Last updated on April 6th, 2023 at 03:13 am
I’m sure you already know that manufacturers design climbing shoes to suit different climbing disciplines and terrain – bouldering, big-wall, all-rounders – but did you know that shoes are designed to fit different shapes of feet too?
Have you ever noticed some of the guys at your local gym wearing the women’s versions of their favorite shoes? Do they just like the pink color of the ladies’ Solutions?
Maybe, but usually, men that wear women-specific shoes do so because they are built to support lighter climbers who have lower volume feet. Of course, the same logic applies the other way around too.
Most climbing shoe brands now have a variety of shoes that cater to both wide and narrow feet. Companies, like Scarpa and La Sportiva, might create 4 or 5 different shoes suitable for bouldering, however, because these shoes are built on different last shapes not all of them are going to suit the shape of your foot.
THE TOP THREE
My Best Narrow Climbing Shoes
To help you find your perfect shoe allow me to share, what I think, are some of the best climbing shoes for narrow feet currently right now. I will offer a range of shoes that are designed to tackle a broad variety of climbing styles so regardless of what you are climbing, there’s bound to be a perfect shoe for you here.
Let’s get started!
Scarpa Drago LV
If you are looking for a narrow bouldering shoe, Scarpa has just the shoe for you. The Drago LV is a masterclass in shoe building and “represents the future of climbing shoes”, in the words of climbing legend and the Drago’s designer Heinz Mariacher.
As the name suggests, the LV is the lower-volume alternative to the classic Drago that was released in 2016. The Drago LV was built on a completely different last, the FZS, which is one of the narrowest shapes in SCARPA’s arsenal.
Scarpa has also completely redesigned the heel on the LV, opting for PAF heel system, creating a narrower-fitting heel cup. Plenty of volume has been taken out of the forefoot too, although the single strap velcro closure does make the forefoot slightly wider than a lace closure would.
All in all, I still think the Drago LV is one of the best climbing shoes for narrow feet, especially when it comes to bouldering.
It’s plastered in a combination of M50 and Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber, which allows you to hook, press, and jam your way through a huge range of boulder problems. It’s also really soft too, which is perfect if you are partial to swinging on those gym volumes.
As with many Scarpa shoes, there’s plenty of clever shoe tech going on here. The PCB band (the blue strip on the sole) not only helps the Drago retain its aggressive shape, but also assists in distributing weight from your toes to the heel, allowing this velcro/slipper hybrid to stay securely suctioned onto your foot.
All in all, I am a big fan of the Drago and all the clever features found throughout the whole shoe.
BEST FOR INDOOR
La Sportiva Futura
The Futura can be found on the feet of some of the biggest crushers of our generation including Adam Ondra, Margo Hayes and Stefano Ghisolfi. With a following like that, it’s no surprise that the Futura is a contender for the best climbing shoe for narrow feet.
Like the Genius, the Futura makes the most of Sportiva’s no-edge technology, a revolutionary concept based on the logic that climbers perform best by reducing the amount of rubber between your foot and the rock.
As the Futura is downturned, it does perform best on overhung routes. If you aren’t a roof-crushing machine just yet, don’t be too quick to write off the Futura though.
The split sole design, 3mm Vibram XS grips 2, and 1.1mm midsole all contribute to making the Futura extremely sensitive and flexible. This makes the shoe really adaptable to various angles of climbing, making them the perfect tool for all your sport climbing or boulder projects. These features also make the Futura great for indoor walls too
While this is one of the few shoes on our list that doesn’t have a lace closure, the Fast Lacing System provides a brilliant custom fit and offers four points of adjustment dead space.
BEST FOR OUTDOOR
La Sportiva Miura
The Miura lace holds a special place in my heart. These narrow La Sportiva shoes can handle almost everything you throw at them; single-pitch sport, technical big walls, or intricate boulder sequences, the Miura can do it all. The Miura is so brilliant in fact, that its design has remained remarkably unchanged over the last 20 years.
This shoe is built on an aggressive last, the PD75, so shares the same downturn and shape as the Solution and Skwama. Miura has a stiff midsole paired with Vibram XS Edge rubber, or XS grip on the women’s version, which contributes to its extremely precise edging ability.
The Miura comes in both lace and velcro, although I suggest you stick to the laces if you have narrow feet. The reason for this is the lace model is slightly lower volume, thanks to its lined uppers, which means it’s going to stretch less than its velcro counterpart. Laces also have the additional benefit of micro-adjustments and tightening hotspots where needed.
Known as the ‘quiver of one shoe,’ the Miura is perfect for the arrow-footed climber who is looking for a shoe that can do it all.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
Scarpa Vapor V
If you are looking to move away from those worn-out, odor-infested rental shoes, the Vapor V could very well be the shoe for you. They are built on the FR last – another volume last from Scarpa’s – helping the shoe to support narrow heels and forefoots.
The Vapour V packs some great features that make them far superior to your average 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 heel 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 looking for a shoe that can do it all, these shoes are more than capable of helping you hone your climbing skills and crush hard.
BEST FOR ALL-AROUND
Five Ten NIAD VCS
The NIAD VCS is Five Ten’s 21st-century answer to their hugely popular Anasazi VCS. This shoe builds on the winning qualities of the much-loved original and brings some new features into the mix.
The shoe is built on a new last, which I find incredibly narrow, perhaps one of the narrowest climbing shoes I have worn in a while. The shape of the toe box is pretty unique, as it is centered between your big toe and second toe, which helps distribute weight across your toes when weighting the toe box. This shape makes the NIAD VCS a great climbing shoe for narrow feet as well as those who have Morton’s Toe.
As an extra bonus, the natural last makes this one of the most comfortable climbing shoes around.
From my testing, the shoe is pretty versatile, it performs well at a huge range of climbing styles (especially bouldering and sport climbing) and offers a good balance between comfort and performance.
BEST FOR COMFORT
While Tenaya might not be as well known as La Sportiva, Five Ten, or Scarpa, don’t be fooled into thinking these are second-rate climbing shoes. These Spanish underdogs have built a reputation over the last few years for creating some of the most comfortable performance shoes money can buy.
Their shoes aren’t just about being ridiculously comfortable either, they are serious sending machines. Most of Tenaya shoes are pretty narrow, although they are all designed with ‘foot width response’, allowing the shoe to adapt to a huge range of foot shapes.
One of Tenaya’s best creations is the Oasi. This model actually took the Tenaya team two years to develop, thanks to the design team’s obsession with foot biomechanics.
The years in R&D paid off, and the Oasi’s versatility is seriously impressive stuff. The Oasi can be used for almost any type of climbing terrain imaginable.
Oh, did I mention it’s also one of Alex Megos’ favorite shoes? Enough said!
BEST FOR STYLE
Mad Rock Drone LV
I know style shouldn’t be a primary consideration when it comes to choosing climbing shoes, but with a moody all-black exterior, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Mad Rock Drone.
Don’t think these are all style, no substance though. The Drone has fast become a frontrunner in the Mad Rock range, a popular choice with many of their ambassadors like Matt Fultz and Olympian Michael Mawem and Alexey Rubtsov.
Like the Drago, the Drone LV has a similar single strap/elasticated closure, which is best suited to bouldering and sport climbing. The shoe makes the most of Mad Rocks’ super-sticky Science Friction 3.0, as well as plenty of other clever design additions including a patented curved sole, an expandable 3D heel cup, and a beefy toe patch.
As this is a low-volume climbing shoe so expect a narrower toe box, smaller heel cup, and reduced in-step volume compared to the Drone HV. I’m sure many climbers will also appreciate that these are vegan-friendly shoes too.
BEST FOR BUDGETS
If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to invest in your climbing kit, there are still some great shoes available to you.
However, those on a modest budget are going to have to settle with something a little less performance-oriented. Once your skill level and climbing obsession grow, many beginners will trade up for a shoe that packs more of a punch.
If you are looking for a budget shoe, I really like the Scarpa Helix (we recently named it one of the best shoes under $100).
This is one of Scarpa’s most popular shoes and is a favorite of climbers at all levels. The Helix is designed for beginners or experienced climbers looking for a shoe that can deliver all-day comfort. The women’s version in particular is a model I highly recommend as a low-volume climbing shoe. The lace extends pretty far down the forefoot, offering a great level of adjustability.
Unlike a lot of budget shoes that use cheaper rubber compounds, the Helix comes equipped with the Vibram XS Edge rubber, making the shoe brilliant for balancing on small edges. The flat last, symmetrical profile and padded tongue also give the shoe unparalleled comfort, which its a popular all-day climbing shoe.
How To Find Narrow Climbing Shoes
If none of my recommendations are doing it for you, I won’t be offended. Feel free to do some research and discover your own suitable shoes.
To make things easier, here are a few top tips to find the best climbing shoes for narrow feet.
Try 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 favorite shoe. Not only do they usually come in a great selection of colors but they are specifically designed to fit a lower-volume foot.
Shoe volume refers to the instep height of your foot. A lower volume climbing shoe is narrower in both the forefoot and the heel – and caters to a higher arch too.
Try Specific Brands
Some brands are better than others 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 a diverse range of foot shapes.
That said, don’t feel like you need to restrict yourself to only these two brands.
More and more climbing shoe manufacturers are moving away from gender stereotypes and labeling their shoes as male or female. Instead, many are now categorizing their shoes as unisex using a 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.