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The Most Comfortable Climbing Shoes

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In the kingdom of climbing shoes, comfort is not king. Climbing footwear is designed to hold our feet in optimal positions to transfer power, so it’s never going to feel like wearing a pair of fluffy Ugg boots. But thanks to the magic of modern shoe technology, many shoes now offer both performance and comfort in equal measures. Dive into my 2023 scoop on the most comfortable climbing shoes.

Tenaya Mastia Thumbnail

For Sending

Tenaya Mastia

A comfortable sending shoe with a knack for sticking terrible footholds.

Veloce Thumb

For Indoor

Scarpa Veloce

Stupidly comfortable and perfect for clocking mileage in the gym.

La Sportiva Tarantulace

For Beginners

LS Tarantulace

Great for beginners, and big-wall climbers due to their superior comfort.

Tenaya Oasi

For All-Around

Tenaya OAsi

Amazing all-around versatility and comfort don’t come better than the Oasi.

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Long gone are the days when it was the norm to wear stupidly small climbing shoes. The outdated advice of ridiculously downsizing your shoes stems from a time before modern designs and technology. Pre-2000s, climbers had no other option than to cram their feet into small shoes to squeeze every drop of performance of their poor-fitting shoes.

But even with all the amazing technology available today, climbing shoes still aren’t exactly the most comfortable type of footwear. Performance shoes, especially the softer ones, need to be fitted tightly so that their clever rand systems can work their magic.   

And squeezing your feet into an aggressively downturned shoe on your first trip to the climbing gym isn’t exactly most people’s idea of fun. In fact, it would probably be enough to prevent most first-time climbers from ever coming back. Even veteran crag rats who spend long days on big-wall adventures don’t want to wear these types of shoes.

For this reason, there are plenty of climbing shoes built with superior levels of comfort in mind. These all day climbing shoes are brilliant for new climbers and beginner boulderers who are new to the sport.

What Makes a Comfortable Climbing Shoe?

comfortable all day climbing shoes

If you asked me a decade ago what the key characteristics of comfortable climbing shoes are, I would probably have given you a very different answer.

Pre-2000, shoe designs were pretty primitive, and comfortable climbing shoes would all share a very similar design. These models, often billed as all-day climbing shoes, would be built with a neutral shape, allowing your foot to remain in a more naturally flat position. This would be accompanied by a stiff, full-length sole that would help reduce strain on your toes. They would also most likely use a lace closure which would allow you to fine-tune the fit.

While shoes like this were undoubtedly a comfortable option, they didn’t exactly provide the level of performance advanced climbers require for pushing upper-end boulders and sports grades.

But thanks to more recent innovations in shoe shapes and technology, performance climbing shoes have reached a point where they can offer a significantly superior level of comfort. There are plenty of comfortable bouldering shoes out there that are built with soft split soles, clever last shapes, and active rands to offer superior performance without the toe-curling pain. While these sorts of shoes wouldn’t be my first choice for all-day climbing, they offer a surprising level of comfort than previously thought possible on high-performance shoes.

Of course, comfort is subjective and really depends on how well each individual shoe fits your foot. There are also a couple of factors that will dictate the level of comfort you will achieve with each shoe.

  • The shape of your toes: Most climbing shoes tend to favor the Egyptian foot shape, so if you have Greek or Roman feet, you will likely find that your toes will feel restricted on many popular shoes
  • The Volume of your foot: The instep volume of your foot will dictate how tight the top of your foot feels against the shoe. Be sure to play around with high and low-volume variations
  • The Break-In Period: Breaking in a pair of climbing shoes can be a pretty brutal experience, depending on the size and materials of your shoe. Leather uppers and unlined shoes will stretch significantly easier than synthetic materials and lined uppers.

The Most Comfortable Climbing Shoes

Below I will share with you the most comfortable climbing shoes that are renowned for their unparalleled support. As everyone has differently shaped feet, it’s important to remember that a shoe that works for one climber might be another’s nightmare.

My Top Pick

Tenaya Mastia

Tenaya Mastia shoe
Overall
7.7
(1 review)
  • Edging - 7.67/10
    7.7/10
  • Smearing - 7.67/10
    7.7/10
  • Steep Terrain - 7.67/10
    7.7/10
  • Comfort - 7.67/10
    7.7/10
  • Sensitivity - 7.67/10
    7.7/10
  • Value For Money - 7.67/10
    7.7/10

Pros

  • Incredible sensitivity
  • The clever heel Velcro/slipper hybrid
  • The P3 Platform

Cons

  • The soft rubber lacks support
  • Wears fast
  • Doesn’t resole well

The Mastia is one of the latest additions to the Tenaya Arial Plus range and a shoe that has really impressed me recently. Tenaya is known for its extremely comfortable shoes, but the Mastia really stands out as something special.

The Mastia is billed as a bouldering all-rounder, but I’ve found it to excel on a huge range of climbing terrain. It specializes in making you feel solid on really poor foot holds; sloping gym jips, shallow edges, thin cracks, the kind of foot placements that make your heart drop.

Tenaya Mastia Testing Indoor Gym

So what makes the Mastia such a comfortable bouldering shoe? Well for starters, it’s the widest shoe Tenaya has made, which suits my foot really well. It’s also moderately downturned, so doesn’t have the super aggressive camber of many bouldering shoes. But it’s the low-volume toe box that really makes the Mastia one of the most comfortable performance shoes out there.

Instead of crimping your toes up tightly, your toes lie flatter in the shoe. It’s bizarre how a shoe that is so comfortable can stand on terrible footholds so well. Really impressive stuff.

Best for Indoor

Scarpa Veloce

Scarpa Veloce Review
Overall
8.4
(2 reviews)
  • Edging - 6/10
    6/10
  • Smearing - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Comfort - 10/10
    10/10
  • Sensitivity - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Value For Money - 8.5/10
    8.5/10

Pros

  • Amazing sensitivity
  • Ridiculously comfortable
  • Extremely breathable and lightweight
  • Vegan-friendly

Cons

  • Not great for heel hooking
  • The velcro strap is unnecessarily long
  • The rounded-toe box isn’t great for smaller pockets
  • Rubber disappears fast

If you are looking for a comfortable climbing shoe for the gym, then the Veloce could be the one for you. The Veloce is, without a doubt, the most comfortable climbing shoe I have ever tested.

It’s billed as a beginner indoor shoe, but the Veloce takes a very different approach from almost every other beginner shoe – it’s ridiculously soft and sensitive – offering unrivaled underfoot feedback. The Veloce is arguably the closest you can get to climbing barefoot without ditching your shoes altogether. These properties have made the Veloce popular as a training/run-around shoe for intermediate and advanced climbers. 

Testing Scarpa Veloce

One of the most unique features of the Veloce is its toe box shape, which Scarpa has dubbed as a ‘relaxed performance fit’. This basically means that they have added extra space around your smaller toes, to stop that familiar cramming season synonyms with climbing shoes.

All in all, I am a huge fan of the Veloce. I love the amazing sensitivity, the sticky S-72 rubber, and the crazy comfort levels.

Best All-rounder

Tenaya Oasi

Tenaya Oasi

Looking for a shoe that can do it all? Although the Tenaya Oasi was designed with steep climbing in mind but can really handle anything you throw at it.

I think the Oasi is one of the most comfortable all around climbing shoes out there, especially if your foot sits on the narrower side.

There’s a lot of clever technology packed into the Oasi, and the Tenaya design team scratched their heads for over 2 years before perfecting this model. They played every trick in the biomechanic book to design a model that adapts to a wide range of foot shapes and climbing terrain. 

With an impressive resume of ascents, like Ethan Pringle’s Jumbo Love ascent and Alex Mego’s 9a onsight, you know this is a shoe that means business.

Best for Beginners

La Sportiva Tarantulace

La Sportiva Tarantulace Review
Overall
6.75
(8 reviews)
  • Edging - 7/10
    7/10
  • Smearing - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 5/10
    5/10
  • Comfort - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Sensitivity - 6/10
    6/10
  • Value For Money - 8/10
    8/10

Pros

  • Super comfortable
  • Great for new climbers 
  • Excellent, secure fit
  • Low price 

Cons

  • Limited performance

The Tarantulace is one of those shoes that are built with comfortable climbing in mind, regardless if you’re planning on pulling plastic in the gym or exploring your local crag.

It’s a shoe that has all the hallmarks of a classic comfy climbing shoe. The full-length sole, lace-up closure, and padded tongue check all the boxes of what we would expect to see on a comfortable pair of shoes.

But what I like about the Tarantulace over many of the other beginner shoes is that it isn’t completely flat, it has a slight downturn in the toe box, which offers a little extra precision when working more techie sequences.

It’s also a really popular all day climbing shoe, especially when your big-wall adventure is on the lower grades.

Best for Budgets

Evolv Defy

Evolv Defy Review
Overall
7.05
(3 reviews)
  • Edging - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Smearing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 5/10
    5/10
  • Comfort - 10/10
    10/10
  • Sensitivity - 6/10
    6/10
  • Value For Money - 8.5/10
    8.5/10

Pros

  • Affordably priced for beginners
  • Comfortable neutral shape
  • Sticky and durable Trax SAS rubber
  • Vegan friendly

Cons

  • Entry-level performance

The Evolv Defy is one of the most popular entry-level climbing shoes ever made. Billed as a beginner to intermediate-level shoe, the Defy is a budget-friendly shoe that has all the tools you need to find your feet in the vertical world. 

The padded tongue, wide toe box, and flat profile make these shoes extremely comfortable for long sessions at the gym or crag. Sure, the Defy lacks the performance of other shoes on this list, but don’t be too quick to write them off.

My personal favorite feature of the shoe is that it uses Evolv’s Trax SAS rubber. I think this is one of the best rubber compounds right now, offering buckets of friction on plastic and gym walls.

Best For Style

Five Ten Niad Lace

Five Ten NIAD LACE Review
Overall
7.2
(1 review)
  • Edging - 8/10
    8/10
  • Smearing - 7/10
    7/10
  • Steep Terrain - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sensitivity - 6/10
    6/10
  • Value For Money - 7.5/10
    7.5/10

Pros

  • The full-length sole is great for edging
  • Comfortable fit
  • Secure heel cup

Cons

  • The stiffer profile makes them less sensitive
  • Best suited to narrow feet

The Five Ten NIAD Lace, the next-generation version of the legendary “Pinks”, is a flat, low-asymmetrical shoe, with laces that extend far down your forefoot, allowing you to control the fit right down to your toes. Tighten them for the more challenging routes or loosen them for those cruisy days on the rock.

They smear and edge surprisingly well for a shoe that sits on the stiffer side of the spectrum, and the extra toe rubber added to this next-generation model makes foot jamming and hooking easy. 

When it comes to fit, I find the NIAD Lace to be pretty narrow, so these shoes will be best suited to narrow-footed climbers. They also have synthetic uppers, so they won’t stretch much, eliminating the need for any significant downsizing when buying them. I suggest trying these in your street size, or half a size down and see how that feels.

Best for Trad

La Sportiva Mythos

La Sportiva Mythos

The comfort of the La Sportiva Mythos is the stuff of legends. I know climbers that rarely take them off during long climbing days – even whilst belaying! 

The soft, unlined leather will stretch and model to the shape of your foot, which contributes to the comfortable nature of the shoe, although ensure to downsize them to allow for this stretch. 

The unique lacing system is another reason why the Mythos is so damn comfortable. Its clever design maintains tension throughout the shoe, without the use of a foot-crushing slingshot rand. This ensures the shoe keeps the foot snug and allows for fit adjustments too. 

Their low profile shape makes the Mythos suitable for sticking into cracks and the flexible midsole smears pretty well. Perhaps their biggest downside is that they don’t edge as well as the Katana or other performance La Sportiva models. That said, they are still a great option for all-day trad adventures when comfort supersedes performance.

What’s right for you?

comfortable climbing shoes

Any climber knows how tricky finding a balance between performance and comfort is. Beginners just starting will love comfortable climbing shoes, while more demanding climbers who are used to cramming their poor feet into painfully downturned talons will appreciate the added comfort on more leisurely days.

Whatever your experience level, a comfortable pair of climbing shoes should be part of everyone’s arsenal.

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