The problem with climbing shoes is that you can spend a lot on something you don’t need very easy quickly. A top of the range pair of climbing shoes will set you back over £200, but as a beginner, you don’t need to spend this much. The honest answer, unless you’re a professional climber, the difference between professional climbing shoes, and the best climbing shoes for beginners, is very slight.
Do You Need Special Shoes For Climbing?
When you go hiking in the mountains, you can get away with a pair of trainers. They might not be the best, but they will do the job. Sadly the same cannot be said for climbing. The problem with a pair of trainers is the size, they are too clunky and do not provide either the grip in the right place or the support. Climbing shoes are made for climbing and as such, provide grip in the right place.
Climbing shoes are designed with unique rubber that’s much softer than ordinary rubber and helps grip to surfaces. The design is also slightly different from a standard trainer, climbing shoes have much more attention focused towards the toe area and the heel, and stiff midsoles to provide extra support when putting all your weight on small footholds.
What To Look For With The Best Beginner Climbing Shoes
Yes, we’re looking at beginner climbing shoes, but I would still expect these climbing shoes to perform well and last a long time. Remember the difference between beginner climbing shoes, and professional is not huge, and therefore if you by a decent pair of beginner shoes, they should last you for a few years.
Over the years, I have been told to buy climbing shoes that are one or two sizes smaller than my feet. This means that your feet don’t move around, and you have much better control, but its both excoriatingly painful and not needed. It much better that you’re shoes are comfortable, which in turn will allow you to wear them longer and get more comfortable using them.
When you’re buying Beginner Climbing Shoes, make sure you lookout for the following;
- Leather Material – Leather is the preferred material to make climbing shoes, and you need to make sure you allow some room for stretch, as leather does tend to stretch over time. The great thing about leather is the stretch helps to mould the shoes to the feet and therefore make them more comfortable, but leather will cost more.
- Synthetic Base Material – The problem with synthetic material is that it does not allow the feet to breathe. This means you'll end up with sweaty, slippery feet that move around in your shoes are not tight. Synthetic material does not, however, stretch and can be substantially cheaper. You get what you pay for.
- Lace-Up Vs Velcro – There are advantages and disadvantages of both shoe closure methods. Velcro is easier and quicker, however, does mean that you'll have a pinch point to one side of the shoe and given there are only two points of adjustment, it's less adjustable. Lace-up take longer to tie up, but given there are many adjustment points along with the shoe, they are more customisable to difference shoe shapes.
- Sole – The thicker the sole, the more durable the shoes will be, but the less feeling you'll have. Most climbing shoes have a 4mm sole, which offers a nice balance between durability and sensitivity, however, beginner climbing shoes can often have a thicker sole to provide more durability.
What's The Best Beginner Climbing Shoes
At the beginner stage, I would highly recommend that you bought a cheaper set of shoes that focuses on comfort, rather than pure performance. The problem with a professional pair of climbing shoes is that they have been designed to be worn very tight and if you're not used to this, you could end up injuring your feet, and hurting your toes.
If you start off with a beginner pair of climbing shoes, that focuses on comfort, rather than pure performance, can get used to the tightness without hurting your feet, understand more about your foot-shape and what you should be looking for in your next shoe.
In my opinion, the best beginner climbing shoes are the ones I use, the La Sportiva Tarantulace, however there are a couple of others that I would happily recommend.
LA Sportiva Tarantulace
- Rubber: 5mm FriXion RS
- Downturn: Flat
- Shape: Straight
- Closure: Tarantulace (Laces), Tarantula (Velcro)
- Stiffness: Stiff
- Sizing: One to 1.5 sizes down
La Sportive make some brilliant climbing shoes for beginners and professionals alike. I'm not an expert climber by any means, but they have done me proud over the last few years. La Sportive make two beginner style climbing shoes, depending on whether you want Velcro straps or Laces.
The Tarantulace comes with Laces, while the Tarantula uses a dual Velcro closure system. Whether you choose laces or Velcro, both models are designed to make sure your feet fit snuggling into the shoes, and there is a lot of adjustment meaning the shoe can adapt to different foot shapes.
In performance terms, both models are very good. They use a stiff and supportive, 5mm sole, that helps to reduce foot pain, while still offering a lot of performance. I have used the Tarantulace shoes for the last couple of years, and they have done everything I have asked of them.
La Sportive offers these beginner climbing shoes in a range of sizes, to include those for Men and Women. For a value for the money price tag that offers both performance and comfort, you really cannot go wrong with these as a first pair of climbing shoes.
Beginner climbing shoes such as the La Sportiva above are fantastic to learn how to climb with, but at some point, you need to switch from beginner shoes to performance shoes. The honest answer, I don't think you need to. Personally, I think the difference between the beginner shoes above, and a top of range pair such as the Evolv Phantom Climbing Shoe Climbing Shoes which retail at over £200, is not that big. I sure if you're a professional climber, there is a difference that you can take advantage of with a top of range paid, but for mere mortals such as me, I don't think there is a difference.
Ease of Use
Beginner climbing shoes such as the La Sportiva above are fantastic to learn how to climb with, but at some point, you need to switch from beginner shoes to performance shoes. The honest answer, I don't think you need to.
Personally, I think the difference between the beginner shoes above, and a top of range pair such as the Evolv Phantom Climbing Shoe Climbing Shoes which retail at over £200, is not that big. I sure if you're a professional climber, there is a difference that you can take advantage of with a top of range paid, but for mere mortals such as me, I don't think there is a difference.