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The Best All Around Climbing shoes

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Looking for a shoe that can do it all? The shoe that can keep you edging away on tricky terrain for hours, but still hold its own on gym volumes and steep boulder problems. Here are a few “quiver of one” shoes that are rocking our world.

vsr

Best Overall

Scarpa Instinct VSR

When I only have space for one pair of shoes, the Scarpa Instinct VSR is the shoe I turn to.

La Sportiva Finale - All day climbing shoes

For Beginners

La Sportiva Finale

An awesome all-rounder, the Finale has an appetite for technical footwork on outdoor routes.

La Sportiva Skwama Review

For Wide Feet

La Sportiva Skwama

The Skwama is a gym climber’s best friend but excels at all angles of rock and plastic.

Five Ten NIAD VCS

For Narrow Feet

Five Ten NIAD VCS

A sport and boulder all arounder, the NIAD VCS is great for slab and vertical climbing

We price check from over 12 of our most trusted retailers and share the lowest price for every shoe we recommend on this page. If you click a link, we may also make a little commission (at no extra cost to you, obviously).

Your bank account isn’t going to want to hear this, but most serious climbers will own multiple pairs of shoes. Besides the rush of a late-night shopping spree, there’s a good reason why most climbers – especially those who dabble with a variety of terrain and disciplines – keep a well-stocked shoe selection.

When a manufacturer makes a shoe, they design it with specific terrain and climbing styles in mind. Some have a stiff midsole and a full-length outsole that allows them to stand on micro-edges. In contrast, other shoes might not have any underfoot support at all, making them incredibly soft and sensitive – the perfect recipe for smearing.

But as a beginner or a climber on a budget, having a shoe collection on par with a pro athlete isn’t exactly realistic. For many, an all-around climbing shoe is called for. Something that can help send your bouldering project, clip the chains on a pumpy sport route and even top out a tasty trad line, if that’s your thing.

My Favorite All Around Shoes

Finding an all-day climbing shoe that can crush hard across all terrain and climbing styles is a tall order. The characteristics we look for in a shoe that is capable of sending an overhung gym boulder are completely different from the requirements needed for a shoe used on a technical granite slab in Yosemite.

However, there are certainly a few shoes out there capable of adapting to a range of climbing terrain. My 5 favorite all-round climbing shoes, shown below, will give you an idea of some shoes that will work across a vast variety of climbing disciplines including boulderingsport climbing, and even a bit of trad climbing.

My Top Pick

Scarpa Instinct VSR

Scarpa Instinct VSR Review
Overall
8.8
(5 reviews)
  • Edging - 8/10
    8/10
  • Smearing - 9/10
    9/10
  • Steep Terrain - 9/10
    9/10
  • Comfort - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Sensitivity - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Value For Money - 8.5/10
    8.5/10

Pros

  • Awesome for indoor and outdoor sport/bouldering
  • Velcro/slipper hybrid closure keeps the shoe nice and secure, with easy on/off access
  • 6-panel uppers allow for custom molding without excessive stretch
  • Sensitive and flexible, but can still stick an edge

Cons

  • Not ideal for super narrow feet
  • Velcro strap is a bit long
  • The single strap  doesn’t allow for any fit adjustment
  • Wide heel can be awkward

Best For: Diverse sport and bouldering

When there’s only space in my bag for one shoe, this is the one I turn to. The Instinct VSR has become a ridiculously popular gym shoe in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. It edges and smears awesomely well in equal measure, and the Instinct dual-texture toe patch is one of the best ever created (at least in my opinion). These features make the VSR awesome for burns on all the hard boulders your gym has to offer. You can go from bat hanging on the boulder cave one minute, to precariously balancing on the slab wall the next.

Scarpa Instinct VSR gym climbing

Even outside, the VSR rarely disappoints. From polished limestone pockets to barely there granite crystals, this shoe adapts to just about anything you can throw at it.

As the VSR is a softer shoe, your toes work a little harder than some of the stiffer shoes on this list. This makes them less suited to longer multi-pitch routes, and can also lead to several rounds of resoling pretty quickly. But when it comes to the best all around sport and bouldering shoes out there, the VSR is one of the best.

Best For Beginners

La Sportiva Finale

La Sportiva Finale Review
Overall
7.65
(5 reviews)
  • Edging - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Smearing - 7/10
    7/10
  • Steep Terrain - 6/10
    6/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sensitivity - 6/10
    6/10
  • Value For Money - 9/10
    9/10

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Good all-around performance
  • Vibram XS Edge rubber
  • Good at edging

Cons

  • Small toe patch
  • Limited sensitivity

Best For: Long climbing days and precise footwork

The Finale is an awesome all-day climbing shoe built with beginner and intermediate climbers in mind. This isn’t your average run-of-the-mill beginner model, the Fianle is capable of a lot more than just the beginner gym walls.

Unlike the Instinct VSR, the Finale wasn’t built with sending hard sport routes and boulder problems in mind. Instead, the focus is more on what I would call ‘comfort performance’, offering a higher standard of performance on longer climbing days where comfort is a huge factor.

Testing the la sporitva finale

The Finale’s characteristics, like the thick 5mm XS Edge outsole and full-length midsole make the shoe particularly effective on techie face climbing with barely-there footholds. The slight downturn also helps focus power on your big toe, although it certainly wouldn’t be my shoe of choice for drastically overhung terrain.

Whether you’re finding your feet in a gym, enjoying long days at the crag, or battling your way up a 15-pitch monster, the Finale has the comfort, performance, and durability to keep you climbing happily for hours.

For Indoor

La Sportiva Skwama

La Sportiva Skwama Review
Overall
8.7
(8 reviews)
  • Edging - 8/10
    8/10
  • Smearing - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 9/10
    9/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sensitivity - 9/10
    9/10
  • Value For Money - 9/10
    9/10

Pros

  • Incredibly versatile 
  • Sensitive
  • Soft, yet still precise 

Cons

  • Difficult to resole 

Best For: Performance climbing, indoor and outdoor

I like to think of the Skwama as La Sportiva’s answer to the Scarpa Instinct VSR. Both shoes are ridiculously adaptable to the demands of bouldering and sport climbing, whether that’s in the gym or at the crag.

Regardless of which side you take in the Scarpa vs La Sportiva debate, there is no shortage of climbing professionals and amateur climbers singing the praises for each of these models.

La Sportiva Skwama Womens

Both have almost identical technical specs, so they perform in a very similar manner, but the Skwama split sole feels a little more rigid thanks to the P3 rand, so offers a little more support on the edges.

Your choice between these two shoes will most likely come down to fit and brand preference.

For Outdoor

La Sportiva Miura VS

La Sportiva Miura VS review
Overall
7.7
(2 reviews)
  • Edging - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Smearing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sensitivity - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value For Money - 9/10
    9/10

Pros

  • Incredible edging
  • Versatile performance shoe
  • High & low volume versions
  • Durable rubber

Cons

  • The small toe rand isn’t great for hooking
  • Not my first choice for gym climbing

Best For: Technical footwork, especially outdoors

The Miura VS is a huge favorite among seasoned climbers and a strong contender. Aggressive enough for overhung routes, but neutral enough to deal with any vertical or slab route you throw at them. The pointed-toe box also makes the shoe perfectly suited to dealing with small pockets, while the stiffer sole makes light work of any small edges you plan on balancing on.

The sole has a perfect balance between a stiff and soft profile which is created, in part, by the 4mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber. Regularly seen on the feet of crushers like Adam Ondra and Alex Honnold, especially on routes with highly intricate footwork.

La Sportiva Miura VS all day climbing

As with every shoe, the Miura does have its shortfalls. The shoe doesn’t have a large toe patch or a performance-orientated heel, so struggles when cranking hard on a heel or toe hook. The Miura is also classed as a stiff shoe, so isn’t exactly ideal for smearing your way up a gym volume either. 

Sizing: Like a lot of La Sportiva shoes, the Miuras run pretty big. If you have performance in mind, make sure to size 1-1.5 smaller than your average street shoe. If comfort is a priority, then try a 1/2 size smaller for the perfect fit.

For women: A women’s version of the Miura was released in 2018. There is now a women’s Miura, which you can find here.

For Budgets

Scarpa Arpia

Scarpa Arpia

Best For: Beginners moving away from gym rental shoes

Introduced in 2019, the Arpia has quickly built a reputation as one of Scarpa’s budget all-around climbing shoes.

While the Arpia might not pack the same punch as the Scarpa Instinct line, these shoes are specifically designed for beginners who have outgrown their training wheels and looking for something that puts more emphasis on performance, without completely forsaking comfort.

The shoe’s slight downturn helps on lightly overhanging terrain, while the stiff sole makes the shoe suited to edging and all day climbing. You will notice the split sole covers ⅔ of the bottom, allowing the shoe to stay flexible for smearing, and becoming rigid when edging.

For women: There is also a women’s version of the Arpia. Apart from the color, the main difference between the male and female shoe can be found in the heel, with the female version having a narrower, sculptured heel to provide a better fit for lower-volume feet.

For Narrow Feet

Five Ten NIAD VCS

Five Ten NIAD VCS Review
Overall
7.6
(1 review)
  • Edging - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Smearing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 7/10
    7/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sensitivity - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Value For Money - 8/10
    8/10

Pros

  • Great all-round performance
  • The new heel makes the shoe more secure
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Not great for overhung terrain
  • The rounded toe box is super precise

Best For: Narrow-footed sport climbers

This updated version of the Five Ten classic has (almost) everything you could ask for in an all-around shoe. For a neutral shoe, it holds its own on the tricky boulders, thanks to the new toe patch and 3D heel cup. Surprisingly, it’s also not bad for crack climbing, as the velcro straps have been moved further up the forefoot, giving you more space to jam your toes into hand cracks.

The medium/stiff profile gives the shoe a nice balance when it comes to edging and smearing, both of which are essential criteria for an all around climbing shoe. And Five Ten’s legendary STEALTH rubber gives the shoe bucket loads of friction, both on rock and plastic.

Size: The synthetic uppers don’t stretch much, so make sure you size to fit. I wear my street shoe size in these, but you could go a half size up if you want some extra comfort. Although they were tight at first, they loosened up a little after the break-in process.

What Makes A Good All-around Climbing Shoe?

If none of our suggestions are taking your fancy why not try and find your own all-day climbing shoe? Here are a few of the key things to look out for when hunting for the perfect do-it-all climbing shoe.

The Rubber

all around climbing shoe criteria

The rubber compound used on the sole is a key feature when looking for a multi-purpose climbing shoe. Savvy readers will notice almost all of our top 5 either support Vibram or Five Ten’s Stealth rubber. This is because both of these rubbers are tried and tested on various climbing surfaces including plastic in the gym, soft sandstone, or shiny granite, and have a proven track record of delivering a high level of performance on any surface.

The Last Shape

Choosing a shoe with a moderate last or natural is another important feature. Sure, an aggressive last will work better for overhung routes and bouldering problems, but neutral climbing shoes are more comfortable and are also better suited to longer styles of climbing. When looking for an all day climbing shoe, try to pick a shoe that has a moderate last, to get the best from both worlds. 

The Closure

comfortable all day climbing shoes

Closure systems are the last thing you will want to consider. It’s a known fact that velcro shoes won’t generally perform as well crack climbing as lace or slipper styles. You can see the article where we compared velcro and lace shoes here.

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