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The Most Durable Climbing Shoes

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Durable climbing shoes are great for beginners and climbers on a budget. There are a few of my favorite shoes that have built a reputation as some of the hardest-wearing footwear in the game.

Scarpa Vapor V Review

My Top Pick

Scarpa Vapor V

An awesome all-around performance shoe with brilliant durability both indoors and outdoors.

La sportiva katana lace

For Sending

La Sportiva Katana

One of the most precise and powerful edging shoes in the game, the Katana is built to last.

Black Diamond Momentum Thumbnail

For Budgets

Momentum

If money is tight, the Black Diamond Momentum offers beginners a solid bang for their buck.

La Sportiva Tarantulace

For Beginners

Tarantualce

One of the most popular beginner shoes ever created, the Tarantualce will help you find your feet.

We price check from over 12 of our most trusted retailers and share the lowest price for every shoe we recommend on this page. If you click a link, we may also make a little commission (at no extra cost to you, obviously).

Are you new to climbing and looking for a pair of shoes that will outlast your beginner phase? Maybe you like to spend your time grumbling up cracks? Or perhaps you’re just on a tight budget and need your next pair of climbing shoes to last longer than a couple of months?

You probably don’t want to hear this but it needs to be said. The hard truth is that for performance climbing shoes to work their magic, they have to be constructed with relatively thin and lightweight materials, limiting their lifespan.

If you play your cards right, the first area to go will be the rubber on the sole and around the toe area, the part of the shoe that is in most regular contact with the wall. The good news is, this may be prevented if caught early enough with a resole. There are also a few tricks you can do yourself to extend the life of your rubber too.

DIY climbing shoe resole
The thin rubber of the Instinct VSR has a reputation for wearing fast

But there are plenty of other unfortunate mishaps that can lead your shoes to an early retirement. A blown velcro strap and holes appearing in the material uppers are also common durability issues climbing shoes face.

My Favorite Durable Climbing Shoes

In reality, the durability of a well-constructed shoe is going to be directly related to how thick the rubber is. Thicker rubber makes for a stiffer shoe that can take more of a beating. Because of this, most of the shoes on my shortlist are what I would classify as stiff climbing shoes. 

It’s also worth remembering that the lacing or velcro closure may take some damage due to abrasion or simply from the high tension they are under from keeping your grubby trotters securely in place.

When looking for a durable climbing shoe, you will want to think about how they balance performance with durability, and what you can do to minimize wear and tear.

My Top Pick

Scarpa Vapor V

Scarpa Vapor V Review
Overall
8.35
(5 reviews)
  • Edging - 9/10
    9/10
  • Smearing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sensitivity - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value For Money - 8/10
    8/10

Pros

  • Awesome for technical sport climbing
  • Great for edging and precise footwork
  • Durable Vibram XS Edge
  • High & low volume variation

Cons

  • Heel cup is a little wide

The Vapor V might not exactly be the cheapest climbing shoe you can find, but there’s a good reason for that; this is a high-performance shoe with the brilliant build quality Scarpa is known for.

The Vapor V may look relatively simple, but there’s a lot of clever shoe tech packed into it. The 7-pannel material upper is one of the most complex of any Scarpa shoe. This design minimizes stretch and keeps the shoe performing at it best over the course of its life. The 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip Edge on the outsole also offers plenty of durability, offering a high level or resistance to both rock and plastic footholds.

Scarpa Vapor V Sizing

In terms of performance, the Vapor V strikes as a middle-ground for edging and smearing. The forefoot of the shoe feels pretty stiff, which helps transfer power into the toebox, but the split sole allows for some degree of flexibility, allowing the shoe to adapt to smearing on volumes and walls.

I personally find that the Vapor V feels more at home on reel rock than for indoor climbing, but has great all-around potential for both beginner and seasoned climbers.

Best for Beginners

La Sportiva Tarantula

La Sportiva Tarantulace Review
Overall
6.7
(10 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 La Sportiva Tarantulas are a common sight in modern climbing gyms as more newbies take up climbing. They make for a great beginner shoe and are a popular pick due to their durability, cheap price tag, and respectable performance.

They’ve got a fairly neutral profile and medium stiff sole, and fit most feet fairly well, leaving no dead space after they have molded to your foot once broken break in thanks to the unlined leather upper.

The Tarantulace has been equipped with a thick 5mm FriXion RS rubber with medium stiffness. This does come with the compromise of reduced sensitivity and friction (ironically), so you may even find that you outgrow the shoe’s performance level before it ever breaks down. For the same reasons, the Tarantulas can also be a popular pick for gym climbing and high-mileage sessions.

For Women: The women’s version of the Tarantula is almost identical, except it uses the Women’s RL45 last, designed to fit the narrower and less arched foot.

Best for Budgets

Black Diamond Momentum

Black Diamond Momentum

The Black Diamond Momentum fulfills a similar purpose as the Tarantulas. As the relatively new kid to the block, the Momentums have proven to be another great choice for new climbers. They’ve got a very similar profile with a flat, moderately stiff sole. You’ll get a similar level of performance and durability due to its rubber thickness and compound (in this case, the 4.3mm NeoFriction).

The advantage the Momentum has over the Tarantula is the material choice for the upper. Black Diamond’s innovative knit technology offers great breathability, making those sweaty gym sessions a little more light and breezy. They also added a hemp liner to the toe box, which helps absorb sweat where it matters the most.

For Black Diamond fans who enjoy the boulders, take a look at the Shadow.

Best for Outdoors

La Sportiva Katana

La Sportiva Katana Lace Review
Overall
7.95
(4 reviews)
  • Edging - 10/10
    10/10
  • Smearing - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Steep Terrain - 7/10
    7/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sensitivity - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value For Money - 9/10
    9/10

Pros

  •  Great for edging
  • Climbs everything
  • Flat, yet downturned (is that even possible?)
  • Comfortable performance shoes

Cons

  • Not the best for dynamic bouldering
  • Lacks sensitivity

For most shoe designers, when creating a high-end performance shoe, durability is assumed to be a given compromise. Using supidly-soft rubber and extra light materials makes for a quick break-in period, but also a quick breakdown in performance. But when it comes to the La Sportiva Katana, that is not the case.

This is an unlined leather shoe with a high degree of downturn and moderate asymmetry. This is backed with La Sportiva’s patented P3 system (Permanent Power Platform) so it’ll keep its aggressive downturned shape throughout the life of the shoe. This shoe shines when edging. Its 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber will inspire confidence on the smallest of holds.

For such a high-end shoe we a thoroughly impressed with the Katana. It’s a true powerhouse that may just come to replace all the others in your quiver.

Best For Style

La Sportiva Mythos

La Sportiva Mythos

The Sportiva Mythos is an oldie but a goodie. This shoe has been around for almost three decades with very few changes to the original design. This was a ground-breaking shoe in its day and could be spotted on the feet of top competitive climbers. Nowadays, the Mythos is typically used by tradsters looking for all-day comfort on easy to moderate terrain.

Given that they feel most at home on cracks, the Mythos can take a real beating. They’re equipped with beefy laces and rubber rand running along the sides so you’ll be decently protected when jamming. They take no time to break in and will mold to your foot due to their leather upper. And don’t worry, once you’ve worn through the durable 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber they’ll take well to a resole or two. We have found that the Mythos can take up to 4+ resoles before needing a permanent retirement. Not too shabby.

For women: The women’s Mythos shares very similar characteristics to the men’s shoes. The Women’s version also uses the XS Edge, a stiffer Vibram compound designed for big-wall and multi-pitch climbing.

UPDATE: The classic Mythos has been replaced by the Mythos Eco. As the name suggests this is a new eco-friendly version that uses a biodegradable leather upper and La Sportiva’s recycled FriXion rubber.

Best for Big Walls

Scarpa Maestro Mid

scarpa maestro durable shoes

This moderately high-cut boot is constructed with durability in mind. But then again, we wouldn’t expect anything less from Scarpa. The Maestro Mid is a high-performing crack climbing machine intended to take the pain out of the most uncomfortable of jams. It’s got a moderately aggressive shape with an asymmetrical and flat last, supported by a tensioned rand for extra support. They’ll keep you and your ankles well protected in the heinous of cracks.

We love the attention to detail in this shoe. This comes through on the side stitching on the leather upper. In addition, Scarpa has chosen to hide away the eyelets of the laces under the leather, protecting them from abrasion. The Maestro Mid is also equipped with 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber.

We think the Maestro’s performance rivals that of the TC Pro, with a more durable construction (TC Pros are known to suffer from lacing failure and delamination). This shoe also comes in an “eco” version using natural dyes. That’s a plus in our books.

What’s the right shoe for you?

Most Durable Climbing Shoes

Durability can mean different things to different climbers. For a beginner that are putting their shoes through the wringer, we would highly recommend going with either the Momentum or the Tarantulas. Though their performance isn’t exactly impressive, we think they are a great choice when you’re honing your skills. Seriously, these shoes are built to take a beating!

For the more experienced climber who doesn’t want to buy a new pair of shoes for 4-5 months, your choice will depend on the type of terrain you are climbing on. I love the Katanas for their durability and performance and feel they shine on all types of terrain. However, their aggressive fit and heavy price tag may not be for everyone.

Whatever your style of choice is, keeping your footwork squeaky clean, and resoling your shoes when needed really is your best defense against durability issues. While these may be some of the most durable climbing shoes on the market, eventually they will break down. Treat your shoes well, and they’ll reward you with longevity.

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