A budget-friendly price tag makes the Hiangle a popular choice for beginners.
One of the softest – and stickiest – shoes in Scarpa’s line-up.
One of the most popular bouldering shoes since its first release in 2007.
It is widely thought that Schurman Rock in Seattle was the first-ever ‘man made’ structure made for rock climbing in 1937. Since then, climbing gyms have evolved to the complex indoor structures that we know and love today.
To keep up with the gym climbing revolution, shoe manufacturers are creating a never-ending list of specially-constructed shoes, all created with the single purpose of raising your gym climbing game.
TOP TIP: Most climbers will want an indoor climbing shoe that utilizes a soft construction and sticky rubber. These features will allow the shoe to mold around 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 to help you find your feet. Even for advanced climbers, stiffer shoes still have their benefits for gym climbing, and come in handy for those vertical problems with micro edges and crimps.
To help you find your perfect shoe for you, we have shortlisted some of the best climbing shoes for gym we have tested.
OUR TOP PICK
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 bouldering shoe, it is the Drago.
The Drago is exactly what you need for sticking moves on those big volumes that are common in modern gym climbing. The Drago’s super soft construction and sticky Vibram rubber are ideal for friction moves, whilst the aggressive downturn and large toe patch make the shoes feel at home on the overhanging stuff.
The Drago uses a lot of the brilliant 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 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.
Perfect for gym climbing
Great toe patch
We Don’t Like
Durability isn’t great
BEST INDOOR BOULDERING SHOE
La Sportiva Solution
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 a brilliant hooked shape sole
If you follow professional bouldering competition, you will notice that this shoe is a regular with some of the best in the game including Adam Ondra, 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!
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 Lace
The Instinct line has been Scarpa’s most successful line of performance climbing shoes ever due to their reliability and reputation as all-round climbing shoes. Although the Instinct Lace was first released in the early 2000s, Scarpa has given the Instinct lace a update, as well as released a velcro and a slipper alternative to this fan favorite.
This lace-up version brings increased precision, tighter fit and more tension the table, making it one of the best shoes for indoor sports climbing, in our option at least.
Good for bouldering and sport climbing
Technical toe box
We Don’t Like
Long break-in period
Laces can be a pain for gym sessions
BEST BUDGET GYM CLIMBING SHOE
Five Ten Hiangle
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 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 such a reasonable price tag, the Hiangle is a good competitor for one of best budget indoor climbing shoes out there.
The price tag
The heel cup
We Don’t Like
Fit can be awkward
BEST GYM CLIMBING SHOE
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. Afterall, if it’s good enough for the likes of Adam Ondra or Alex Honnold, 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 use the Vibram XS Grip 2 (or XS Edge, depending of the gender-orientation), 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.
Solid all around performance
High and low volume options
We Don’t Like
The small toe rand
BEST OF THE REST
The Defy is one of the most sold climbing shoes currently on the market. Partly because of its attractive price tag, but also due to the fact that is is a great starting shoe for any beginner looking to learn the ropes.
The Defy is in its element on indoor walls, which is why we think it’s one of the best beginner climbing shoes for gym.
Like any good beginner shoe, the Defy utilizes a neutral last, a supportive mid-sole and Evolv’s sticky Trax SAS rubber. These are important features for newbies as the design of this shoe helps distribute weight across the entire footbed, making it easier to smear, edge and become familiar with other key climbing skills.
Some other note-worthy features include a Antimicrobial liner to increase comfort and prevent odor, as well as being 100% vegan friendly! If you want to find out more about the Evolv Defy, take a look at our full review.
We Don’t Like
Lacks substantial performance
Not great for outdoor climbing
BEST OF THE REST
La Sportiva Oxygym
The La Sportiva Oxgym deserves a mention on this list. Not only is it specifically designed for beginner climbers in the gym, but it’s also a very affordable and comfortable shoe.
Amongst other interesting features, what really makes this shoe stand out is that it is the first climbing shoe that is designed to be machine and hand washable. This is an amazing feature, which any climber would kill for after a few sweaty sessions in the gym.
Its also super comfortable thanks to the P3 performance design of the shoe. This smart design not only allows the shoe to retain is shape throughout its life, but it also creates a super supportive shoe, perfect for any beginner looking to hone their skills in the gym.
Again, you take a read of our full review for more info on the Oxygym.
Good velcro closure
We Don’t Like
Important elements for gym climbing shoes
As we already mentioned, a soft shoe will usually perform better in the gym, but there are a few extra characteristics that make a climbing shoe more suited to work in the gym.
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.