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The 6 Best Climbing Shoes for Women of 2024

We tested women's climbing shoes from La Sportiva, Scarpa, Black Diamond and others to find the best-performing models for your climbing style
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Best Climbing Shoes Women Review (We've tested a literal pile of the best women's climbing shoes on the market, including top options from La Sportiva...)
We've tested a literal pile of the best women's climbing shoes on the market, including top options from La Sportiva, Scarpa, Unparallel, Five Ten, and Black Diamond.
Credit: Whitney Clark
By Whitney Clark ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday April 25, 2024

Over the past decade, our team has tested over 45 of the best women's climbing shoes. For this review, we purchased 19 of today's best models for our latest round of side-by-side testing. We've put in a significant amount of time and effort scanning online retailers and perusing local gear shops in order to highlight only the best products on the market. Hundreds of pitches and boulder problems have been climbed to bring you the most comprehensive review available. We've climbed cracks, pulled on pockets, fallen off our projects, and tip-toed up delicate slabs, all in the name of objective testing. From circuits in the gym to the sweeping walls of the Verdon Gorge, we have put in the time to help you find the perfect pair of climbing shoes.

GearLab's roots are based on testing the best climbing gear, and we've tested a lot of it over the years. Our comprehensive reviews cover the best belay devices, our top picks in women's harnesses, and our favorite climbing ropes. Last but not least, don't forget about our comprehensive list of current climbing gear, which features everything you need to get out on the rock.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on April 25, 2024, to update our scoring metrics, retest award winners, and add the Scarpa Generator Mid to our lineup.

Related: Best Climbing Shoes for Men

Top 19 Climbing Shoes - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 19
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Awards Top Pick Award     
Price $164.19 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$225 List
$225.00 at REI
$141.69 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$149.21 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$157 List
Overall Score
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74
Star Rating
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Pros Great edging capabilities, excels on thin cracks, great for multi-pitchingGreat crack climbing, comfortable for all day wear, mid-height protects anklesGreat edging shoe, highly adjustable lacing system, good for cracks and vertical terrainWell padded tongue, easy to take on and off, breathableSmall company, super sticky rubber, comfortable fit, great crack climbing shoe
Cons Expensive, leather uppers wear outVery stiff, not great for smearing, lacks precisionCan be uncomfortable for some foot shapesLacks sensitivity, not the best for edgingLong laces caused annoyance, lack versatility
Bottom Line This is a do-it-all workhorse that excels in all aspects of climbing, from difficult cracks to lower angle and techy face climbsAn exceptional shoe for all-day wear while climbing moderate multi-pitch routes or wide cracksThe Miura is a technical climber's dream; from thin cracks to dime edges and smears, this shoe is top-notchReceived average scores in all rating metrics without impressing us too much in any particular realmThese shoes are a great option for those trad climbers out there looking for all-day comfort, a stiff sole, and crack and edging prowess
Rating Categories La Sportiva Katana... Scarpa Generator Mi... La Sportiva Miura -... Scarpa Vapor V - Wo... Unparallel Up Lace LV
Comfort (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Smearing (20%)
8.0
5.0
7.5
7.0
8.0
Edging (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Pulling (20%)
9.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
Cracks (20%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Specs La Sportiva Katana... Scarpa Generator Mi... La Sportiva Miura -... Scarpa Vapor V - Wo... Unparallel Up Lace LV
Style Lace Lace Lace Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) 1.09 lb 1.20 lb 1.00 lb 0.91 lb 1.11 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Medium-Low Asymmetry
Upper Microfiber/leather Suede Leather Microsuede Synthetic
Lining Full-length LaspoFlex with P3 system PAF System Dentex Microsuede Microsuede
Sole Rubber Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 RH rubber


The Best Women's Climbing Shoes for 2024


Best Overall Climbing Shoe


La Sportiva Skwama - Women's


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Smearing 9.0
  • Edging 7.0
  • Pulling 9.0
  • Cracks 8.0
Style: Velcro | Sole rubber: Vibram XS Grip2
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable
Perform well on both steep and vertical terrain
Sticky soles
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Stretch out with use

The incredibly comfortable La Sportiva Skwama is one of our favorite shoes and our go-to for most of our projects – from steep, overhanging pocketed lines to technical, crimpy faces. The Skwama is confidence-inspiring on the smallest smears and the greasiest limestone footholds. We've climbed in these shoes on technical sandstone boulders in Fontainbleau and on steep tufa lines in southern France. With so much sticky rubber on the toe box, the Skwama also excels on thin cracks and corners. It's an incredibly versatile shoe, and we almost always throw the Skwama in our bag, no matter where we're headed.

The Skwama is a great all-around shoe, but it still has a few performance weaknesses. It's important to note that the unlined leather upper stretches out quickly, which is somewhat disappointing for such a pricey shoe. Comparing high-performance shoes side-by-side, we've gotten more mileage from the La Sportiva Katana Lace. To improve longevity, we've found that it's better to size down when purchasing the Skwama and prepare for a painful break-in process. But that's only the beginning of what hopefully is a long relationship – we love the Skwama and are thrilled to have it accompany us on all our climbing adventures.

Read more: La Sportiva Skwama review

climbing shoes womens - with a lot of rubber on the heel cup, on the toe box, and underfoot...
With a lot of rubber on the heel cup, on the toe box, and underfoot, the Skwamas can help you land that perfect foot placement.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Best Bang for the Buck


Five Ten Kirigami - Women's


62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Smearing 7.0
  • Edging 4.0
  • Pulling 4.0
  • Cracks 7.0
Style: Velcro | Sole rubber: C4 Stealth Rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Reasonably priced
Extremely comfortable
Sticky soles
REASONS TO AVOID
Not ideal for edging or technical terrain
Not stiff

The Five Ten Kirigami is seriously one of the most comfortable shoes we've ever worn — and we've worn a lot of different climbing shoes over the years. On the first day of wearing these shoes outdoors, we put them on for a pitch of climbing and then left them on while belaying, which is something our lead tester would never normally do. We'd go so far as to say that the Kirigamis are arguably more comfortable than our approach shoes. Yet they are still well-made and provide a solid foundation for a wide variety of climbing. They're best suited for moderate multi-pitch climbing, especially crack climbs. Comfort and performance in a reasonably priced package — what's not to like?

These shoes performed admirably in our metric comparisons, but they don't come close to climbing on par with the top performers in our lineup. Even though they're not designed for performance rock climbing, we tested the Kirigami on small edges and smears to see how well they work in more technical terrain. In general, they did pretty well, except for the fact that the soles are very floppy. Unlike the stiff soles of the La Sportiva Miura, the Kirigamis completely lack the stiffness to stand on small edges. But these Velcro slippers are comfortable, and a comfortable shoe means more time on the rock, which makes them ideal for a beginner climber.

Read more: Five Ten Kirigami review

climbing shoes womens - not only does extra padding on the kirigami make for an extra comfy...
Not only does extra padding on the Kirigami make for an extra comfy shoe, but it helps better protect your foot in hand cracks.
Credit: Alexa Flower

A Great Value for Beginners


La Sportiva Tarantulace - Women's


58
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Smearing 4.0
  • Edging 6.0
  • Pulling 4.0
  • Cracks 6.0
Style: Lace | Sole rubber: Frixion RS
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Easy to lace and adjust
Versatile performance
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the stickiest rubber we've tested
Lacks sensitivity

The La Sportiva Tarantulace is our top recommendation for new climbers buying their first pair of shoes. First and foremost, the Tarantulace is comfortable, and its soft leather uppers will stretch with wear. The shoes are not aggressively shaped, so they work great for all-day multi-pitch climbs or long gym sessions where you don't want to remove your shoes in between burns. They have a slight downturn, which helps them edge decently. We found these shoes work best in vertical terrain with moderate-sized footholds or for all-day wear on easier cracks.

Once the angle gets steeper or the holds become more like smears, it's harder to trust the grip of the Tarantulace. The rubber compound is not the stickiest we've tested, and the stiffness of the sole makes it a bit hard to smear with these shoes, especially on footless granite slabs. These differences set the Tarantulace apart from the Five Ten Kirigami, which is softer and features a stickier rubber. However, those same differences also make the Tarantulace such a great overall climbing shoe. The stiffer platform offers better edging performance for slightly more technical faces, and the lace-up design is better suited to introductory crack climbing. And, of course, the budget-friendly price is alluring for beginner climbers.

Read more: La Sportiva Tarantulace review

climbing shoes womens - testing out the tarantulace on the buttermilks circuit. those...
Testing out the Tarantulace on the Buttermilks circuit. Those polished footholds will put any shoe to the test.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Best for Trad Climbing


La Sportiva Katana Lace - Women's


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Smearing 8.0
  • Edging 9.0
  • Pulling 9.0
  • Cracks 9.0
Style: Lace | Sole rubber: Vibram XS Edge
REASONS TO BUY
Laces make them highly adjustable
Edge and smear well
Great for crack climbing
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Laces and leather uppers could have durability issues

The La Sportiva Katana Lace is one of the best all-around shoes we've ever worn. We've been wearing the men's version for years and were excited to get our hands on the women's specific model when it was released. The Katana Lace is an all-around workhorse that excels on steep rock, and its slight downturn allows it to edge well on lower-angle technical terrain. The toe box on these shoes is noticeably narrow, allowing it to perform well on thin cracks and corners. These shoes are super easy to adjust — cinch them down when it's time to take the sharp end on the crux pitch or loosen them up while hanging at the belay. A medium-stiff midsole makes the Katana Lace versatile, and once broken in, you can trust these shoes on any type of hold.

Our only real gripe with the Katana Lace is its price tag. These are expensive, and we know it can hurt to shell out this much cash. Durability issues might also arise with the repeated abuse of crack climbing on the leather uppers and toe box. If you're looking for a pair of shoes just for crack climbing, we suggest looking at the more specifically designed Scarpa Generator Mid. But for hard, multi-pitch trad routes, it's tough to beat the Katana Lace's ability to adapt to practically any climbing style.

Read more: La Sportiva Katana Lace review

climbing shoes womens - after a few wears, the katana lace fit like a glove and are...
After a few wears, the Katana Lace fit like a glove and are comfortable for long days on the rock.
Credit: Whitney Clark

Best for Edging and Technical Climbing


La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Smearing 8.0
  • Edging 9.0
  • Pulling 8.0
  • Cracks 7.0
Style: Velcro | Sole rubber: Vibram XS Grip2
REASONS TO BUY
Great for edging
Performs well on slabby, vertical, and overhanging routes
Provides arch support for longer days
Very adjustable
REASONS TO AVOID
Hook-and-loop closures aren't great for crack climbing
Narrow toe box

The La Sportiva Miura VS is a classic shoe that is ubiquitous in most climbing areas around the world. This updated model has new aesthetics and heel construction for a better fit and high performance on a variety of different terrain. Some women climb long backcountry big walls in the Miura VS, while others swear by them for steep sport lines. From our perspective, these shoes are some of the most sensitive edging machines we've tested. They utilize a slingshot rand connected to the P3 system that provides increased tension and incredible edging power while standing on those tiny holds.

Their slight downturn makes them great for steep climbing, their midsole is stiff enough for vertical terrain, and they are sensitive enough to smear on slabs. While the Miura VS can be sized for practically any project – with a bit more room for all-day comfort on hard free routes or tighter for a steep sport project – they do have a very foot-specific fit. While they could be used for technical, thin crack climbing, the double hook-and-loop closures aren't ideal for twisting into cracks. But if you're aiming for a pair of slippers, the Unparallel Up Lace LV offered surprisingly better crack-climbing performance. But as far as the Miura VS is concerned, all-around performance is the name of the game.

Read more: La Sportiva Miura VS review

climbing shoes womens - the miura vs excels at heal hooking.
The Miura VS excels at heal hooking.
Credit: Luka Krajnc

Best for Bouldering and Steep Climbing


La Sportiva Solution Comp - Women's


77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Smearing 9.0
  • Edging 5.0
  • Pulling 9.5
  • Cracks 7.0
Style: Velcro | Sole rubber: Vibram XS Grip
REASONS TO BUY
Aggressive, asymmetrical shape
Slipper design combines comfort and performance
Super sensitive in both toe and heel
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Specific design lacks versatility

Like its close relative, the La Sportiva Solution Comp is most at home on steep sport climbs and boulders. In terms of design and performance, the Solution Comp is similar to the original La Sportiva Solution, only better. The updated toe box is a bit wider and has more rubber on top for toe hooking, making this slick slipper a great choice for sport climbing and bouldering. This design also provides more room for the toes, making the Comp very comfortable. Additionally, the Solution Comp's heel cup is lower profile and more sensitive than the original. Like a well-fitting glove, the Solution Comp suctions onto your foot to turn it into a high-performance, precise talon — ideal for toeing in on steep terrain.

For some, the slipper-like fit and soft midsole may be too much. The shape of the Solution Comp is an acquired taste and can cause some discomfort initially. These shoes are designed for high-performance rock climbing, and the lack of versatility can be a bit limiting. While neither excels at crack climbing, the La Sportiva Futura offers a similar slipper-like fit with a slightly stiffer last for improved edging. But when it comes to steep sport climbs and highly technical boulder problems, you really can't beat the precision of the Solution Comp.

Read more: La Sportiva Solution Comp review

climbing shoes womens - their soft midsole makes the solution comp great on steep walls, but...
Their soft midsole makes the Solution Comp great on steep walls, but not ideal for edges.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
84
La Sportiva Katana Lace - Women's
Best for Trad Climbing
$219
Top Pick Award
82
La Sportiva Skwama - Women's
Best Overall Climbing Shoe
$199
Editors' Choice Award
80
La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's
Best for Edging and Technical Climbing
$199
Top Pick Award
78
La Sportiva Futura - Women's
$199
77
La Sportiva Solution Comp - Women's
Best for Bouldering and Steep Climbing
$209
Top Pick Award
76
La Sportiva Solution - Women's
$199
75
La Sportiva Miura - Women's
$189
74
Unparallel Up Lace LV
$157
74
Scarpa Vapor V - Women's
$199
72
La Sportiva Otaki - Women's
$209
70
Butora Acro Narrow Fit
$175
70
Scarpa Instinct VS - Women's
$209
68
Scarpa Generator Mid - Women's
$225
64
Butora Gomi Wide - Women's
$160
64
Evolv Shakra
$170
62
Five Ten Kirigami - Women's
Best Bang for the Buck
$100
Best Buy Award
60
Evolv Kira - Women's
$149
58
La Sportiva Tarantulace - Women's
A Great Value for Beginners
$89
Best Buy Award
58
Black Diamond Momentum Shoe - Women's
$100

climbing shoes womens - rock climbing can take you to some magical places, like our lead...
Rock climbing can take you to some magical places, like our lead tester climbing high above Patagonia. Our review of the best women's climbing shoes will help you those first steps or find the perfect pair for your next planned trip.
Credit: Nicole Lawton

How We Test Climbing Shoes


Our testers spend more time climbing than they probably ought to. Over the past nine years, we've been putting countless climbing shoes through the wringer to find the best shoes to meet our specific needs. We start out by doing our research to slim down the selection of shoes to just the top contenders. We then purchase each pair and ship them off to our expert testers, who painstakingly break each pair in and test them out in various climbing styles. While a jack of all trades may be a master of none, we can at least make well-founded judgments on the performance of each of these shoes in a wide range of climbing styles.

Our climbing shoe testing is divided into six rating metrics:
  • Comfort (20% of overall score weighting)
  • Smearing (20% weighting)
  • Edging (20% weighting)
  • Pulling (20% weighting)
  • Crack Climbing (20% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


Our lead testers are Jane Jackson and Whitney Clark. Previously a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, Jane has done her fair share of big wall climbing in Valley and spends a lot of her time free-climbing in the High Sierra. Whitney spends her summers climbing alpine granite throughout the West and winters in the mountains of Patagonia. She travels for a solid chunk of the year and generally to climbing destinations. From the sweeping, imposing limestone walls of France's Verdon Gorge to the perfectly parallel cracks found in the desert Southwest, and finally (and somewhat begrudgingly) to the hallowed boulders of the Buttermilks, our team of experts tests these shoes while climbing in a variety of styles.

climbing shoes womens - getting after it in the boulders of the tablelands.
Getting after it in the boulders of the Tablelands.
Credit: Eric Bissell

What Makes a Climbing Shoe Women's-Specific?


What is the difference between a woman's climbing shoe and a man's? What are the advantages of a woman's shoe? Are women limited to just the “women's” models? The answer to that question is absolutely not! Women's specific shoes are relatively new to the market, and before that, ladies had to go with men's or unisex models. There are still many shoes in production that only come in a unisex model, and they are fair game, as are the products with the women's-specific label.

Aside from the superficial (like color schemes), the defining difference between men's and women's shoes is that they are usually constructed around different lasts (the form matching the foot's anatomy off which a shoe is patterned). The female last will be similar to that of the male version but typically a bit narrower, especially in the heel. Other differences may include a higher arch, a thinner and longer toe box, and a lower instep. These changes in last dimensions can enhance the fit for many women, particularly those with low-volume or very narrow feet.

Booting up for another pitch in Southern France.
Booting up for another pitch in Southern France.
An array of women&#039;s climbing shoes. Most brands make women&#039;s...
An array of women's climbing shoes. Most brands make women's specific models, but don't be afraid to try out a unisex version! Our lead tester has wide feet and often prefers the men's version of many popular shoes on the market.
Assessing the edging ability of the Libra on the top out of yet...
Assessing the edging ability of the Libra on the top out of yet another 5-star granite boulder problem.

Analysis and Test Results


Each time we revamp our women's climbing shoe review, we see more choices available; in fact, the past couple of years have been marked by an increase in the number of women's specific shoes produced by manufacturers. If you have a narrow and/or low-volume foot, this is great news! There are tons of choices out there from all the familiar brands that cater specifically to women. That said, unisex climbing shoes are designed to be just that — unisex. So, don't feel like you are limited solely to women's specific shoes.

climbing shoes womens - the miura vs is most at home on steep terrain but performs well on...
The Miura VS is most at home on steep terrain but performs well on less steep terrain.
Credit: Babsi Vigil

It should be noted that we have shoes designed for various climbing disciplines, and they've been combined into this one review. This predicament creates problems when trying to perform a comparative analysis. To address this issue, we have highlighted the differences between the various models and highlighted which models are most comparable. If you are looking for a specific style, you can quickly narrow your search.


Value


The price of climbing shoes seems to be increasing each year. Preparing to throw down as much as a few Benjamins for a new pair of shoes, of which the performance and lasting fit are yet unknown, can make the selection process a bit overwhelming. At these prices, we want to make sure that we are getting the right tool for the job. Many of the highest-priced shoes are designed for a specific use and are typically purchased by experienced climbers who want to up their technical climbing game. The La Sportiva Skwama is a bit more versatile than other specifically designed models, but it still costs a pretty penny.

climbing shoes womens - the la sportiva skwama&#039;s toe is slightly downturned, making them...
The La Sportiva Skwama's toe is slightly downturned, making them perfect for digging in and rocking onto those small footholds
Credit: Will Stanhope

But fear not; there are still many affordable, high-quality shoes on the market, especially at the entry level. The Five Ten Kirigami impressed us by balancing serviceable performance with a reasonable price tag. In particular, this shoe is supremely comfortable, which makes it a great option for any newcomer. The Black Diamond Momentum is a comparable, reasonably-priced option, and it would be a great first shoe for a beginner climber. While many La Sportiva models are expensive, we honor the Tarantulace for its exceptional value. As a higher-performance option, the Unparallel Up Lace LV is more reasonably priced than many of the shoes in direct competition.

climbing shoes womens - you can never have too many shoes while out bouldering.
You can never have too many shoes while out bouldering.
Credit: Whitney Clark

There is a wide price range within the climbing shoe world. It may take some time to figure out which model has the features you need with a price tag you can manage. However, when the toes are wearing thin on your current shoes, buying a new shoe isn't your only option. You can always save some cash by purchasing from a used gear shop or sending your old standbys to a re-sole company to extend their life.

climbing shoes womens - a well-loved, much worn pair of skwamas that look like they&#039;ve...
A well-loved, much worn pair of Skwamas that look like they've almost reached retirement, based on the amount of rubber left on the toe.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Comfort


Evaluating the comfort of a climbing shoe is difficult, and many folks have different ideas of what makes a comfortable shoe. Climbing shoes, in general, will be less comfortable than shoes worn around town. Some people size their shoes small to get the tightest fit possible for maximum performance. Others will want a shoe whose fit feels similar to that of a street shoe for all-day comfort. We based our evaluation on how closely the shoes hugged our feet, how crammed our toes felt, and the extra features that make a shoe bearable to wear.


Naturally, all the shoes with a flatter shape, like the Kirigami and Tarantulace, are more comfortable to wear for extended periods than models with an aggressive downturn. This increased comfort is due to the more natural position in which these shoes hold your feet. The Up Lace LV is also fairly flat and comfortable for all-day outings. Even the Evolv Kira fit comfortably enough to wear them for hours at the gym without taking them off.

climbing shoes womens - flatter shoes like the unparallel up lace lv are comfortable enough...
Flatter shoes like the Unparallel Up Lace LV are comfortable enough to be worn all day.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Downturned shoes push your toes into the front of the shoe to amplify their power and allow the climber to toe-in on small holds more aggressively. Surprisingly, a few of the most aggressively downturned shoes we tested, such as the Solution Comp, also turned out to be some of the most comfortable. These shoes don't crush your toes, and they have a sock-like tongue that cradles the foot. The Evolv Shakra is another downturned model that impressed us with its session-long comfort, thanks to a softer midsole and generously padded tongue. The La Sportiva Miura VS also features bonus padding on the tongue and around the heel that tightens the fit for women and makes it very pleasant to wear.

climbing shoes womens - the surprisingly comfortable evolv shakras tackling steep granite...
The surprisingly comfortable Evolv Shakras tackling steep granite like a dream.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Even though Velcro and lace-up shoes can include additional padding, in general, shoes with hook-and-loop closures tend to be much more comfortable. We also noticed that some shoes hug the whole foot, leaving no air pockets or dead space inside. Some shoes with very flat midsoles leave pockets of space below the arch of the foot, resulting in a less comfortable fit overall. Surprisingly, the Tarantulace has a fairly flat midsole yet still seems to hug the sole of the foot comfortably.

climbing shoes womens - shoes with a flatter last, like the bd momentum, are more...
Shoes with a flatter last, like the BD Momentum, are more comfortable standing in less-than-vertical terrain. Boulders in the Buttermilks make a great testing ground to gauge performance.
Credit: Will Stanhope

The La Sportiva Solution Comp and Scarpa Instinct VS both hug the foot entirely with no dead space, and we preferred this close fit. The La Sportiva Skwama also comfortably hugs your foot. Its soft sole and sensitivity make it one of our favorites for multi-pitch sport climbing, where both comfort and performance matter.

climbing shoes womens - a comfortable shoe is crucial for a good warm-up. we always wear a...
A comfortable shoe is crucial for a good warm-up. We always wear a comfortable, slightly bigger pair of shoes when warming up to save our feet from pain!
Credit: Eric Bissell

Smearing


One reason climbers rely on specifically designed climbing shoes rather than sneakers or boots is that the former allows a climber's toes to feel the rock and use minuscule features on the wall. We find that the more sensitive and precise we are, the better we can smear because we can trust our feet as we make delicate moves.


The Miura VS is one of the most sensitive shoes we've reviewed. It's fairly stiff and slightly downturned, but those features didn't detract from its overall sensitivity on all types of terrain. We also appreciated the sensitivity of the Skwama and the Butora Acro, as they gave us the confidence to still trust our feet on the smallest holds out there. For boulderers looking to gain an advantage with their heel hooks, the La Sportiva Otaki are specialists. The tight-fitting heel cups and improved sensitivity in this part of the shoe allowed us to find subtle features we missed with other shoes.

climbing shoes womens - the butora gomi does a particularly great job on pocketed climbs.
The Butora Gomi does a particularly great job on pocketed climbs.
Credit: Eric Bissell

The La Sportiva Solution and Solution Comp are some of the most sensitive shoes in our lineup, and these tight-fitting slippers excel at feeling out tiny features. On the other end of the spectrum, the Scarpa Generator Mid and Evolv Shakra were some of the least sensitive shoes we tested. The thick rubber on the Generator combined with the stiff, inflexible midsole made it hard to feel any holds beneath our feet. The Shakra did okay in the gym and on less technical routes but was not the shoe of choice for precision footwork.

climbing shoes womens - fresh out of the box, the miura have a lot of rubber on the soles...
Fresh out of the box, the Miura have a lot of rubber on the soles, which can be a bit unnerving, but, over time these soles wear in to be technical wizards on the rock!
Credit: Eric Bissell

Edging


Edging and sensitivity are similar but apply to different styles of footholds. Sensitivity allows you to smear on and toe into tiny footholds with confidence. Edging, as we define it, is the ability to place a toe on a small edge and have it feel like a much larger feature. This aspect of climbing shoe performance requires a stiffer sole that supports the whole foot when pressing down on thin edges.


The La Sportiva Miura VS is a top-notch edging shoe. Its stiff midsole and slight downturn help toe-in on gently overhanging terrain. At the same time, its shape allows for precision edging on vertical terrain and even slabs. The slingshot rand is connected to the P3 system, which helps deliver consistent edging power. When the toe is weighted on an edge, the climber's weight stretches forward from the heel towards the front of the shoe. The result is that you can stand on edges with your full weight and still feel secure. The lace-up Miura also edges quite well, but the Velcro (VS) model is slightly more downturned than its lace-up counterpart, helping it excel in steep, technical terrain. These shoes are edging masters.

climbing shoes womens - this is what it looks like when you climb foot-intensive multi-pitch...
This is what it looks like when you climb foot-intensive multi-pitch routes in shoes not designed for edging... Ouch!
Credit: Eric Bissell

Additionally, the Scarpa Generator Mid performed quite well in the edging category. It is an extremely stiff shoe and although it can be difficult to feel what you are standing on during the break-in process, it does an excellent job and keeping you on the rock. The shoe utilizes an innovative PAF heel system that helps distribute the weight while standing on small footholds as well as a tri-tension active randing that supports and stabilizes your foot while under pressure.

climbing shoes womens - as a multi-pitch master, the katana lace has great edging...
As a multi-pitch master, the Katana Lace has great edging capabilities, which also comes in handy on tricky boulder problems.
Credit: Sonja Peltzer

The Five Ten Kirigami wasn't quite stiff enough to perform well in this metric. The Black Diamond Momentum also fell short, as does the Butora Gomi. All three of these shoes, though very different in shape and style, were too soft in the midsole, making it hard to hold an edge on vertical terrain.

climbing shoes womens - the butora acro excels at finding and edging into even the smallest...
The Butora Acro excels at finding and edging into even the smallest of holds.
Credit: Jane Jackson

Pulling


This metric evaluates how well a given shoe can sink into a rock surface's cavities, allowing you to “pull” into these features with your feet. Often, a shoe with a pointed toe excels in this way. Moreover, a shoe with a downturn in the toe offers the added advantage of hooking pockets on steep to overhanging terrain (as opposed to simply pressing down on them), allowing you to pull your hips in close to the wall for efficient body positioning.


The Solution Comp is our favorite shoe for pulling pockets and steep climbing. This commonality shouldn't be too surprising, considering the similarities in ankle and toe movement across the two techniques. As a bonus, the Comp uses Sportiva's P3 Platform, which helps it retain its downturned toe throughout the shoe's life. The Futura features this same P3 system, as well as their patented No-Edge outsole, which eliminates the edge where the upper meets the outsole. This allows you to roll your toes into shallow pockets for additional pulling power.

climbing shoes womens - climbing on bulbous tufa formations in kalymnos, greece, shares...
Climbing on bulbous tufa formations in Kalymnos, Greece, shares similarities with climbing steep pockets. The curved toe of the La Sportiva Solution climbing helps toe into the wall.
Credit: Sam Skrocke

Unsurprisingly, the flatter soled shoes in this review, such as the Unparallel Up Lace, Scarpa Generator Mid, and La Sportiva Tarantulace, do not perform at a high level when toeing into pockets. Notably, the otherwise versatile Miura also does not pull well. It is not nearly as downturned as the Miura VS, and its stiff last simply performs better in vertical terrain.

climbing shoes womens - the solution comps are great on the steeps, but also super...
The Solution Comps are great on the steeps, but also super comfortable on more vertical terrain - the best of both worlds!
Credit: Eric Bissell

Bear in mind that the pulling evaluation is, in many ways, the polar opposite of the crack climbing assessment. Rather than a stiff platform you can squeeze into a crack and stand up on, shoes that pull well are more flexible, providing additional dexterity for your feet. As such, the shoes that perform poorly on crack climbs are often among the higher performers on pocketed terrain and vice versa. But as with all generalities, there are, of course, notable exceptions to that rule.

climbing shoes womens - we found the la sportiva katana laces capable of everything from...
We found the La Sportiva Katana Laces capable of everything from multi-pitch to bouldering, as well as cracks and slabs.
Credit: Babsi Vigil

Crack Climbing


As the name implies, the crack climbing metric evaluates how well a shoe will perform when jammed into cracks. Sliding your foot into a crack and twisting to the side so you can stand up on it is one of the more unique ways to use your feet while climbing. A good crack shoe has a flatter shape that can fit inside a crack without painfully compressing the knuckles of your toes.


Additionally, these shoes have a stiff platform that supports the whole foot. This prevents lateral taco-ing of a shoe while simultaneously providing enough rubber along the edges to find purchase on the interior and along the edge of a crack. Ideally, a crack shoe will also be decent at edging and smearing since you will likely need to do all of these things on a traditional climb, even if it's just a single pitch.

climbing shoes womens - heading into an overhanging crack at the cookie cliff in yosemite...
Heading into an overhanging crack at the cookie cliff in Yosemite Valley in the fearless Katana Lace.
Credit: Clint Helander

In the past, we turned to the hi-top La Sportiva TC Pro for crack climbing, even though it is not a women's-specific model. However, with the release of the new women's specific Scarpa Generator Mid, the TC Pro is no longer a front runner. Once you break them in, the Generator Mid is stiff yet sensitive and can be sized up for a comfortable all-day shoe or sized tight for more technical climbing.

climbing shoes womens - the scarpa generator mid uses a tri-tension active randing system...
The Scarpa Generator Mid uses a tri-tension active randing system that gives support to your foot while standing on small holds.
Credit: Luka Krajnc

Although we love the crack-climbing performance of the hi-top Generator Mid, the La Sportiva Katana Lace is still our top choice for thin and technical crack climbing. With a narrow toe box, excellent edging abilities, and relative comfort in cracks, the Katana Lace is a more versatile shoe on routes that require a variety of techniques. Similarly, the Miura VS has some downturn in the toe but not enough of a curve to be painful when jammed – this slightly more aggressive shape makes it a master of difficult, finger-sized cracks. Shoes like the lace-up Miura and Unparallel Up Lace are also good lace-up crack climbing shoes.

climbing shoes womens - some find the toe box to be a bit too asymmetrical on the miura, but...
Some find the toe box to be a bit too asymmetrical on the Miura, but over time these shoes break in to be great for finger cracks and technical face climbs.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Shoes with a significant amount of downturn are often uncomfortable when foot jamming. Models like the La Sportiva Solution and Butora Acro are best reserved for steep face moves. Surprisingly, the Scarpa Vapor V does fairly well in cracks – especially finger and tight-hands cracks – even though it is designed as more of a steep, sporty shoe. The soft midsole and rubber-coated toe make them easy to squeeze into thin, techy jams and it was amazing how well these shoes performed while rand smearing in closed or thin corners.

climbing shoes womens - tight corners, thin jams, and techcy climbing are what the la...
Tight corners, thin jams, and techcy climbing are what the La Sportiva Katana Lace were made for.
Credit: Babsi Vigil

Conclusion


After many days of research, field tests, and analysis of female-specific climbing shoes, we've granted awards to the shoes that are the best in their class and often surpassed our expectations. However, our review comes with an obvious caveat: climbing shoe fit and performance is subjective; what fits one woman like it was custom-made might cause extreme discomfort to another. Take our suggestions with a grain of salt and make your own choices by trying them on before making a purchase. And lastly, don't be afraid to check out all the unisex models. There are plenty of worthwhile shoes that don't come in women's specific versions.

Whitney Clark