Most things in climbing are pretty clear cut. Our routes have grades so we can quantify the difficulty of our projects and all our gear is built with specific jobs in mind. But one of the few things that isn’t as obvious is what’s the difference between velcro and lace climbing shoes?
The topic of lace vs velcro climbing shoes is a dividing topic for many. Personally, velcro is my instinctive go to style and have been for over 7 years now. I also know many climbers – of varying levels of ability – that feel the same way.
On the other hand, I know just as many climbers that prefer lace shoes including my climbing partner that won’t even consider velcro shoes (much to my annoyance.) So what is actually the difference I hear you ask? Let’s find out!
Following the style of traditional climbing shoes, lace-ups are a firm favourite for beginners and seasoned climbers alike.
If you are just starting out in climbing, lace-ups will provide you with more support and secure fit.
This is because you can micro-fit with lace shoes, as you can adjust the fit along the length of the lace, tightening or loosening when needed.
They also offer experienced climbers some major benefits that I will explain shortly too.
Velcro climbing shoes come in various styles including 2 or 3 buckles or one strap system like the La Sportiva Solutions hook-and-loop system.
The huge benefit to velcro is the ease of which you can get them on and off. The downside? You don’t have as much control over the fit in the same way you can with lace shoes.
To help you decide between the two, here are a few criteria that will help determine which would be more suited to you.
Lace vs Velcro Climbing Shoes
What sort of climbing will you be doing?
Probably the main factor for deciding on velcro vs lace climbing shoes are the type of climbing you will be doing.
Many boulderers and sport climbers prefer the convenience of velcro shoes for a few reasons. Firstly, these sort of climbers usually wear more aggressive style of shoes, which twist your feet into positions for maximum performance but minimal comfort. Also, when climbers are pushing the limits of their abilities and focusing on high performance, they will look to wear smaller and tighter shoes to reduce movement and improve the sensitivity they will get. so it’s definitely a bonus to get your shoes off as quick as possible!
It’s also worth remembering that these shorter styles of climbing require more standing around, so there’ nothing like slipping into your trainers in between climbs. So, if you are thinking about focusing on bouldering or sport climbing, maybe you should have a look at some velcro climbing shoes.
If you are looking at getting into multi-pitching, trad or crack climbing, maybe lace up climbing shoes might be more your style.
For climbing styles that require a longer time on the rock – like multi-pitching or trad climbing – it’s important you get a shoe that will provide maximum comfort for longer periods of time. A shoe that you can loosen and adjust for maximum comfort is definitely a bonus in this style of climbing. Lace also gives you that piece of mind you get that your shoe isn’t going to come loose 100ft of the ground!
Getting yourself a pair of lace-ups is definitely wise if you are planning on trying your hand at crack climbing. Crack climbing involves jamming your feet in tight and awkward spaces, so the extra security of a well-tied lace is the best way to go with this one. Some crack climber also find the bulky straps on the velcro shoes can hinder your crack climbing ability.
If you have funny shaped feet you might find that lace climbing shoes will give you a better fit than velcro shoes.
Of course, there will be other factors to consider as well, like the material and shape of the shoe but laces will definitely give you more flexibility to tighten and loosen different areas of to fit your foot.
A massive selling point for velcro is that it is excellent for kids shoes. When performance isn’t a priority, velcro is the way to go.
A long time ago, I used to supervise groups of kids of varying ages at my local climbing wall. While the older kids had no problem with the hire shoes, there was an endless queue of young children looking for someone to tie their laces. It is no exaggeration when I say that I spent most of the time tying shoe laces rather than climbing!
If you are looking to buy some shoes for a young child, definitely velcro all the way.
While it’s probably not going to influence your decision, it’s also worth mentioning the longevity of each style. Like everything, your climbing shoes will start to wear and stretch over time.
Laces will inevitably fray and tear, especially with frequent outdoor use or crack climbing. Fortunately, laces are relatively easy to replace and re-lace.
Velcro, on the other hand, won’t wear like laces will. However, they will lose their effectiveness if the teeth on the velcro straps start to collect dirt.
At the end of the day, choosing between velcro or lace climbing shoes comes down to personal preference. Have a think about what style of climbing you will be focusing on and any of the other requirements that may apply to you.
Don’t forget you can search for the best lace and velcro climbing shoes right here on Climbing Shoe Review!