The Best Rock Climbing Shoes Review

What are the best climbing shoes? To find out, we reviewed 25 of the best men's rock climbing shoes and put them in head-to-head competition. We evaluated these shoes on edging, cracks, comfort, pockets, and sensitivity. We did side-by-side comparisons both in our lab, the gym, coastal sport crags and on Yosemite's big walls. Below we break down how the best shoes performed in each test.

Read the full review below >

Review by: Chris McNamara and Chris Summit June 12, 2012

Top Ranked Climbing Shoes - Men's Displaying 1 - 5 of 26 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
La Sportiva Miura
La Sportiva Miura
Read the Review
Video video review
Five Ten Anasazi VCS
Five Ten Anasazi VCS
Read the Review
Video video review
Evolv Shaman
Evolv Shaman
Read the Review
Video video review
La Sportiva Miura VS
La Sportiva Miura VS
Read the Review
Video video review
Five Ten Anasazi Lace-Up Blanco
Five Ten Anasazi Lace-Up Blanco
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award   
Street Price Varies $128 - $160
Compare at 9 sellers
Varies $112 - $160
Compare at 9 sellers
Varies $120 - $150
Compare at 11 sellers
Varies $156 - $170
Compare at 12 sellers
Varies $112 - $165
Compare at 5 sellers
Overall Score 
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82
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82
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80
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78
Editors' Rating
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User Rating
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83% recommend it (5/6)
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100% recommend it (9/9)
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100% recommend it (3/3)
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100% recommend it (5/5)
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75% recommend it (3/4)
Pros Great edging, sticky rubber.Edging, technical climbs.Great design, comfortable, durable, great toe and heel hooking.Super-precise on edges and pockets.Extremely precise, great at standing on tiny edges and small pockets.
Cons Expensive, not the most sensitive.Expensive.Stinky liner, bright/flashy color.Expensive, not the best for cracks, smearing or multi-pitch.Expensive, takes time to get on and off, not comfortable for all-day climbs.
Best Uses Technical face climbs, edging, bouldering.Sport climbing, trad climbing.Sport climbing, bouldering and gym climbing.Bouldering or sport climbing on tiny edges and pockets.Technical sport climbs and boulder problems.
Date Reviewed Apr 19, 2012Mar 01, 2012Jun 15, 2012Nov 26, 2012Feb 20, 2010
Weighted Scores La Sportiva Miura Five Ten Anasazi VCS Evolv Shaman La Sportiva Miura VS Five Ten Anasazi Lace-Up Blanco
Edging - 20%
10
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9
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9
10
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9
10
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10
10
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10
Cracks - 20%
10
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8
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9
10
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7
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7
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7
Comfort - 20%
10
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6
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6
10
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9
10
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5
10
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6
Pockets - 20%
10
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10
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9
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7
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10
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9
Sensitivity - 20%
10
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8
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8
10
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8
10
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8
10
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7
Product Specs La Sportiva Miura Five Ten Anasazi VCS Evolv Shaman La Sportiva Miura VS Five Ten Anasazi Lace-Up Blanco
velcro/lace/slipper lace velcro velcro velcro lace
Upper Leather leather synthetic Leather Cowdura⢠Synthetic
Lining dentex synthetic leather synthetic synthetic
Rubber Type Vibram XS Edge Stealth Onyxx Rubber TRAX® Vibram XS Edge Stealth C4

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
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Mad Rock Flash 2.0
$83
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70
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Evolv Shaman
$145
100
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80
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Five Ten Dragon
$164
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72
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Five Ten Anasazi Verde
$140
100
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78
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La Sportiva Solution
$155
100
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74
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Five Ten Moccasym
$99
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70
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Scarpa Instinct
$139
100
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70
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La Sportiva Mythos
$130
100
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72
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Mad Rock Flash
$75
100
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70
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Five Ten Galileo
$135.00
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74
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Five Ten Arrowhead
$150
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76
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Five Ten Anasazi Lace-Up Blanco
$145
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78
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Scarpa Booster
$139
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Evolv Pontas 2
$125
100
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74
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Mad Rock M5
$105
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La Sportiva Katana
$135
100
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62
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La Sportiva Speedster
$132
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Evolv Predator
$115
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70
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Evolv Ponta
$125
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64
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Evolv Defy
$85
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58
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Five Ten Rogue
$95
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66
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Five Ten Coyote VCS
$86
100
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64
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Mad Rock Phoenix
$75
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La Sportiva Scorpion
$75
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La Sportiva Nago - Men's
$100
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64
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La Sportiva Mantis
$80
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Criteria for Evaluation
Edging
The top edging shoes were the Miura VS and Anasazi Verde. Both could stand on micron edges where many other shoes just melt off. However, they only edge at their highest level if you buy them really tight, and doing so limits their comfort (you want to get em off after your boulder problem or redpoint burn). Many other shoes scored well for edging that also gave more comfort. For example, the Anasazi VCS and the Miura also edged very well and also gave a lot more comfort. We would lean more towards these shoes for all-around climbing and have the Verde or the Miura VS just for that elusive bouldering or sport climbing project. The TC Pro was the only high-scoring edging shoe that we could really see wearing all day. You can size it on the comfortable side and it still holds onto that micro granite crystal. It was also the best shoe at not "melting off" edges. Because of its harder rubber and shape, you can stand on edges longer. Shoes with softer rubber and less support usually start to slowly slip off after a minute or two. This is especially prevalent in an area like Yosemite with small edges on vertical or low-angle terrain.

Click to enlarge
Anna Joseph on Fly Boy Arete, Bishop, CA.
Credit: Max Neale
Cracks
Our favorite crack shoes were the Mythos. They are comfortable and keep your foot in a flat position that doesn't put too much pressure on the top of your toes. However, the lacing system is susceptible to breaking if you climb tons of cracks. For wider cracks it is hard to beat the TC Pro. It protects your ankle while still offering surprising thin crack precision. Other top-scoring crack shoes were the Five Ten Moccasysm which is our go to shoe for a place like Indian Creek with miles of vertical cracks. The Miura and the Anasazi VCS also performed very well and are the most all-around performers among the best crack shoes.

Comfort
Comfort generally came down to three things: shoe size, foot position, and upper material. Tight shoes hurt but perform well while loose shoes are comfortable but don't perform as well, obviously. Shoes that keep your feet in a more flat position are generally the most comfortable and can be worn all day. The Mythos, in an average size (not too tight, not too loose), stood out as one of the most comfortable. This was because of both the flat foot position and the very stretchy unlined uppers. These shoes are not that precise over time, but you can wear them all day. Climbers with foot problems (bone spurs, etc.) should consider these. We also were impressed with the TC Pro, which is a shoe we could wear all day. The only really uncomfortable shoes were the ones with aggressively down-turned toes. But these are only intended to be worn for short projects and bouldering session. The Acopa Aztec was another shoe we felt we could wear all day. It is a bit more precise than the Mythos and is a strong contender for best all-around trad shoe under $125.

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Comfortable shoes are good for cracks like Generic Crack, Indian Creek, Utah.
Credit: Max Neale
Pockets
Three La Sportiva shoes and one Five Ten shoe really stood out for pockets: the Miura VS, Miura and Solution all worked very well. But the pointy, almost sharp toe tip and down-turned toe angle of the Five Ten Arrowhead is hard to beat. All of these shoes had aggressively down-turned toes that transfers the power from the tip of your foot to the rock. If we were just climbing limestone, all of these shoes would be hard to beat. That said, there were many other top performers. This is one category where it was hard to distinguish among the top eight. So much of it comes down to how tight you are willing to wear the shoe (and how much comfort you are willing to give up). When we scrunched our feet into tiny Five Ten Anasazi shoes, it was hard to distinguish from the same tight-fitting and top-scoring La Sportiva shoes.

Sensitivity
Here the solution stood out. Even on really overhanging terrain, we felt we could lightly paste our feet and keep them on.

And the Winners Are…
Before we announce the winners, a big disclaimer: while all gear reviews are subjective, shoe reviews seem especially so. So much depends on the shape of your foot, what type of rock you are climbing, and how tight you size them. With that said, we have used these shoes a ton and feel confident we have selected some of the top shoes below. Are there other great shoes we didn't review or did not score high enough? You bet. Please tell us all about it in the user comment section. With that said…

Editors' Choice: La Sportiva Miura & Five Ten Anasazi VCS
The La Sportiva Miura and Five Ten Anasazi VCS were our favorite shoes. They were top scorers in nearly every category. While one shoe can't do everything perfectly, these came really close. We would lean toward the Miura if we were climbing more all around rock with edges and pockets like limestone. The Anasazi VCS would be our choice more often if climbing sandstone, granite or rocks with maybe a few tiny pockets but more smears than edges.

Best Buy: Mad Rock Flash
The Mad Rock Flash really impressed us with its value. It is the cheapest shoe and still climbed really well. A lot of less expensive shoes like the Evolv Defy climb great in the gym and the rock and are perfect if you are just starting out. The Flash was the budget shoe we were most excited to climb with outdoors near our limit. The only big difference between these shoes was the Defy has a comfortable inner lining that feels good at first but after a month or so starts to stink worse than any other shoe I've ever had.

Top Picks for Special Purposes
The Evolv Shaman is one of the most specialized high performance shoes for steep climbing. If you are bouldering steep problems at your limit, you need to try this shoe. If it fits your foot well, it almost feels like cheating. Other than extreme front pointing like the Anasazi toe design this shoe does about everything else very well and is very comfortable to boot.

The La Sportiva Miura VS was one of the most aggressive shoes for technical edging. You need to size it small to get the performance which limits its all-around comfort and performance. However, if you are building a shoe quiver, this is one to consider for micron edging. If the shape of this shoe is too aggressive, consider the Five Ten Anasazi Verde. The Five Ten Arrowhead was also an edging machine and stands on a tiny point better than almost any other shoe ever but that is about all it does. If you are climbing rock with tiny edges and pockets or steep angles the Arrowhead could be the best but for the all-around best, the Miura VS edges out the competition.

The La Sportiva TC Pro is the best multi-pitch trad climbing shoe we tested. It's expensive, but if you mainly spend long days on granite climbs, it is worth every penny.


Favorite Shoes for Each Application
Intro/budget climbing shoe: Mad Rock Flash 2, Evolv Defy or Five Ten Coyote
Sport Climbing and Bouldering: La Sportiva Miura VS, La Sportiva Solution, Five Ten Anasazi VCS, Evolv Shaman
Gym Climbing: La Sportiva Speedster or Evolv Pontas 2
Multi-Pitch: La Sportiva Mythos, La Sportiva TC Pro
All Around: La Sportiva Miura, Five Ten Anasazi VCS

Don't forget to take a look at our Dream Rock Climbing Gear List as well.

Chris McNamara and Chris Summit
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