It’s no secret that climbing has been around for a very long time. In fact the earliest evidence of recreational climbing dates back to the 1880’s. But historically climbing (or mountaineering) was once an activity only hardened alpinists would dare attempt.
It wasn’t until the mid 20th century that the story of indoor, or at least man-made climbing began. It is widely thought that Schurman Rock in Seattle, built in 1937 by Clark Shurman, was the first ever man made structure purposely made for rock climbing.
Since then, climbing gyms have developed massively to give us the complex indoor structures that we know and love today.
Nowadays, there are literally scores of climbing shoes specifically designed to up your climbing performance in the gym, each designed to fill different gaps in the market. So to help you find your perfect shoe for you, we have shortlisted the best climbing shoes for gym.
Take a look!
BEST GYM CLIMBING SHOE
La Sportiva Miura
I admit it, I’m not the first person to sing the praises of this amazing shoe.
The chances are you have done some more research on the best indoor climbing shoes before you landed on this page. I’m betting you have seen the La Sportiva Miura mentioned on more than a few of those sites.
The reason why people keep going on about this shoe is because it’s really good. In fact, it’s one of the best climbing shoes on the market – period. If it’s good enough for the likes of Adam Ondra or Alex Honnold to solo Half Dome in, you know the Miura means business.
The Miura is an aggressive shoe that works well on overhangs, as well as vertical climbs, not to mention the fact you could edge on a dime with these. This shoe will undoubtedly raise your gym game. The Miura also use the Vibram XS Edge rubber, a harder rubber compound that strikes a good balance between friction and durability.
If you are an intermediate climber looking to dabble with a variety of disciplines in the gym, this could very well 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
High and low volume options
We Don’t Like
The small toe rand
BEST INDOOR BOULDERING SHOE
La Sportiva Solution
It’s no shocker that we have chosen the La Sportiva Solution as the best indoor bouldering shoe.
This high-performance shoe has been at the top of its game for over a decade and that’s because the Solutions have everything you need for a high-performance shoe.
They are ideally built to tackle the steep overhangs of modern boulder gyms while wielding the Vibram XS Grip 2, some of the stickiest rubber on the market.
Stand-out features include a 3D molded heel cup that can handle every crazy heel hook you can throw at it, a super-slick closure system and one of the best toe boxes of any climbing shoe I have tried.
If you follow professional bouldering comps, 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 have 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 great for smearing
The closure strap is known to break
BEST INDOOR SPORT CLIMBING SHOE
Scarpa Instinct Lace
You may be thinking this shoe looks like it was designed for hard boulder problems, and you would be right, but it’s also a force to be reckoned with on the lead wall.
The Instinct line has been one of Scarpa’s most successful climbing shoe lines ever due to their reliability and reputation as all-round climbing shoes. The latest addition to this line-up, the Instinct Lace, is no different.
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
BEST BUDGET GYM CLIMBING SHOE
The Defy is one of the most sold climbing shoes on the market. Not only because of its attractive price tag but because its a great starting shoe for any beginner looking to learn the ropes (no pun intended).
The Defy is most at home 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 shoe supports a very neutral last and a thick rubber and mid-sole. These are important features for newbies as it helps distribute your weight across the entire foot, 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
MOST COMFORTABLE GYM CLIMBING SHOE
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
While there are many diving features for climbing shoes that are designed to different styles and disciplines, there are a few common 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 pretty hot. 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?