Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Rock Climbing Shoes

Boreal Satori

80

2016

Boreal Satori

The Boreal Satori has a lowered toe box, putting the foot in a very aggressive stance, but some issues with the fit sacrifice performance and comfort.

Mad Rock Redline

82

2016

Mad Rock Redline

The Mad Rock Redline is designed specifically for overhanging rock, but a severe downturn makes smearing ineffective and painful.

Five Ten Team VXi

87

2016

Five Ten Team VXi

The Five Ten Team VXi has amazingly sticky rubber with a narrow to box and is more of a specific climbing tool rather than a go-to shoe.  

Butora Acro

88

2016

Butora Acro

The Butora Acro is a comfortable and aggressive slipper but a centered powerpoint can make some moves feel awkward.

Tenaya IATI

90

2016

Tenaya IATI

The Tenaya IATI’s climbing shoe has a blend of comfort and performance that is incredible. 

Scarpa Furia

94

2015

Scarpa Furia

The Scarpa Furia is a precision weapon for high-end sport climbing and bouldering. As one of the softest shoes on the market, the Furia is not for beginners: strong toes and advanced footwork are a prerequisite to taking advantage of all the Furia has to offer.

La Sportiva Genius

90

2015

La Sportiva Genius

The La Sportiva Genius takes a few days to break in and has a narrow last, with some dead space in the heel. The No Edge design of the Genius takes some getting used to, but once you’re comfortable with the egg-shaped toe, smearing, edging and using tiny pockets becomes really secure.

Tenaya Oasi

85

2015

Tenaya Oasi

The Tenaya Oasi is mid-performance edging shoe for super narrow feet. With 3.5mm of Vibram XS rubber under toe, the Oasi is soft enough to feel the tiniest edges and dishes of rock, but there’s just enough support to let you climb all day.

Evolv Luchador SC

82

2015

Evolv Luchador SC

The Luchador is great entry level shoe for climbers looking to get into the world of down-turned, asymmetrical, high-performance climbing shoes.  A gentle down-turn and a relatively neutral shape make the Luchador SC a great all-rounder.

Boreal Dharma

76

2015

Boreal Dharma

With a nice symmetrical last and a down-turned toe, the Boreal Dharma ought to be a really comfortable high-performance shoe. Unfortunately, there is a major design flaw that makes this shoe uncomfortable to climb in.

Scarpa Vapor V 2015

81

2015

Scarpa Vapor V 2015

The Vapor V 2015 is an all-around, high-end shoe for indoors and out. The slight downturn and asymmetry of the last makes it aggressive yet comfortable, whether on slabs or 45-degree overhangs.

Scarpa Instinct S

90

2015

Scarpa Instinct S

The Instinct S is the only true all-around slipper we’ve tested. Whether edging and toeing-in on pockets, cruising thin splitters and liebacks at Indian Creek, or wearing large (with or without socks) on long routes, the Instinct S does it all—exceptionally.

Lowa Red Eagle VCR

79

2015

Lowa Red Eagle VCR

The wide, asymmetric and slightly downturned last of the Lowa Red Eagle fits fatty feet better than most shoes on the market.Finally there’s a shoe that allows testers with high-volume feet to fully cinch down the Velcro. 

La Sportiva Testarossa

85

2015

La Sportiva Testarossa

The Testarossa is arguably the best aggressive lace-up on the market. Designed for toe power and hooking ability, they excel at steep bouldering, gym training and sport climbing.

La Sportiva Katana

84

2015

La Sportiva Katana

A go-to shoe for everything but severe overhangs and roofs, the Katana is a comfortable performer on a variety of terrain.

Five Ten Blackwing

84

2015

Five Ten Blackwing

The Blackwings start where the Anasazi VCS leaves off in terms of the terrain they master. The Blackwings are perfect for everything steeper than vertical, they basically turn climbers’ toes into fingers. 

Five Ten Anasazi VCS

84

2015

Five Ten Anasazi VCS

The Anasazi Velcro and its pink, lace-up version have been go-to shoes for 5.14 climbers at crags notorious for micro footholds, like Smith Rock, OR and the Virgin River Gorge, AZ since the late 1990s.

Scarpa Booster S

90

2014

Scarpa Booster S

I found the Scarpa Booster S a notably soft and sensitive shoe for steep rock, gym climbing, and bouldering. These shoes are light and as responsive as the tires on an Italian sports car. 

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

93

2014

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

The La Sportiva Solutions are downturned, aggressive and precise. I regard the Solutions as one of the best high-end slippers on the market.

Scarpa Stix

90

2014

Scarpa Stix

The Scarpa Stix fits really well while walking that delicate line between sensitivity and support, performance, and comfort.

Lowa X-Boulder

78

2014

Lowa X-Boulder

The Lowa X-Boulder is one of the stiffest performance climbing shoes tested, with a lot of support from heel to toe. 

Five Ten Dragon Lace-up

81

2014

Five Ten Dragon Lace-up

Best for wide, high volume feet, the lace-up version of the Dragon lives up to its reputation as an aggressively down-turned shoe deserving of its cult following.

Evolv Nexxo

90

2014

Evolv Nexxo

For steep climbing of any variety, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better, more powerful edging shoe than the new Evolv Nexxo. 

Cypher Zero

73

2014

Cypher Zero

The Cypher is the cheapest high-performance shoe I tested this spring, and it looks like it will be a great precision edging machine. 

Scarpa Techno X

89

2014

Scarpa Techno X

The Scarpa Techno X does it all really well, and at a really high level. For a flat-lasted shoe, the Techno X is a really powerful edger, but deftly transitions to a crack climbing shoe. 

Lowa Falco Lace

76

2014

Lowa Falco Lace

The Falco Lace is a general purpose, comfortable shoe that could be used everywhere from sport climbs to trad routes to boulder problems.

La Sportiva Jeckyl VS

88

2014

La Sportiva Jeckyl VS

As far as desert crack-climbing slippers go, the new Jeckyl VS might have just set the new performance standard. But it might not be the first choice for sport, gym and bouldering.

Five Ten Rogue VCS

77

2014

Five Ten Rogue VCS

The Five Ten Rogue VCS is a "transition" shoe for beginner/gym climbers looking to take their performance to the next level. 

Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym

88

2014

Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym

The Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym is a basic, soft slipper that has withstood the test of time, and performs best on crack climbs and smears. 

Five Ten Anasazi Guide

84

2014

Five Ten Anasazi Guide

This new low-top shoe feels and climbs much more like a boot than a precision climbing shoe. It's a fantastic edging and smearing shoe, but struggles on pockets and thin finger cracks. Plan to size big.

Evolv Addict

84

2014

Evolv Addict

The Evolv Addict is an excellent crack-climbing shoe, very similar to the Five Ten Moccasym, but slightly softer and with a slightly better fit for wide feet.

Scarpa Feroce

89

2014

Scarpa Feroce

The Scarpa Feroce is a high-performing all purpose shoe for climbers with wider feet.

Mad Rock M5

80

2014

Mad Rock M5

The Mad Rock M5 is a surprisingly great do-it-all shoe that won’t break the bank. Its stiffness lands it as an all-day, all-purpose shoe.

Lowa Red Eagle Lace

84

2014

Lowa Red Eagle Lace

The Red Eagle Lace offers an impressive fit, and rather exceptional performance. Edging and toeing in on tiny holds is very good. 

La Sportiva TC Pro

92

2014

La Sportiva TC Pro

The La Sportiva TC Pro sets the standard for high-end trad free-climbing. However, it struggles on straight-in finger cracks.

La Sportiva Miura

93

2014

La Sportiva Miura

For sport, trad, big walls – good luck finding a better-fitting, better-performing do-it-all-well shoe. Just expect a long break-in period in which the shoe feels too stiff and clunky.

La Sportiva Katana Lace

88

2014

La Sportiva Katana Lace

The La Sportiva Katana Lace excels on sport climbs and boulders, but can be used for trad as well. PLus, the shoe is also just plain comfortable.

Five Ten Pink Anasazi Lace-up

88

2014

Five Ten Pink Anasazi Lace-up

The Five Ten Pink Anasazi Lace-up excels at a certain type of technical face/crack climbing, but they are also solidly all-purpose, and will have a place in the gym or at the sport crag.

Scarpa Instinct VS

93

2013

Scarpa Instinct VS

The Instinct VS has the best heel-hooking heel and toe-scumming patch in Scarpa's Instinct family, as well as the most aggressive fit.

Tenaya Ra

83

2013

Tenaya Ra

The Tenaya Ra is an elegant Spanish shoe representing a solid marriage of precision and comfort for trad, face, and sport climbing.

Mad Rock Shark 2.0

86

2013

Mad Rock Shark 2.0

The Shark 2.0 is an unapologetic specialist’s shoe—soft, grippy, and best for super-steep gym and short, bouldery redpoints. It's also super affordable.

La Sportiva Futura

89

2013

La Sportiva Futura

We’ve come around on this shoe's futuristic design. After more than a year of use, this shoe is still going strong, making it one of the longest-lasting slippers we’ve tested.

Millet Hybrid

86

2013

Millet Hybrid

This is a surgically accurate all-around shoe that loves to stand on micros. It’s stiff, supportive, but also svelte—the Hybrid fared as well on 5.10 thin cracks as on 5.13 faces, and was also great for bouldering thanks to the cushioned heel. 

Five Ten Stonelands VCS

78

2013

Five Ten Stonelands VCS

This is a soft, lightweight, comfortable, all-around shoe with a minimalist look and few bells and whistles, but it has some welcome high-performance attributes—including excellent smearing (sticky rubber and a wide toebox) and incredibly stable outside edging.

Evolv Geshido SC

91

2013

Evolv Geshido SC

This is a gem of a shoe that, given its pared-down looks and unprepossessing design, was a sleeper redpoint and onsight machine, with the perfect blend of performance, tweakable fit, softness/smearing, comfort, and precision—especially with strong feet accustomed to slippers. 

Scarpa Boostic

91

2012

Scarpa Boostic

The Scarpa Boostic is a serious contender for our favorite top-shelf climbing shoe. Comfortable yet high-performing, the Boostic is an edging titan on everything from low-angle rock to extreme overhangs, with excellent smearing and features appreciated on the most difficult redpoints. A real winner.

Boreal Kintaro

88

2012

Boreal Kintaro

A downturned, slip-lasted performance rock shoe with mesh tongue, double Velcro closure, and a 5-5.5mm Zenith outsole.

Boreal Lynx

82

2012

Boreal Lynx

Lace-up performance all-around rock shoe with a moderate downturn, slightly asymmetric last, padded mesh tongue, and new V2 rand system and 5-5.5mm Zenith rubber sole.

Evolv Geshido

80

2012

Evolv Geshido

The Geshido is a lace-up all-around performance rock shoe designed by Chris Sharma that features a slightly downcambered arch and downturned toe for overhanging climbing, a standard asymmetric last (for regular-volume feet: big toe is longest toe) and a thin toe box for cracks for power and precision on the steeps.

Evolv Prime SC

84

2012

Evolv Prime SC

A triple-Velcro-closure performance rock shoe designed in part by Chris Sharma. Features a semi-symmetric last (to accommodate Morton’s toe) and a downcambered arch for overhanging climbing.

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