Upgrading Your Rock Climbing Shoes

I can’t believe I’ve been climbing regularly for over 2 years now. I remember upgrading from gym rentals and picking out my first rock climbing shoes like it was yesterday.

My first shoes were these purple Women’s Elektra Evolvs, great price and pretty comfortable. They are relatively flat and non-aggressive.

If I had to go back and do it again, I would probably have gotten La Sportiva Finalesย or La Sportiva Tarantulace. They have similar lines to Evolvs; they’re flat and non-aggressive, but they are super comfortable for my wide toes and narrow heels. I blame my spread out toes on years of gymnastics! In fact, I may pick up a pair of them some day because they are that comfortable, but for my second pair of shoes I was really looking for something with a more aggressive toe to help me dig in and stick to tiny feet holds.

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Anatomy of a Climbing Shoe


Climbing Shoe Anatomy Image


A climbing shoe has a few features. The whole shoe is comprised of the uppers; the leather or synthetic material on top, and the sole; the rubber material on bottom. The uppers have three main styles: velcro closure, lace closure and slip on. The uppers also have a heel loop or loops which help pull the shoe on.

The sole is broken into several parts: the heel cup, which can be molded to fit the heel, the mid sole, which determines the stiffness of the shoe between the heel and toe, the rand, which is the rubber material connecting the uppers to the bottom of the shoe, and the toe box, which can be symmetric or asymmetric. A symmetric toe box is longest in the center, which is good for people with longer second toes. An asymmetric toe box is longest at the big toe.

Comparison of Climbing Shoes

Shoe NameSizeShapeMaterialBest ForProsCons
Evolv Elektra*
True to street sizeFlatSole: TRAX Rubber, Upper: SyntheticAll AroundInexpensive, relatively comfortableTends to smell because of synthetic materials, Not great for advanced footwork
La Sportiva Tarantulace*
Runs Larger than Street Size, narrow heelFlatSole: FriXion RS Rubber, Upper: Leather/SyntheticAll AroundInexpensive, comfortable enough to wear all day, Made from real leatherNot designed for advanced foot work
Scarpa Vapor V (2014)*
True to street sizeDownturnedSole: Vibram XS Grip 2, Upper: Leather, SyntheticBouldering, OverhungStiff sole and toe box, good for edgingShoe rides high on the heel and digs into the achilles
La Sportiva Miura VS*
Runs Larger than street size, narrow heelDownturnedSole: Vibram XS Grip2, Upper: LeatherAll Around, Bouldering, OverhungStiff toe box and heel, flexible middle, great for edging, Expensive, somewhat uncomfortable
La Sportiva Solutions*
Runs Larger than street size, narrow heelDownturnedSole: Vibram XS Grip2, Upper: Leather, SyntheticBouldering, OverhungSuper aggressive, great for edging and boulderingExpensive, more specialized, somewhat uncomfortable


Ultimate Decision

Women’s La Sportiva Miura VS

The Miura climbing shoes were the best choice for me because they had the aggressive toe I was looking for but were comfortable enough for long climbs due to the flexible mid sole. The La Sportiva Solutions are super aggressive, and in my opinion are best for bouldering or overhung sport routes and might be a little uncomfortable for long vertical climbs. Since I plan to use these as my overall climbing shoe, I thought the Miuras were the best choice.

I looked in store and online at REI and Eastern Mountain Sports, but could not find these in my size. I tried on a 35.5 and it was just a smidgen too big, so I felt pretty confident ordering them on Amazon in a Size 35 from MooseJaw (Free 2 Day Shipping with Amazon Prime — Love it!). I wear a 5.5 – 6 in US sizes, and a 35 converts to a US 4.5, so don’t be surprise if you end up sizing down a size to a size and a half in La Sportiva’s.

What kind of shoes are you climbing in? Have any tried and true favorites? Let me know in the comments! ๐Ÿ™‚



I share fitness inspiration for the daring and every day ways to get better on my blog, AcroCafe by Eliannah. I’m passionate about alternative fitness and doing what makes you feel alive.

Life is better upside down!

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