The 10 Best
Climbing Shoes For Gym

Let’s find you the perfect indoor climbing shoe.

Best climbing shoes for gym

Last updated on April 5th, 2023 at 04:05 am

It wasn’t that long ago that climbing was an activity reserved for burly mountain dudes with rugged beards and clumsy mountain boots. Those daring 20th-century alpinists were true pioneers, kick-starting a rock revolution that has transformed climbing into the mainstream sport it is today. Perhaps the most significant trend of modern climbing is that many now get their climbing kicks from the comfort of their local gym instead of those rugged alpine peaks.

Although the rugged bears are still a common sight, thankfully, those clumsy mountain boots are long gone. To keep up with our indoor obsession, shoe manufacturers churn out an endless amount of specially-constructed indoor climbing shoes, all built with the purpose of helping us 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.

There’s the bottom line: Most climbers will probably want an indoor climbing shoe that utilizes minimal construction and a soft rubber sole. The reason for this is that gym climbing is significantly more dynamic and three-dimensional than traditional outdoor rock climbing. Softer shoes will conform to those big plastic holds and smear on the sandpaper-textured wall with ease.

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




Scarpa Veloce review

Budget-friendly and equipped with all the tools beginners need to up their game.


Instinct VSR

Scarpa Instinct VSR Review

The ultimate quiver of one shoe. The Instinct VSR can do it all, and so much more.

La Sportiva


La Sportiva Solution Review

One of the most popular bouldering shoes in climbing history and for a good reason.

The 10 Best Indoor Climbing Shoes

If you are on the hunt for a pair of new kicks, here are ten of, what I think, are the best climbing shoes for gym in 2023. 


Scarpa Instinct VSR

Scarpa Instinct VSR

The Instinct family has been Scarpa’s most sought-after performance line thanks to its reputation as brilliant all-around climbing shoes. The original Instinct Lace was first released in the early 2000s and has since grown to include the VS, VSR, and the new Instinct S. Although all these shoes are all great in their own way the one I, and thousands of other gym bros, love is the Instinct VSR.

The VSR is my current go-to indoor climbing shoe for a myriad of reasons. For starters, the VSR has a moderate camber so isn’t as downturned as some of the other shoes on this list, which allows the forefoot to adapt to both slab and overhung walls alike. The XS Grip 2 rubber and midsole are soft – which is great for smearing on slabs and volumes – but the shoe still creates enough tension to make delicate edging possible. The heel cup and toe box are both brilliant in equal measures and are equipped with all the tools you need for jamming, hooking, and scumming until your heart’s content.

This version of the hugely popular Insintct brings increased precision, and more tension to the table, making it one of the best shoes for indoor sports climbing, in my option, at least.

We Like

Sensitive and flexible, yet can still stick an edge
Hybrid closure keeps the shoe secure
Brilliant all-round performance

We Don’t Like

Rubber wears fast
Velcro strap is a bit long


Scarpa Veloce

Scarpa Veloce moderate climbing shoe

Scarpa’s first purpose-built indoor climbing shoe, the Veloce offers an amazing balance between performance and comfort. It does this through a very soft construction, a moderate downturn, and a very roomy toe box design. These features allow your toes to sit in that crimped position without the discomfort of cramming your knuckles against the top of the shoe. 

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. The shoe 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 ever tested. 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 feet on the narrower end of the scale. 

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

Budget-friendly performance
Ridiculously comfortable
Perfect for wide feet

We Don’t Like

Not great for edging
Fast-wearing rubber


La Sportiva Solution

La Sportiva Solution climbing shoe

It probably comes as no surprise that the La Sportiva Solution has made it onto my list. This high-performance shoe has been at the top of its game for almost 15 years and isn’t just good on rock, it’s up there as one of the best indoor bouldering shoes too.

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 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.

For The Ladies: 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. You can find the women’s version here.

We Like

Master of the heel hook
Laser-precise toe box
Awesome for overhangs

We Don’t Like

Not great for smearing
Closure strap is known to snap


Scarpa Drago

Scarpa Drago

Scarpa has been churning out a bunch of great climbing shoes for years, but another killer indoor climbing and bouldering shoe that we have to talk about is the Drago.

The Drago is exactly what you need for sticking moves on those big volumes that are extremely 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
Awesome for toe hooking
Fast break-in

We Don’t Like

Durability isn’t great
Minimal control over fit


Five Ten Hiangle

Five Ten Hiangle Review

There are 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 sweeter 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 its 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 shoe’s 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 the best indoor climbing shoes out there.

We Like

Stealth rubber is great on both rock and plastic
Split sole allows for better smearing
Perfect for narrow feet

We Don’t Like

Not great for wide feet
Not a fan of the all white asthetic


La Sportiva Skwama

La Sportiva Skwama

This list wouldn’t be complete if I 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. 

It’s one of the softer shoes in the LS line (with the expedition of the Futura and the Theory) which makes it ideal for gym climbing. The barely-there 0.8mm midsole and 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip 2 outsole give 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 transfers tension through the shoe and 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
Shock-absorbing heel
Its beautiful aesthetics

We Don’t Like



Tenaya Oasi

Tenaya Oasi

Tenaya might not be a household name like Scarpa and La Sportiva but these Spanish shoe connoisseurs 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 you may have even heard that Chris Sharma joined the Tenaya team in 2019.

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.

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
Ability to micro-adjust the fit

We Don’t Like

Sizing can be a bit tricky


Evolv Zenist

Evolv Zenist

The Zenist is purpose-built to crush hard on plastic. Unlike the Veloce, which is designed 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. By this point, you know that smearing is an essential part of gym climbing, and boy can this shoe stick to those 3D volumes and execute those friction moves with ease.

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. SAS is one of my favorite compounds for gym and rock climbing, really durable and has great grip.

One of my favorite things about Evolv climbing shoes is the awesome heel found on many of their performance shoes. Although the Zenist heel is a more refined version 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
TRAX SAS rubber is awesome
Brilliant heel cup

We Don’t Like

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


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 in 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 for beginner’s feet on those little edges.

We Like

Great for beginners
P3 Platform
The ¾ sole keeps the shoe flexible yet supportive

We Don’t Like

Lacks serious-sending performance


La Sportiva Miura VS

La Sportiva Miura

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 its 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
Durable and long-lasting
Solid all-around performance

We Don’t Like

The small toe patch isn’t great for hooking

Important Features of gym climbing shoes

As we already mentioned, a soft shoe will usually perform better in the gym. That said, there are also a few extra characteristics that make 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 with 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 your 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 the gym. If none of ten top 10 choices jumped out at you, why not take a look at some of our other shoe reviews?

Written By

Sam Laird

A lifelong climber and shoe geek. His first shoe was the OG Scarpa Helix, although his shoe collection has grown to unhealthy levels in the last 20 years. When he’s not getting shut down on V2 gym slabs, Sam is backpacking around the world in pursuit of his next big adventure.

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