Climbing hard and in comfort in the next-gen upgrade to the iconic Anasazi VCS.
The shoe that kick-started the modern bouldering shoe revolution.
King of the friction moves, the Drago is a hot choice for serious senders.
As rock climbing started to gain momentum throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, climbing shoe development exploded. Manufacturers started experimenting with different designs and developing a range of exciting new shoe technology. This led to revolutionary breakthroughs like slip-lasted construction, slip-on shoes, asymmetrical and cambered lasts, and of course, velcro climbing shoes.
One of the first climbing shoes to use velcro closure was the Boreal Bambas. The Bambas, and many of Boreal’s early creations, represented the new era of climbing shoes. This was even the shoe Lynn Hill used on her first historic free-climbing ascent of the Nose, the Bambas set the stage for several other shoe manufacturers to join the velcro revolution and develop their own line of shoes with velcro closures.
Since then, velcro climbing shoes have dominated climbing shoe construction. Today, most bouldering or sport climbing shoes opt for a velcro closure system, as these shorter styles of climbing go hand-in-hand with the easy on, easy off nature of velcro.
The Best Velcro Climbing Shoes
As with every climbing shoe, the right one for you will depend on various factors. The terrain and type of rock, the style of climbing, your foot shape and your personal preferences will all play a role in finding that perfect climbing shoe.
That said, here are a few of our favorite velcro rock climbing shoes, all of which offer slightly different benefits.
OUR TOP PICK
La Sportiva Solution
First launched in 2007, the La Sportiva Solution marked the start of the modern performance shoe revolution. The massive toe rand, aggressive camber, and 3D molded heel cup represented a huge step forward in shoe construction and made the Solution an instant hit with bouldering and sport climbing specialists.
Even a decade and a half later, the shoe is still one of the most popular shoes ever made, and is frequently seen on the feet of professional climbers. The talon-like shape of the toe box allows for extreme precision for delicate foot placements (Here is Ondra showing the laser precision of the Solution) while the split sole allows the shoe to remain flexible and conform to a huge range of climbing styles.
While the closure is not the typical two or three-strap velcro you might be used to, the patented hook-and-loop system keeps the foot snug and allows for more points of adjustment than traditional velcro straps, guaranteeing less dead space in the shoe. Because of their aggressive profile, the Solution isn’t ideal for long multi-pitch or technical face climbing but is an excellent choice for gym days, sport climbing, and bouldering.
For sport climbing’s Olympic debut, La Sportiva recently released the Solution Comp a less rigid, more adaptable, version of the Solution specifically designed for competitive indoor climbers.
BEST FOR BOULDERING
The SCARPA Drago has become a seriously popular choice for pebble wrestlers, especially when it comes to indoor bouldering. Hell, these shoes are such a good gym climbing shoe that over 25% of Olympic climbers wore the Drago in the Tokyo 2020 games.
What makes the Drago so good, I hear you ask? Good question. SCARPA has an impressive repertoire of shoe technology, and they seem to have thrown it all into the Drago.
This super soft shoe uses three different tension systems to ensure the shoe is super responsive and precise. This includes the SRT (Surround Rubber Tension) toe box, found on a few of their other soft shoes, and ideal for toe hooking. It edges pretty well for a soft shoe too, thanks to the 1/3 length Vibram XS Grip 2 sole that is paired with the PCB Tension Sytem.
BEST FOR SPORT CLIMBING
La Sportiva Miura VS
Being a stiff and aggressive shoe, the La Sportiva Miura VS is a legendary edging machine. Worn by beginners wanting to up their game and experienced crushers on their latest project, the Miuras can do it all.
They were designed for steep overhanging terrain and boulder problems but their stiff sole and toe box design handle technical face climbs just as well. The slingshot rand and power hinge combination are a result of innovative engineering that stretches the rubber at the back of the shoe during movement, channelling all the power onto the toe box.
Like any performance shoe, they aren’t the most comfortable and will not suit multi-pitch adventures. However, they will excel at single-pitch sport climbing, overhanging or vertical.
BEST FOR ALL-ROUND CLIMBING
Five Ten NIAD VCS
If you are looking for a velcro climbing shoe with all-round climbing capabilities, then look no further than the NIAD VCS. This shoe is the successor of the popular Anasazi VCS, the iconic shoe used by climbing legends like Chris Sharma to conquer ascent like Biographie.
This next-generation retains many of the winning features of the classic Anasazi VCS, with the introduction of some much-needed additions, like a toe patch and an improved heel design.
The neutral shape of the NIAD is a key contributor to its solid all-round performance, which also them comfortable for longer styles of climbing, while the semi-stiff sole helps the shoe perform remarkably well in foot jams, vertical climbs, smears, and is even suitable for a bit of trad climbing.
Unsurprisingly, the NIAD VCS falls short on the steep stuff, as it lacks the pocket-pulling ability of its aggressive, softer, counterparts. That said, the performance that Five Ten have squeezed out of the shoe is pretty impressive – bouldering in these bad boys is a refreshing change from toe-crushing downturned shoes!
The NIAD makes a superb addition to any climber’s arsenal for a relaxed gym-climbing day, slab, vertical face, and all-day multi-pitches.
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
The Evolv Defy’s padded tongue and interior make them so comfortable that many climbers have been spotted at the crag or gym belaying in them. The flat profile and symmetrical shape make them ideal for beginners yet to need aggressively downturned shoes.
That’s not to say these shoes aren’t capable of a rad send or two though. We are big fans of Evolv’s Trax SAS rubber, its sticky stuff, both on plastic and rock. They also edge surprisingly well for an entry-level shoe, and thanks to the 1.4mm full length midsole.
The VTR (Variable Thickness Rand) also ensures they are durable enough to hold up to the abuse from sloppy footwork characteristic of beginner climbers.
Why Use Velcro Climbing Shoes?
By far the biggest advantage of wearing velcro over lace climbing shoes is the convenience and time saved when getting them on or off.
If you are bouldering or sport climbing, you know how much time is spent standing around, belaying, resting or just reading a problem. The easy-on, easy-off, access of velcro is ideal for these styles of climbing.
Also because of the uncomfortable nature of aggressive and asymmetric climbing shoes, they aren’t exactly something you want to be wearing for long periods of time anyway.
Coming off a long single pitch route and can’t wait to let your poor toes loose? Lace-ups can sometimes feel like some freaky torture chamber of while as you desperately scramble your feet scream for release.
For this reason, the majority of climbers now use velcro shoes. Climbing has exploded in popularity in recent years, with most new climbers starting on gym routes, indoor bouldering, and single-pitch sport climbing.
Slipper-style shoes like the La Sportiva Cobra are even easier to take on and off with an elastic closure. However, a slipper can feel less secure and are more prone to increasing movement within the shoe, which is why most of these types of shoes are usually reserved for training days or as speed climbing shoes. Toe and heel hooking isn’t exactly ideal in these styles of climbing shoes either.
Final Thoughts On Velcro Shoes
With the explosive rise in the number of climbers worldwide, velcro shoes are more crucial than ever. Newer climbers tend to use their shoes for shorter periods up short gym routes or boulders, spending way more time out of the shoes than in them.
The time spent taking on and off shoes for these short climbs can add up; hence, most gym rats, sport climbers, and boulderers opt for velcro shoes.
In contrast, trad climbers stay in their shoes for hours at a time, pitch after pitch, even belaying with them on to avoid disastrously dropping them. You cannot know how many times I’ve been on a lower pitch and heard “SHOE!” from above.
In a nutshell, it boils down to personal preference, but a quick on-off shoe can be a welcome addition to your collection.