How Much Are Climbing Shoes?

The average price for a pair of climbing shoes in 2021.

How Much Are Climbing Shoes

Most climbers can attest that the single most crucial gear you will have as a climber is your shoes. 

The mediator between your feet and the wall, they provide the tenacious grip and razor-sharp precision needed for delicate dance-like footwork, balance, and power.

Most intermediate and advanced climbers have multiple pairs of shoes depending on their goals of the day. Whether running laps up gym walls for training, cruising up a 10-pitcher, or tackling heinously challenging boulder problems, there is a shoe for every occasion. 

Climbing shoes can vary significantly in price, depending on the manufacturer, features, where you got them from, and whether they were on sale.

Entry-level climbing shoes start from just under $100, while high-performance, popular pairs can be priced closer to $300. 

Beginners will do well buying affordable climbing shoes. New climbers have yet to develop precise footwork and often end up desperately scuffing their feet on walls. 

In addition to wasting energy, scuffing feet will wear the rubber out faster, especially in high-contact areas like the very tip of the shoe and the outside edge.

If the rubber gets worn and your toe starts to poke out, don’t chuck them out! Resoling them is a way more environmentally friend and wallet-friendly option, there also plenty of other things you can do with old climbing shoe. Here’s our guide on when to replace climbing shoes. 

Footwear for intermediate and advanced climbers tends to be pricier. Shoes for advanced climbers have performance-enhancing features that demand superior engineering and design, focusing on performance over comfort.

How Much Do Rock Climbing Shoes Cost?

We looked at 132 men’s and women’s shoes across 11 brands discovered that the current average price for a pair climbing shoes to be $118.77.

Although some performance shoes can go for lower, expect to pay between $120 and $180 for a high-quality pair of kicks.

Online retailers like REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, and SteepAndCheap often have sales on some of their shoes. If you’re lucky, you could snag a suitable pair at a significant discount, so keep checking back on your favorite retailers.

TOP TIP: If ordering online and you don’t know your size, order several pairs and return the ones you don’t want in perfect condition. Online retailers often have fuss-free return policies and free shipping. Check out our handy guide on how to size your shoes.

In addition, local outdoor gear stores might have periodic discounts on some models. The staff will be happy to help with your shoe selection, give you beta on the local climbing scene, and answer any questions you might have.

Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?

The Extensive R&D

Despite their humble appearance, climbing shoes are remarkable feats of engineering, designed to support the superhuman movements of those who wear them.

Contrary to the popular belief of most non-climbers that it’s all about upper body strength, footwork is the secret ingredient to successful climbing. Whether precise ballerina-like footwork on tiny edges or heel hooking up a vicious overhang, your shoes will be the ones to get you there. 

Because of this rock climbing shoes are remarkably complicated to create. Large teams of shoe designers spend years building prototypes, testing new shoe technology and collecting feedback from extensive teams of experienced testers before a new shoe hits the shelves.

Superior, handmade, craftsmanship

Unlike your sneakers, machines don’t make rock shoes. Humans do. Each pair is handmade and crafted around the shoe’s last – the 3D mold that the shoe is created around.

Developing the skills to handcraft a pair of performance climbing shoes doesn’t exactly happen overnight either. Each shoemaker can spend years of training and honing their craft to create the climbing shoes we know and love.

Here’s a sneak peek inside the La Sportiva factory in Ziano di Fiemme, where their team of 240 shoemakers creates every La Sportiva shoe.

Quality Materials

Climbing shoes need to be built from some seriously strong materials so they can withstand years of abrasion from rocks and gym walls. This is why many climbing shoes are made from leather, as this natural fiber is extremely durable and adaptable.   

In addition, the rubber on the sole and rand are incredibly sticky and designed to give your feet the supernatural ability to stick on everything.  Shoe manufacturers seem to be in a never-ending race to develop the stickiest rubber, with the recipe for their compounds guarded more fiercely than Fort Knox.

Climbing shoe rubber is often a mixture of synthetic rubbers with fillers like clay or carbon black. Whether a shoe is stiff or soft depends on the rubber compound used in the outsole and midsole. 

Soft shoes mold to different shapes of holds and allow for more sensitivity, while stiff shoes do well on vertical routes that require channeling power from the entire foot to a focal point.  

How much would you pay for climbing shoes?

Beginner climbers might be intimidated by the relatively high cost of climbing shoes. However, entry-level climbing shoes are often flat, neutral shoes built for comfort over performance. 

While you might soon outgrow your beginner pair and need an upgrade, several excellent options are available for under $100. 

In addition, with proper care and storage, climbing shoes can last several years. Keep an eye on the rubber and make sure the rubber isn’t worn or getting worn through the rand.

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