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How To Pick The Right Climbing Shoes (Beginners)

How To Pick The Right Climbing Shoes (Beginners) - The Adventure Found Me

I’ve been climbing for a while and what I wished I’d know when I first started, was how to pick the right climbing shoes. When the time comes,  buying your first pair of climbing shoes might be a daunting task. You might feel lost due to the countless of options from which to choose from, I know I did.

If you want to gather some information by yourself before make the purchase, make use of this small buyer’s guide to help you out! Note that it’s always best to receive advice from and expert clerk in a shop. Now let’s get to the real info!

1. Don’t Worry About Shoe Type

There are neutral, moderate (slightly downturned shape) and aggressive (very downturned) shoes. When you start climbing you shouldn’t worry too much about shoe type. They need to be comfortable but functional so a neutral will do. Do not buy a high performance shoes just because it looks nice or your favorite climber is wearing it. It might actually discourage you to climb if it’s uncomfortable.

2. Comfortable, Not Loose

Be careful, I made this mistake when I started. The first shoes I bought were from Decathlon (the shoes were not bad for beginners) but they were too big. When I put on my street number they felt tight already, but at the time I didn’t know that they were supposed to be like that, so I bought them 1 size bigger. As a result I kept slipping from footholds, sacrificing performance for comfort and I had to buy another pair. The best climbing shoes should be tight, but not too tight (it shouldn’t hurt your feet too much). When you put them on, your fingers should lay flat or slightly downturned in the shoes. You need to be able to place your weight on your big toe when you step on a hold.

rock climbing

3. Buy Cheap Shoes

The price shouldn’t be too high for a beginner climbing shoe, because bad footwork inevitably will wear them out quickly, especially if you train most of the time at the climbing gym.

4. Leather VS Synthetic

The upper part of the shoe is either leather or synthetic. Leather shoes are unlined or lined. Unlined shoes can stretch up to a full size after a few days of climbing. Lined shoes can stretch a half-size or less, while synthetic shoes don’t stretch at all, they just soften with use.

5. Let’s Talk Numbers

The important difference in sizing comes from the material of the shoes. To size leather shoes, your toes should touch the end of the shoe, you have to feel your toe knuckles pushing against the leather but not too hard. Usually you should go down to a size compared to your street one. In a few days of use they will stretch a bit and you will be more comfortable. Synthetic shoes shouldn’t be as tight as leather ones when you try them on, as they will not stretch. Indicatively, your toes should touch the end of the shoe, bending a bit. The size with this type is usually the same of your street one.

A great shoe for new climbers in my experience is La Sportiva Tarantula, I bought it after the one from Decathlon and I was pretty satisfied with it. It’s a good balance between comfort and performance and it’s cheap compared to other beginners shoes. The price is around  $90.00 (€69.90) and you can find them here.

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8 Comments on "How To Pick The Right Climbing Shoes (Beginners)"

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I find very hard to pick the right climbing shoes… Thank you for your tips 🙂

Veena Rafi

Thank you, thats a pretty good read. I am planning to climb mountains this summer, when I get my climbing shoes I will recall this info! 🙂

Emmie (@carpediememmie)

I really want to give climbing a go this year so this post is really useful for the future!


Thanks for the tips. I would have made the rookie mistake of buying shoes too big if I hadn’t read this post! There are so many options out there it’s hard to know the right type of hiking shoes are right for you. But I agree the most expensive or highly known brands are not always the best options.

Saurabh Rastogi

Thanks for the info! Helpful for beginners! 🙂


This was some really great advice and certainly, as a newbie, some that will come in very useful. And really, there can be few things for detrimental to a day of climbing than having the wrong pair of shoes. Will definitely keep these suggestions in mind when I am buying my next pair


Great article! This has been very helpful 🙂

FS Page

Thanks for laying out a structured post on something that is often confusing. I have number of times ended up buying a wrong pair and realise it only when you are out in the field without any chance to replace them. Your blog will help me in getting the right ones now