Home People Stories Choosing the best sport climbing shoes: from the gym to the crag
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Choosing the best sport climbing shoes: from the gym to the crag

Sport climbing at crag vs sport climbing in the gym: two different sports? Let's find out together

Choosing the best sport climbing shoes: from the gym to the crag

Sport climbing is a discipline that, especially in recent years, has had an exponential growth both in terms of media and in terms of the number of people increasingly intrigued by this sport so much so that they began to practice it.

Its main peculiarity is that it can be practiced in different contexts and for everyone it is good to know its characteristics and the best ways to practice it.

Sport climbing in crags vs sport climbing in the gym

What is crag climbing

Let’s start with climbing in the gym!

Usually in these contexts we find fairly high walls with carabiners already fixed where the rope will pass or, in some cases, the rope can be found already prepared for the ascent. At the same time we can find areas with softer ground, lower walls that are called boulders to  be climbed without the help of a rope and that do not exceed 5 meters in height.

The entire gym is also made up of numerous holds of different sizes and colors that define a path to follow along with the different slopes and, usually, you have to follow only one color from the beginning to the end of the climb.

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Top rope climing

The walls with the rope already positioned at the top are suitable for climbing called top rope and it is probably the safest type of climbing and an excellent starting point for those who want to approach this discipline.

Walls without ropes, on the other hand, are for lead climbing  and it is a technique that requires more skills because it can involve greater risks than top rope, so it is necessary to already be familiar with this sport.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
lead climing

Lead climbing consists of starting with the rope on the ground tied to the harness and, climbing along the wall, hooks up to the quickdraws to avoid possible falls if you slip or jump a support.

Climbing in the gym is very safe. Injuries can be around the corner, as in any other sport, but the context in which it is practiced is designed and conceived to minimize the possibility of getting injured and to allow you to train safely if you then decide to take the next step; that is, try your hand at rock climbing.

How to practice climbing in the gym

Climbing on rock faces, unlike the gym, requires much more equipment since on rock there are no man-made holds, but only nails or chains that help the ascent or descent. The routes on rock are much longer than those of the gym and the types of routes, movements and variations can be endless: such as from sandstone in America to limestone in the Mediterranean.

There are other types of climbing that can be practiced outside of a gym, such as traditional climbing,  which is so called because rock materials such as nails or chains are not fixed. It is a type of discipline that does not want to leave a trace, the rock remains clean and free so that it can also be defined as “clean“.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
rock climbing

Crags climbing: best sport climbing shoes

Since indoor and outdoor sport climbing is a very technical sport that requires excellent preparation, it is good to know that the choice of footwear is essential to allow you to experience the thrill of defying gravity and height.

Let’s get it started with regard to rock wall climbing!

First of all, it is good to dispel the common myth that those who manage to wear very small shoes are more advantaged because this can lead to pain and damage to the feet and also be a problem in enhancing the supports on the wall.

The footwear, when worn, is essential that it gives the feeling of support with the toes that are semi-arched, i.e. not completely extended, and do not leave any space at the toe or heel for safety reasons.

Another important feature of this type of shoe is their curvature. The more pronounced this curvature, the more suitable the shoe will be for an experienced climber, while a straighter and more symmetrical one is recommended for beginners. In any case, most of the shoes are asymmetrical in order to make the most of the supports by balancing the body.

As far as soles are concerned, there are 3 different types:

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Scarpa: entire sole climbing shoe
Photo credit: Lineaverticale

The entire sole in which a piece of rubber totally covers the entire shoe, guaranteeing excellent rigidity and, consequently, relieves the muscle tension that is generated during climbing in the calves. This type of sole is used in all symmetrical shoe shoes, which is great for beginners.

The half sole , on the other hand, is designed for more sensitive footwear, i.e. it gives greater flexibility thanks to the fact that the rubber covers only the toe and heel, leaving the central part free. Being a very soft sole unlike the full one, it requires more force from the climber to be controlled.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Elvove oracle: half-sole climbing shoe
Photo credit: oliunid
best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Futura: No-Edge® climbing shoe
Photo credit: La Sportiva

A third type of sole is the one introduced by La Sportiva called No-Edge, characterized by the fact that it has no edges so as to perfectly follow the shape of the foot, reducing unused spaces, offering greater precision and fluidity of movements.

3 models of best crag sport climbing shoes

We want to introduce you to some models that are perfect for wall climbing.

Niad Lace

This Five Ten shoe  is mainly intended for experts in this discipline because they have a rigid structure, with a full and rigid sole so as to lend excellent support and support even in the most precarious situations.

Their not excessively arched and asymmetrical shape offers comfort even for many hours and on long routes, while the materials used and the rubber insert in the front of the shoe make them excellent footwear for various types of climbing and for different types of rocks.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Photo credit: Adidas

Tenaya IATI

This liner from the Tenaya brand has been designed with the most advanced technologies that can be found in this market.

The upper features a mixed upper of microfiber and leather to offer comfort, responsiveness and high performance. It has also been designed to be a very breathable shoe, so it is possible to climb even on the hottest days, the Vibram XS Grip sole instead is designed to give the necessary thrust especially during overhanging passages, while the toe has been made to offer excellent support even on the points where there are narrower and smaller supports.

An interesting new feature of the IATI is the Draxtor locking system. The tear is adjustable through laces which, together with the adjustment system of the sole and the structure of the shoe, allow accurate precision in adjusting the feeling with the liner.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Tenaya IATI
Photo credit: Tenaya

Regulus by Unparallel

This climbing shoe is able to offer absolute precision and excellent performance for various types of climbing.

The upper is made of synthetic materials and does not have a lining so as to guarantee softness in contact with the foot, maintaining its shape over time without spreading excessively. Its shape and very rigid midsole make the shoe excellent especially from the point of view of precision, grip and support even in the smallest and most insidious supports, also thanks to the rubber positioned in the upper part of the toes. The heel area has also been covered with rubber, so even in that area of the foot the supports will be very precise and above all comfortable.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Unparallel Regulus
Photo credit: Oliunid

Sport climbing in the gym: best sport climbing shoes

Climbing in the gym is an excellent discipline both to approach this sport, and for all those who in winter, unable or unwilling to climb in snowy or icy environments, prefer indoor to train.

In an outdoor context, it is common practice to have several pairs of shoes in your backpack depending on the walls you intend to climb, while in the gym it is difficult to believe that it is preferable to bring more shoes, perhaps for warm-up and performance. The experienced climber almost always has a very precise idea of what type of training he wants to do and consequently he will bring the most suitable equipment, but for beginners or those who have recently approached this sport it is more complicated to decide which type of climbing to prioritize to train.

If in an outdoor context, in general, we give more importance to the precision and sensitivity of the foot, an indoor shoe has as a priority that of being comfortable. In the general conception of “comfort” it is important to consider the type of lacing, highlighting how there is no rule that proves how a shoe with laces is less suitable for the gym, but the speed with which we put on and take off the ballerinas or shoes with Velcro have allowed these models to achieve enormous success in the climbing scene in the gym.

3 models of best sport climbing shoes in the gym


This model of the Butora brand  is characterized by an adhesive rubber and with an adjustable closure allowing you to put on and take off the shoes with extreme ease.

The tip has an adhesive rubber patch to offer excellent sensitivity and a firm and secure grip when attaching. This shoe is very suitable for indoor climbing, especially for the medium-stiff midsole that offers more power in smaller cracks and for the hooking of both the toe and heel on the stiffest sections, offering excellent performance.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Acro Butora
Photo credit: Butora


Solution is a La Sportiva shoe  that is mainly designed for indoor use but can also be adapted to outdoor contexts. Both the inside and outside of the shoe are made with a synthetic fabric to preserve it, while the closure is made up of the classic laces.

Its versatility and ability to adapt perfectly both in the gym and outdoors and on heights and different types of supports, make it a very valid product.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Solution La Spotiva
Photo credit: La Sportiva

Force V

The model designed by  the Scarpa brand  is a shoe mainly suitable for beginners, especially for the possibility of assuming natural positions with the foot  thanks to the soft padding and the relaxed shape of the wide toe.

The upper is made of suede and abuk, efficiency and grip are, on the other hand, the main qualities that most distinguish this shoe thanks above all to the flat structure that also guarantees comfort and high performance.

best sport climbing shoes | shoestechnologies
Force V Scarpa
Photo credit: Scarpa

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