built. This provides the gym climbing shoes with width, dimensions, instep height, volume, and heel. Mostly the shoes are slip-lasted, whereas the board-lasted are very small in number.

  1. Slip-lasted

These are less stiff and sensitive in comparison to board-lasted. They get their stiffness from the midsole as they do not have any insole. The midsole is located above the outsole.

  1. Board-Lasted

These shoes are more comfortable even though they lack a bit of sensitivity. You can wear them for the whole day because of their comfort.

There are three types of board-lasted. As determined by their shapes, they are:

  1. Straight

The shoes with straight last allow great comfort and provide you with a comfy fit. These shoes are ideal for long day climbing and also crack climbing. Neutral shoes are mostly built with straight last.

  1. Asymmetric

These shoes are designed with a high point over the big toes, which increases the power on the edge that is present in the inside of the shoe. Moderate and aggressive shoes are mostly based on this type of last.

  1. Downturned

They are also known as "cambered," bends towards the toes. This last is mostly for aggressive and moderate shoes. They are designed for your toe and also heel hooking. They usually have an asymmetric shape and are used mainly for peril routes. This is when you require a lot of control and performance.


Outsole or sole is the rubber part of the gym climbing shoes. Most of the soles provide excellent grip, as they are comparatively stickier and thinner than others. For better edging and support of your foot, you will require firm rubbers. Stickier rubbers are better for giving you a secure grip.

However, they are less durable compared to firm ones.

Outsole Thickness

The performance and the feel of the shoe get affected by the thickness of the outsole.

  1. Thicker soles
  1. Ranges from about 4-5.5mm
  2. Provides excellent support for edging and is durable
  3. Lasts longer if you improve your footwork technique
  1. Thinner soles
  1. Ranges from 3-4mm thick
  2. Efficient for smearing on slab routes
  3. Provides a better feel on the rocks


There are three types of closure for gym climbing shoes.

  1. Lace-Up

It is the most versatile style as you can easily loosen your lace if your feet feel suffocated and get all hot and swelled up. However, crank down near the toe and instep to improve the shoe's performance while pitching a steep climb.

  1. Strap

If you are into bouldering and gym climbing, then you should definitely opt for strap closures, as they provide you with ultra on/off convenience.

  1. Slip-On

These gym climbing shoes provide closures for high sensitivity and are often known as slippers. They are comfortable to wear while training as they lack traditional stiffness. These help you to climb faster, and your steps are more substantial. They are better when climbing thin cracks.

Gender and Shoe Volume

Gender is just for name and color basis. Both men and women can find shoes comfortable with their opposite genders. So it is best to prioritize your choice over any gender labels.

If your feet are tall with high arches, then we suggest you try men's shoes as they will be more fitting and have more volume.

If your feet are small with low volume, then we advise you to try women's shoes as it will be best according to your size.

There is a different consistency for every brand. Unisex shoes can be of any volume- narrow or wide and even high or low volume. The brands differ, and one brand's "average" could be "narrow" for other brands.

So before purchasing, it is better to go through the information about each particular type and even their consistency. Choose that fits you, irrespective of the gender labelings.


If you are an amateur, we suggest you buy something less expensive at the start of your climbing adventure. There are many brands that will provide you with high-quality gym climbing shoes. All you have to do is inspect and compare to get the best value for your money.


The support from your gym climbing shoes ultimately depends on the style of your indoor climbing. For example, thinner soles may provide you with better gripping and pushing. However, they tend to leave their feet raw and numb. You might even encounter soring feet and also be sensitive.

Soles that are thicker provide you arched support and comfort but might get clunky when you try to cross small edges or steeper inclines.


It is an essential key feature while purchasing gym climbing shoes. You do not want shoes that suffocate your toes and leave them all wet and sweating. You need to buy the ones that let the breeze flow through them and do not smother your toes. Try getting the ones that let off some steam quickly.

Tips for the right fitting

What is the point if your shoes don't fit you well after purchasing? Well, do not worry as here are some tips that will help you in the right fitting.

  1. Go for afternoon shopping

It may sound peculiar, but your feet grow into full size during the day. Try running, walking, jogging, or any exercise before you go shopping. Remember that you will be without the sock because the inside of the shoes are designed in a way to reduce the slippage when it works with the skin. If you live in alpine conditions, buy a shoe that is half-size big that can fit well.

  1. Decide only after trying its own

Always try to go shopping in person. It is better to try every size and compare every brand before purchasing. Avoid online shopping as the size may not fit your toe.

  1. Wear only that is flexible.

Everyone's feet are unique and require a different size and shape. The shoes are available in U.S European and United Kingdom Sizes. The size of the shoes varies according to the brands.

One brand's size 40 is different compared to other brands as the materials used are different, and so are the features. Try the lace ones, as you can make them more fitting just by tightening the lace.

  1. Sort out about the fit of your shoe

The gym climbing shoes do not need to fit you painfully as it might cause you blisters, swells, bunions, and calluses.

The shoes that are bent towards your knuckles give you better performance. It happens because the slingshot heel becomes tighter and gives you a position where your toes are more powerful.

Rules for general fitting

  1. Do not purchase shoes that have space between the inside of the shoe and your toes. It does not let the shoe stay rigid when you position it on the foothold.
  2. Your toes should be flat and not curved near the knuckles. The knuckled up position makes it very painful.
  3. The shoe must be snug fit. It should not touch the back of your toe when you stand.
  4. The bending of everyone's foot differs. However, if it is difficult for you to slip on a shoe, then change it. Wear something more comfortable.
  5. In a nutshell, the performance of the shoe is compatible with the tightness of your fit.

If you follow all these tips and look for the preferred features, it will be easy for you to find your ideal gym climbing shoes.


  1. I am new to this sport. Should my toes curl while wearing the gym climbing shoes?

Yes, your toes should curl a little while wearing the shoes. But keep in mind that your feet should feel comfortable and free of any pain.

  1. How to climb better while gym climbing?

Here are the tips to follow:

  1. Always remember that your legs are more powerful than your arms. So focus on your legs and feet while climbing. Spend time in learning those things that help you in progress.
  2. You can even watch tutorial videos or the experienced climbers in your gym to learn about the techniques. Get inspired by them.
  3. Get a good mentor who can motivate and encourage you.
  4. Always listen to your mentor and watch the experienced climbers closely to understand their techniques.
  1. Are the shoes worth their price?

Yes, you will find the shoes very comfortable, and you can enjoy the sport properly. The shoes keep your feet safe and provide proper comfort, traction, and support.

Final Verdict

Gym climbing shoes are very useful while enjoying the activity. You must find the right fit for proper support and comfort.

This extensive guide contains all the essential factors that define the usability and performance of the product. Go through them and purchase the best pair to enjoy this thrilling activity. / - © Copyright 2020