So you’ve taken the plunge into the climbing world and are on the lookout for new shoes. Climbing shoes aren’t cheap, they can cost a pretty penny, and you can be sure that as you climb more, you’ll need more than one pair of shoes.
So, what stores sell climbing shoes? And where can you go to find the best deals? Widely available both online and in-store, here’s our take on the best places to buy climbing shoes and bag yourself a bargain!
Buying Climbing Shoes Online
A myriad of options is available online for all your shoe-shopping needs. Shopping online can offer a more comprehensive selection and range of shoes, with online retailers, frequently having discounted prices on older models.
However, climbing shoes are a tricky one. A well-fitting pair will be your best ally and sending partner, while an ill-fitting, unsuitable pair will hinder your performance, make you doubt your footwork, and mistrust your feet.
If you’re confident enough to buy a pair without trying them on, here’s a list of our favorite retailers.
The holy grail for outdoor enthusiasts, REI is a membership-based outdoor co-op with an impressive climbing gear collection. More than 70% of their annual profits are put back into the community through their members, employees, and non-profits.
Their lenient return policies have led to an extensive collection of used gear, a possible way of knocking more than half off the retail price. Returned products seldom have a manufacturing flaw; they often are returned because of wrong sizing or unsuitability and are in perfect condition.
REI is a membership-based co-op that charges $20 for a lifetime membership that qualifies you for discounted rentals, insider tips, and participation in their used gear program.
A company based out of Utah, Backcountry has been providing quality outdoor gear since 1996. They boast an impressive selection of climbing hardware and apparel, and their subsidiary, Steep and Cheap, is a selection of limited-time, limited-quantity deals with heavily discounted products.
Backcountry carries shoes from several major climbing brands like La Sportiva, Scarpa, Evolv, Five Ten, Red Chilli, Tenaya, Mad Rock, Boreal, and Butora. Both sites also have a handy app that allows you to shop from your phone.
With shoes from Black Diamond, Scarpa, La Sportiva, Five Ten, Tenaya, Evolv, and Butora, Moosejaw has frequent discounts on older models and seasonal sales. They offer free shipping for purchases over $49 and a price match guarantee.
Aside from being one of the best places to buy climbing shoes, there are plenty of other things going on at Moosejaw’s website. The Madness is home to all the ‘fun stuff’ on their website, where you can read about everything from gear tests to their team bio.
Outdoor Gear Exchange
Featuring the best deals and a price match guarantee, Outdoor Gear Exchange (OGE) carries over 50 shoes from La Sportiva, Evolv, Black Diamond, Scarpa, Mad Rock, and Five Ten. Shipping is free for orders over $49.
OGE is pretty big on social and environmental responsibility, which we love. Their Charitable Grand Fund provides funding to non-profits that help improve outdoor access and education. They also run a consignment program, where they will help facilitate the sale of your used gear in return for store credit.
Of course, the juggernaut of online retailing carries shoes from Black Diamond, Climb X, Scarpa, La Sportiva, Mad Rock, Evolv, and Five Ten. Members of Amazon Prime get to enjoy a same-day shipping policy if you’re in a hurry to get those shoes.
As well as their unbeatable shipping times, their hassle-free return policy is one of the biggest advantages of getting your climbing shoes from Amazon. That said, if you are looking for a newly released shoe, you might not be able to find it here, as many manufacturers don’t add their new models to Amazon straight away.
Tips For Buying Climbing Shoes Online
Sizing your shoes can be a tricky business, and the fit of climbing shoes is of utmost importance. Dead space in the toe box causes a decrease in sensitivity, while a roomy heel box can make those heel hooks more difficult.
Here’s a handy size chart from Ocun to help size your shoes.
Order Multiple Pairs
If in doubt over the size, order multiple pairs of different sizes and return the shoes that have less than ideal fit. This is a good idea, even if you know which size shoe you are, as it gives you a basis for comparison. Be sure to return the shoes that don’t fit in good condition so that they can be resold.
Different Climbs, Different Shoes
Make sure you decide what type of shoe you want. Neutral? Moderate or Aggressive? Beginner climbers do well with shoes with a neutral profile that provides all-day comfort in a relaxed, comfortable fit. In contrast, more experienced climbers who love overhanging, steep routes would appreciate a more aggressive shoe with greater power in the toes.
Try Before You Buy
A quick trip to your local outdoor shop or REI will give you a plethora of shoe choices. Once you have determined the fit and size of your new pair of shoes, a quick check at some of the online shops mentioned above might yield discounted prices.
Mind the stretch
Keep in mind that leather stretches, and as you climb and exert high forces through the shoes, some materials can stretch up to a full size. Some manufacturers use non-stretch materials like Lorica. Lorica will not stretch, and hybrid construction primarily uses Lorica over the toe box to minimize stretch in that critical area responsible for most of the force applied. Synthetic climbing shoes stretch very little once broken in. It will simply conform to the shape of your feet once you start breaking them in.
Buying Climbing Shoes In-Store
Your Local Outdoor Store – Support your local community by heading to your local outdoor store that most towns have. Not only will you be supporting a small business, but it’s also a great way to meet local climbers and get the skinny on all things climbing.
Usually staffed with outdoor enthusiasts, local stores are a great learning resource with knowledgeable sales reps. They also frequently have gatherings and events for local climbers to participate in. In addition, they often have huge discounts on older models to clear their stock to make room for the new ones.
REI – The largest outdoor store chain, REI has 166 stores, all peppered across the US. Becoming a lifetime member costs only $20 and is well worth the expense to be involved in their swap meets and garage sales. Most REI staff are avid adventurers themselves and can give expert opinions on shoe selection and fit.
Bonus Tip: Most climbing stores have a small wall full of footholds to test shoes. Shoes that are used horizontally can feel completely different when you are up a wall. So make sure you try those shoes on an actual wall to see how it performs on vertical terrain.
Now You Know Where To Buy Climbing Shoes!
Your climbing shoes are going to be your best friend and ally. We wish you the best of luck in your shoe hunting and hope that these tips help you find your perfect pair!