An iconic slipper that has been used by pro climbers for over two decades.
A high-performance shoe created to crush your projects in comfort.
A workhorse that has become popular with speed climbers and gym rats.
Slipper style climbing shoes were first introduced to the world in 1984 with the realise of of the La Sportiva Ballerina and the Boreal Ninja. The purpose was simple, provide the ultimate comfort shoe for a day of playing at the crag. Since then, plenty of other climbing shoe manufacturers have joined the party and added slip-on climbing shoes to their ever-growing line-up.
The convenience of slipping your climbing shoes on and off in a few seconds isn’t lost on the 21st-century climbing community. The pure convince and comfort of these shoes is still just as an appealing factor today as it was in 1984. With the advancement of shoe technology and the magical creation of slip lasts and tensioned heel rands, slip-on climbing shoes are far more capable than just doing the warm-up laps of your gym.
In this article, we are going to have a look at some of the best slipper climbing shoes available and what each model is best suited for.
Scarpa Instinct SR
The Instinct SR is possibly the highest performing slipper on the market today and one of our favourites here at Climbing Shoe Review.
The Instinct family is Scarpa’s hugely popular line of high-performance shoes, and just like it’s velcro and lace counterparts, the SR is designed with indoor bouldering in mind. After testing the Instinct SR, we found that these shoes are far more capable than this and are great for single pitch sport climbs, or small multi-pitching where you are looking to prioritise performance over comfort.
Some of the standout features of the SR include a sensitive ¾ sole that uses 3.5mm of Vibram Xs Grip 2, a bi tension rand – a revolutionary design that avoids the painful cramming of the traditional tension heel rand – as well as a healthy amount of rubber on both the heel and toe for technical hooking.
La Sportiva Cobra
One of the oldest slippers still in production is the La Sportiva Cobra. While its design has stayed remarkably unchanged over the last 20 years, the Cobra has still managed to keep up with the times.
In 2017 the Cobra Eco was introduced, which like the name suggests, was a vegan-friendly version of the shoe that was made from 85% recycled materials. In 2020, LS announced the Cobra 4.99 with the sole purpose of crushing the 5-second mark on the speed wall. The traditional Corba’s can be found on the feet of many climbers on the speed wall, including the speed record holder Reza Alipour and Adam Ondra.
Off the speed wall, the Cobras are still popular for a day in the gym. A streamlined shoe with an unlined leather upper will create a custom moulded fit once broken in, and it’s 3.5mm Grip 2 rubber won’t disappoint in both grip and sensitivity.
Five Ten NIAD Moccasym
Another one of the best slipper climbing shoes on the market today is the Five Ten Moccasym. Like the Cobra, the Moccasym has been around the block a few times and have been favoured by climbing legends like Dean Potter, Chris Sharma and Tommy Caldwell.
The NIAD Moccasym is flat lasted, comfortable and ideal for a long day of climbing. This slipper is one of the best you will find for crack climbing, although the soft rubber does limit its edging ability. On the other hand, this does help the Moccasym’s smearing ability and makes them great for working on your favorite slab climb. It also uses the massively popular Stealth C4 rubber, which is arguably the stickiest rubber available on any climbing shoes.
With an attractive price tag and solid all-round performance, this is a great choice for crack climbing enthusiasts or a relaxed day down at the crag.
In the 1993, Boreal unveiled the Ninja. The Ninja represented a major breakthrough as the first slip-lasted climbing shoe ever made. This new way of manufacturing allowed climbing shoes to become softer and more sensitive, while maintaining a ‘glove-like’ fit around your foot. Today, most climbing shoes now use this method to make their performance shoes.
While Boreal’s reputation may have faded over the last few decades, their ability to design an outstanding slipper remains the same. The Ninja, similar to the Instinct SR, has had a serious revamp since it’s first releases and is now a slipper that lends itself to high-performance bouldering.
It’s an aggressively downturned profile, backed up with a thin midsole and 4mm of their super sticky Zenith rubber. The Ninja uses a 3D moulded heel cup (much like the La Sportiva Solution) and an impressive toe rand which makes the shoe ideal for overhung boulder problems.
Now You Know
If our list favorite slip-on climbing shoes tells you anything, it’s that there is a slipper shoe out there for everyone. Climbing shoe technology has allowed today’s range of slippers to provide a level of performance that climbers could only dream off in the ’80s.
So whether you are looking for a comfortable run around shoe, or looking to do some serious sends, there is bound to be the perfect slipper out there for you. And if you still aren’t completely sold on slippers, don’t panic, we have reviewed plenty of other great climbing shoes for you to try out