An all-around beginner shoe with a stiff profile and a roomy toe box.
With one of the roomiest toe boxes around, the Veloce is the perfect shape for bunions.
The poster child for performance climbing shoes since 2007.
There are so many amazing benefits of bouldering and climbing, but unfortunately, cramming your feet into climbing shoes will do no favors for your foot-modelling career. Of all the foot-related issues that climbers can experience, bunions are one of the most common issues we hear about.
If you have been climbing for a while you most likely seen a few bunions lurking around your local gym or crag. Who knows, you might even be rocking a pair yourself. A bunion occurs when the metatarsal bone starts to turn outwards, whilst simultaneously, the big toe points inwards which causes the joint to prominently stick out.
They are extremely common and affect more than 50% of climbers on both feet and 20% of climbers on one foot. Tailor’s bunions, found on the outside of the little toe, are similar although they are thought to be less common.
With a mind-boggling number of climbers being effected by bunions, you can’t help but wonder if our climbing shoes cause bunions (we will get into that debate shortly).
Before you throw away your gear and vow never to climb again, there is hope. There are some good climbing shoes out there that might be perfect for you.
The Best Climbing Shoes For Bunions
Unfortunately, the hard truth reality is that climbing shoes need to be tight to get the most our of them best.
Even if you are wearing neutral shoes, you will still want a secure fitting shoe with your toes slightly curled. This helps your little piggies stay strong when you are standing on small edges. A pointed tip is also a prominent feature found on almost every type of climbing shoe. While this pointed tip significantly improves your ability to laser in on your the foot work, it won’t do your bunions any favours.
When it comes to climbing shoes for bunions, here is my advice(this isn’t medical guidance by the way, I don’t have some Harvard Medical PhD I forgot to mention).
If you have bunions, or are just starting to develop them, it is wise to stay away from aggressive climbing shoes. You are going to want to look for that have a wide, square-shaped, toe box. Like I said before, all climbing shoes are going to have a point but some are wider, and more rounded, than others, which puts less strain on your big toe. These shoes are also great from my roman-shaped homies out there.
To help get the search going, here’s a few shoes I think are worth taking a look at.
OUR TOP PICK
The Veloce is easily my top pick as the best climbing shoe for bunions right now. I have been using them over the last few months and have been amazed at how comfortable they are. I feel no pressure on my metatarsal bone when I wear them. The Veloce also delivers some pretty good performance without the usual toe-crushing pain.
Scarpa opted to use a uniquely square-shaped toe box for this shoe, making them ideal for bunions and wide feet. The inside edge doesn’t have a highly asymmetrical shape either, which helps your big toe sit in a more natural resting position.
Designed specifically for gym climbing, the S-72 rubber is great for smearing on walls and large volumes. Because they are a softer rubber, you might find they wear out faster than other compounds. That said, they can easily resoled by Scarpa’s service, ensuring a long-lasting lifespan.
Just because these are comfortable, don’t think they are slouch when it comes to crushing hard. The slightly downturned profile accommodates the overhung problems in your life, and the super soft construction conform really nicely to gym volumes.
Because of that wider toe box, they don’t exactly have the most precise toe box, but you can’t have it all
The Veloce shoe is perfect for beginner and advanced gym rats alike who suffer from bunions. Coming with a respectable price tag, they are really hard to argue with.
BEST FOR COMFORT
Mad Rock Remora
Mad Rock has a great selection of climbing shoes, many of which are good options for climbers with bunions.
If I had to pick one out though, it would be the Remora. This soft slip-on shoe has a particularly wide toe box, with a less prominent point, both of which are ideal features for feet with bunions. I also like that the toe patch rubber isn’t a rigid compound, allowing your toes to naturally spread out out and enables flexibility when weighting the toe box.
Because of this slipper design, they are also easy to get on and off, helping prevent pressure building up on your feet.
Although we probably won’t be seeing anyone climb 9c in a pair of Remoras any time soon, these shoes are more than capable of helping crush hard thanks to the sticky Science Friction rubber on the soles.
Don’t write the Remoras off as a second-rate shoe though. These shoes were favored by a handful of Olympic athletes, like the Mawem brothers, for speed climbing as well as for training sessions.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
La Sportiva Tarantulace
The Taratulace is designed for all-day comfort with soft uppers and a flat-last profile. The rounded toe box leaves your toes room to spread comfortably and lay flat without being pinched against each other.
These shoes, while comfortable, still edge well. Heel hooks and smears feel relatively secure thanks to the 5mm of Frixion rubber. Being lace-ups, the fit can be dialled in to suit the shape of your feet, and remain comfortable enough for the lazy climber to keep them on while belaying.
The Tarantulace would suit beginner climbers or long multi-pitch days.
BEST FOR INTERMIDATES
La Sportiva Solution
I am going to be straight with you ehre. When it comes to bouldering shoes for bunions, things get even harder. Really, these shoes need to be asymmetric, downturned, and pointed to allow for the power to be directed over the big toe. This really helps with precision placements and unparalleled pocket-pulling ability.
Unfortunately, that also means your bunions might not be happy.
That said the La Sportiva Solution, favored by many professionals like Daniel Woods and Alex Honnold, might be worth a consideration.
The toe has laser-sharp precision, yet the wide toe box allows for less pressure on the big toe joint. I have several pairs of these over the years, and they always seem to give a great fit in the toe area.
The 3D heel cup is also a really nice addition to the shoe and it great for heel hooks. These shoes are great for suit sport climbers on overhanging routes, boulderers, and serious crushers that want a high-performance shoe without torturing their toes.
Can Climbing Shoes Cause Bunions?
According to Harvard Medical School and Healthline, the consensus is that wearing small shoes can trigger bunions (which by extension includes climbing shoes) although they are not the underlying reason why they form.
Foot experts think that your susceptibility to bunions is hereditary, although it can also be triggered by foot injuries, and arthritis.
Apparently though, some foot shapes and structures are more prone to bunions than other. Low arches, flat feet and loose joints all increase the risk of bunions, which can then be triggered by certain types of footwear.
It is thought that high heels are one of the worst shoes for exacerbating the problem, as they place the majority of your body weight over your toes, which are then forced against the front of the shoe. If you think about it an almost identical scenario occurs when we put our feet in climbing shoes.
Our Top 3 Foot Care Tips
As with everything, prevention is the best remedy. The same goes for your feet; waiting for your problems to worsen might result in pain that keeps you off the rocks for longer. Before pain occurs, practicing good foot care will help avoid some of the common issues climbers face.
Bunion pads or corn covers – Examine your feet regularly for signs of corns or bunions developing. Any redness or swelling might indicate the start of these foot problems. Don’t wait until you’re in pain! Slap on a bunion or corn cover to protect the points of contact from friction with shoes.
Take shoes off in between climbs – Climbing shoes are designed to channel power onto the big toes and can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods. Taking them off while belaying or in between sending boulder problems will go a long way to helping your feet breathe, stretch and recover.
Choose appropriate shoes – Climbing shoes can be uncomfortable and tight-fitting, but they don’t have to be instruments of torture that cut off circulation. The perfect shoes are out there for you, just be patient, and you’ll find one that fits like a glove, and you enjoy (somewhat!) putting on.
What’s the right shoe for you?
As well as the shoes we’ve listed above, there are other shoes out there that can be comfortable for bunion sufferers. Look for shoes with wide toe boxes, larger widths, asymmetrical designs to give the big toe more room, and leather uppers that will stretch more and conform to the shape of your foot.
REMEMBER KIDS: This article is not meant to replace any medical advice. If in pain or doubt, always consult a medical professional.
Staying healthy and pain-free means more time on the rock!