Lace Vs Velcro Climbing Shoes
Which is the right choice for you?
Most things in the sport of climbing are pretty clear cut. Routes are graded so we can quantify their difficulty, and our gear is built with specific jobs in mind. One of the few things that aren’t as obvious is the difference between Velcro and lace climbing shoes.
The topic of lace vs Velcro climbing shoes is a divisive subject, which ultimately comes down to personal preference and the styles of climbing you practice. Personally, Velcro is my instinctive go-to type of climbing shoe and have been for years now. I also know many climbers – of varying levels of ability – that feel the same way.
On the other hand, I also know many climbers that prefer lace shoes, including one of my climbing partners that wouldn’t even consider buying a pair of Velcro climbing shoes (much to my annoyance).
So what is the difference between Velcro and laced climbing shoes? And what benefits do each style of shoe offer?
Let’s find out!
Lace vs Velcro Climbing Shoes: How to choose
To help you decide between the lace and Velcro dilemma, here are a few criteria that will help determine which would be more suited to you.
What sort of climbing will you be doing?
Probably the main factor weight in on the Velcro vs lace climbing shoes debate is the type of climbing you will be doing.
Many boulderers, gym rats and sport climbers prefer the convenience of Velcro and slip on shoes. Climbers who regularly boulder or lead usually wear aggressive shoes, which force their feet into power positions for maximum performance, at the sacrifice of some comfort. Tight climbing shoes are also popular with climbers who are working hard projects as the tighter fit helps reduce movement and precision. In situations like these, being able to get your shoes off quickly is a huge bonus.
It’s also worth remembering that these shorter styles of climbing often involve more standing around. There’s nothing quite like slipping into your sneakers or approach shoes in between climbs.
For climbing styles that require a longer time on the rock – like multi-pitching or trad climbing – it is important you get a shoe that will provide maximum comfort for longer periods of time. A shoe that you can loosen and adjust is definitely a bonus in this style of climbing. Lace also gives you that piece of mind that your shoe isn’t going to come loose 100ft of the ground!
Getting yourself a pair of lace-up climbing shoe 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 way to go (just make sure to stay well stocked on replacement shoelaces). Some crack climbers also find the bulky straps on Velcro shoes can hinder their crack climbing ability.
So, if you are focusing on bouldering or sport climbing, have a look at some of the best Velcro climbing shoes below. If you are looking at getting into multi-pitching, trad, or crack climbing, maybe a pair of lace up climbing shoes might be more your style.
Lets face it, all feet are weird. But if you have really unusual feet, you might find that lace climbing shoes will give you a better fit than their Velcro counterparts. This is because you can micro-adjust the fit with lace shoes, which allows you to tighten or loosen the shoe where required.
Of course, there will be other factors to consider as like the upper material (leather shoes will adapt to the shape of your feet better than synthetic ones) and the last shape the shoe was built on.
That said, lace climbing shoe will certainly provide you more flexibility to tighten and loosen hot-spot areas within the shoe.
For the Kids
A massive selling point for Velcro shoes is that they are excellent for kids climbing shoes. When performance isn’t a priority, Velcro is the way to go.
Once upon a time, I used to supervise groups of children 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. I wish it was an exaggeration when I say that I spent most of the day tying shoe laces rather than climbing!
If you are looking to buy some shoes for a young child, it has to be velcro all the way.
While it’s probably not going to influence your decision, it’s also worth mentioning the longevity of each style of shoe. 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, so make sure to store them correctly – bonus points if you invest in a climbing shoe bag!
Velcro Climbing Shoes
Velcro climbing shoes come in various styles including 2 or 3 buckles or a one strap system like the La Sportiva Solution’s hook-and-loop system.
The huge benefit to velcro is, of course, the ease with which you can get them on and off. This is the main reason most gym climbing shoes use a velcro closure. The downside? You don’t have as much control over the fit in the same way you can with lace shoes.
OUR FAVORITE VELCRO SHOE
La Sportiva Solution
The La Sportiva Solution is one of the most popular velcro climbing shoes ever created.
After first being released in 2007, the radical design of the Solution quickly made it a popular performance shoe for almost every style of climbing, although it certainly performs at its best on single-pitch sport or hard bouldering problems.
While shoe is favorite of many climbers, including superstars like Adam Ondra and Alex Honnold, this wouldn’t be our first choice of shoes for beginner climbers.
Lace Climbing Shoes
Following the style of traditional climbing shoes, lace up climbing shoes are a firm favorite for beginners and seasoned climbers.
If you are just starting out in climbing, lace-ups will provide you with more support and secure fit.
OUR FAVORITE LACE SHOE
La Sportiva Tarantulace
If you don’t want to buy a performance shoe with an eye-watering price tag, then there are plenty of all round climbing shoes available.
The La Sportiva Tarantulace is one such shoe, which hugely popular with beginners who are looking for a shoe that can help them find their feet with various different styles of climbing. It offers a no-frills alternative to the famous performance shoes this Italian shoe manufacturer are known for.
BONUS: If your budget can stretch a little further, then we recommend taking a look at the Finale too!
Lace or Velco, which is right for you?
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!