The 10 Best Climbing Shoes for Gym

For Every Type of Climber
Scarpa Veloce small

Scarpa
Veloce

Budget-friendly and perfect for beginners looking to up their game.

Scarpa Drago Review

Scarpa
Drago

One of the softest – and stickiest – shoes in Scarpa’s line-up.

La Sportiva Solution Review

La Sportiva
Solution

Arguably the most popular bouldering shoes since its first release in 2007.

Last updated: May 2022

It wasn’t long ago that climbing was an activity reserved for burly mountain dudes with rugged beards and clumsy mountain boots. These daring 20th-century alpinists were true pioneers, kick-starting a revolution that would see rock climbing transform into the mainstream sport it is today. Perhaps the biggest, and most significant,  change the sport has faced in the last 100 years is that many climbers are now climbing on plastic rather than rock.

Although the rugged bears are still a common sight, thankfully, those clunky mountain boots are long gone. Shoe manufacturers churn out an endless amount of specially-constructed indoor climbing shoes, all built with the purpose of helping you crush hard at the gym.

With so many shoes available (over 500 by our count) it can be a bit of a mind field trying to work out which is the right one for you.

Fear not, we are here to help.

OUR ADVICE: Most climbers will want an indoor climbing shoe that utilizes a soft construction and a sticky rubber sole. Why? Because gym climbing is significantly more dynamic and three-dimensional than traditional rock climbing. Softer shoes will conform to those big plastic holds and smear on the sandpaper-like wall with ease.

If you are a complete beginner, you will probably want to consider something a bit stiffer, as this will help you find your feet, and build those climbing-specific muscles. Even for advanced climbers, stiffer shoes still have their benefits for gym climbing, they come in extremely useful for those vertical problems with micro edges and technical crimp sections.

That said, to help on your shoe hunt, we have shortlisted 10 of the best climbing shoes for gym I have tested. 

Take a look!

OUR TOP PICK

Scarpa Drago

Scarpa Drago

Scarpa has been churning out a bunch of great climbing shoes recently, but if there is one that stands above the rest as the best indoor climbing and bouldering shoe, it has to be the Drago.

The Drago is exactly what you need for sticking moves on those big volumes that are super common in modern gym climbing. The Drago’s super soft construction and sticky Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber are ideal for friction moves, whilst the aggressive downturn and large toe patch make the shoe feel at home on overhanging terrain.

The Drago has a lot of the awesome features seen in other Scarpa shoes including a 3D rubber toe box and clever Power Tension Band, which ultimately contribute to the brilliant performance and overall quality of this shoe.

The Drago uses a convenient Velcro sock-style closure, which is ideal for slipping them on and off at the gym.

We Like

Amazing sensitivity
Fast break-in
Perfect for gym climbing
Great toe patch

We Don’t Like

Because they are soft, durability isn’t great

BEST INDOOR BOULDERING SHOE

La Sportiva Solution

La Sportiva Solution Review

It’s no surprise that we have named the La Sportiva Solution as the best indoor bouldering shoe. This high-performance shoe has been at the top of its game for almost 15 years. 

The Solutions have everything you need for a high-performance shoe, whether that’s on plastic or rock, you can’t go wrong with the solutions. 

Stand-out features include a 3D molded heel cup that can handle every crazy heel hook you can throw at it, a ‘hook and loop closure’ system and an aggressive downturn with really forces power over your big toe, more so than many other aggressive shoes I have tested.

If you follow professional bouldering competitions, you will notice that this shoe is a regular with some of the best in the game including Adam Ondra, Jakob Schubert Daniel Woods and many more.

If you want to find out more about the Solution make sure to take a look at our full review here.

For Women: La Sportiva has also made a counterpart for this shoe especially for women. Built on the Women’s PD 75 last, this version of the shoe will ensure a better fit for narrower feet. Find the women’s version here!

We Like

  Laser precise
 Master of the heel  & toe hook
Great for overhangs

We Don’t Like

 Not ideal for smearing
The closure strap is known to break

BEST INDOOR SPORT CLIMBING SHOE

Scarpa Instinct VS

Scarpa Instinct VS

The Instinct line has been Scarpa’s most successful line of performance climbing shoes ever due to its reliability and reputation as all-round climbing shoes.  The original Instinct Lace was first released in the early 2000s, although since then, Scarpa has given the Instinct an update. They have expanded the line to also include the VS, VSR, RS. Although all these shoes are great, the one I really like is the Instinct VS.

For starters, the Instinct VS isn’t as downturned as some of the other shoes on this list, which helps with its all-around performance. The XS Edge rubber is fairly stiffer but this pays off when you are standing on those little micro-edges. The split-sole design also helps keep the shoe flexible and willing to adapt to the demands of indoor climbing.

This velcro version of this hugely popular shoe brings increased precision, tighter fit, and more tension to the table, making it one of the best shoes for indoor sports climbing, in our option, at least.

We Like

  Good for bouldering and sport climbing
 Technical toe box
 Durable rubber

We Don’t Like

 Long break-in period

Not ideal for narrow feet

BEST FOR BUDGETS

Scarpa Veloce

Scarpa Veloce

Being Scarpa’s first purpose-built indoor climbing shoe, the Veloce does a good job at offering a nice balance between performance and comfort. It does this through a moderate downturn and a roomy toe box design, allowing your toes to sit in that powerful crimped position, without the discomfort of pressing your knuckles tightly against the top of the shoe. 

As a result, the Veloce is a good option for beginner climbers looking for a bit more performance in their life. For the more experienced gym rats, it is also a great option for running training laps. It uses the new Scarpa rubber S-72, which is really sticky, although it’s not exactly the most durable compound I have ever used. 

Wide-footed climbers will love the Veloce. The forefoot and heel cup design makes the shoe one of the widest fitting models I have tested. That said, even if you don’t have a wide pair of trotters, but still fancy a pair of Veloces, then make sure to take a look a the lower-volume model, ideal for narrower feet. 

The Veloce doesn’t have the same performance as the Drago or Instinct, but for the lower price point and extra comfort, it’s a really solid indoor bouldering shoe.

We Like

The budget-friendly price
The performance and comfort balance 
Perfect for wide feet

We Don’t Like

The super-soft heel
Less durable rubber

BEST ALL-ROUNDER

La Sportiva Skwama

La Sportiva Skwama

This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the Skwama. I know a lot of climbers that touted it as being one of the best all-rounders in the La Sportiva line and pretty easy to see why. 

It’s one of the softer shoes in the LS line (with the expedition of the Futura and the new Theory) which makes it ideal for gym climbing. The barely-there 08. mm midsole and 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip 2 outsole gives the Skwama brilliant smearing ability, which is also helped by the unique cutout on the ball of your foot, providing the shoe with a little extra flex.  

It edges surprisingly well for such a soft shoe too. This is helped by the La Sportiva P3 technology, which provides plenty of tension, and also helps the Skwama retain its cambered profile. 

I also know that the Skwama is frequently used by Ondra and Honnold for gym training, as well as comp-crusher Akiyo Noguchi for years, so you know you are in safe hands. 

There is a lot more clever tech packed into this shoe, so if you want to learn more be sure to check out our full review.

We Like

Amazing all-round performance 
Brilliant for toe and heel hooking
Its beautiful aesthetics 
Shock-absorbing heel

We Don’t Like

slightly wider fit than other LS models 

BEST OF THE REST

Five Ten Hiangle

cheap womens climbing shoe

There’s plenty of cheap climbing shoes out there but if you want a shoe that will help you climb harder, then you should probably spend more than $100. 

Fortunately, the Hiangle is one of the best indoor climbing shoes that fall on the lower end of the price spectrum. If you are really looking for a bargain, you could even pick up last season’s model for an even better deal.

The Hiangle is a frequent sight on both the world cup circuit and on the feet of amateur gym rats. This shoe brings plenty of 5.10’s famous characteristics to the table which, of course, includes their super sticky Stealth rubber

The next-generation Hiangle varies slightly from the original, most noticeably with a split sole design. The heel and toe are separated by the heel rand, which gives the shoes more flexibility and helps maintain the shoes downturned profile for longer

Five Ten have a long history of creating world-class climbing shoes and with a reasonable price tag, the Hiangle is a good competitor for one of best budget indoor climbing shoes out there.

We Like

  The price tag
Stealth rubber is great on both rock and plastic
The new split sole allows for better smearing

We Don’t Like

 Fit can be awkward
Not a fan of the white uppers

BEST OF THE REST

La Sportiva Kubo

La Sportiva Kubo - Beginner indoor climbing shoe

The Kubo is a beginner indoor climbing shoe and a new addition to our list for 2022.  Eagle-eyed shoe fanatics might notice some stinking similarities between this shoe and a classic La Sportiva model, the Katana VCS. 

This is because both shoes are built on the same last, giving them similar shape profiles. That said, the Kubo certainly isn’t a carbon copy of the Katana with a refreshed design. Unlike the Katana, the Kubo is predominantly made of microfiber, with the exception of a suede insole that provides better friction underfoot, and also provides some additional moisture absorbing properties. 

Another obvious difference is that the Kubo uses a ¾ sole, which provides significantly more flexibility than the Katana, allowing it to adapt better for smearing volumes. It uses XS Edge here, (or Grip 2 on the women’s version) which helps provide more support on to beginner’s feet on those little edges.

We Like

Great for beginners
The P3 platform
The ¾ sole keeps the shoe flexible

We Don’t Like

 Lack performance on overhangs

BEST OF THE REST

Tenaya Oasi

Tenaya Oasi

Tenaya might not be a household name like Scarpa and La Sportiva but these guys really know a thing or two about climbing shoes. 

You might have spotted these Spanish shoes on the feet of Olympians like Alex Megos or Tom O’Halloran, or heard that Chris Sharma joined the Tenaya team in 2019. Perhaps you have never even heard of Tenaya before. 

Either way, what you need to know is that Tenaya is that they are renowned for making performance shoes that are ridiculously comfortable. The flagship of their ‘Arial Plus’ performance line has been the Oasi since it was first let loose in 2013. It’s extremely comfortable, 

Out of the box, the Oasi is ideal for narrow feet although, like most Tenaya shoes, the Oasi uses ‘SXR dynamics’ which allows the shoe to adapt to varying foot sizes. It also uses its patented closure system that allows for extremely precise control of the fit.

We Like

Extremely comfortable, yet high performance
Amazing ability to micro-adjust the fit

We Don’t Like

Finding the right size can be tricky

BEST OF THE REST

Evolv Zenist

Evolv Zenist

The Zenist is purpose-built to crush hard on plastic. Unlike the Veloce, which is design with beginners and more relaxed training days in mind, this shoe really means business.

The centerpiece of the Zenist performance is its ability to smear on absolutely everything. As you know, smearing is an essential part of gym climbing, and boy can this shoe stick those 3D volumes and friction moves.

The shoe is also increasingly sensitive, thanks to its 1mm rubber insole, allowing you to really feel the perfect foot placements. This is paired with 4.2mm of Evolv’s TRAX SAS rubber, which I am a really big fan of, it’s one of my favorite compounds for gym and rock climbing. It’s also super durable!

One of the favorite things about Evolv climbing shoes is the awesome heel found on many of their performance shoes. Although the Zenist heel is more refined than that of the ‘dark heel’ of the Agro, I still love the shoe’s ability to stick heel hooks with total confidence. If I am working on a project that requires a gnarly heel, I almost always grab a pair of Evolv shoes.

Like many of Evolv’s shoes, the Zenist is really comfortable for wide feet.

We Like

Amazing for smearing and sensitively
TRAX SAS rubber is awesome
The solid heel design

We Don’t Like

That it replaced the Agro (petty, I know!)

BEST GYM CLIMBING SHOE FOR EDGING

La Sportiva Miura

La Sportiva Miura VS

If you have been doing your climbing shoe research, the chances are you have probably already heard of the La Sportiva Miura. This shoe was revolutionary when it was first released in the late ’90s and is still one of the best climbing shoes on the market.

I admit, it probably wouldn’t be my first choice of indoor climbing shoes due to its stiffer profile but this shoe still brings plenty to the table. After all, if it’s good enough for the likes of Adam Ondra or Alex Honnold to solo Half Dome, you know the Miura means business.

The Miura is a semi-aggressive shoe that works well on everything from sloping slabs to overhung roofs, not to mention their uncanny ability to edge on a dime. This shoe will undoubtedly raise your gym game and help dial in your technical footwork. The Miura uses the Vibram XS Grip 2 (or XS Edge, on the women’s version), a quality rubber compound that has a reputation for striking a good balance between friction and durability.

The Miura comes in both a Velcro and lace version. Both offer similar features, with the velcro being slightly more aggressive and better suited to wider feet. If you are an intermediate climber looking to dabble with a variety of disciplines in both the gym and on rock, this could be the shoe for you.

For Women: Sometimes it can be difficult finding women’s climbing shoes but not with the Miuras. The female version not only comes in a jazzy ‘Jade Green’ but is also designed specifically for low volume feet. You can take a look at them here.
Like most La Sportiva shoes, you will probably want to wear 1/1.5 size smaller than your average street shoe. 

We Like

  Great for edging
Amazing durability
 Solid all round performance
High and low volume options avilable

We Don’t Like

 The small toe rand isn’t ideal
The heel lack performance 

Important elements for gym climbing shoes

As we already mentioned, a soft shoe will usually perform better in the gym. That said, there are also few extra characteristics that make a for the perfect gym climbing shoe.

Breathability is a key one. If you have ever stepped foot in a climbing gym, especially in the summer, you will notice that they are usually very hot and sweaty environments. Without that cool breeze flowing through your hair like down at the crag, you are going to sweat a lot. So shoes that are designed to let some of that heat and moisture out are definitely a bonus.

The ease in which you can get your shoes on and off is also another common factor for good indoor climbing shoes. When climbing in the gym, you tend to take you shoes off a lot more than you do outside. That’s why you tend to see a lot of velcro and slipper style shoes. 

Now you know what makes the best climbing shoes for gym. If none of our top 5 choices jumped out at you, why not take a look at some of our other shoe reviews.