Utilizing a knit upper and neutral last, this is a budget shoe that packs a punch.
Performance and comfort harmonize to form this handmade Italian shoe.
A true icon, the Mythos has that old school look with new school performance.
There are many different ways we can classify climbing shoes but one of the most popular is by the ‘downturn profile’. In the world of climbing shoes, there are three common profiles; neutral, moderate and aggressive. Each of these profiles are designed to force our feet into different positions, which provide us with various advantages, depending on the type of climbing we are doing.
When we talk about neutral climbing shoes, we are simply referring to their flat construction or ‘neutral camber’. Comfortable and supportive, these types of climbing shoes are most commonly found on the feet of beginner climbers, or in the collection of experienced veterans that reserve them for big-wall, multi-pitch adventures.
Why use neutral climbing shoes?
Neutral climbing shoes, so comfortable you could go for a leisurely hike in them. Please don’t do that though. Not only will you look weird but climbing shoes aren’t designed for it, and excessive walking is the easiest way to ruin all that sticky rubber.
This style of shoe goes hand-in-hand with a stiff construction. This is because your toes are significantly less curled than they would be in aggressive climbing shoes. This means your feet naturally rest in a less powerful position, so some extra support is required to help your toes hold your bodyweight.
Because neutral shoes cause less strain on your feet, and generally use a stiffer construction style, they are recommended as ideal starting shoes for beginners.
They aren’t just reserved for newbies though. Neutral shoes are also suited for experienced rock climbers that want a comfortable pair of shoes to add to their collection that they can use on long multi-pitch adventures or all-day training climbs.
Be warned, climbing overhangs in these guys will be a frustrating experience, as they aren’t the optimal shape to ‘pull’ at pockets. They also imped your ability to ‘feel’ the rock beneath you, so can make delicate foot placements or micro-adjustments more difficult.
The Best Neutral Shoes
Take a look at some of our favorite neutral shoes currently on the market.
OUR TOP PICK
Scarpa Force V
Partly in thanks to it neutral last, party due to its padded mesh tongue and foam re-enforced heel, these babies are some of the most comfortable climbing shoes around. This makes them ideal for multi-pitch climbs, or beginners who prioritize comfort over performance.
They use V-tension technology and Vibram XS Edge rubber for extreme edging ability yet retain sensitivity throughout the shoe through the use a thin 1mm midsole. That flexible midsole allows for smearing and is suitable on slab.
From our experience, the Force V also make for a great crack climbing shoe. Their thick midsole and outsole make it painless for foot jams and the low volume toe box is ideal for wedging into finger cracks.
BEST SPORT CLIMBING SHOE
La Sportiva Mythos
The Mythos is a true gem in the La Sportiva line-up. Used by legions of climbers worldwide, they are super comfortable and offer all-day comfort. Cracks are also no problem for the Mythos, they jam well and offer enough versatility to tackle a gnarly slab route too.
Climbers looking for an all-rounder will appreciate this shoe for its versatility and comfort. They aren’t the best for performance, like most neutral shoes, but they will be your best friend on long multi-pitches and easy trad climbs.
The Mythos Eco version is the eco-friendly version of the Mythos. 95% of the Mythos Eco in various parts like laces, webbing, and soles comes from recycled materials. In addition, the manufacturing process used biodegradable leather, animal-free adhesives, and non-toxic tanning. The outsole is made of recycled rubber that does not sacrifice performance.
BEST FOR BOULDERING
Butora might not have the reputation of Scarpa or La Sportiva, but the comfort and durability of their Altura model is hard to argue with. Thousands of reviews are a testament to the comfort of these shoes. Suitable for wide feet, the toe box is roomy enough without sacrificing too much performance.
You don’t be climbing roofs in these babies but they will make a great partner for a all-day adventure on an easy climb, or a multi-pitch trad climb.
BEST OF THE REST
Black Diamond Momentum
This technical climbing shoe is ideal for cragging and bouldering. The midsole is stiff and gives optimal edging support without decreasing sensitivity.
The 4mm sole feels thicker with the two hook and loop closure velcro straps go in opposite directions, holding everything in place securely.
BEST OF THE REST
One of the best-selling shoes in the world, the Defys are comfortable, stiff, yet flexible enough for you to spend all day in. You won’t be sending 5.15s in these flat shoes, but their performance will amaze you for a pair of shoes supposedly designed with beginners in mind.
The synthetic upper and antimicrobial construction make these one of the best shoes in the market. The trademark Evolv “Trax” rubber complete the shoe. The Defys hold up on long days and don’t require much resoling. That probably has something to do with the 4.2mm stiff outsole that will stand up to much abuse, even by gumbies with no footwork.
Neutral vs. Aggressive vs. Moderate
Aggressive shoes have an extremely downturned camber, which makes them well suited for high-performance overhangs. However, they can be difficult to spend too much time in, and are best used in short gym climbs, bouldering or short single-pitch sport climbs. They are frequently used by competition climbers or experienced climbers looking to push their grades on sport climbs.
Moderate climbing shoes, on the other hand, provide the best of both worlds. They have a slightly downturned profile and are usually made with medium thickness in the soles. They will offer more comfort and greater sensitivity than neutral shoes.
Neutral shoes are the beginner’s dream. They have stiff soles and will provide support to the growing muscles and ligaments. Climbers not used to having their toes crammed into a torture device and worse, standing on the device, will be nicely receptive to neutral shoes.
What’s right for you?
Whether you are a newbie looking at a comfortable pair of shoes to start out in, or a 5.15 climber that wants to do a 12-hour multi-pitch in approach shoes, neutral shoes can help.
A healthy go-between, neutral shoes are not quite as comfortable as approach shoes. They help you climb technical face climbs, slight overhangs, and are versatile enough for slab and crack. They cost less than the top aggressive shoes, and are a part of every climber’s wardrobe. We hope you find your perfect flats!