Best Bouldering Shoes 2018 (REVIEW GUIDE)

Are You Planning To Take Up Bouldering?

You should invest in a good pair of climbing shoes that are sturdy enough to keep your foothold in those small pockets. Read this product review to help you choose the best bouldering shoes among the many brands available in the market today.

​Reviews of the Best ​Bouldering Shoes of 2018


​Scarpa Men's Instinct VS Climbing Shoe Review

The ​Scarpa Men’s Instinct VS Climbing Shoe comes from Italy using the manufacturer’s patented Lorica textile that will not stretch with use.

The Scarpa’s upper is made of micro suede; the sole is made of synthetic material with a high-tension rand to provide maximum power from toes to heel.

The Scarpa also uses a technology called Vibram XS that gives its 2-part soles incredible grip to make the heel hook simpler. The Velcro floating strap allows easy fit adjustment providing more power to your heel and toes.

It has a rubber toe patch for toe-scumming and added hooking power. The sole is 3 mm thick, which adds to its durability. This aggressive shoe type is good for bouldering, smearing and edging.

The style comes in Black/Orange color with or without wire gate carabiners.

 The Scarpa Instinct uses European sizing. If you are not familiar with European Sizes, it is advisable to check the size chart to see which size fits you.

​What We Liked:

  • Excellent heel power
  • Great for smearing and edging
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    Good from slab to steep
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    Rip and stick strap
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    Excellent for hard climbing

​What We Didn't Like:

  • ​Customer issues on durability of the rubber toe patch
  • ​Not suitable for wide feet
  • Reduced sensitivity


​​Mad Rock M5 Climbing Shoes Review

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The ​Mad Rock M5 Climbing Shoes ha​ve an asymmetric shape with concave flat sole for great hook on overhung terrains. ​The shoe has a 2-strap closure for a more secure fit.

The Mad Rock sole is harder than the mid-sole area giving it a balance of firmness and sensitivity. The rounded toe top is good for smearing and the pointy tip fits into the small pockets. A contoured heel and rubber patch on the toe top that makes it comfortable to wear. 

The Mad Rock M5 is perfect for vertical and steep angled stones. It has a 3.8 mm thick sole and 1.8 mm mid-sole giving a balance of stiffness and sensitivity. The balance makes it more comfortable during climbs.

 The size converted to US standard sizing so there is no need to consult a size chart. These shoes come in blue, white and black colors.

​What We Liked:

  • ​The asymmetrical shape and concave flat sole adds performance
  • ​Double rip and stick strap for a secure fit
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    ​High performance yet comfortable
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    Low price for a high performing shoe
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    Balance of firmness and sensitivity

​What We Didn't Like:

  • ​​Some customers find it too stiff
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    The Science Friction is not sticky enough


​​​La Sportiva Skwama Rock Climbing Shoe Review

La Sportiva Skwama has an optimal heel-hooking ability and cup fit due to its patented S-Heel construction. The split-sole construction uses P3 technology that provides reduced edge deformation. The edge of the sole will be stiff and strong while the mid-sole will still be comfortable.

The upper of La Sportiva Skwama is made of suede leather. It has a Velcro strap for adjustable and perfect fit allowing you to slip your shoes off easily. It has a sticky rubber toe patch for hooking and toe scumming.

The La Sportiva Skwama is great for steep bouldering problems. The sole is 4 mm thick for high durable performance.

This moderate shape shoe is great for bouldering on natural and artificial boulders. It is also good for rock climbing both indoors and outdoors. Comes in Black/Yellow color.

La Sportiva Skwama is The Editor’s Choice for 2017 of Climbing Magazine

The sizes are in European sizing so you might need a size chart when ordering.

​What We Liked:

  • ​​S-heel construction for optimal hooking ability
  • ​Uses P3 innovative technology
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    ​​Soft mid-sole but allows you to edge like a professional climber
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    ​Hook and Strap for better fit
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    ​Editor’s Choice for 2017 of Climbing Magazine

​What We Didn't Like:

  • ​​​High volume shoes and downsizing might be needed
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    ​Limited availability of sizes


​​​La Sportiva Miura Lace Climbing Shoes Review

La Sportiva Miura Lace Climbing Shoe has been in the market for more than ten years, attesting to its performance.

La Sportiva Miura combines a balance of sensitivity, comfort and edging precision. It has an aggressive shape, down-turned toe shoe that makes it great for all types of climbing both indoors and outdoors.

The La Sportiva Miura has a 4 mm thick Vibram XSV sole and 1.1 mm Laspoflex midsole. This makes the sole very durable even at the most abrasive rock formation. It has a high tensioned sling shot Rand attached to the power hinge of the sole so it stretches at the back and not the front.

The La Sportiva Miura has a speed lacing system to tie laces fast and a paneled lining. It performs well on slabs, overhung terrains, and vertical or steep rock.

Sizes are in European sizing so if you need US sizes, it is best to use a size chart when making a purchase.

​What We Liked:

  • ​Best shoes for edging
  • ​​Suitable for all levels of climbers
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    ​​Great for Trad, sports, bouldering or big walls
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    ​Comfortable to wear
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    ​Great for smearing, edging, pockets, cracks and hooking

​What We Didn't Like:

  • ​​​​May be hard to break in
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    ​Lace up is more difficult to manage


​​​Five Ten Anasazi Arrowhead Climbing Shoe  Review

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The ​Five Ten Anasazi Arrowhead is best for outdoor climbing. The Arrowhead has a wide toe box for a more comfortable fit especially those with wide feet.

The Five Ten Anasazi Arrowhead uses patented Onyxx soles has an exceptional hardness-to-friction ratio that brings stiffness and support for hard climbing.

The Five Ten Anasazi Arrowhead upper is made of synthetic Cowdura that prevents stretching. Cowdura is a kind of synthetic leather suede that does not stretch. Climbing shoes stretches over time giving you an uncomfortable fit.

It has a double stand Velcro footwear closure for easy adjustment and comfortable fit. If your toes gets tired, you can easily snap off the Velcro and let your feet air and rest.

The Five Ten Anasazi Arrowheads are best in edging or climbing steep pockets and overhung terrains. It provides excellent support on in pockets and small edges. The Stiff toe box gives you better protection.

The Five Ten Anasazi Arrowhead uses US standard sizes for convenient purchasing.

​What We Liked:

  • ​​Excellent on edges and pockets precision
  • ​​Light shoes that fit like a second skin
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    ​The patented Onyxx rubber sole is incomparable
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    ​Perfect for people with wide volume

​What We Didn't Like:

  • ​​​Narrow toe box that could cause cramps
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    ​Not good for all kinds of climbing
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    Limited availability of big sizes

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Bouldering 101

Bouldering is rock climbing at its rawest form. You can perform bouldering indoor with the use of an artificial climbing wall or outdoor in areas where natural boulders are abundant. Climbers perform bouldering without any equipment or harness.

Bouldering is not as simple as climbing and getting to the top. Although the climb is short, the sequence of moves is very tricky. To get to the top, you must solve the bouldering problems or routes using your strength, flexibility, balance, and a bit of strategy.

There are three basic equipment climbers need when they go out bouldering:

  • Bouldering Shoes – Choosing the right kind of shoes is very important. Your bouldering shoes should be sturdy enough to keep your foothold when climbing pockets.
  • Chalk and Chalk bag - Bouldering uses strength and stamina that would cause you to sweat. You could lose your grip when your palms are sweaty. The Chalk helps to keep your hands dry. Your chalk bag should be wide enough to slip your hands in and out comfortably.
  • Crash Pad or Crash Mat – The Crash Pad or Crash Mat breaks your fall. Harnesses are not necessary when performing bouldering. The crash pad helps cushion your fall and prevent unnecessary injury.

You also need other bits of safety gear like a helmet/headgear, harness, knee pads, and elbow pads. Let’s focus on the top basic equipment you need for bouldering – your bouldering shoes.


Buyer's Guide and FAQ

What Are Bouldering Shoes

Bouldering shoes are simply just climbing shoes. To understand them better, let us discuss the parts of bouldering shoes.

  • The Upper - The Upper is the material that covers the foot of the shoe, and made from either micro suede or synthetic material. The Upper provides comfort and allows your toes to breath.
  • The Rand – The Rand is the rubber wrapped around the toe box and heel. Sometimes, the Rand is tensioned to give power to your toes
  • The Sole - This the outermost rubber that touches the surface of the rock. The thicker the sole, the longer it will last.
  • The Midsole - You can find the midsole between the sole and the upper. The midsole gives your sole shape and body and supports the pressure caused by your movements.
  • The Last – The Last is the base of your shoes. The Last is where your foot rests. The Last should contour to the shape of your foot for a comfortable and snug fit.
  • The Closure - Closure keeps your shoes from falling off your feet. Closures can either be lace-ups, Velcro hook and loops, and slippers. Velcro is the best closure to have because it allows you to slip your shoes on and off easily.

What characteristics you should look for when choosing bouldering shoes?

There is no specific shoe made for bouldering. Do not get confused. Climbing shoes and bouldering shoes are the same. Bouldering is climbing performed on either natural boulders or artificial boulders. A good pair of bouldering shoes should have the following characteristics:

  • Sticky soles which could give you a better hooking and edging abilities.
  • It should be downturned. A downturned bouldering shoe has a concavely shaped sole making it look like talons. This shape is particularly good for snagging on the overhung terrain.
  • It should have easy to maneuver straps like Velcro strap. You can remove your shoes on and off easily.

Does shape matt​er?

The shape of your shoes affects how you perform when bouldering. You can choose from three shapes of climbing shoes depending on what kind of climbing you plan to do.

  • Neutral Shoes – This type of climbing shoe has an almost flat sole allowing your toes to lie flat inside the shoe. If you are a beginner climber, this is the best type of climbing shoes for you. It has a comfortable medium to stiff midsoles and thick rubber soles. The downside is this is not a good shoe for overhung terrains.
  • Moderate Shoes – This shoe has a downturned toe and moderate heel tension. The downturned toe gives you a powerful hook on overhung terrains. The soles are stickier making it a perfect shoe for bouldering. The thin sole gives it a better grip on the rock than neutral shoes, but it does not have the same comfortable feel.
  • Aggressive Shoes – This shoe is asymmetric in shape. This shoe has a downturned toe and high heel tension. The shape of this shoes is excellent for hard climbing, which makes it unfit for beginner climbers. It gives the best grip on overhung terrains, but it does not fit well in crack and smears.

If The Shoe Fits

When choosing your climbing shoes, the fit is the most important consideration above all else. What you want is a comfortable, snug fit that will not hinder your activity. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your shoes fit you perfectly:

  • Make sure you tried the shoes on. Do not get attracted by the physical appearance of the shoes. Try it on. Even if you are buying online, you can have it replaced if the fit is not right. If the shoe feels like a second skin, then you have a good fit.
  • Do your fitting in the afternoon as your feet tend to swell during the day.
  • Check the sizes. An American size differs from a European size. Look at the size chart conversions.


​Our Choice For The Best ​Bouldering Shoes Of 2018

Bouldering is easy once you learn the basics. The most important thing you need to remember is picking the right shoe makes a lot of difference.

In this review, the ​one that stood out as the best bouldering shoe is the ​​Scarpa Men’s Instinct VS Climbing Shoe. The Scarpa is excellent for bouldering because of its incredible grip and hooking power. The material and technology invested on it makes it perfect for all kinds of climbing be it indoor or outdoor.

The Scarpa shoes live up to the three major characteristics of good boulder shoes, the easy rip Velcro strap for easy maneuvering, the talon-like downturn for better grip snag on those overhung pockets, and the sticky soles that gives an excellent grip and hooking power to keep you from crashing.

Although the durability of the toe patch is a sore point for some customers, it does not lessen in any way its power as the best bouldering shoes that you can find in the market today.

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