Every year the world of climbing shoes evolves. In the last few decades alone, they have transformed from lace up boots to synthetic Velcro slippers. One of the best ways to keep up with the ever-changing world of climbing is to keep an eye on what the pros are doing. The guys and girls that are pushing the limits of what’s currently possibly understand how climbing shoes need to evolve to reach new heights – no pun intended.
So, if you have found yourself wondering what type of shoes professional climbers wear, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will look at what shoes some of the biggest names in climbing have worn and what their current go to shoes are. Lets get started!
Alex Honnold Climbing Shoes
Alex Honnold has become one of climbing’s biggest superstars. His crazy free solo of El Cap made in an instant global celeb and resulted in him amassing nearly 2M followers on Instagram. Alex has worn La Sportiva for the majority of his professional climbing career. And being sponsored by LS, Honnold isn’t spoilt for choice when it comes to world-class climbing shoes. In fact, he can regularly utilises their endless section of La Sportiva shoes.
For the majority of his big wall and Yosemite ascents, like his famous free solo of El Cap, the nose speed record and the Fitz Roy Traverse, Alex’s go to shoe is the TC Pro. That’s because this shoe was specifically designed for climbing in Yosemite. “It’s the ultimate trad climbing shoe. Amazingly stiff for slab climbing and comfortable in cracks” Alex Says.
When Honnold isn’t 1000ft free soloing, you might find him working on a bouldering problem or sport climbing route. For times like this, the Solutions are his shoe of choice. “I like the downturned toe and the high-performance fit. They’re also amazing for heel/toe hooking – it’s rare that a shoe is great at both… I use them for pretty much anything other than trad climbing”. Some of Alex’s noticeable ascents while wearing the La Sportiva Solutions include Ambrosia (V11), Cobra Crack (5.14b) and Atonement (514b).
Alex has also been known to frequently use the Miura, having free soloed Half Dome in 2008 as well as Astroman and The Rostrum in 2007 in a pair of Miura’s. He also uses them for vertical bouldering problems like Too Big to Flail (V10) and Mandala (V12.)
Adam Ondra Climbing Shoes
Adam, another La Sportiva athlete, uses a various shoes depending on the project he is working on. As he perfectly summed up “For me there is no such a thing as the best shoe ever. But there is the best shoe for certain kind of climbing.” As part of his Road to Tokyo series, Adam gave us a closer look at his shoe collection and dropped some of his shoe-knowledge on us.
Adam interchanges and utilises the features of each climbing shoe more than any other climber I know. In fact, he almost uses every model La Sportiva has. He has also been know to wear two different shoes at the same climbing, depending on the demands of the route.
If he’s working on overhung sport climbing or bouldering problems, the chances are you will see him in a pair of Solutions or Skwamas. The Solutions have helped Adam achieve some serious accomplishments, including the first ascent of Silence, a sport route widely considered as one of the hardest in the world and the first to receive the grade of 9c (5.15d).
The Speedster is another favourite of Adams with him stating that “for me the Speedster is the best shoe with No Edge technology, ideal for onsighting in not too steep terrain”. He has used this shoe to complete some noticeable ascents, most noticeably the first ascent of La Dura Dura.
Adam also used the Katana Lace for his repeat of the Dawn Wall, the famous route first conquered by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson in 2015.
Chris Sharma Climbing Shoes
Chris has been one of the biggest names in climbing for the last 20 years. Having such a long love affair with the sport, Sharma certainly knows a thing or two about good climbing shoes. Unlike Honnold or Ondra, Sharma has partnered with a variety of climbing shoe manufacturers across this career.
His first partnership was with Five Ten at a time when Chris was beginning to establish a name for himself and creating an impressive resume of first ascents in the process. During his first assent of Necessary Evil, the first ever 5.14c in the US, Sharma was rocking the Moccasym, an all-rounder that’s considered as one of the best slippers on the market. And while completing the first ascent of Realization, the world’s first 5.15a sport climb, Chris was using the Anasazi, another leading 5:10 model.
Chris’s partnership with Five Ten came to a swift end in 2006 and shortly after his relationship with Evolv developed. During his time with Evolv he was heavily involved with the develop of his own shoe series of ‘Sharma Signature’ shoes including the Shaman, Supra, Pontas and nexxo all of which Sharma could regularly seen climbing in.
One of the first, and most used, shoes that Sharma developed was the Pontas, a Velcro all-rounder with a pointy toe similar to the Five Ten Anasazi VCS. Sharma used the Pontas, and later the Pontas II on some of his hardest ascents including Jumbo Love (5.15b) and Es Pontas (5.15a).
The Sharman was specifically designed for steep over hanging terrain which Chris has used for some big deep-water solo attempts including El Bufador and Alasha.
In 2018 Sharma became an ambassador for Tenaya, a Spanish climbing shoe manufacture. While he can be seen crushing in a pair of IATI. Word on the street is he is working on his own series of Tenaya shoes too, so watch out!
Tommy Caldwell Climbing Shoes
Isn’t it every climbers dream to have their very own shoe line? For Caldwell that dream is a reality after the release of the TC pros in late 2009.
The shoes big debut came in 2008 with Tommy and Justen Sjong ascent of Magic Mushroom on El Captain and has since been used on most of Tommy’s projects including his famous Dawn Wall ascent. A flat toe box, stiff sole and Vibram XS Edge rubber all contribute to this shoe being one of the best slab climbing shoes on the market.
When Caldwell isn’t working on a big wall project he favours the Solutions for bouldering and sport climbing routes.
Janja Garnbret Climbing Shoes
If you have been watching any of the IFSC competitions you will probably notice Janja crushing the circuit for the last few years. Having won the bouldering world cup in 2019, she became the only competitor to win all 6 individual events in the history of the competition, solidifying her position as one of the best climbers in the world. Oh, did I mention that she is only 20 years old? Madness.
When Janja was still making a name for herself back in 2015 she made her senior tour debut in Chamonix with a pair of Women’s Miura’s. However, since late 2016 she has been sponsored by Five Ten and pretty much exclusively climbs in the women’s version of the Hiangles.
Nina Williams Climbing Shoes
Nina, a 29-year-old climber from Boulder, Colorado has made a name for herself by climbing some serious highballs, most noticeably the first female ascent of Ambrosia, a mammoth 50-foot V11 boulder. She’s is also widely recognised as one of the strongest female boulders in the world right now according to Gripped Magazine.
Having been a Five Ten ambassador since April 2007, Nina is no stranger to a pair of Five Ten Hiangles. In fact, this has been her shoe of choice for several years, hailing the women’s version the “best piece of women’s-specific pieces of gear he has ever used”.
Since Nina’s partnership with Five Ten ended in June 2019, she has teamed up with Scarpa and can frequently be seen training and sending some serious projects in the Scarpa Instinct SR and Instinct Instinct VSR.
Jimmy Webb Climbing Shoes
Considered as one of the world’s best boulderers, Jimmy has flashed over 6 boulder problems rated V13 or higher and has even made some impressive ascents of V16 boulder problems.
For the most part of Jimmy’s career, he was sponsored by 5:10 and favoured the Five Ten Team and Hiangles having done some of his most noticeable ascents in these shoes.
In February 2019 Jimmy, like Sharma, became a Tenaya ambassador and has already made some memorable climbs including an ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V15) in a Pair of Tenaya Mastia’s. When speaking about the move, Webb said ‘I tested these boots before making a decision I truly felt my climbing could improve. Super proud to be a part of such a rad brand and very excited for what the future holds.’
Nalle Hukkataival Climbing Shoes
While Nalle might not have the fame of some of climbing most prominent names, he is considered one of the best boulders in the world having made various first ascents and repeats of V15/V16 problems. He also established the worlds first V17 Burden of Dreams in Lappnor, Finland.
For the most part, you will see Nalle crushing the worlds hardest boulder problems in the La Sportiva Solutions, which is the shoe he wore for Burden of Dreams and Giogia (V16). He has also been known to use the Miura VS for less overhanging projects like Livin Large (V15).
Daniel Woods Climbing Shoes
Another big name in the Bouldering world, Daniel has climbed more than twenty V15 boulder problems making him one of the most successful boulders. During his time as a La Sportiva ambassador Daniel would exclusively use the Solutions, a shoe which he completed many national and international climbing championships and noticeable ascents in.
However, in 2017 his partnership with La Sportiva came to an end and a new relationship with Evolv formed. Woods has since used the Evolv Agro, an aggressive performance shoe. The Agro isn’t the only Evolv shoe that has caught Dainel’s eye. Alongside Paul Robison, Daniel co-designed the Evolv Phantom in 2017, a shoe that has one thing in mind – bouldering.
Alex Megos Climbing Shoes
Alex is known as an all-round climber with some series assents under his belt. As well as leading 5.15c and bouldering V15, Alex is best now for being the first climber to onsight a 5.14d. He also competes in the IFSC circuit and regularly competes in sport and bouldering competitions. Alex is another Tenaya athlete whos go to shoe is the Tenaya IATI.
Shauna Coxsey Climbing Shoes
Shauna is not only one of the UK’s to climbers but is also reconsidered as one of the best female climbers in the world, being a two-time bouldering world champ as well as taking home various other medals at the IFSC Word Cup events.
At the beginning of her climbing career, Shauna was drawn to the Five Ten Anasazi, not only because 5:10 made the first kid-specific and women-specific climbing shoe but also because the Anasazi had sent more 5.14s than any other shoe in the world.
As Shauna’s climbing abilities improved and raked up an impressive list of assents her requirements for her shoes increased. Initially she modified the Anasazi herself by sticking Stealth rubber patches over the top of the Toe box. After talking with the 5:10 design team about her upgrades, the Anasazi Pro was born.
Ashima Shiraishi Climbing Shoes
At the age of 15 Ashmima because the first female climber, and the youngest athlete ever, to achieve the grade V15 with the ascent of Horizon. As well as crushing some of the hardest sport and bouldering problems in the world she also has her own signature shoe, the Evolv Ashima. Specifically designed for youth climbers, this aggressive shoe is designed with a supportive last that is perfect for developing feet while uncompromising in performance.