Updated May 2017
The rock is finally drying out, and it's time to plan your summer climbing trips. We updated this review as of May 2017 to include market updates, and we also added comparison charts and graphs to help you pick between products. Plus, we analyzed the current market to ensure that our Editors' Choice winner still takes the cake.
Best Overall Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Genius
Highest end performance shoe on the market
Excellent edging and sensitivity
Great comfort and pocket performance
La Sportiva, the original proprietors of the downturned climbing shoe, has perfected their shoe design for years, and the La Sportiva Genius
is the product of these advancements. Employing the best features from La Sportiva's design arsenal, these shoes combine the No Edge concept with a superior fit that requires minimal breaking in. Plus, they're built to last, and won't get sloppy after a lot of use. This model is best for sport clipping, bouldering, and high-end traditional climbing. Though three shoes (the Katana Lace, Genius, and Futura) all tied for the highest score in our test, the innovative Genius takes home the prize. But if you aren't feeling committed enough to drop $200 on climbing shoes, the other two high-scorers are good options.
Read full review: La Sportiva Genius
Best for Budget-Minded
Mad Rock Flash 2.0
Good general climbing shoe
Lots of heel/arch space
Only moderate performance
The Mad Rock Flash
is an affordable and durable model that offers better-than-expected performance. However, as of April 2017, Mad Rock has discontinued this model. (The company has not yet announced a replacement.) Some retailers still carry this shoe though, so if you're looking for a super-budget model that will still bring the performance you need to climb at or near your grade, we can help you find it. Plus, since this contendor has been discontinued, big markdowns are likely.
Read full review: Mad Rock Flash
Top Pick Award for All-Around Climbing and Bouldering
La Sportiva Katana Lace
Can be hard to find
The La Sportiva Katana Lace
is one of our favorite shoes from the field tests. It ranked near the top in all assessed categories. The Katana Lace came closer to doing everything well than any shoe we have ever used. We used it on welded tuff and other volcanic rock, on granite sport and trad climbs, on limestone, and on sandstone. This shoe performed solidly everywhere we took it. As a true all arounder, it didn't rank at the top of any category; instead, the Katana Lace wins this award for its incredible versatility. La Sportiva's Katana Velcro
, which has various differences besides just lace versus velcro, is no longer available from La Sportiva, but various retailers still carry the model.
Read full review: La Sportiva Katana Lace
Top Pick Award for Multi-Pitch and Crack Climbing
La Sportiva TC Pro
Solid crack climbing
Good all-around shoe
Limited sport/bouldering use
The La Sportiva TC Pro
deserves attention for being a solid all-arounder that still excels as a multi-pitch trad climbing shoe. This shoe edges extremely well, letting you leave the crack systems behind and tackle some serious face climbing with confidence. When the climb brings you back to the cracks, the TC Pro handles them better than most. Not to mention this shoe provides some ankle protection because of the higher cuff. If you find yourself groveling up something wide, this shoe actually protects from getting ankle gobies.
Read full review: La Sportiva TC Pro