A budget-friendly beginner shoe from the new(ish) Korean climbing company.
Scarpa’s entry level shoe keeps your wallet, and feet, happy.
A favorite amongst beginner climbers for all-around climbing .
The cost of affordable climbing shoes has gone up steeply in the past couple of years. Today, it’s a challenge to find anything under a $100.
That said, there are still a handful of budget climbing shoes out there. While most that fall under the $100 mark tend to be cheaply made, we’ve picked out five of the best climbing shoes under $100 that really stand out.
This list comprises of what we think are the five best climbing shoes under $100, currently on the market. We’ll look at the quality of construction, durability and performance in order to determine which gets you the best bang for your buck.
OUR TOP PICK
Our top pick for the best shoe under $100 is an easy one: the Scarpa Helix. This shoe has been around for a couple of iterations and is a favorite among many climbers.
This shoe has a simple construction consisting of a flat symmetrical last, suede upper and a lace-up system. Surprisingly, Scarpa uses Vibram XS Edge rubber for the Helix, which is a very high-quality rubber for such a small price tag. Combine this with the medium-stiff midsole, and this shoe has no problem edging on small, precise edges.
This shoe would do great on the feet of an all-around climber. They’ll perform best on vertical to slabby terrain, as well as on moderate cracks. Beginners love this shoe, as it provides a perfect balance between support and sensitivity, encouraging good footwork.
Keep in mind that these, like all flat lasted shoes, are not particularly well suited for overhang terrign. If your priority is pushing grades on steep sport routes and boulders, we’d recommend looking at some downturned climbing shoes.
This is a well-made shoe with the same quality construction you’d expect from Scarpa’s higher-end models. Retailing at $99 USD, you can’t go wrong with the Helix. It doesn’t get much better than this.
For Women: For a lower volume shoe, check out the women’s version of the Helix here.
BUDGET SHOE #2
La Sportiva Tarantula
The next budget climbing shoe on our list comes from Italy’s other climbing shoe manufacturing powerhouse, La Sportiva. The Tarantula, and it’s sister model the Tranatulace, are some of the most popular beginner climber shoes ever.
This flat lasted shoe and its stiff sole will keep you well supported during your climbing adventures, avoiding unnecessary cramping and foot pain. While performance wise this shoe doesn’t really excel in any one category, it holds up well enough in most aspects in order to get a beginner going.
Our biggest issue with this shoe is the rubber compound. The Tarantula’s use La Sportiva’s 5mm FriXion rubber. While this rubber has good friction, it is a pretty thick layer of rubber that becomes glassy over time. While this does mean you’ll get lots of mileage from them, they’ll quickly start to feel clunky as you outgrow the beginner phase.
The Tarantula retails for around $90 USD and would make for a perfectly good starter. Many climbers who start out with the Tarantulas find that they outgrow the performance level of the shoe before a hole ever appears. This means once you’re ready to move on, you can always keep these shoes around as a warm-up or training shoe.
For Women: In recent years, La Sportiva has developed women’s versions of their popular shoes, including the Tarantula.
BUDGET SHOE #3
The Butora Endeavor really impressed us with its versatility and value.
This is a velcro shoe constructed with a leather upper. It’s been lined with organic hemp for enhanced breathability and moisture-absorbing capability. This paired with the padded tongue makes this is a seriously comfortable shoe.
Its performance capability is driven by its moderate asymmetry and flat, medium-stiff sole. We also love Butora’s patented rubber, its stickiness is comparable to the top competitors currently on the market.
This shoe will feel at home on all sorts of terrains, from vert to slab, cracks and moderate overhangs. The Endeavor is relatively sensitive and provides ample confidence on small edges, although not as well as the Helix.
If you’re looking to push grades on boulders or powerful sport routes, you’ll want to look for something a bit more performance-focused, however, for a casual day climbing, the Endeavor certainly punches above its weight.
This is a $99 shoe that performs like a $130 shoe. We’re impressed by the quality that Butora brings to the Endeavor and feel their popularity will only be increasing from here. Sure, it’s one of the best shoes under $100, but it’s also a great shoe full stop.
For Women: The Endeavor is a unisex shoe that comes in both a narrow and wide size to fit all climbers!
BUDGET SHOE #4
Black Diamond Momentum
Black Diamond recently joined the climbing shoe game with a full line of innovative kicks. The Momentum is their entry-level shoe that’s been priced just right to be classed as an affordable climbing shoe.
It’s got a similar profile to the La Sportiva Tarantuala with it’s flat symmetrical and medium-stiff sole. The upper construction however, is what makes this shoe really standout. Black Diamond has chosen a knit-synthetic, making these shoes remarkably breathable.
While the Momentum is relatively comfortable and supportive, it does fall short when it comes to performance compared to its counterparts. We think the Helix and Tarantula are a step ahead when it comes to edging control, though it has a similar lack of sensitivity. The Neo Fuse rubber on the Momentum comes in at a similar thickness (4.3mm) and share some very similar properties to Butora’s shoe. It’s a fairly comfortable shoe, and may fit better on certain feet so as with all climbing shoes, it’ll be a matter of trying the Momentum on the wall, and seeing how they hug your foot.
The Momentum clocks in at around $94. We would recommend this shoe to beginner climbers who don’t quite fit into the Tarantula. They hit almost all of the same metrics, with the added bonus of breathability.
For Women: The Momentum also come in a women’s version which are more suited to low volume feet. They also come in some great colours!
BUDGET SHOE #5
As the only slipper shoe on this list, we think the Evolv Rave makes for a great buy. This shoe is almost identical to the classic Five Ten Moccasyms, but with a narrower, lower volume profile.
While the Moccasyms are known for becoming baggy over time, that’s not the case here. It’s got a simple construction with an unlined leather upper and a flat asymmetrical last.
This is a very sensitive shoe, allowing you to feel out all of the nooks, crannies and divots. While for edging control we wouldn’t pick the Rave as a top contender, it’ll do a perfectly adequate job on all but the smallest edges. This shoe performs best on cracks and endless slabs. We would recommend this shoe for avid outdoor trad climbers looking for comfortable all-arounders, or as a pair of gym beater shoes.
The Rave’s are slightly cheaper than the Moccasyms, coming in at $99. If you’ve had issues with the bagginess of the Mocs, we’d highly recommend giving these a go. Give them a little time and they’ll start to feel like a second skin.
For Women: Because the Rave uses a very flat and narrow last, they are advertised as a unisex shoe. For women that are looking to use the Rave, we recommend dropping a size and a half from your normal street shoe.
What’s your favorite budget climbing shoe?
Affordable climbing shoes don’t necessarily translate to poor quality. While the best bouldering shoes can easily put you back by $200, it’s awesome to see what manufacturers have been able to pack into their budget climbing shoe offerings.
For the beginner climber we’d suggest looking at the Tarantula or the Momentum. They’ve got ample rubber and support, and will outlast the climbing wall scuffs. If you are happy to compromise on durability, it would certainly be worth giving the Helix or the Endeavor a try. Though you’ll want to be a bit more careful with your toes, they’ll simultaneously encourage better, more intuitive footwork as a result. For the seasoned dirtbag that hangs out on multi-pitches and crack climbs, the Rave is a great choice.
With a slipper, velcro and lace-up shoe all under $100, you have got plenty of options to chose from.