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 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 color 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 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.
OUR TOP PICK
La Sportiva Miura
The Miura lace is a favorite with our review team, and especially with our narrow footed testers. It is one of the narrowest performance shoe in the La Sportiva line (especially the women’s version) 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, which helps keep the shoe secure and laser-precise.
While they do come in a lace and a velcro version, we suggest you stick to the laces if your feet are narrow. Although both models have the same downturn and asymmetric shape, the lace model is slightly lower volume and has the additional benefit of micro-adjustments.
BEST FOR BOULDERING
If you are looking for a high-performance narrow bouldering shoe, Scarpa has just the shoe for you. The Drago is a masterclass in shoe building and “represents the future of climbing shoes” as its creator and climbing legend Heinz Mariacher tells us.
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, one of the narrows shoe lasts in SCARPA’s collection, giving the shoe an aggressive downturn suitable for narrow feet. It also has a pretty narrow heel cup, taken from the Instinct line, which is supported by a tensioned rand to increase the shoe precision.
The PCB rand (the orange strip on the sole) not only helps the Drago keep its aggressive shape over time but it also assist in transfer weight from your toes to the back of your foot, allowing this velcro/slipper hybrid to stay suctioned onto your foot.
We love the Drago and the abundance of clever engineering evident throughout the whole shoe. Check our our full review for the full rundown on the shoe!
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 perform best on overhung routes. That said, the shape is less extreme than some of La Sportiva’s other models (the Testarossa and Genius) which makes this shoe brilliant for your sport climbing projects. Again, this ia another shoe that comes in a female (lower volume) variation, which is lower volume, narrower shoe with a smaller heel.
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 allows you to adjust each start to iron out any dead space.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
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 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-ROUND
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.
For starters, the shoe is built on a new last, which is incredibly narrow, perhaps one of the narrowest climbing shoes currently available. The shape of the toe box is pretty unique, as it is centered between your big toe and second toe, which helps distribute weight when edging. This makes the NIAD VCS a great climbing shoe for narrow feet as well as those who have Morton’s Toe.
Also, because it uses a natural last, this is one of the most comfortable performance shoes available.
From our testing, the shoe is pretty versitle performs well at a huge range of climbing style (especially bouldering and sport climbing) and has a good balance between comfort and performance.
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.
How To Find Narrow Climbing Shoes
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 life a bit easier, here are a few top tips to find the best climbing shoes for narrow feet.
Test 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 in both in the forefoot and the heel – and caters to a higher 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 climbing shoe 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.