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My Complete Guide To…

The Best Slip on Climbing Shoes

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Footwear doesn’t come any more convenient than slip on climbing shoes. While they’ve been around for almost 4 decades, modern shoe tech has allowed slipper climbing shoes to become finely tuned sending machines.

Scarpa Instinct slip on shoe

My Top Pick

Scarpa Instinct S

An awesome all-arounder that lives up to the Instinct family name.

La Sportiva Mantra thumbnail

For Gym

La Sportiva Mantra

One of the softest shoes La Sportiva has ever created, perfect for gym bouldering.

La Sportiva Cobra

For Wide Feet

La Sportiva Cobra

A popular slipper shoe, great for training days and burns on the speed wall.

Five Ten Moccasym

For Narrow Feet

Five Ten NIAD Mocc

A comfortable 90s classic that has received a modern upgrade.

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Slipper-style climbing shoes were first introduced to the world in 1984 with the release of groundbreaking shoes like the La Sportiva Ballerina and the Boreal Ninja. The purpose of these shoes was simple, to provide unrivaled comfort with easy on, easy off access. Since then, plenty of other climbing shoe brands have joined the party and added slip-on climbing shoes to their ever-growing line-up.

The La Sportiva Ballerina
The La Sportiva Ballerina… Could you imagine climbing in these?!

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 convenience and comfort of these shoes are still just as appealing a factor today as it was in 1984. With the advancement of shoe technology and the magical creation of asymmetrical lasts and tensioned heel rands, slip-on climbing shoes are far more capable than just doing the warm-up laps of your gym.

The Best Slip on Climbing Shoes

If you are on the search for some climbing moccasins, allow me to share some best slipper climbing shoes I have tried, tested, and researched.

My Top Pick

Scarpa Instinct S

Scarpa Instinct S slipper climbing shoe

The Instinct S is possibly the highest-performing slipper on the market today and one of our favorites here at Climbing Shoe Review. 

The Instinct family is Scarpa’s popular line of high-performance shoes, and just like its velcro and lace counterparts, the S is created with indoor bouldering in mind. After testing the Instinct S, 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 prioritize 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.

Best For Gym

la Sportiva Mantra

La Sportiva Mantra slipper climbing shoe

The Mantra has only let loose in 2022 but it has already become a bit hit with the gym bros. This ultra-light shoe (weighing a stupid 170g) is tailored for medium to high-level climbers who are on a quest for unparalleled grip and versatile performance across a myriad of indoor holds, be it on lead or boulder.

The first thing you will notice about the Mantra is how ridiculously soft it is. With no midsole, the shoe has a great underfoot feeling and bucketloads of sensitivity, allowing it to adapt to gym volumes and resin holds with ease. It also helps keep the shoe extremely comfortable, which is definitely appreciated during those longer training sessions.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. I’ve heard plenty of people grumble about the shoe’s heel hooking ability, and that non-existent midsole makes edging on tiny holds near impossible.

Best For WideF Feet

La Sportiva Cobra

La Sportiva Cobra Eco Review
Overall
7.5
(2 reviews)
  • Edging - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Smearing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Steep Terrain - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sensitivity - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value For Money - 7.5/10
    7.5/10

Pros

  • Basic but quality shoe
  • Very comfortable
  • Eco-friendly

Cons

  • Not suitable for high performance
  • Prepare for a lot of stretch

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 Cobras can be found on the feet of many climbers on the speed wall, including the speed record holder Reza Alipour and mega-crusher Adam Ondra

Testing Cobra Eco

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 molded fit once broken in, and its 3.5mm Grip 2 rubber won’t disappoint in both grip and sensitivity. 

Best For Narrow Feet

Five Ten Niad Mocc

Five Ten NIAD Mocc
Overall
7.4
(1 review)
  • Edging - 6/10
    6/10
  • Smearing - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 6/10
    6/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
    9/10
  • Sensitivity - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value For Money - 7/10
    7/10

Pros

  • Improved heel tension
  • Super comfortable
  • Enhanced build quality
  • The large toe patch

Cons

  • Dye turns feet red during break-in
  • Lacks performance
  • Not great for small edges or overhangs

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 has been favored by climbing legends like Dean Potter, Chris Sharma, and Tommy Caldwell.

Testing Five Ten NIAD Mocc On Slab

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 shoe.

With an attractive price tag and solid all around performance, this is a great choice for crack climbing enthusiasts or a relaxed day down at the crag.

Best For Outdoors

Boreal Ninja

Boreal slipper climbing shoe

In 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, its ability to design an outstanding slipper remains the same. The Ninja, similar to the Instinct SR, has had a serious revamp since its first release 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 molded heel cup (much like the La Sportiva Solution) and an impressive toe rand which makes the shoe ideal for overhung boulder problems.

Best For Budgets

Evolv Rave

Evolv Rave

The Evolv Rave is the final entrance to make it onto our list of best slip on climbing shoes. While it doesn’t have the reputation or performance levels of every other shoe on our list, it’s one of the cheapest and offers some great features that are ideal for beginners. 

The Rave shares some similar characteristics to the Moccasym, with some key differences. Sure, they are both flat lasted, very symmetrical, and have a rounded toe box. Where these shoes really differentiate is in the sole. 

The Rave is considerably more rigid compared to their soft Five Ten counterparts thanks to a full-length midsole and 4.2mm of Trax SAS rubber, Evolv own rubber with enough friction to rival Five Ten’s Stealth.

The heel on the Rave has an edge over the Mocc, with a rubber spin giving you tools needed to stick some basic heel hooks.

What’s Your Favorite Slipper Climbing Shoe?

best slip on climbing shoes

If our list of 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 of 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!

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