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Best Rock Climbing Shoes for Kids of 2024

We tested the top rock climbing shoes for kids from brands like Evolv, Butora, Sportiva, and more
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Best Climbing Shoes Kids Review (Some of our award-winners from left to right: Evolv Venga, La Sportiva Maverink, Five Ten Kirigami, Evolv Ashima.)
Some of our award-winners from left to right: Evolv Venga, La Sportiva Maverink, Five Ten Kirigami, Evolv Ashima.
Credit: Brian Smith
By Brian Smith & Adam Paashaus  ⋅  Jan 23, 2024

The Best Kids's Climbing Shoes Kid for 2024


Looking for the best pair of rock climbing shoes for your kids? Our climbing gear experts researched over 30 models before purchasing the top 5 to put through our extensive side-by-side testing process. Our test teams are fanatic rock climbing families that climb everywhere from the gym to their backyard crags, to the best cliffs across the country. The kid testers rotated through these shoes on climbing gym walls, multi-pitch trad climbs, and laps on their favorite sport routes. Whether you're looking for a shoe best suited for the gym, something comfortable for outdoor days with mom and dad, something for a first-time climber, or something more aggressive for your young competitor, we've got you covered in this review.

Mom and dad need some new shoes, too? We've tested a wide array of the top climbing shoes for men and climbing shoes for women over the last decade. We've also put kid's climbing harnesses to the test, as well as the top men's climbing harnesses and women's harnessess. If you need some new climbing gear, check out our best-of review to find the top-rated products in every category. We've tested and used each product extensively to get a good idea of which ones are worthy contenders and which to leave on the shelves.

Editor's Note: We updated our kid's climbing shoe review on January 23, 2024, to offer up some additional shoe recommendations in our award section. One of our previous top award winners, the Evolv Ashima, has been discontinued, so we removed that model from our review.

Top 5 Climbing Shoes Kids - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5
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Awards Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award  
Price $69.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$69.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$58.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$50 List$49 List
$36.71 at Backcountry
Overall Score
80
62
62
60
54
Star Rating
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Pros Adjustable heel strap, breathability, single pull adjustment, very comfortableBreathable knit, comfortable fit, good edgingGood price, comfortable, easy on/offSoft microfiber upper, EVA heel cushion, affordable, lightweightInexpensive, easy on and off, highly adjustable
Cons Fabric is less abrasion resistant than synthetic or real leather, metal D-rings can cause pressure points and abrasion to strapsNo heel adjustment, knit doesn't fair well in excessive crack climbingSingle lace tension strap can wear out quickly, adjustable heel sacrifices heel hooking rubberThin toe rand, poor at edgingNot the most durable, lacks great performance
Bottom Line One of the best available, all-around comfortable shoes, that performs well for most applications including cracks, slab, and faceThe comfortable kid's model is a new option with good edging performance and great breathabilityA good basic shoe that does just about everything well, but doesn’t excel in any one thing in particularA comfortable shoe, great for beginners and casual climbers alike, with good performance at a great priceA good, comfortable shoe for the little ones to get into the sport, at a great price point
Rating Categories Evolv Venga Black Diamond Momen... La Sportiva Stickit Butora Brava Mad Rock Mad Monkey
Edging (20%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Cracks (20%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Pockets (20%) Sort Icon
8.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
Sensitivity (20%)
7.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Evolv Venga Black Diamond Momen... La Sportiva Stickit Butora Brava Mad Rock Mad Monkey
Style Velcro slipper Velcro slipper Velcro slipper Velcro slipper Velcro slipper
Upper Polyester Mesh Engineered knit Leather Synthetic Syn Flex
Width Options None None None None None
Lining Agion Antimicrobial Micro fabric Unlined Unlined Unlined
Rubber Type TRAX SAS NeoFriction Frixion RS Butyl Butora F5 Science Friction
Rubber Thickness 4.2 mm 4.3 mm 3 mm 4 mm 3 mm


Best Overall Kids Climbing Shoes


Evolv Venga


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Edging 9.0
  • Cracks 8.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Pockets 8.0
  • Sensitivity 7.0
Rubber type: 4.2mm Trax SAS | Lining: AGION® Anti-microbial Mesh
REASONS TO BUY
VTR rand for durability and protection
Heel strap adds growing room
Good edging toe
REASONS TO AVOID
Mesh less durable than the previous version

The Evolv Venga is our choice for the best overall kids climbing shoes. These shoes fit comfortably with a closure system that utilizes a single pull Velcro tab that tensions everything up, including the heel strap. Any excess strap can also be pulled out at the heel through double d-rings. The upper material uses an anti-microbial mesh that helps with ventilation and odor control. The asymmetric shape has a more tapered toe-box, allowing for more precise footwork and better edging and pocket climbing ability. The TRAX SAS rubber has good friction and the VTR (Variable Thickness Rand) beefs up the durability in the toe zone that so often gets abused by kids with poor footwork.

The mesh uppers are great at keeping the feet cool and dry, but the durability raises some eyebrows, especially for outdoor climbers who frequent areas with sharp or abrasive rock. Evolv also dropped the full VTR3D rand in the current version of this shoe, and the new VTR rand doesn't have quite as much coverage as previous versions, particularly around the heel. Still, this is our favorite pick for the best all-around climbing shoe for kids. If you're worried about the mesh wearing out, consider a model with leather uppers like the La Sportiva Stickit.

Read more: Evolv Venga review

climbing shoes kids - the venga has pretty good edge performance.
The Venga has pretty good edge performance.

Best for Beginners on Tight Budgets


Butora Brava


60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Edging 5.0
  • Cracks 7.0
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Pockets 5.0
  • Sensitivity 6.0
Rubber type: Neo Friction Fuse | Lining: Unlined
REASONS TO BUY
Inexpensive
Excellent choice for narrow/low volume feet
REASONS TO AVOID
Not great on small holds
Thin toe rand, not the most durable

Butora has built a shoe with the perfect balance of comfort, performance, and price for their all-around kids' shoe, the Brava. It's true, this shoe isn't going to be the right option for serious kid crushers, but for the casual climber or beginner who is out to enjoy themselves, this shoe rocks. The soft synthetic suede upper, with its wide hook and loop opening, has an excellent feel and hugs the foot better than the other shoes in our test, keeping the foot nice and secure. The heel strap helps to fine-tune the fit further, and the cushioned mid-sole helps to keep kids comfortable for when they refuse to take their shoes off between burns.

These shoes fit the bill for beginners and casual climbers, but the kids who start out-climbing mom and dad may wish they had more precision in the toes for more technical or steeper routes and boulders. Due to the soft midsole and upturned toes, kids will have a harder time standing on small holds than with other award winners in our review. If your kid is ready for an upgrade, the Evolv Venga allows for better precision and edging.

Read more: Butora Brava review

climbing shoes kids - a little mix of moderate face and crack pose no problems for the...
A little mix of moderate face and crack pose no problems for the Brava.
Credit: Adam Paashaus

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
80
Evolv Venga
Best Overall Kids Climbing Shoes
$80
Editors' Choice Award
62
La Sportiva Stickit
$59
62
Black Diamond Momentum - Kid's
$70
60
Butora Brava
Best for Beginners on Tight Budgets
$50
Best Buy Award
54
Mad Rock Mad Monkey
$49

climbing shoes kids

Why Trust GearLab


We wanted to start with a leg up on finding the best pair of kids' shoes, so we put considerable energy into the initial phase of deciding which ones to buy and test. The initial selection up for consideration included over 40 models. Through whatever research we were able to do, we selected the most promising 5 from this group. Adam, Brian, and the extended test group then took these shoes on road trips all the way from North Carolina to one of the ideal family climbing zones--Joshua Tree. The shoes are evaluated on a handful of metrics that make or break a kids' climbing shoe. These include comfort and durability, but also ones like edging performance and sensitivity, as performance is important for kids as well as adults. We are confident you will find this review to be a useful resource while outfitting your little ones for the crag or gym.

Our testing of kids' climbing shoes is divided across five rating metrics:
  • Edging (20% of overall score weighting)
  • Cracks (20% weighting)
  • Pockets (20% weighting)
  • Sensitivity (20% weighting)
  • Comfort (20% weighting)

Who would be the ideal Review Editor for kids' climbing shoes? How about a couple of climbers who, first of all, have kids; second, lead lives focused on family climbing; and third, are certified climbing guides and instructors? One of these people is Adam Paashaus, certified AMGA SPI instructor. Adam does all these things, climbing with his wife and seven and nine-year-old girls at destinations around the country, full-time, out of their converted house-bus, Skoolie. Adam developed a love for long amounts of time spent in wild places backpacking, ultrarunning, and canyoneering. He's also well-versed when it comes to gear--he even makes some of his own. Our newer review editor and climbing-bum-turned-father is Brian Smith, an internationally certified IFMGA American Mountain Guide . He's been guiding for over 15 years and climbing for over 25 years, sharing his passion for climbing with clients, friends, and family.

Testing thin cracks with the Scarpa Piki.
Testing thin cracks with the Scarpa Piki.

Analysis and Test Results


There has never been a better time to get kids out climbing. Just think, what if Adam Ondra never fell in love with climbing because he hated the way the shoes felt or performed? Today manufacturers offer a vast range of options in climbing footwear for kids, and we highlight the differences so you can spend less time researching and more time getting out there. We break down how each shoe performed on granite slab, quartzite edges, sandstone, basalt cracks, and limestone pockets as well as how they feel on long days, both up on the wall as well as down in the dirt at the base of the crag.

climbing shoes kids - for the kids, we tested a nice variety of shoes, from entry level to...
For the kids, we tested a nice variety of shoes, from entry level to advanced.
Credit: Adam Paashaus

Kid climbers tend to be even more varied in their skill levels and preferences than ever before. There are all types nowadays; some kids may never step a climbing shoe outside the gym, while others follow mom and dad around multi-pitch wilderness climbing destinations on any given weekend. Some kids will be crack climbing prodigies, while others can crank V8 at world-class boulder fields.


Value


There is a wide range of pricing for modern climbing shoes for kids. We get into the weeds with these shoes to detail the price versus performance. It may surprise you to find out that the new climbing shoes we tested range in price, but don't fear; we break down the value of each to make sure you can find a shoe that is right for your kid crusher. The Butora Brava boasts good performance for a great price.

climbing shoes kids - edging up some nuanced granite features in joshua tree with the...
Edging up some nuanced granite features in Joshua Tree with the Evolv Venga.

Edging


Edging is when you use, you guessed it, the edge of your climbing shoe to step onto a small lip of rock. Edges are the most common type of foothold.


Both the hardest boulderers and the most dedicated crack climbers will need a shoe that can edge well. A shoe that edges well will be paramount to helping reduce the amount of arm fatigue. If you can easily stand on small edges, you can then relax your arms and focus on the next move. Some shoes we tested are exceptional edging shoes, while others aren't. A shoe that edges well will normally be relatively stiff to help give support to the foot. Some great edging shoes use the ironically named No-Edge technology, where the rounded tip of the shoe lacks a proper edge, allowing the toes to get up close and personal with the minuscule holds for the most sensitivity on the small edges. While the Butora Brava is a good value for the price, it does not edge very well. The platform lacks the stiffness needed to be able to comfortably stand on the smaller edges, requiring the climber to maintain more tension to keep from slipping off.

climbing shoes kids - nothing like a lil&#039; crack and face to get the day going for our...
Nothing like a lil' crack and face to get the day going for our tester in Joshua Tree.

Crack Climbing


More and more kids are venturing outdoors to climb. If they climb outside long enough, they will eventually encounter cracks.


We found ourselves climbing cracks on Joshua Tree, North Carolina, and Oklahoma granite, as well as cracks in the basalt of southern Utah. We also tested shoes in the sandstone splitter cracks in Southeast Utah, around Moab and Indian Creek (THE crack climbing mecca), and near Flagstaff at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook. We focused on how well the shoes performed in the cracks as well as how well the shoes protected our feet. With such a wide variety of kids' shoes available, some crushed in the cracks and did a good job of keeping their feet comfortable, while others are a bit too soft to excel at crack comfort.

The upper construction also plays a role in how well a shoe will hold up to repeated use in cracks. The breathable knit of the Evolv Venga is great for breathability but can start to wear out with repeated use in cracks. Leather uppers combined with a more traditional lace will tend to withstand more abuse. The La Sportiva Stickit has a rigid sole that's decent for cracks, but its lace closure isn't ideal for crack climbing as it may wear quickly.

climbing shoes kids - testing crack in the bd momentum.
Testing crack in the BD Momentum.
Credit: Adam Paashaus

Pockets


A shoe that performs well in pockets will be a good edging shoe that has a tapered toe to get more rubber in the pockets. When the routes get steep, the shoes should also be downturned. We tested the shoes in the vertical basalt pockets in southern Utah as well as the limestone sport crags in the Utah Hills outside of Mesquite, NV.


For the more slabby to dead vertical pocketed routes, the Evolv Venga performed really well thanks to its pointy toe and sensitive edging platform.

Sensitivity


A shoe that offers good sensitivity is one that has a thin or soft outsole allowing the climber to feel the rock beneath their feet. This will help them to find the “sweet spot” of the holds more easily and have more confidence in their purchase on the rock.


Generally, the climbs that will benefit from a more sensitive shoe will be a technical face climb or a slab with smaller footholds. We tested the shoes for sensitivity on the blank granite slabs in North Carolina as well as gritty sandstone slopers and textured limestone faces in southern Utah.

climbing shoes kids - our tester judging the sensitivity of the evolv venga.
Our tester judging the sensitivity of the Evolv Venga.

Shoes with wider toe boxes don't hold the foot as securely as the others and the forefoot tends to slip around, leading to less confidence on technical, balancy moves. The Evolv Venga performs the best in the sensitivity metric.

climbing shoes kids - the textured limestone faces in the utah hills were perfect for...
The textured limestone faces in the Utah Hills were perfect for testing how sensitive the shoes were.

Comfort


Shoe comfort depends on a few things such as materials used, how small they are sized, and the shape or geometry. For kids, comfort should be of utmost importance. If a climber crams his feet in tight shoes for too long, he/she can develop painful foot issues like bunions. That's why it's so important to find the right pair and size them appropriately. While it is true, the tighter the shoes are, the better they will perform, it is important for kids to resist that urge and to instead find a shoe that fits their foot shape better. You may even want to size them slightly big for growing room (socks can help). Regardless of how comfortable they are, we recommend taking them off between climbs.


Given the right-sized shoe and the right shape, they should perform well even if they aren't super tight. This is especially true of the downturned models that keep the big toe pointed down, which gives more control without cramming the toe in an unnatural position.

climbing shoes kids - a comfortable shoe is one of the most important traits in a kid&#039;s...
A comfortable shoe is one of the most important traits in a kid's shoe.

We recommend a shoe that is comfortable, but we also think it's essential to find the best-shaped shoe that will accomplish the performance desired and size it so the toes lay flat but reach the end of the shoe. As the kids grow and the shoes get tighter, it becomes that much more crucial to take them off when not climbing.

The Black Diamond Momentum has a wide toe-box but a low volume, keeping it from feeling sloppy on kids' feet. The Butora Brava, while too tight for those with wide feet, felt super comfy for those with narrow feet with its super-soft synthetic uppers. The Evolv Venga had a nice balance with a roomy toe box but good performance.

climbing shoes kids - we hope you and your little ones have fun out there on the rock.
We hope you and your little ones have fun out there on the rock.
Credit: Adam Paashaus

Conclusion


With such a variety now in the kids' shoe market, chances are good that the perfect shoe for your kid crusher is out there. We recommend doing your homework, and we believe that this review will help simplify your shopping experience. A good-performing and excellent-fitting pair of shoes will take the attention away from foot discomfort and put the focus on progressing through the grades and having fun.

Brian Smith & Adam Paashaus