Death, taxes, and the La Sportiva Solution...they're the only things guaranteed in life. Despite the emergence of other excellent options, we continue to recommend the Solution as the best bouldering footwear available.
Sports cars of the climbing world Modern, ostentatious, crowded, and focused on showing off These are the shoes you want to be wearing when you're doing the hardest moves in rock climbing.
There were other options besides The Solution. Value-wise, the Five Ten HiAngle shines, while the Evolv Shaman impresses with its seamless fusion of form and function.
There is some repetition of themes. Extremely slanted cutaway, Velcro fastenings, pronounced asymmetry, and copious amounts of rubber. There are still notable differences even among these thoroughbreds, the most obvious of which is fitness. Despite our award winners, there is no such thing as a perfect bouldering shoe; only the best shoe for your foot.
We also included two great beginner climbing shoes we've reviewed to see how they would perform, and they held their own. We suggest the Mad Rock Flash if you are new to bouldering or are on a tighter budget.
Learn more about the fit and how these shoes stack up against the competition by reading on!We put nine pairs of bouldering shoes through their paces.
The La Sportiva Solution is our top pick.
Our go-to high-performance shoe is still the La Sportiva Solutions.
Most importantly, they perform better than the vast majority of other shoes in this test. In my experience, the Solutions gave me the confidence that I could maintain my grip even on the tiniest of footholds. The low-cut design, coupled with La Sportiva's rigid P3 platform, results in a sturdy shoe.
Due to its rigid nature, the human body loses some of its sensitivity. The toes receive more feedback from some shoes (like the HiAngle) than others. Nonetheless, I was relieved to have the Solution's simple strength.
The Solution's Achilles' Heel Is Totally One-Of-A The Solution's heel is made of a single, rigid rubber hemisphere, in contrast to the flexible rubber found on the sides of most shoes' heels. The resulting ball has the rigidity of armor and barely deviates from its original shape when placed on different rock surfaces.
So often, I appreciated the added security that the tough rubber provided. Some softer heel shapes may be easier to use than the ball when heel hooking smaller holds.Having that cushioning was a relief when walking on heel hooks.
Except for that, the Solution is a complete and well-thought-out product. The rubber on top of the toes is quite ample, but it doesn't make the toe box uncomfortable or unwieldy. The one velcro strap does a great job of snugging the shoes down, even on my narrow feet.
It's possible that the Solution's toe box is a hair wider than that of some other Sportiva shoes, but I wouldn't classify it as particularly wide. The Solutions' aggressive asymmetry can be uncomfortable for people with foot conditions like Morton's toe.
A new version of Solution was released last year, but most of the changes were superficial. It's still a great shoe.
In bouldering, the Solution is my go-to shoe because its limits feel so much higher than mine. The fact that Nalle Hukkataival approves makes it a safe bet that I will enjoy it as well.
La Sportiva Solution Women's is the women's variant.
- Adjustable, one-strap Velcro closure
- Main Upper Component: Leather/Synthetic
- Vibram XS Grip2 4mm Rubber
- The Size We Reviewed Was: 1 There are five European sizes smaller than standard American sizes
5-10 High Angle Best Price
The recent acquisition of Adidas by Five Ten has garnered a lot of attention. The German manufacturer has occasionally demonstrated erratic behavior, such as when it heavily discounted some shoes before suddenly dropping them (Farewell, Team and Dragon).
Although some older styles may make a comeback, Five Ten continues to produce high-quality footwear. And finally, there's the Five Ten HiAngle, a favorite of pros like Dave Graham.
The HiAngle's efficiency is very similar to that of the Solution. The aggressive profile and sticky Stealth C4 rubber made for a pleasant ride in any situation involving overhanging terrain.
The HiAngle is marginally more pleasant than the Solution for my foot. The upper is made of unlined leather, so it can stretch and shape to your foot. The HiAngle, after some breaking in time, reached a comfortable fit that allowed me to wear it for extended periods of time.
Although the HiAngle has a narrow toe box, its heel width is about average. Since this can cause an uncomfortable fit, Although it rarely presents a problem, I have experienced heel slippage when using technical hooks. You probably already know if the Five Ten climbing shoe shape is comfortable for your foot if you've tried on a pair before.
This iteration of the HiAngle is, at the time of this writing, still sold on the Adidas Five Ten website. In addition to trying out the leather variety, I also tried out the synthetic variation (which was ultimately inferior).
A new generation, however, is also on the market. Since Adidas took over, there have been complaints from customers of both generations about how the quality and fit have declined. I bought this pair of shoes last year, so I can't comment on the latest iteration. If it's the same pair of shoes, they won't let you down. In the event that you can locate older models, you might want to consider stocking up.
Alternative for females: Five Ten HiAngle Women's
Details about the item being sold.
- Fastening: One-Strap Velcro
- Unlined leather used for the upper.
- Rubber: 4 Discreet C4 Round, 2 mm
- Tested Size: 0 Number 5 below street size
The Evolv Shaman is the most comfortable bouldering shoe on the market.
We found that the Evolv Shaman wasn't the top performer here. There are sharper tools, such as the Solution or the Instinct, that are better suited for precision cutting.
However, I still called upon the Shaman on a fairly regular basis. It was one of the most comfortable shoes I tried out.
While there are boulderers who brag about downsizing until their toes hurt, I believe that comfort is more crucial to success. When my footwear is satisfactory, I am able to focus more of my mental energy on the ascent. I can infer that this means I am a more competent climber.
When compared to other high-performance bouldering shoes, the Shaman's padded tongue and three-strap velcro closure allow for a more personalized fit. Evolv's "Love Bump" is placed past the ball of the foot to provide additional support for the toes and get rid of any unnecessary space.
That's how things function. Without causing pain or pressure points, the Shamans felt constriction. Toe-top rubber is sufficient for most toe hooks, and the heel is cleverly constructed.
Probably not the Shaman if I could only send one pair of shoes. The Shamans still have an argument to be made because of their performance, comfort, and reasonable price. These shoes would be on my shortlist if I were looking for a high-performance pair to wear gym climbing or for longer climbing sessions.
Evolv Shakra* (the female variant)
* The Shakra is a slimmer and more compact version of the Shaman, but it still makes use of the same Love Bump and Knuckle Box technology. There doesn't appear to be a female counterpart to the Shaman, though. The Evolv Shaman LV, the original Shaman for women, seems to be out of production at this time.
- Velcro three-strap closure.
- Synthetic material for the uppers.
- Rubber: 4 The 2 mm Trax SAS
- Tested Size: 0 Above-average size five
The Mad Rock Flash is the most affordable and beginner-friendly bouldering shoe.
The Mad Rock Flash is underappreciated by the climbing community, and I have no idea why. Despite the fact that these shoes didn't belong in this particular experiment, they performed admirably.
What makes the Flash truly remarkable is its low cost. You can get these for significantly less than the cost of a pair of Solutions, and they're the least expensive option here besides the Tarantulace.
There isn't as much of a performance gap as one might think for the cost.
The Flash does have more trouble than our top picks when the terrain becomes extremely overhanging. The rubber from Mad Rock is adequate but unremarkable.
Although the Flash's rigid footing isn't ideal for squeezing onto narrow ledges, it performs surprisingly well on For the most part, it can handle steeper terrain. There isn't a lot of rubber near the toe, but the heel holds up well in my testing.
While the Flash isn't the most comfortable climbing shoe, it's certainly not the worst. I had low-volume feet, so the loose fit caused pressure points during long wear. However, it serves its purpose admirably as a bouldering shoe.
If it weren't for the Flash's usefulness, I wouldn't put up with its flaws. This is the best bouldering shoe you can get for the price of a pair of sneakers aimed at beginners.
For more options that are suitable for beginners, read our reviews of climbing shoes.
- Featuring a Velcro closure with double straps for closure.
- Materials Used in the Upper: Leather and Synthetic
- Rubber, 2-millimeter-thick Science Friction 0
- The Size of Things on the Streets Was Measured
Evaluations of Five Alternative Bouldering Shoes
A Pair of La Sportiva Skwama1
When I first started this experiment, I had my doubts about the Skwama. My feet were constantly being dug into by the hard synthetic material around the ankle, and the single strap closure did a poor job of keeping things in place.
However, by the end of the day, I was wearing some of my favorite shoes. They excel on steep, overhanging walls and are a solid all-around bouldering shoe.
Skwama shoes are also built on the P3 platform like the Solution, but their midsoles are a bit cushier, resulting in slightly increased responsiveness. These shoes are monsters in the steeps, and that doesn't hurt their performance on overhangs.
The Sportiva S-Heel is an alternative to the Solution's rigid ball of the foot at the heel. My heel moved around a little bit more in the Skwama, but that could be because I have narrow feet.
By the end of the testing period, most of the problems with comfort and fit had been resolved. While I never managed to get the Skwamas to feel quite like gloves, they still performed admirably once I got used to the initially uncomfortable ankle cuff. In general, those with medium to wide feet will get the most wear out of these shoes.
Skwama is currently more affordable than Solution at La Sportiva's current starting price. There isn't much of a performance gap between the two, and the Skwama may be a better all-around buy for some climbers. It's a solid number either way.
The Ladies' La Sportiva Skwama
- Velcro closure with one strap.
- Synthetic/Leather Upper
- The rubber used is 4 millimeters thick Vibram XS Grip2.
- One Size Is Tested There are five European shoe sizes below street
The Butora Acros came close to being the best of the bunch in this evaluation.
They were one of the few pairs of shoes I owned that I felt could compete with the Solutions on the tiniest footholds in the most precarious ground.
The structure of the platform is rigid but responsive. Cleverly, the design molds to the shape of the foot without obstructing entry or exit. The rubber on the top of the toes is the thickest and best for toe hooks of all varieties.
The Acro stands out as one of the few shoes in this roundup that comes in both a low-volume (narrow fit) and high-volume (wide fit) version. Since I have narrow feet, I went with the blue version that is a little quieter. The tongue kept my foot in place, and overall, the shoe was a good fit. There was no need for more than one velcro strap.
The orange version, which is wider in the toe box, has reportedly received positive feedback from those who have wider feet.
However, the Acro has a flaw, and that flaw is the Achilles heel.
This shoe's heel rubber is stiff, but it doesn't go very high up the heel. Because of this, I had to press very hard with very little cushion on some heel hooks. The end result was pain and erratic performance all too often.
That's why I was hesitant to use the Acros until I was sure I'd be working solely with my feet. It's possible this is due to a difference in foot shape, so try on a pair of Acros to see if the heel is comfortable.
If that's the case, this shoe could be a top pick for the price/quality ratio. The Acro, one of Butora's most popular models, comes in at a price that's surprisingly low for a shoe of its caliber.
Butora Acro Wide Fit is the alternative name for this style.
- One-strap Velcro closure.
- Materials Used in the Upper: Leather and Synthetic
- Neo Fuse 4 mm Rubber
- Street size tested
Instinct by Scarpa vs.
The Scarpa Instinct VS has a lot of credibility as a bouldering shoe brand, so I had high expectations for the test.
Generally speaking, the Instinct performed admirably. Overhangs are where the aggressive shape really shines, channeling power. The toe box is fairly rigid, which aids in driving through tight turns. Plenty of rubber can be found at the toe, and the heel is in good shape as well.
It's possible that my problems with the Instinct stem from the fact that the shoe's forefoot is too roomy. It wasn't as soft as others, and the thick layers of rubber make it very rigid.
Apart from that, however, I felt the Instincts were bulkier and less agile on the wall than the higher-scoring shoes. While the midsole is responsive, the sensitivity is average at best.
These shoes would be effective if your feet were properly aligned, but I had trouble knowing when I had achieved this.
As a result, some other pairs of footwear achieved higher ratings. However, this does not mean that the Scarpas are incapable; in fact, the right climber, especially one with wider feet, may find that these shoes are a good fit. Scarpa also produces a VSR model that is more sensitive to terrain (Alex Puccio's preferred option), but unfortunately not in the largest sizes.
Comparing the Women's Scarpa Instinct to the Men's
- One-strap Velcro fastening.
- Synthetic material for the uppers.
- Rubber: 3 Vibram XS Edge 5 millimeter
- There was a drop of one full European size below the street
Sporting Goods Company La Sportiva Miura VS1
The Miura VS, like the Ferrari F40 before it, is a timeless classic that has won countless awards for its performance over the years.
Even though this shoe is more slanted than the Miura lace-up version of its sibling, it performed slightly less aggressively than the others in the test. It's soft and supportive, and the toe-off feel is good despite the platform's stiffness.
Miura VS did well in most situations but couldn't compete with top-tier rivals when the going got tough. It struggled more when clinging to slim ledges, especially in precarious, vertical positions.
The heel design is adequate, but the Miura VS can't have toe-top rubber because of its three velcro straps. For this reason, toe hooks are difficult, which is yet another negative aspect of bouldering shoes.
To their credit, these shoes are among the best for use on hard, flat surfaces. They are acceptable as a high-performance all-around climbing shoe. However, their prices are often comparable to those of the Solutions, and for the same amount of money, I'd much rather purchase our Editors' Choice.
La Sportiva Miura VS Women's (the female variant)
- It has a Velcro closure with three straps.
- Leather, for the Outer Shell
- 4.0 mm Vibram XS Edge Rubber Sole
- One Size Is Tested Less than five European sizes down from street
Here is the complete review of the La Sportiva Miura VS.
Those Tarantulas from La Sportiva
The Tarantulas had no business being a part of this examination. Contrary to their name, these aren't meant for serious bouldering; rather, they're made to be worn by those just starting out.
Different levels of performance were plainly visible here. When compared to the other contestants, I just couldn't put as much force into pushing the limits of these shoes. Precision was challenging due to the flat shape and the stiff 5-mm rubber when riding overhangs.
Nonetheless, I really like these footwear. The Tarantulace scored highest of all species in one area: coziness. This pair of shoes is so comfortable, I could live in them. This is something that interests me. Additionally, the lacing system ensures a snug and supportive fit.
In addition to being incredibly cheap, the Tarantulace has other advantages. They do a good job considering the cost (and how cozy they are). They can't keep up with the pack on overhangs or particularly technical terrain, but they do fine up until advanced levels.
These shoes aren't ideal for use as a sole means of bouldering. They are still a good option for those looking for a beginner shoe or a pair of shoes with extra padding for comfort.
In the ladies' La Sportiva Tarantulace
Descriptions of Products
- Velvet or lace closure
- Upper Composition: Synthetic Leather
- FriXion RS 5 mm Rubber.
- One Size Is Tested Below-Street Size 5 in Europe
This list features the top bouldering footwear:
- What You Need to Know About La Sportiva
- Five HiAngle Ten
- Skwama, La Sportiva
- Acro Butora
- Changed Shaman
- Instinct by Scarpa vs.
- Shoes by La Sportiva Miura, Version S
- Lightning Strikes in the Rock World
- Tarantula from La Sportiva
What to Look for When Buying Bouldering Shoes
The downturn, stiffness, and comfort of climbing shoes cover a wide range. To ensure your feet stay comfortable even after a long day on the wall, beginner and trad/multipitch shoes are typically flatter.When compared to the Solution's sharp reversal, the Tarantulace's squat outline looks positively flat.
Bouldering shoes, on the other hand, are purposefully downturned to maximize power on steep terrain and limited footholds. When it comes to performance, bouldering shoes have to have premium rubber slathered all over both sides.
There are a few distinguishing features among shoes in this category.
Like with real estate, the most important thing when buying climbing shoes is the fit. Performance and a snug fit go hand in hand in bouldering shoes, in my experience.
You don't want your bouldering shoes to be too comfortable that you take them off every 30 seconds, but you also don't want them to be too uncomfortable that you can't climb.
The shape of your feet is probably something you are at least vaguely familiar with. How big are they? Narrow Arched or flat feet Thick or lean? No one cares what your feet look like, but you should still take the time to find shoes that are a good fit.
Shoe manufacturers cater to a wide variety of foot shapes when designing their products, but even within a given brand there can be noticeable variations in how a pair of shoes fits. Attend a shoe demo, talk to people who have similar feet, or shop around to find out what works best for your feet.
Common shoe models are represented on SizeSquirrel, which can serve as a comparison tool in the absence of any other source.
Velcro is used on the majority of bouldering shoes for quick and easy on and off. Although lace options are scarce, they do exist.
Not all Velcro fasteners are the same. The stretchy, slipper-like upper of some of these shoes (like the Skwama or the HiAngle) is held together by a single strap. Some have two straps for adjustment, while others (like the Shaman or Miura VS) have three. A hybrid system, used by some (including the Solution) to adjust in a number of places on the foot with a single strap.
A simpler design with fewer straps allows for quicker on-and-off, while a more complex design with more straps allows for a more personalized fit. Prioritize your purchases.
Rubber testing is an imprecise science that requires access to a laboratory. There is a wide range of factors that affect friction, making it difficult to replicate experiments on real rock.
Commonly, exclusive rubber is used by most manufacturers. Though Five Ten receives a lot of praise (hey, Adidas, don't mess this up), other companies' rubber compounds are also highly regarded.
There weren't a lot of noticeable variations between rubber types in this test. The Evolv Shaman was the least sticky of the high-end shoes I tried, and the Mad Rock Flash's rubber felt harder than average.
You might want to consider your preferences for rubber when shopping for high-performance shoes. In that case, I wouldn't stress about it; instead, I'd concentrate on getting in shape.
Methods Used in Our Tests
Experimenting in the Field
Stiffness, sensitivity, and holding power are all important aspects of shoe performance and feel, but it's difficult to find hard data on them.
I put all nine pairs of shoes through identical circuits on plastic and actual rock to ensure the most accurate results possible. For pairs of shoes that were very similar to one another, I used specialized A/B testing to iron out any performance differences.
I rated the shoes on several criteria, including their functionality (edges, hooks at the toe and heel, smears, etc.). Given the intended use for these shoes, I skewed my testing toward vertical surfaces (such as faces and slabs), even though I primarily used them for bouldering.
In addition, the responsiveness, comfort, and aesthetic quality of each pair of shoes were evaluated.