You probably know that manufacturers design their shoes with different styles of climbing in mind – bouldering, slab climbing, all-rounders – but did you know that shoes were also designed to fit specific types of feet as well?
Generally, manufacturers design their shoes around wide, medium and narrow foot types. So while a manufacturer might design 4 or 5 different bouldering shoes, only a few of these are likely to fit the shape of your foot.
You might have also noticed some of the guys at your local gym wearing the women’s versions of their favorite shoe. Do they just like the pink colour of the ladies La Sportiva Solutions? Maybe, but usually, men that choose to wear women’s shoes do so because they are designed to fit lower volume feet.
In this article, we will discuss – what we think – are some of the best climbing shoes for narrow feet on the market right now. We will look at shoes that are designed to tackle a variety of climbing styles, so whatever you are climbing, you will find the perfect shoe for you.
La Sportiva Miura
The Miura lace is a favorite with our review team, and especially with our narrow footed testers. It’s the narrowest performance shoe that La Sportiva makes and can handle almost every type of climbing you throw at them. Known as the ‘quiver of one shoe,’ a narrow-footed climber who is looking for a shoe that can do it all should really consider the Miura.
The design of this shoe has remained remarkably unchanged over the last 20 years. Built on an aggressive last, the Miura has a stiff sole covered with Vibram XS Edge rubber (or XS grip on the women’s version). Power is driven to the toes by a slingshot rand and powerhinge.
While they do come in a lace and a velcro version, but we suggest you stick to the laces if your feet are really narrow. Not only is the last of the lace shoes narrower but the lace closure is brilliant at getting a secure fit.
BEST FOR BOULDERING
If you are looking for a high-performance bouldering shoe, you want to look for a shoe with a narrow last with an aggressive style. Lucky for you, Scarpa has just the thing. The Drago is a masterclass in shoe building and “represents the future of climbing shoes” according to its creator and climbing legend Heinz Mariacher.
So what makes the Drago one of the best climbing shoes for narrow feet? Well, for a start, it’s built on the FZ last giving the shoe an aggressive last with a narrow and centralised design. It also has a narrow heel supported by a tensioned rand to reduce movement. We love the Drago and the abundance of clever engineering evident throughout the whole shoe.
The PCB rand on the bottom of the shoe not only helps the Drago keep its aggressive shape over time, but it also helps transfer weight from your toes to the back of your foot.
BEST FOR SPORT CLIMBING
La Sportiva Futura
Another content for the best climbing shoe for narrow feet brought to you by La Sportiva is the Futura. The Futura can be found on the feet of some of the biggest names in climbing including Adam Ondra, Margo Hayes and Jakob Schubert.
Like the Genius, these shoes make the most of Sportiva’s no-edge technology, a revolutionary concept implying that climbing shoes perform best by reducing the amount of rubber between your foot and the rock rather than sharp and thick edges.
Because the Futura is slightly downturned, it does feel at home on overhung routes. That said, the shape is considerably less extreme than some of La Sportiva’s other models, which makes this shoe brilliant for your sport climbing projects. While this is the only shoe on our list that doesn’t have a lace closure, the fast lacing system provides a brilliant custom fit and allows you to adjust each start to iron out any dead space.
BEST FOR SPORT CLIMBING
Scarpa Vapour V
If you are looking to move away from those worm-out, odur infested rental shoes, the Vapor V could very well be the shoe for you. They are built on the FR last – the lowest volume last in Scrapa’s arsenal – and are especially designed to fit a narrow heel and toe box.
The Vapour V packs some pretty cool features that make them better than your run of the mill beginner shoe. For a start, they pack a punch with the Vibram Xs Edge rubber, a stiff compound built for durability and unparalleled edging ability. The shoe also boasts some classic Scarpa ingenuity including the bi-tension reverse rand – which increases the power to your toes – and the PAF which decreases heel tension and makes for a secure fit shoe.
Whether you are planning to pull some plastic at the bouldering gym, learning to lead climb or dripping your toes into the world of climbing, these shoes will certainly help you hone your climbing abilities.
BEST FOR BUDGETS
If you don’t have an unlimited amount of cash to invest in your climbing kit, there are still some great shoes available to you.
We love the Scarpa Helix (we recently decided it was the best shoe under $100) and great for narrow footed climbers. This is one of Scarpa most bought shoes and is a favourite of climbers at all levels. While this shoe is designed for beginners – or experienced climbers looking for a shoe that can deliver all-day comfort – that doesn’t stop them from being a great shoe. The women’s version in particular is a model I highly recommend as it is designed for lower volume feet.
Unlike a lot of budget shoes that usually use a cheaper rubber alternative, the Helix comes equipped with the Vibram Xs Edge rubber, making the shoe brilliant for smearing and balancing on small edges. The flat last, symmetrical profile and padded tongue give this shoe unparalleled comfort while not sacrificing performance.
If none of our tried and tested recommendations are doing it for you, we won’t be offended. Feel free to do some research and find the perfect shoes for you. To make your search a bit easier, here are a few top tips to find the best climbing shoes for narrow feet.
Low Volume Climbing Shoes
If you’re a guy and struggling to find the right size climbing shoes, you might want to consider trying on the women’s version of your favourite shoe. Not only do they usually come in a cool selection of colours, but they are specifically designed to fit a lower volume foot.
Shoe volume refers to the instep height of your foot. A lower volume shoe is narrower – both in the toe and the heel- and caters to a flatter arched foot.
Try specific brands
Some brands are better than other when catering to funny shaped feet. You have probably noticed that a lot of our suggestions are either from the Scarpa or La Sportiva range, and this is because they really lead the game when it comes to creating building shoes for narrow feet. But don’t feel like you need to restrict yourself to only these two brands.
More and more manufacturers are moving away from gender stereotypes and labelling their shoes as male or female. Instead, many are now labelling their shoes unisex using high volume or low volume as the differentiator. Butora, Mad Rock, Tenaya and Red Chili now all offer high AND low volume designs of their most popular shoes.