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Last updated: March 27, 2021
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To the untrained eye, it may seem that all climbing shoes are created the same. However, that is not the case at all. Climbing shoes come in different styles or profiles which cater to different climbing styles. Just as there are different types of terrain to climb, there are different shoe profiles that work best for different rock contours. Plus, there are differences between men’s and women’s climbing shoes as well. So, female climbers looking to find a good fit for their feet need to invest a fair bit of research into what they purchase.
In general, the best women’s climbing shoes will offer all-day comfort, support, and a secure fit to enhance the climbing experience. That is why aspects of shoe shopping such as the weight, sole and upper material, closure type and shoe profile are of extreme importance. Now these are features you may not think too carefully about when getting a regular pair of shoes, but for climbers, these aspects can make all the difference between a good climb and a great one.
To make this choice easier to understand, we have put together a list of the five best women’s climbing shoes for different types of climbs. Our experts look at the individual features of each model in-descriptive product reviews and then we round off with a buying guide to help you understand these features better.
The relatively new and improved version of Evolv’s best-selling climbing shoe is one with great promise for climbers of almost any level. With plenty of features and a quality that enhances your climbing performance, all at a very affordable price, we’ll explain to you what makes this all-purpose climbing shoe our Editor’s Choice.
One thing the designers made sure to improve was the overall fit of the shoe: with the new vegan-friendly Synthratek VX upper material, you get a soft and secure feeling in these shoes, and they’re less prone to stretching in the long run. These shoes are equipped with Velcro straps that allow you to more conveniently slip the shoes on and off.
A lightweight interior, anti-microbial mesh prevents any development of moisture or odor from long periods of use, adding to overall comfort. Reviewers find the shoe to be perfectly snug, especially after two or three days of use, as they break in and conform to your foot shape well.
To aid in performance, the Elektra comes with TRAX high-friction rubber components, said to be some of the highest performing rubber on the market. On top of that, the molded toe rands have varying thickness which add extra durability and make this shoe good for edging.
One recurring issue among reviewers is with the shoe sizing. The particular shoes run about a size smaller than standard sizing, which might make for discomfort for an aggressive wear. Knowing this or trying out a few pairs before purchasing should help you find the right fit.
It’s not always easy to find a good quality climbing shoe that properly fits wide feet. However, the Butora Endeavor provides an affordable solution to this issue that prioritizes well-rounded performance and comfort.
The 100% organic hemp fabric is a breathable and quick-drying one. It’s stretch-resistant and won’t cause any odor. On top of that, the leather-synthetic mix of an upper wields the right amount of comfort in all the right areas of the foot. Memory foam lines the inner tongue and the moisture-wicking split leather footbed keep the interior dry, adding an extra layer of comfort. Velcro straps offer a snug, customizable fit.
To keep things simple, this shoe is flat with no significant downturn, and has a flexible polyurethane midsole so it can flex more easily with your foot and provide precision when edging. This is a great feature for encouraging beginners, or for the all-day climber.
Though it works well as an all-round or beginner shoe, the Endeavor isn’t recommended for high performance usage.
Like the Elektra, this shoe runs about a size small, and trying this shoe out is recommended before you make your purchase.
Overall, the Butora wide fit Endeavor is a great wide-fit shoe for the price that can work for almost any level, from the beginner to the gym regular. It’s not only super comfortable, but also comes with great quality build and materials. Its value and comfort easily make it our pick for the best wide foot women’s climbing shoe.
The recently revamped La Sportiva Solution is a top-notch high-performance climbing shoe that is a favorite among many reviewers for all the right reasons: it’s got precision, an aggressive downturn shape, comfort, and improvements from the previous version to top it all off.
Specialized for sport climbing, these women’s Solution shoes are beasts when it comes to scaling steep terrain. The heavily downturned shape allows you to easily hook onto small foot holds or pockets, ideal for vertical or even overhanging surfaces. An improved feature on this version is the new 3D Heel Cup design, that has been changed due to customer feedback to provide better heel hooking and add to performance overall.
Despite what you might think with such an aggressively downturned shoe, the Solution is actually made to be quite comfortable. The arch fits snugly while the soft sole conforms to the foot and the climbing surface. This makes the shoe more sensitive and precise.
This is a great specialty shoe that will definitely improve your game when it comes to sport climbing. It’s the best at what it does and our favorite choice for the best women’s rock-climbing shoes.
It is, however, really a one-purpose tool and isn’t very versatile. It also comes pretty pricey, but we guarantee the value is worth it if you want to take your sport-climbing skills to new heights.
What we liked:
Aggressive shape becomes extra useful when rock climbing
Another climbing shoe from La Sportiva, the Boulder X is an approach shoe well-equipped for scrambling and hiking on many varied types of terrain. Its versatility, quality, and excellent traction support are why we believe it’s the best approach shoe for women.
What really sells this shoe as your best approach option is its traction support. The Vibram Idro-Grip sole and tread pattern both specialize in smearing capability, making an otherwise intimidating climbing technique far more reassuring and easier. This shoe may appear bulky but the moderately stiff build allows for just enough flexibility to perform well on any rock surface. You can apply most techniques well, including crack climbing and edging. The rubber toe rand helps greatly with crack climbing or edging, and makes the shoe more durable. On top of that, the Boulder X is weather-resistant and performs consistently on dirt, mud, and sand.
This shoe also provides a decent amount of comfort. Made for those long hikes or scrambling, it comes with extra cushioning in the footbed and midsole and can support you even when carrying extra loads with you. The shoe itself is quite heavy, however, and would be a bit much for hiking over less intense terrain.
What we liked:
Excellent traction support on almost any climbing surface
Durable in many weather conditions
Good versatility, excellent for hiking or scrambling
If you’re looking for reliable quality climbing shoes at a bargain price for beginning or warming up, the SCARPA Origin shoe is definitely one to consider. This affordable shoe has all the basics to get a beginning climber started and the quality to withstand the wear of regular practice.
One thing to note is that the Origin was made with beginning climbers in mind. For those not yet confident with continuing climbing or who are unfamiliar with shoe specs and performance, this shoe was made for you with all the basics.
That being said, this shoe has a neutral shape with no inherent downturn. You can comfortably practice all day with this shoe. A minor asymmetry helps you get the hang of edging and the Vision rubber bottom provides enough friction to encourage new climbers to practice and help them gain confidence. The shoe is also very flexible and provides good sensitivity to help improve performance.
Others features include a 100% suede leather upper that won’t stretch and offers comfort. A dual Velcro strap closure system makes it easy to slip these shoes on and off, and allow you to customize the tightness.
All these features make the SCARPA Origin one of the best shoes for beginners, or anyone looking for an affordable warm-up or all-purpose climbing shoe. The all-purpose functionality and great value are why we nominate this shoe our list’s budget pick.
The Origin shoe is useful in many climbing situations, but is not ideal for advanced climbers or those looking for more aggressive shoes.
What we liked:
Excellent affordability and value
Neutral shape, very comfortable for beginners
What could be better:
Not suitable for advanced climbing
Things to Consider
When you’re on the look-out for the right climbing shoes, remember that you’re not looking for regular shoes. The shoes you’re looking for are specialized for outdoor intense trekking. Climbing shoes are very different from walking or hiking shoes and it’s important to understand this before you go looking for a pair.
The benefits of climbing shoes made for women
Besides the fact that these shoes are made to help you climb properly, they keep your feet as comfortable as they can be. To ensure your feet don’t tire out, the heels have extra support underneath them. The toes are also downturned so you can fit your shoe into tiny footholds better.
A man’s foot versus a woman’s foot is different. Getting the proper fit when it comes to climbing shoes is very important. So, it’s better to have shoes made specially for a woman’s feet if you want to find the perfect fit that won’t fail you on the rocks.
Climbing tips and tricks to help you reach new height
Here are some tips you can use in your practice runs to get better at climbing:
Rely more on your feet to push you up, not your arms to pull you up. Let your feet push you higher and only use your arms to guide your upper torso.
Find yourself a belayer that you can trust is strong enough to hold you. Most people’s fear lies in their belayer not being reliable.
Look for holds close to you, don’t try to reach one that is too far off just because it looks more secure.
Place your focus on the climb going bottom up. People who focus only on the top will reach too far up and forget to foot themselves properly.
Your body should be positioned in an X, so you’re center of balance is the hips where the most movement is.
Never rush through your climb. Take as much time as you need to calculate your movements and practice harder notches and ledges.
Perfect women’s climbing shoes should be searched by the following features
You’ll need to find the right climbing shoe for you by looking at some different aspects in comparison to a regular shoe. Comfort, grip, material, flexibility, these are all things you have to keep a sharp eye out for. The better the shoe, the better your climbing experience will be.
Here are some vital features to consider:
How does it fit?
In truth, there is no one surefire way to determine what fits you best. Most people enjoy a more snug fit that hugs their foot while they climb. Some people would actually prefer wiggle room so their foot can be in greater control of the shoe, and not the other way around.
There are, however, basic guidelines for beginner, intermediate, and professional climbers to follow when finding the perfect shoe that suits their style of climbing. This video can give you some great pointers to start searching for your climbing shoe:
Climbing shoes have different profiles with each profile made for different climbing purposes. The first style is the flat shoe profile such as the SCARPA Origin. This shoe is better suited for multi-pitch routes or climbs that have many cracks in them.
The second style is the curved shoe profile. This profile works better in higher climbs where the holds become thinner and harder to balance on. The shape of the shoe allows you to tip-toe without straining your toes and sole into an uncomfortable position.
The final profile is made for steep, overhanging climbs. This is the hooked shoe profile, which centers all of your balance in your big toe. This position helps you power your way up with force and not hurt your foot at the same time.
There are three types of leather you can find in your climbing shoe. The first is unlined leather, which is the most breathable and conforms to your foot shape. Then there is lined leather, which offers a more snug fit, and doesn’t build up smell quickly. Finally, there is synthetic leather which is durable and animal friendly.
The midsole of your shoe lies in between the footbed and rubber outsole. The midsole is where the shoe’s stiffness is produced and there is a different level of stiffness depending on the material it is made out of, or which leather has been used in this case. The midsole also reinforces the toe box which helps strengthen your toes while you’re out on your climb.
This is the rubber located on your shoe. The rubber on your shoe helps provide a strong grip while you climb. The firmer the rubber is, the better your balance on the rocks will be.
Thick outsoles can measure 4-5.5mm. while thinner soles measure 3-4mm. thick. The thicker the sole is, the better the support and the longer it will last. Thicker soles are better for beginner climbers. The thinner the sole, the better your smearing technique can be, and the more sensitive and greater feel of the rock you can get. Thinner soles are more suited for professional rock climbers.
The flexibility of your shoe lies in the midsole. With a more flexible sole, you can maneuver easier on your climb. Shoes that have softer midsoles are ideal for indoor climbing, where your strategy will carry you to the top. A more solid sole is what you want on a climb outdoors. These soles are sturdier, more stable, and have better support.
Velcro and slipper shoes are the easiest to slip on and off, so they’re best for gym, sport, and boulder climbers. An easy-to-slip on/off shoe will make putting them on and taking them off between climbs easier. The Evolv Elektra, the Butora Endeavor, and the La Sportiva Solution fall in this category.
Lace-up shoes are better for alpine climbers. Lace-ups can be secured and customized to fit more snugly. They also have less chance of opening as Velcro and slipper shoes do. This makes them better for longer and more frustrating climbing routes. Look at the La Sportiva Boulder X for this option.
You should look for a weather resistant shoe if you’re planning on taking your climbs outdoors. It should be resistant to colder winds and higher altitudes since the only way you’ll climb is up. The rubber that is constructed into the shoe should compete with the colder weather as well. It should manage to take the general shape of the rocks you are climbing.
The weight can help you determine how thick or thin the material and sole of the shoe is. The weight will help you determine the purpose of the shoe. As such, what you need to focus on is practicing in your shoes, so you get used to the additional weight over your feet.
Enjoy the price
Let’s face it, these shoes are not going to come cheap. Don’t expect a nice price like the ones you would get on regular sneakers. Those aren’t made with as much precision, care, and pressure placed on their shoulders. Instead, climbing shoes are styled differently, use different materials, and are made to last in situations sneakers would run from.
Don’t let the price tag intimidate. If you’re serious about climbing in any form, then buy these shoes and make the most out of them.
The more flexible the shoe is, the better suited it’ll be for a wider foot. You’ll still need a snug fit to make sure your feet are secured and positioned properly, but to make sure they’re not uncomfortable when climbing, a flexible material should be investigated.
Yes, it matters a lot. You have to make sure your shoe’s size is snug, breathable and doesn’t position your foot unnaturally. You may notice your regular foot size is not the one that works with a climbing shoe, so try on more than one fitting to see which one suits you best.
Unisex shoes are constructed with general shape, not customized. As a beginner, there is no short-term harm in using a unisex shoe. In the long run, however, you may need to move to a more fitting woman’s shoe and after practicing with a unisex shaped shoe, that transition may be uncomfortable.
Our favorite overall choice would have to the Evolv Elektra. The revamp of this already popular shoe has definitely improved it for the better with a great snug fit, improved performance and durability all for about the same great affordable price. It’s a versatile all-purpose shoe that works well for climbers of all levels.
If you’re looking for a good well-rounded shoe tailored for wide feet, the Butora Endeavor is the best women’s climbing shoe for you. It comes at an excellent value for the price with everything you need for any use. It’s also extremely comfortable.
The La Sportiva Solution for women is just about the best choice if you’re looking for a comfortable and top-notch high-performance sport climbing shoe. It’s specialized to be the best at what it does, with plenty of improvements added recently to enhance your sport climbing experience.